Music

Rolling Stone Staff Picks – Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone Staff Picks – Rolling Stone

When we publish our rankings of the year’s Best Albums and Best Songs each December, those lists represent the collective effort of dozens of music listeners at Rolling Stone, each with their own distinct likes and dislikes. Everyone hears the year in music a little differently — and in this post, we’ll show you just how true that is. The albums on these personal Top 10s range from beloved blockbusters like Beyoncé’s Renaissance and Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti to all kinds of out-there sounds and unexpected new favorites, with list entries coming from nearly every genre imaginable. Read on for a glimpse at the records that more than 40 Rolling Stone staffers loved most in 2022.

Sage Anderson, E-Commerce Writer

1. RM, Indigo
2. The 1975, Being Funny in a Foreign Language
3. Ginger Root, Nisemono
4. Beyoncé, Renaissance
5. Prep, Back To You
6. Yung Bae, Groove Continental: Side A
7. Calvin Harris, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2
8. Mystery Skulls, Beam Me Up
9. The Weeknd, Dawn FM
10. Engelwood, Nautical Nonsense

Last year, I lamented that Spotify Wrapped had diagnosed me with a case of “Old Man” as I struggled to scrape together a list of ten new albums out of the pile of salty-tinged Seventies yacht rock I was swimming in throughout 2021. Was my 2022 self in their “being a normal late-20-something” era? Well, this year “Quiet Storm” was my most-streamed genre, so clearly not much has changed. But even from my biased perspective, if 2021 was an aggressive burst of funk-tinged “get-me-out-of-the-house-right-now” joy, then 2022 simmered down into introspective albums and much smaller, personal releases. RM of BTS’ Indigo was a rich exploration of the artist’s inner world, his regrets and hope for the future to reconnect with his purpose as an artist. From the 1975, we saw Matt Healy once again turn the mirror on his favorite writing subject — himself, and his role as “Part of the Band” on Being Funny In a Foreign Language, which actually soars more when it meditates on love and what we owe each other as humans. Bridging the gap between self-reflection and bangers for the end times, Dawn FM was the Weeknd at his most genuine, and works both as a letter to his past behavior, and as a stellar concept album. Sure, we had our fair share of blockbuster releases from capital ‘S’ superstars, but a lot of the big pandemic breakout artists took their well-deserved victory laps on tour this year, which perhaps let us hear more from the underdog voices. That’s not to say the music landscape wasn’t shining with a little funk and soul — Yung Bae, who I’ve been following since he came out of the Saint Pepsi-future funk era, released the bouncy, glitteringly produced Groove Continental: Side A, and Calvin Harris returned to form with the second volume of his feature-stuffed Funk Wav Bounces (special shoutout to Charlie Puth’s Michael McDonald impression on “Obsessed”). But the best way to sum up 2022 is UK band Prep unexpected hit — a downtempo, crooning cover of Styles’ “As It Was”, with a moody sax solo that makes you feel like it’s not the same, and we’re not the same as we were, but maybe that’s OK. We might even be better than the original.

Waiss David Aramesh, Director, Social Media

1. Charli XCX, Crash
2. SZA, SOS
3. Taylor Swift, Midnights
4. Harry Styles, Harry’s House
5. Flo Milli, You Still Here, Ho?
6. Pusha T, It’s Almost Dry
7. Drake, Honestly, Nevermind
8. Maggie Rogers, Surrender
9. FKA Twigs, Caprisongs
10. Muna, Muna

Frankly, it’s getting exhausting to declare “20XX was when we finally went back outside,” but maybe this time…we really mean it? 2022 was the year of the great reemergence, and in many ways, it delivered on the great release 2021 had promised. Naturally, these albums reflect that. They’re loud, they’re abrasive, they include many artists singing in a tongue-in-cheek way about their misdeeds. No project better exemplifies the debauchery and (to steal Maggie Rogers’ words) feral joy of the year than Charli XCX’s Crash. The hits kept coming with Drake’s summer soundtrack Honestly, Nevermind, and even when we were sad, we were still at the function (“Tears in the Club” by FKA Twigs goes crazy). On track 16 of Flo Milli’s You Still Here, Ho?, she declares the decade the “Roaring 20s” and on track two, she invites us to “Come Outside.” Much obliged.

Jonathan Bernstein, Senior Research Editor

1. Florist, Florist
2. Bonny Light Horseman, Rolling Golden Holy
3. Hurray for the Riff Raff, Life on Earth
4. Martha, Please Don’t Take Me Back
5. Nilüfer Yanya, Painless
6. Joe Rainey, Niineta 
7. Gladie, Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out 
8. Richard Inman, Come Back Through
9. Deslondes, Ways & Means
10. Wednesday, Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up

Emily Sprague, the lead singer of Florist, summed up 2022 best: “I think I’m alive/Too much on my mind,” she sang on her band’s self-titled record, a stunning collection of sparse singer-songwriter ballads interspersed with found nature recordings and ambient instrumentals. When I wanted to feel more alive, the records I sought out in 2022 tended to either be old sounds presented in new ways (check out Wednesday’s country-roots covers record, in which they transform Gary Stewart and Roger Miller tunes into something that might have gotten played at an all-ages D.I.Y. punk show at Brooklyn’s 285 Kent) or thrilling new sounds presented in ways that felt familiar and comforting (the ethereal synth-roots of Hurray For The Riff’s latest evolution, Life on Earth; the experimental indigenous soundscapes from the Midwestern artist Joe Rainey). When there was simply too much on my mind, I gravitated to records by longtime beloved bands doing what they do best (the Deslondes, Martha), new (to me) voices that I know I’ll be listening to for years to come (Richard Inman, Gladie), or artists simply reaching new heights with songcraft and cohesion on their second albums (Bonny Light Horseman and Nilüfer Yanya). 

Jon Blistein, Staff Writer

1. Jockstrap, I Love You Jennifer B
2. They Hate Change, Finally, New
3. Hagop Tchaparian, Bolts 
4. Weyes Blood, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow
5. Lucrecia Dalt, ¡Ay!
6. Black Country, New Road, Ants From Up There
7. The 1975, Being Funny in a Foreign Language
8. Plains, I Walked With You a Ways
9. Titus Andronicus, The Will to Live
10. Arctic Monkeys, The Car

Probably the most unexpected thing to happen to me this year was that I finally learned to stop worrying and love the 1975. Other things were more expected. My perpetual need for maximalism was met by Black Country, New Road’s sonically and emotionally extreme Ants From Up There; Weyes Blood’s gorgeous life-during-end-times orchestration on And In the Darkness, Hearts Aglow; and Titus Andronicus’ “Ultimate Rock” odyssey, The Will to Live. Some pleasures were simpler, like listening to Katie Crutchfield and Jess Williamson go full Nineties country on Plains’ I Walked With You a Ways; or delving into the incredible archival beats on Hagop Tchaparian’s Bolts. Then there were all the times I just wanted to get weird. Like following Alex Turner further down the lounge-rock rabbit hole on Arctic Monkeys’ The Car, and realizing that space wasn’t dissimilar from the smokey, sci-fi realm Lucrecia Dalt was occupying on ¡Ay! They Hate Change’s Finally, New offered an incredible mix of bars and production that touched every regional style and microgenre between Miami bass and drum’n’bass. And my favorite of the year, Jockstrap’s I Love You Jennifer B, is an album I feel like I can only proclaim my love for at this point in the most plain way: classic songwriting, but sounds wonderfully weird as hell.

David Browne, Senior Writer

1. Horsegirl, Versions of Modern Performance
2. Tedeschi Trucks Band, I Am the Moon
3. SZA, SOS
4. Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, Get on Board
5. Rosalía, Motomami
6. The Smile, A Light for Attracting Attention
7. Alvvays, Blue Rev
8. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
9. Sonic Youth, In/Out/In
10. Bonnie Raitt, Just Like That

For nearly three years, the music world has had the pandemic blues, from on-again-off-again tours and festivals to music that sometimes captured what it was like to write or record in isolation. But in their own ways, most of my favorite albums of this past year burst with pent-up energy and creativity. From Horsegirl and Alvvays’ walls of vintage-alt sound to Rosalía’s endlessly morphing tracks to Tedeschi Trucks’ ambitious response to Layla to Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood busting out their versions of jams with the Smile, the year’s most enthralling records shook off the Covid doldrums. SZA’s “Gone Girl” is worth the price of admission in and of itself. The Sonic Youth compilation of rare instrumentals wasn’t technically new, but (along with Neil Young’s lots-more-barn Harvest Time movie) was another reminder of how much valuable music and footage remains in the vaults, waiting to be heard.

Rick Carp, Research Editor

Straw Man Army, SOS
Chat Pile, God’s Country
Gospel, The Loser
Massa Nera, Derramar | Querer | Borrar
Never, Cash
Palm, Nicks and Grazes
Mamaleek, Diner Coffee
Gudsforladt, Friendship, Love and War
Innocent, Architects of Despair
Hawak/Joliette/Our Future is an Absolute Shadow/Eyelet/Elle/Burial Etiquette, Cube

These lists are tough to make when so much great stuff is constantly coming out. It is hard to keep up with everything, especially when you end up getting, like, 40 emails on Bandcamp Friday. 2022 saw reunion records and shows by amazing acts like Gospel, City of Caterpillar, Nine of Swords, The Mars Volta, The Sawtooth Grin, Saetia and more; as well as previously hard-to-find material from folks such as Codeine and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I got to see a bunch of these shows, and I recommend trying to go if any of these acts are coming through your area. The stuff on this list is not in any particular order, but I tried to cut everything down to 10 releases. Last year, the editors let me shout out a bunch of extra bands, but I’m not trying to annoy them too much. I would like to note, however, that we’ve been putting these lists together for a while now, and many artists that I have previously included continue to make really fun music — so be sure to also check out the records from alumni including Abandoncy, Amygdala, Bored at My Grandma’s House, Horse Jumper of Love, Lower Automation, Short Fictions, and VR Sex. Everyone, please stay healthy so we can keep going to sick shows! Have a good holiday season.

Tim Chan, Director of Products and Commerce

1. Taylor Swift, Midnights
2. Beyoncé, Renaissance
3. SZA, SOS
4. Blackpink, Born Pink
5. Lizzo, Special
6. Carly Rae Jepsen, The Loneliest Time
7. New Jeans, New Jeans
8. Harry Styles, Harry’s House
9. Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti
10. Charlie Puth, Charlie

After two years of staying in and keeping to ourselves, 2022 was the year where we finally got to let it all out, and these albums provided the perfect soundtrack for our big in-person comeback. From the club beats of Renaissance and New Jeans’ peppy debut, to SZA’s emotional SOS and Lizzo’s empowerment anthems, these albums let us sing, cry, dance, and shout at the top of our lungs — unmasked, unbothered, and finally uninhibited.  

Mankaprr Conteh, Staff Writer

1. Beyoncé, Renaissance
2. SZA, SOS
3. Steve Lacy, Gemini Rights
4. Asake, Mr. Money With the Vibe
5. Stormzy, This Is What I Mean
6. NATIVE Sound System, NATIVEWORLD
7. Wizkid, More Love, Less Ego
8. Koffee, Gifted
9. Asa, V
10. BNXN fka Buju, Bad Since ‘97

This year, I retreated into songs I’ve loved for years as often as I embraced what seemed like an endless influx of new music by industry vets and promising freshmen alike. To be real, the playlist Spotify made of my top songs of 2022 includes “4ever” by Lil’ Mo and Fabolous (2003), “Still Not a Player” by Big Pun and Joe (1998), and “Feel It Boy” by Beenie Man and Janet Jackson (2002). There’s something snug and inviting about a well-worn track — putting one on is easy, it’s basically just muscle memory. Still, I was rarely regretful when I reached for something new, like NATIVE Sound System’s NATIVEWORLD, a diverse compilation of music from the Black diaspora curated by the folks behind one of Nigeria’s premier culture publications. The album is electric; it jolted me out of my streaming slumber the day I heard it. 

I had even become a little indifferent about rumored releases from acts I came of age with, like Rihanna, SZA, and Beyoncé. We had been waiting so long that I elected to take comfort in their existing discographies rather than clamor for something new — then came “Lift Me Up,” SOS, and Renaissance, which reminded me why my sister-fans were so desperate for their return. On the Afrobeats side, a newcomer (Asake) debuted a record way more beloved than those the genres’ torchbearers (Wizkid and Burna Boy) released. All in all, it was a good year for being a little stubborn, but an even better one for being open-minded.

Nishka Dhawan, E-Commerce Writer

1. Armin Van Buuren, Feel Again, Pt. 2
2. Taylor Swift, Midnights
3. The Chainsmokers, So Far So Good
4. Beyoncé, Renaissance
5. Daniel Blume, One Day I’ll Thank You
6. Harry Styles, Harry’s House
7. The Weeknd, Dawn FM
8. Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti 
9. Martin Garrix, Sentio
10. Years & Years, Night Call

This year called for the need to escape, at least for me. With stress looming in our lives and the pandemic still a daunting reality, 2022 didn’t feel like the new chapter many of us were hoping it would be. So we turned to music. Armin Van Buuren’s “Superman” lifted me up even on my lowest days, and Taylor Swift’s “Midnight Rain” made me want to sing in the shower at the top of my voice. Beyoncé’s entire Renaissance album was a constant dance party that made me want to kick up my feet and pretend I was a backup dancer in a music video. The Chainsmokers’ So Far So Good got me through hours of travel, moments with friends, and sleepless nights. Daniel Blume’s One Day I’ll Thank You kept me daydreaming on gloomy New York days and Martin Garrix’s Sentio was the ultimate party starter — and for some reason the pump-up jam I needed for late-night gaming sessions. Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, the Weeknd, and Years & Years were all artists I listened to while facing writer’s block. Just three minutes with my favorite song would fill me with hope, strength, and a new zest for life, even on the most routinely boring days. That’s what music did for me this year. I want you to take a second, think back, and feel — what did music do for you? 

Jon Dolan, Reviews Editor

1. Spoon, Lucifer on the Sofa 
2. Harry Styles, Harry’s House
3. Kurt Vile, Watch My Moves
4. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
5. Alvvays, Blue Rev
6. Omar Apollo, Ivory
7. Cate Le Bon, Pompeii
8. MJ Lenderman, Boat Songs 
9. Angel Olsen, Big Time
10. Archers of Loaf, Reason in Decline

Harry Styles pulled off my favorite achievement of the year: high-gloss rock-star pop that was as emotionally generous as it was perfectly polished — a Yo La Tengo record inside a Steely Dan record. Well played, sir. Spoon, the best American rock band of their generation, came through with a record that’s just as good as the Seventies radio classics they admire. Kurt Vile, Cate Le Bon, and Omar Apollo all dazzled me with the warmth, wit, and subtlety of albums that grew and changed with every listen. Angel Olsen went big and nailed it with the luminous country textures and earned optimism of Big Time. Like every year since 1964, this was a great one for kids with guitars: Thanks to Alvvays, Wet Leg, and MJ Lenderman for keeping the indie-rock torch blazing. For me, 2022’s most heartening moment was the return of Nineties guitar heroes Archers of Loaf, with their first record in 24 years, sounding bracingly brand new and reminding anyone smart enough to stick around and pay attention that you never can tell how things are going to work out in the life you end up with.

Brenna Ehrlich, Chief Research Editor

1. Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
2. Pusha T, It’s Almost Dry
3. Guided By Voices, Tremblers and Goggles by Rank
4. Drug Church, Hygiene
5. J-Hope, Jack in the Box
6. Megan Thee Stallion, Traumazine
7. Destroyer, Labyrinthitis
8. Jack White, Fear of the Dawn/Entering Heaven Alive
9. The Mars Volta, The Mars Volta
10. Jethro Tull, The Zealot Gene

2022 has been a great year for… all genres. I’m down with anything that pushes boundaries, and this crop of records delivered.

Solomon Fortune, Account Manager

1. FLO, The Lead EP
2. Beyoncé, Renaissance
3. Miley Cyrus, Attention: Miley Live
4. SZA, SOS
5. Twice, Between 1 & 2
6. Latto, 777
7. Mariah Carey, Butterfly: 25th Anniversary Expanded Edition
8. Arca, Kick
9. Rosalía, Motomami
10. Charli XCX, Crash

After countless promising releases in 2021, I refused to believe the bar could be set any higher. Yet with all the love and growth afforded me in 2022 came a craving for new sounds. These 10 albums comprise the soundtrack to my first year at Rolling Stone. A void in the industry was left after Little Mix’s indefinite hiatus was announced. In their absence, FLO stepped onto the scene with undeniable harmonies, and Twice gave us an intoxicating hit, “Talk That Talk,” with fiery choreography. Mariah Carey, the long-reigning matriarch of my top artists list, repackaged her magnum opus Butterfly with new remixes and live performances which remain timeless contenders amongst today’s releases. Another legendary act who returned to the scene, Beyoncé, made it virtually impossible to attend any queer Brooklyn space without hearing the ever-motivating “Break My Soul,” inspiring us all to continue “looking for a new foundation” into the new year. The feeling my friends and I chase is an immaculate and soulful summer ambiance, and these bodies of work carried us through countless summer soirées, Long Island Rail Road trips to Fire Island, and the beautiful memories we created together.

Jon Freeman, RS Country Deputy Editor

1. Beyoncé, Renaissance
2. Adeem the Artist, White Trash Revelry
3. Charley Crockett, The Man From Waco
4. Spoon, Lucifer on the Sofa
5. Ibibio Sound Machine, Electricity
6. Willi Carlisle, Peculiar, Missouri
7. Bartees Strange, Farm to Table
8. Pillbox Patti, Florida
9. Hermanos Gutiérrez, El Bueno y El Malo
10. Angel Olsen, Big Time

I’m a longtime house music fan, so Beyoncé’s savvy interpretation of that and other forms of dance music on Renaissance was a shot of pleasure to my central nervous system, echoed in more angular, post-punk fashion on Ibibio Sound Machine’s overlooked Electricity. This is also the rare year in which multiple indie-rock projects found their way to my favorites, thanks to Spoon, Bartees Strange, and, if you still count her slightly country turn on Big Time (I do), Angel Olsen. In country music, I was impressed by distinctive individual voices: the prolific Charley Crockett really coming into his own as an entertainer-raconteur, Pillbox Patti chronicling the bleak side of Florida life, and the queer, empathetic viewpoints of Adeem the Artist and Willi Carlisle. In particular, Adeem, a non-binary singer-songwriter based in Knoxville, wrote some of the year’s most stirring anthems about thorny subjects like the terrible legacy of white supremacy and the rural Southern evangelical experience, sticking the landing every time in breathtaking fashion. And when my brain needed a hard reset, which was often, nothing else would do but the arid, dreamlike instrumentals on the latest album by Swiss duo Hermanos Gutiérrez — a project that can transport and soothe in equal measure.

Dewayne Gage, Digital Media Editor

1. Vince Staples, Ramona Park Broke My Heart
2. Brent Faiyaz, Wasteland
3. Drake & 21 Savage, Her Loss
4. Lucki, Flawless Like Me
5. Future, I Never Liked You
6. Gunna, DS4EVER
7. Lil Durk, 7220
8. Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
9. Metro Boomin, Heroes & Villains
10. Drake, Honestly, Nevermind

2022 was filled with enough high-quality music for two years, and for that, I first have to start off with an honorable mention to Babyface Ray’s Face and G Herbo’s Survivor’s Remorse for their top-tier rap performance on those two projects. While I am envious of all Spotify users who were able to make a festival lineup out of their most listened-to artists, I would like to thank Apple Music for making the process of choosing my favorite albums of the year a breeze. These albums were truly the soundtrack to my life this year (word to Cudi). From hitting the gym to subway rides in New York City, to drives in Southern California, each album served as a form of therapy to me. Thank you, music.

Andre Gee, Staff Writer

Che Noir, Food for Thought
Chris Patrick, X-Files
Defcee, For All Debts Public And Private 
Fly Anakin, Frank
Lupe Fiasco, Drill Music in Zion
NoCap, Mr. Crawford 
Quelle Chris, Deathfame
Ransom, No Rest for the Wicked
Wifigawd, Chain of Command
Young Slo-Be, Southeast 

As you may recall me trying to explain on our year-end best albums podcast, 2022 was an amazing year for rap. The amount of good projects formed a bottleneck in my mind and I couldn’t even articulate all the albums I wanted to reel off, from a variety of regions — but that’s what this list is for. Not all of these albums would necessarily be in my top 10, but here, in alphabetical order, are 10 albums that didn’t get on our previous lists that absolutely deserve to be celebrated.

Kory Grow, Senior Writer 

1. The Smile, A Light for Attracting Attention
2. Sun’s Signature, Sun’s Signature
3. Ozzy Osbourne, Patient Number 9
4. The Afghan Whigs, How Do You Burn?
5. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
6. Mattiel, Georgia Gothic
7. Big Joanie, Back Home
8. Christine and the Queens, Redcar les Adorables Étoiles
9. Soul Glo, Diaspora Problems
10. Dry Cleaning, Stumpwork

My 2022 souvenir soundtrack contains longtime faves reminding the world why they’re great (Ozzy, the Whigs), classic artists succeeding with new sounds (the Smile), postmodern iconoclasts advancing pop music (Christine and the Queens, Dry Cleaning), fun artists making fun music for fun’s sake (Wet Leg, Mattiel), and hard-edged punk and post-punk holding a mirror to the world at large (Soul Glo, Big Joanie). But the record I want to highlight the most here is Sun’s Signature, the first new music from the Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser to come out in years. It’s ornate, catchy, mysterious, and perfectly captures the surreal world of the past few years. Can we get them in the next season of Stranger Things, please? Liz deserves a renaissance as much as Kate Bush.

Oscar Hartzog, E-Commerce Writer

1. Pusha T, It’s Almost Dry
2. Metro Boomin, Heroes & Villains
3. Bjork, Fossora
4. Charli XCX, Crash
5. Freddie Gibbs, $oul $old $eperately
6. Daddy Yankee, Legendaddy
7. Yeat, 2 Alive
8. Future, I Never Liked You
9. Gunna, DS4EVER
10. YoungBoy Never Broke Again, 3800 Degrees

The concept of “being the main character” in your life’s TV show has been floating around TikTok all year, and, well aware of the narcissism involved, I’ve been wholeheartedly indulging in those main-character vibes through music. Besides listening to actual film scores from Hans Zimmer and Ennio Morricone, that desire for a personal soundtrack drew me to artists with a talent for theatricality. The braggadocio of Pusha T’s kingpin character on It’s Almost Dry and Metro Boomin’s cohesive roundup of hip-hop’s Avengers on Heroes & Villains were the year’s standouts, trailed by Yeat’s 2 Alive and a handful of tracks off Future’s I Never Liked You. All showcase some of hip-hop’s best modern orators offering a focused, almost mythical power that I have yet to encounter in real life but nonetheless crave as an antidote for the mundane. Of course, this year’s season of my show also required an intensive refresher on partying, and Charli XCX’s Crash provides an excellent intoxicant. Then there’s Bjork’s Fossora, which drags me, Alice in Wonderland-style, to a completely different kind of maximalist world that I neither understand nor want to leave.

Becca Higgins, Talent Producer (Twitch)

1. Nilüfer Yanya, Painless
2. The Regrettes, Further Joy
3. Robert Glasper, Black Radio III
4. The Smile, A Light for Attracting Attention
5. Lizzo, Special
6. Alex G, God Save the Animals
7. Paolo Nutini, Last Night in the Bittersweet
8. Omar Apollo, Ivory
9. Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
10. Metro Boomin, Heroes & Villains

The true test of a great new album is whether or not it can steal my attention away from the SortPuz mobile game that monopolizes my idle time. In 2022, there were so many songs that grabbed my focus in unique, interesting ways that my compulsive puzzling didn’t stand a chance. Occasionally a series of very relatable and evocative lyrics, like those describing the physical manifestation of existential dread in the Regrettes’ “Monday,” would break the game’s spell. In other listenings, like with Last Night in the Bittersweet, I found myself so transported to Sunday evenings in my childhood home that continuing to furiously tap my thumbs against an iPhone threatened to break the space-time continuum. And in other instances, still, I would stop my ‘Puz-ing to get lost in the intricacies of Robert Glasper’s piano movements, Kendrick Lamar’s veritable opera, the guttural expression of Alex G’s own humanity via those trademark screams, or in a fantasy where I was best friends with Lizzo, and perhaps it was, in fact, my birthday, girl. Looking back on 2022, I’m grateful for these albums that were able to pull my brain out of my screen, and I hope to continue finding a surplus of them in 2023. 

