2022 was a great year for music. It gave us record-breaking albums like Un Verano Sin Ti and Midnights, new sounds from Bad Bunny and Steve Lacy, fresh perspectives from breakout artists like Lauren Spencer Smith and Omar Apollo, and even reintroduced us to hits from the past like Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” Here are my top picks for 2022.
10. Dawn FM – The Weekend
The Weekend’s fifth studio album, Dawn FM, features everyone from Jim Carrey to Tyler The Creator. The album was released in January, and although it did gain some traction, it has not been as popular as some of his other music. But the album has still been incredibly popular with “Take My Breath”, the album’s lead single, debuting at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, marking The Weeknd’s thirteenth top 10 song. The music video for the single was nominated for UK Music Videos Award’s Best R&B/Soul Music Video. The album has also been nominated for three awards including Billboard Music Award’s Top R&B Album.
9. Superache – Conan Gray
This album may not have the acclamations of some of the other albums on this list, but it still deserves a spot because of its catchy melodies that pull you in and lyrics that are deep and honest. Following his wildly successful debut album Kid Krow, Conan Gray released his second album, Superache, in June of 2022. The album debuted at number nine on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the charts for 12 weeks. Superache was preceded by five singles: “People Watching,” “Astronomy,” “Jigsaw,” “Memories,” and “Yours.” “Memories” was the only single from the album to get on the charts and peaked at number 75 on the Canadian Hot 100.
8. Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar can’t seem to miss when it comes to writing music that will be acclaimed by critics and popular with many. His new album is all about love, loss, and grief. This album’s lyrics are beautifully crafted into a story of Lamar’s hardships in previous years. Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers is Kendrick Lamar’s fifth album. The album is a reflection of his journey in therapy and includes elements of jazz and soul music. It was promoted with three singles that were released before the album: “N95,” “Silent Hill” and “Die Hard.” The album is Lamar’s fourth to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 and has been nominated for 8 Grammys this year.
7. Special – Lizzo
Before Renaissance and Midnights, Special was the highest charting album by a female artist in 2022. This album is a top 10 album mostly for its popularity. Before the release of her album, Lizzo’s single, “About Damn Time” was touted as the ‘song of the summer’. Special is Lizzo’s first album since the release of her widely successful album Cuz I Love You, which earned her three Grammys. Special peaked at number two on the Billboard 200, which was the highest charting album for a female artist in 2022. Lizzo has been on tour for the past three months and just announced she will be going back on tour starting in April. Being a phenomenal flutist, Lizzo also had the incredible opportunity to play President James Madison’s crystal flute back in September at the Library of Congress.
6. Renaissance – Beyonce
Beyonce’s new album, Renaissance, was highly anticipated and sounds different than her usual R&B music. The album is more dance and pop-focused with catchy lyrics and melodies. Renaissance is Beyonce’s seventh studio album and the first installment in a trilogy she wrote during the pandemic to inspire escapism and joy in her listeners. It’s had widespread acclaim from Rolling Stone and New York Times magazine, not just because it debuted at number one, but also because of Beyonce’s vocal performance and its upbeat mood. This is her seventh consecutive album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200.
5. Her Loss – Drake and 21 Savage
Like most of the albums on this list, Her Loss earned a spot because of its huge popularity in the last few months. Not only has the album been all over Tiktok, but it also debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and Canadian Hot 100. This is not Drake’s or 21 Savage’s first successful album. With both artists being extremely successful before, it has only boosted the album’s popularity. Drake and 21 Savage have collaborated on four songs in the past years, but Her Loss is their first joint album. The album has had some controversy because of the surprising number of disses about Drake’s exes such as Serena Williams, but it has still been extremely successful.
4. Harry’s House – Harry Styles
After a successful tour in 2021, Harry Styles announced that he would be releasing his third solo album, Harry’s House. This is the most commercially successful out of the three. The album is Styles’ most upbeat album, with loud riffs and trumpet sounds throughout. It is a good mix of catchy top hits and deep thought-out ballads. Styles released his only single from the album, “As It Was”, which became the most streamed song in one day all year, and has been nominated for two Grammys. Despite the album being leaked a month before its release date, Harry’s House debuted at number one on the UK album charts, the Billboard 200, and in 12 other countries. Since then, it has won many awards such as AMA’s favorite pop album, MTV’s album of the year, and has been nominated for three Grammys.
3. Midnights – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has had some pretty big moments lately, such as rereleasing previous albums as ‘Taylor’s version’ and selling over 2 million tickets in one day and breaking Ticketmaster in the process. But one of her biggest accomplishments this year is her new album, Midnights. Her new album is automatically a top 10 contender because it’s Taylor Swift. Since she was sixteen, Swift has been topping the charts and has continuously shaped the music industry. Her new album continues to do so. Midnights is Swift’s tenth studio album and tells the story of 13 sleepless nights throughout her life. The album became the most-streamed album in one day in Spotify history. It topped the charts of 28 countries and is in its 9th week on the Billboard 200.
2. Gemini Rights – Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy became a familiar face in 2022, but this isn’t the first time his work has been popular. When Lacy was still in high school, he co-produced a grammy-nominated album Ego Death with the band The Internet. There is no debate that Lacy’s new album, Gemini Rights, is one of the best of the year. Lacy finds interesting and different ways to make music, like using his sisters’ voices to harmonize and only recording using his phone. Throughout the second half of 2022, his single that preceded the album, ‘Bad Habit’, could be heard everywhere from the top hit radio stations to TikTok. “Bad Habit”, the second single on the album, brought him into the spotlight and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It is the first song to ever top the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Hot R&B Songs, and Hot Rock & Alternative Songs charts simultaneously. The album reached the top ten on the Billboard 200 and has been nominated for Best Progressive R&B album at the Grammys this year.
1. Un Verano Sin Ti – Bad Bunny
2022 has been a huge year for Bad Bunny, receiving award after award for his fourth solo album Un Verano Sin Ti, which was released in May. The album was named a top album of 2022 by Rolling Stone Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, and Complex Magazine. It is number one not just because of all the records it broke, but also because of its uniqueness and popularity. Un Verano Sin Ti is an all-Spanish album that talks about Bad Bunny’s love for the Caribbean and includes sounds of Caribbean reggae and bomba. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 274,000 album sales on the first day. This is Bad Bunny’s second number-one album and the second all-Spanish album to top the Billboard 200. It is also the first Spanish-language album to be nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy.