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Our music critics' most memorable lyrics of the year

Bad Bunny, performing in Miami  on Aug. 12, 2022. The Puerto Rican superstar's wordplay was front-of-mind for <em>Alt.Latino</em> co-host Anamaria Sayre this year.
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Bad Bunny, performing in Miami on Aug. 12, 2022. The Puerto Rican superstar's wordplay was front-of-mind for Alt.Latino co-host Anamaria Sayre this year.

Updated December 28, 2022 at 11:18 AM ET

When the words in a song hit you in just the right way, they can stay with you. We're asking the folks at NPR Music: What lyrics did you hear in 2022 that you just couldn't shake? In the short segments below, they explain their choices.

Lars Gotrich, producer for NPR Music

Are we actually looking out for each other? In this song, Straw Man Army is addressing the "spiritual debt" of humankind; it's a bearing witness to what the last couple of years have done to us.

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Anamaria Artemisa Sayre, co-host of Alt.Latino

This lyric — "Tú no ere' bebecita / Tú ere' bebesota" — was one of those lines that exploded this year, especially in Latin America. It's hard to describe what it means, exactly – he's talking to a woman, basically calling her a babe, but in two different ways. Through that device, he's expressing a desire for a strong woman, a boss, someone who's empowered. For someone as visible as he is to carry a message like that – and so clearly – is indicative, I think, of a new openness in Latin America around women being able to embody their own power and sexuality.

Hear more from Anamaria Sayre and Felix Contreras on Alt.Latino.

Tom Huizenga, classical music critic

The lyric that keeps haunting me comes from an unlikely source: a curious little song from the 1950s that was never commercially recorded and was written by an enigmatic figure who never cut an album and who, at age 50 in 1974, disappeared and was never heard from again. Thirty-five years after her disappearance a trove of home recordings were discovered and released. Her name is/was Connie Converse, and her song is "One by One," which was recently covered in a most profoundly beautiful way by soprano Julia Bullock.

Find Tom Huizenga's work and the rest of NPR's classical music coverage on Deceptive Cadence.

Kiana Fitzgerald, critic and author

This lyric – "It's so embarrassing / all of the things I need, living inside of me / I can't see it" – is SZA saying, basically, "I need to learn how to love myself." Many of us have been through relationships, situationships, dysfunctional, functional, whatever – in love, there's always some sort of push-and-pull.


Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Anamaria Artemisa Sayre is co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.
Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.
Kiana Fitzgerald is a freelance music journalist, cultural critic, and DJ. She writes for the world from deep in the heart of Texas.