Christian Hoard, Music Editor

1. Rosalía, Motomami
2. Beyoncé, Renaissance
3. SZA, SOS
4. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
5. Bartees Strange, Farm to Table
6. Omar Apollo, Ivory
7. Asake, Mr. Money with the Vibe
8. Miranda Lambert, Palomino
9. Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti
10. Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers

I found Rosalia’s Motomami to be pop’s most exciting album in 2022 and a gift that kept on giving: a mashup of disparate styles that added up to something that felt genuinely original, full of genius little details that kept popping up like welcome surprises. Big names were reassuringly awesome this year: Beyoncé making cathartic dance music; SZA making it worth the wait; Bad Bunny making a bid for biggest artist in the world; Miranda Lambert making a case as the most consistent album artist of the 21st century. Asake was Afrobeats’ breakout star and deserved to be — Mr. Money with the Vibe was remarkably assured and deeply pleasurable. Omar Apollo, Wet Leg, and Bartees Strange mixed fresh ideas with guitars (among many other things). Kendrick, weirdly, got underrated — lost amid the double-album sprawl was a generous batch of compelling songs that no one else could have made.

Joseph Hudak, RS Country Editor

1. Yelawolf & Shooter Jennings, Sometimes Y
2. Butch Walker, Butch Walker as…Glenn
3. Ghost, Impera
4. Billy Strings, Me/And/Dad
5. Hailey Whitters, Raised
6. Paul Cauthen, Country Coming Down
7. Kelsey Waldon, No Regular Dog
8. Halestorm, Back From the Dead
9. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
10. Joshua Hedley, Neon Blue

Sometimes Y, Shooter Jennings’ reinvention of Southern rapper Yelawolf as a legit rock singer, was released in March, but it took me five months to first listen to the album. I’ve made up for that precious time wasted ever since, playing Sometimes Y — as in “a, e, i, o, u, and…” — each time I get in the car. Shooter’s synth-heavy production snaps your head back (e.g., the Queen “One Vision” vibes of “Jump Out the Window”), and Yelawolf’s singing and lyrics are as powerful as anything he’s ever spit in his rap game. “At least I ain’t no goddamn gimmick!” Wolf howls in “Make Me a Believer,” the LP’s high point, just daring you to challenge him. Butch Walker also reinvented himself in 2022, transforming into a Seventies piano man named Glenn on the concept album of the same name — it’s as fun as it sounds. Tobias Forge’s theatrical shredders Ghost and Lzzy Hale’s unstoppable Halestorm delivered the best opening wails of the year with Impera and Back From the Dead, respectively. And in the country landscape, Joshua Hedley made the best Nineties album of the 2020s; Billy Strings cut a masterwork by simply recording with his dad; Paul Cauthen raised his swagger tenfold on Country Coming Down; Hailey Whitters wrote the genre’s sharpest lyrics of 2022 with Raised; and Kelsey Waldon proved John Prine was oh-so-prescient to sign her to his label with her superb LP No Regular Dog — coincidentally also produced by Shooter Jennings.

Meagan Jordan, Research Editor

1. Steve Lacy, Gemini Rights
2. Beyoncé, Renaissance
3. J.I.D, The Forever Story
4. Moonchild, Star Fruit
5. Larry June, Spaceships on the Blade
6. Samara Joy, Linger Awhile
7. New Impressionz, Energy Set 3
8. Ari Lennox, Age/Sex/Location
9. Nas, King’s Disease III
10. GloRilla, Anyways, Life’s Great…

2022 brought me hysterical moments of laughter and tears, as I navigated through some troubling times. While it’s fair to say that my music choices for this year are in fact moody, each of these albums have made me feel human, tapping into a part of who I was, who I am, and who I’m growing to be. I’m a sucker for great productions, live instruments, and lyricism. So projects like Beyoncé’s disco-influenced album Renaissance, with songs like “Virgo’s Groove” and “Cuff it”, activated the non-roller skater within me, making me want to do a lap while holding onto the wall. New Impressionz brought high energy with 30-plus songs (in their trilogy album set) that delivered solid conga and tom-drum pockets. And Samara Joy’s debut jazz album was the perfect way to clean the house as a person with ADHD. As the year closes, I’m grateful to each artist for their work, especially those I’m just now listening to, like Larry June (shoutout to Cora!). Despite this year’s grief, 2022 affirmed that life means nothing without love, great family and friends and of course, music.

CT Jones, Staff Writer

1. Orville Peck, Bronco
2. Ethel Cain, Preacher’s Daughter
3. Marcus Mumford, (self-titled)
4. The 1975, Being Funny In a Foreign Language
5. Rina Sawayama, Hold the Girl
6. Florence + The Machine, Dance Fever
7. Muna, Muna
8. Noah Kahan, Stick Season
9. Ashe, Rae
10. Wallows, Tell Me That It’s Over

There is a moment on the Northeast Regional Amtrak train where you leave a long dark tunnel and break into the light of a cool Jersey day. For the next few hours, there is little to no service and only the winding, rolling landscape to keep you company. It is the best sense of worship I have ever gotten — and each of these albums represented a different way of looking out the window onto something new. Preacher’s Daughter is a pop-goth dirge, Bronco delivers rousing queer adventure, and Stick Season makes me want to scream into a canyon. Rina and Muna  ooze sweat and self assurance. Being Funny is the 1975’s best album in years, Dance Fever is untethered and ethereal, while Rae and Tell Me That It’s Over use rock and crushing lyrics to articulate all the horny, despondent rage that comes from being afraid to turn 30. And (self-titled), which will probably be one of my favorite albums of all time, takes Mumford’s stadium voice and throws it into a hushed waiting crowd, teetering on the precipice of what could come next. These albums are flawed, messy bangers. And each one is a journey I want to start again. 

