Jacob Fife '23
2022 was an amazing year for music. Pop music showed an exciting trend towards dance, indie was irresistible, and just about everything you might have wanted happened—New Kendrick Lamar album, new Beyonce Album, new Sza album.
No Frank Ocean.
Ignoring that, here are my favorite twenty-two albums that came out last year, and some honorable mentions to kick off the list. If any of these albums sound interesting to you, I urge you to give a listen!
The Loneliest Time - Carly Rae Jepsen
Baby - Petrol Girls
Louie - Kenny Beats
Fear of the Dawn - Jack White
Tana Talk 4 - Benny the Butcher
I Love You Jennifer B - Jockstrap
Big Time - Angel Olsen
God Save the Animals - Alex G
22. 10 - Westside Gunn
“BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM!” - Westside Gunn a lot of the time.
21. MOTOMAMI - ROSALÍA
This easily has the most creative production I’ve heard from a pop album this year.
20. Air Guitar - Sobs
Just a really fun power pop album with a cute, charming, and upbeat sound.
19. Beatopia - beabadoobee
When I listen to this, I feel like a girl in the 2000s thinking about her crush on a sunny day.
18. Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava - King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Out of KGLW’s three albums this year, this groovy and environmentally aware jam session of a record is my favorite.
17. Ugly Season - Perfume Genius
This album is a perfect example of finding beauty in so much hatred.
16. Cave World - Viagra Boys
Probably some of the funniest lyrics of last year are in this energized rock record.
15. RENAISSANCE - Beyoncé
Once the album really picks up after the first track, you’re in for an amazing dance record that is backed by some breathtaking vocals from the Queen Bee.
14. Natural Brown Prom Queen - Sudan Archives
When you finally listen to the album that everyone’s been calling “really cool” and “an extravagant R&B album,” and it's a really cool extravagant R&B album.
13. NO THANK YOU - Little Simz
Another amazing album from the U.K. rapper Little Simz. This cemented her as a current top-five rapper for me.
12. Once Twice Melody - Beach House
Despite its ninety-minute runtime, Beach House delivers a calming, sometimes haunting, and always lovesick collection of dream pop beauties.
11. Giving the World Away - Hatchie
I never knew I needed ‘90s nostalgia music until I heard these hazy, dreamy, night-time bangers.
10. The Ruby Cord - Richard Dawson
The album’s opener—an epic 40-minute track entitled “The Hermit”—sets you perfectly in Richard Dawson’s endlessly creative medieval mind. What follows is a journey through dark forests, under monster-infested caves, and up glorious mountain peaks. Prepare your horse and ride through this long, but always majestic album.
9. De Todas Los Flores - Natalia Lafourcade
Whether with simple guitar plucking or rich orchestral bliss, Natalia Loafourcade gives one of the most beautiful albums of last year. This is also one of the cleanest sounding records of the year. It really feels like you are in the studio with Lafourcade and her band. If you’re looking for outstanding folk music with a slight tinge of jazz, please check this out.
8. Cheat Codes - Danger Mouse & Black Thought
The Roots’ rapper Black Thought and the ever-talented producer Danger Mouse team up to create a hip-hop album that instantly sounds like a classic. With additional verses from greats such as Raekwon, Joey Bada$$, Michael Kiwanuka, A$AP Rocky, Conway the Machine, and a posthumous verse from the legendary MF DOOM, Cheat Codes is an outstanding display of lyrical talent and excellent sampling.
7. And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow - Weyes Blood
Acting as a sequel to her 2019 masterpiece Titanic Rising, Weyes Blood’s newest album is a beautiful baroque pop journey through loneliness. The emotional maturity in her lyrics are amazing, documenting how no one is alone in their loneliness and how love is natural, ever-present phenomena.
6. Marchita - Silvana Estrada
The Latin Grammys could not have been more correct in choosing Silvana Estrada as its Best New Artist. Estrada’s heartbreaking poetry, passionate vocals, and soulful songwriting are on full display in Marchita. Her vocal runs on songs like “La Corriente” and “Sabré Olvidar” are so moving and powerful that it feels like they’re knife stabbing your heart in the best way possible.
5. There Will Be No Super Slave - Ghais Guevera
Talk about an absolutely electric hip-hop album! This easily has my favorite samples of the year, and Ghais Guevera brings non-stop energy to all of his verses. I would especially like to highlight the closing track “Shirk” with its heavenly soul sample and its triumphant tone. This dude sampled “Breakfast in America” by Supertramp, and he made it sound so cool!
4. Aethiopes - billy woods
With Aethiopes, billy woods cements himself as one of the greatest modern abstract hip-hop artists. He not only shows amazing experimentation like the cacophonous piano sample on the track “Haarlem” but also shows outstanding lyrical ability like on the penultimate track “Remorseless.” This album is dark and emotional, and it deals with heavy topics like generational trauma, but don’t let that stop you from listening to some of the best rapping and production of this decade so far.
3. Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You - Big Thief
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Adrianne Lenker, Big Thief’s lead, is one of my favorite contemporary singer-songwriters. Her lyrics often don’t make logical sense, but they always are emotionally perfect. Dragon is a cozy adventure through psychedelic folk and bluegrass that is one-hundred percent worth the nearly ninety-minute runtime.
2. Hellfire - black midi
These British boys are absolutely insane. I guess the best way to describe this music is post-Brexist post-punk with some funny sounding guy who kinda reminds me of a train conductor rapid-fire spitting absurd lyrics. This album is so overwhelming, but I can never pull my ears away from it. It is some of the craziest and most entertaining rock music you will ever hear, and never holds back from doing the absolute most.
1. Ants From Up There - Black Country, New Road
“I never felt the crumbs until you said this place is not for any man nor particles of bread.” - “Bread Song” by Black Country, New Road.
Creative lyrics, funky vocals, amazing instrumentation, epic songwriting—all comprise this perfect breakup album. If you catch me in my room on a random weekday, you’ll probably see me procrastinating by belting the lyrics of the closer “Basketball Shoes”—an epic twelve-minute cinematic experience. There’s so much raw emotion and creativity and personality and beauty in these songs that Ants From Up There is easily my favorite album of the year.
Here’s a playlist I made of some of my favorite songs from last year for you to check out!