Daniel Kreps, Staff Writer

1. The Smile, A Light for Attracting Attention
2. Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
3. Christine and the Queens, Redcar les Adorables Étoiles
4. Beyoncé, Renaissance
5. Charli XCX, Crash
6. Pusha T, It’s Almost Dry
7. Death’s Dynamic Shroud, Dark Life
8. Wilco, Cruel Country
9. Bladee and Ecco2K, Crest
10. Della Zyr, 비타민과 우려 Vitamins and Apprehension

Anytime Radiohead or Kendrick Lamar release a new album, it’s a safe bet it’ll top my year-end list, and 2022 did not disappoint in that sense. Despite it being a “side project,” A Light for Attracting Attention is as Radiohead-adjacent as it gets, a catalog-worthy collection that beautifully tapped into 2022’s dread, while Mr. Morale is perhaps Lamar’s most ambitious, diverse set of songs so far.  My listening habits this year were also dominated by a pair of pop masterpieces (Beyoncé, Charli XCX), Wilco comfort food, the latest incarnation of Christine and the Queens, and a bunch of stuff I stumbled on on Bandcamp, from vaporware and Drain Gang to South Korean shoegaze. Not listed here, but some archival releases I spent a lot of time with: Charles Mingus’ The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s, Frank Zappa’s Zappa/Erie and Numero Group’s Valley of the Sun: Field Guide to Inner Harmony.

Kristine Kwak, Director, Audience Development

1. NewJeans, New Jeans
2. J-Hope, Jack in the Box 
3. Nayeon, Im Nayeon
4. Blackpink, Born Pink 
5. SeventeenSector 17
6. Le Sserafim, Fearless 
7. (G)I-dle, I love
8. RM, Indigo
9. Aespa, Girls
10. Winner, Holiday 

I know this isn’t supposed to be a K-pop list, but I can’t help that my top three genres (according to Spotistats) are K-pop, K-pop girl group, and K-pop boy group, which I didn’t know were separate genres. While compiling this list, I learned that a lot of K-pop releases are in the form of singles, making the list of albums to choose from more limited than I had initially thought. As expected, NewJeans’ debut EP tops my list. Somehow “Hype Boy” has become my Number One 1 most listened-to track despite the fact that it came out in August. I still can’t decide which of the four tracks on NewJeans’ EP is my favorite. Each song has a different mood, and I’m still listening to it on repeat (although now, early previews of “Ditto” and “OMG” have been thrown into the mix). I like to prep for interviews or shows by playing albums on repeat to really familiarize myself, so it’s no surprise that a lot of the albums on my list also happen to be from artists I’ve had the opportunity to meet or watch perform this year, too. I still remember J-Hope’s enthusiasm while talking about Jack in the Box and his creative process. He put everything into that album, and his talent really shines through. Nayeon is another one of my favorites, and with her album being the first solo album to come out of Twice, I had high hopes — and she didn’t disappoint. Overall, I thought 2022 was a great year for the K-pop girlies. I loved to see a variety of different genres and sounds from my favorite groups, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2023. 

Sacha Lecca, Deputy Photo Editor

1. Fontaines D.C., Skinty Fia
2. Warmduscher, At the Hotspot
3. Viagra Boys, Cave World
4. Sunflower Bean, Headful of Sugar
5. Yard Act, The Overload
6. Working Man’s Club, Fear Fear
7. Breanna Barbara, Nothin’ But Time
8. Stromae, Multitude
9. The Bobby Lees, Bellevue
10. Dry Cleaning, Stumpwork

I felt spoiled for choice to make a top ten as there was so much music that I connected with. That said, it was always going to be Fontaines D.C. and then everyone else — Skinty Fia is an amazing record. They’ve only gotten better. Same with Sunflower Bean, Warmduscher, Stromae, and Breanna Barbara too, who have all been under my skin for years. I invite you to dive into Rolling Stone’s official list of the 100 Best Albums of 2022, as well as listen to my colleagues on the excellent Rolling Stone Music Now podcast on the same. I often find appreciation for music I’ve overlooked once I hear their takes; and I’m gratified that a couple of my personal faves are also represented there.

John Lonsdale, E-Commerce Writer

1. Harry Styles, Harry’s House
2. Steve Lacy, Gemini Rights
3. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
4. Beyoncé, Renaissance
5. Omar Apollo, Ivory
6. SZA, SOS
7. Rosalía, Motomami
8. Taylor Swift, Midnights
9. Maggie Rogers, Surrender
10. Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

“I’ll be out there as much as I can,” Carly Rae Jepsen recently told me about potentially touring more in the future. I didn’t get the chance to see her perform songs from The Loneliest Time, one of the year’s best LPs, just yet. But I took a similar approach to seeing some of my favorite artists play their new albums live in 2022: Angel Olsen rocking through Big Time in the middle of Topanga Canyon, Big Thief performing an intimate set at the Wiltern, Harry Styles turning the Kia Forum into Harry’s House for the best dance party in town — feathers on the floor and all. I shouted along with the other Wet Leg fans at Lollapalooza, and happily did the same during “Evergreen” at Omar Apollo’s Greek Theatre concert. Looking back, the last 12 months gave us so many damn good albums, and a whole lotta memories I feel grateful to have.

Julyssa Lopez, Senior Music Editor

1. Mabe Fratti, Se Ve Desde Aqui
2. Lucrecia Dalt, ¡Ay!
3. Mediopicky, Mediopicky
4. FKA Twigs, Caprisongs
5. Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti
6. Sasami, Squeeze
7. Villano Antillano, La Sustancia X
8. Rosalía, Motomami
9. Silvana Estrada, Marchita
10. Guitarricadelafuente, La Cantera

Throughout the pandemic era, I’ve sought out a lot of comforting music that’s felt specifically focused on processing grief or releasing joy. But this year, I was more interested in artists who bewildered or intrigued me — the weirder, the better. Luckily, there were so many acts twisting unexpected sounds into beautifully bizarre records: Mabe Fratti’s tense and tender Se Ve Desde Aquí blew my mind, as did Lucrecia Dalt’s striking ¡Ay! and Mediopicky’s carefree self-titled release. I loved the unpredictable turns on Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti and Rosalía’s Motomami, and the freedom that FKA Twigs, Sasami, and Villano Antillano showed on each of their LPs. All of it was a good reminder that even during the uncertainty and isolation we just went through, and despite lots of tedium and darkness, so many people out there were letting their imaginations run wild, piecing together some future I probably wouldn’t have been able to picture on my own.

Griffin Lotz, Associate Photo Editor

1. Fontaines D.C., Skinty Fia
2. Sasami, Squeeze
3. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Omnium Gatherium
4. Yard Act, The Overload
5. Sunflower Bean, Headful of Sugar
6. Glove, Boom Nights
7. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
8. Los BitchosLet the Festivities Begin! 
9. Goose, Dripfield
10. Gift, Momentary Presence

Live music drove my 2022 listening, and I was fortunate enough to see every band in this list live at least once, if not multiple times. A postponed show delayed seeing Fontaines perform Skinty Fia favorites “I Love You” and “Jackie Down the Line,” but the wait was well worth it, and the songs were as large as they sound on the record. Sasami really is “The Greatest” by combining heavy riffs and sweet, soothing vocals. King Gizzard put out so much music this year, but Omnium Gatherium rose to the top featuring excellent new live staples “The Dripping Tap,” “Magenta Mountain,” and the monstrous “Gaia.” Sunflower Bean got tough and heavy on Headful of Sugar, and as my colleague Joe Hudak put it after a show at SXSW, Glove sounded “like the future.” Local Brooklyn band Gift put out a spacey psych-rock record with Momentary Presence. Yard Act provided comedic and poetic lyrics with an unstoppable groove, and Wet Leg was unavoidable, yet very enjoyable. Goose and Los Bitchos could each keep a party jamming all night, depending on your type of party.

Leah Lu, Senior Social Media Editor

1. Okay Kaya, Sap
2. Searows, Guard Dog
3. Tomberlin, I Don’t Know Who Needs to Hear This… 
4. Julia Jacklin, Pre Pleasure 
5. Skullcrusher, Quiet the Room
6. Weyes Blood, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow
7. Ethel Cain, Preacher’s Daughter 
8. SZA, SOS
9. The 1975, Being Funny in a Foreign Language
10. Georgia Harmer, Stay in Touch

“It’s been a long, strange year,” Weyes Blood sings on “The Worst Is Done.” “Everyone’s sad.” Real! This is admittedly a devastating list; embarrassingly reflective of the emotional states I’ve spent 2022 in. Chalk it up to my prefrontal cortex finally developing by turning 25 or whatever. This was a year marked by lots of feeling for me — hours and hours spent ruminating, trying to think of things differently, taking miles-long aimless walks, all while listening to these albums on an endless loop. They’re records that have aided with my introspection, providing welcome new perspectives or offering a soft, indulgent landing of comfort.

Angie Martoccio, Associate Managing Editor

1. Taylor Swift, Midnights 
2. Harry Styles, Harry’s House 
3. The Smile, A Light for Attracting Attention
4. King Princess, Hold on Baby 
5. Mitski, Laurel Hell 
6. Soccer Mommy, Sometimes, Forever 
7. Rosalía, Motomami 
8. Weyes Blood, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow 
9. Father John Misty, Chloë and the Next 20th Century
10. Los Bitchos, Let the Festivities Begin!

This year marked the return of indie greats (Mitski and Soccer Mommy), my favorite Sub Pop California songwriters (Weyes Blood and Father John Misty), and two-thirds of Radiohead (Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood as the Smile). The global dance-rock band Los Bitchos remain the best-kept secret this year, while Rosalía finally got her due with Motomami. (My favorite track of 2022? The swooning “Hentai,” baby!) And if it’s at all alarming that my top two choices are pop records by Taylor Swift and Harry Styles, remember that both of those masterpieces nod to the Seventies — from vintage Wurlitzers to disco jams — and you’ll realize I stayed on brand.

Tomás Mier, Staff Writer 

1. Camila Cabello, Familia
2. Rosalía, Motomami
3. Sabrina Carpenter, Emails I Can’t Send
4. Omar Apollo, Ivory
5. Tove Lo, Dirt Femme
6. Meghan Trainor, Takin’ It Back
7. Stromae, Multitude
8. Rina Sawayama, Hold the Girl
9. Gia Woods, Heartbreak County, Vol. 2
10. Lolo Zouaï, Playgirl

Can you tell I’m gay with this list? Amid the noise of seemingly the most music we’ve ever had in a single year, my favorite albums of 2022 were the ones that successfully tapped into personal identity and delivered fresh, forward-thinking sounds. With Takin’ It Back, Meghan Trainor returned to her roots and successfully used TikTok as a tool — and not a means! — to promote and produce genuinely good music worthy of virality. Influenced by my queer icon Juan Gabriel, Omar Apollo beautifully laced his Latinx upbringing with songs about his own LGBTQ relationships and identity on Ivory. On Emails, Sabrina Carpenter said “fuck you” to the perceptions people had of her thanks months of tabloid drama. And Gia Woods proved with Heartbreak County, Vol. 2 that she’s a rising star we should‘ve started paying attention to years ago.  Camila Cabello sang a mariachi song in English. Stromae sampled a Bridgerton trailer. And what more can we say about Rosalía, except that she was the pop queen of 2022? 

Ethan Millman, Staff Writer

1. Alvvays, Blue Rev
2. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
3. Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
4. Angel Olsen, Big Time
5. Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
6. Beach House, Once Twice Melody
7. SZA, SOS
8. Vince Staples, Ramona Park Broke My Heart
9. Jack White, Fear of the Dawn
10. Pusha T, It’s Almost Dry

For a year that didn’t have very many dominant smash-hit singles compared to previous years, 2022 certainly delivered tons of amazing albums. Blue Rev and Wet Leg practically owned my rotation this year and made for an easy one and two, but it took a considerable amount of work to rank the next eight albums. Overall I think what made this year so special for me on the album front was that so many artists were willing to push themselves outside of their comfort zone, whether that meant asking hard new questions like Kendrick Lamar did on Mr. Morale, or Jack White forcing himself into his most unique sonic palette to date with Fear of the Dawn. And then there’s Beach House, who fly right in the face of that idea and somehow exist in a paradox where their music both sounds like it did a decade ago, yet hasn’t managed to sound tired or repetitive. Not that I’m complaining.

Steven Pearl, Copy Editor 

1. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
2. Sofi Tukker, Wet Tennis
3. Beyoncé, Renaissance
4. Harry Styles, Harry’s House
5. Steve Lacy, Gemini Rights
6. Martha, Please Don’t Take Me Back
7. Stromae, Multitude
8. Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
9. Yuksek, Cleaning Drives
10. Hot Chip, Freakout / Release  

When it comes down to it, my top picks of every year are always a cocktail of three vital ingredients: What’s going on out in the world and culture at large, what’s going on in my personal life, and what gets my groove on, all shaken with a big dose of the indie, alt, and (Brit) pop predilections that have been my polestar since I was a college DJ. This year, I’ve had a particular appreciation for all those artists bringing back music — whether sampled, evoked, reinvented, or remastered — from the past, from Beyoncé conjuring a rainbow of voices on Renaissance to Sofi Tukker recalling Suzanne Vega on Wet Tennis. I’ve loved listening to some artists simply because they’re just so at the top of their game, it’s good to be along for the ride (Lamar and Styles, both looking within and pushing on out), and hearing new tunes from some old favorites has been deeply gratifying: Listening to Hot Chip, Yuksek, and Stromae, the latter as lush-sounding and beautifully produced as ever while tackling sex work, parenting, and suicide, makes me proud to be a global citizen. But perhaps the greatest joy of any year is discovering new sounds, and for me in 2022, that includes the playful invention, seductive storytelling, and catchy songcraft of Martha, Steve Lacy, and the stunning big D’ers themselves, Wet Leg. Play ’em all, loud and often as you like! 

Noah Shachtman, Editor-in-Chief

1. Beyoncé, Renaissance 
2. SZA, SOS
3. Rosalía, Motomami
4. Noah Cyrus, The Hardest Part
5. King Princess, Hold On Baby
6. Runkus, OUT:SIDE
7. Nilüfer Yanya, Painless
8. Protoje, Third Time’s the Charm
9. Earthgang, Ghetto Gods
10. Labrinth, Euphoria Season 2 Original Score

Let’s be honest: They didn’t send their best in 2022. Some of the most-hyped albums of the years were duds. Others were rush jobs. A few were both. But that made the year’s peaks all the more Olympian. And what a pantheon we got: goddesses of rock, brooding Americana queens, reggae royals, globe-spanning genre-breakers, and, of course, The One Diva to Rule Them All. Here’s my list for the 10 best albums of the year.

Rob Sheffield, Contributing Editor

1. Beyoncé, Renaissance
2. Taylor Swift, Midnights
3. Harry Styles, Harry’s House
4. SZA, SOS
5. Horsegirl, Versions of Modern Performance
6. Rosalía, Motomami
7. Pictoria Vark, The Parts I Dread
8. Craig Finn, A Legacy of Rentals
9. Sudan Archives, Natural Brown Prom Queen
10. Ribbon Stage, Hit With the Most

What a year for music — any of my top half-dozen or so could have been Number One in an ordinary year. The double-digit years are always pivotal for music — ’66, ’77, ’88, ’99 were four of the coolest music years ever. (’11 and ’55 were bangers, too. Y2K wasn’t so hot, but at least had a kick-ass Madonna album.) 2022 might have felt more like Neil Young’s 22 than Taylor Swift’s, but the sick sonic minds on this list kept opening up private dream spaces, in ways that seemed to soundtrack possible futures. (Read more of Rob Sheffield’s favorite music of 2022.)

Brittany Spanos, Senior Writer

1. Beyoncé, Renaissance
2. Taylor Swift, Midnights
3. Harry Styles, Harry’s House
4. The Weeknd, Dawn FM
5. The 1975, Being Funny in a Foreign Language
6. Drake, Honestly, Nevermind
7. Florence + the Machine, Dance Fever
8. FKA Twigs, Caprisongs
9. Carly Rae Jepsen, The Loneliest Time
10. Demi Lovato, Holy Fvck

I always love a really huge-feeling year, with new albums from some pop music titans who lived up to however long it took to hear new music from them. Beyoncé’s latest was everything I hoped for: dance-floor freedom, with her paying homage to the Black women who made dance floors feel so freeing in the first place. The rest of the music I loved this year felt emotionally similar; Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Drake, and FKA Twigs embraced movement above all else, digging into either pop fluff or rhythmic nostalgia that added a much-needed dose of levity to 2022. Here’s hoping for more club anthems in the year to come. 

Marlow Stern, Senior Entertainment Editor

1. Rosalía, Motomami  
2. Beyoncé, Renaissance  
3. Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You 
4. Alvvays, Blue Rev 
5. Black Country, New Road, Ants from Up There 
6. Earl Sweatshirt, Sick!  
7. Fontaines D.C., Skinty Fia 
8. Weyes Blood, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow 
9. Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti  
10. Wet Leg, Wet Leg  

Though a bit of a down year for rap music — solo releases by Drake, Kendrick, and Future failed to meet the superstar artists’ own lofty standards — the pop queens more than picked up the slack, as Rosalía’s and Beyoncé’s galvanizing, genre-bending creations propelled even the most reticent of clubgoers toward the dancefloor. Across the Atlantic, Irish rabble-rousers Fontaines D.C. produced their most emotionally unrestrained album yet (their third in four years), while British newcomers Wet Leg’s horny anthem “Chaise Longue” refused to leave my Spotify rotation. Brooklyn’s Big Thief, led by virtuoso singer-songwriter Adrianne Lenker, continued spinning irresistible yarns on their 20-song double-LP, while Canada’s Alvvays pushed their brand of punchy dream-pop to thrilling new heights. Am grateful to each and every one of these artists for helping me escape reality in their own unique ways.  

Lisa Tozzi, Digital Director

1. Beyoncé, Renaissance
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cool It Down
3. SZA, SOS
4. Los Bitchos, Let the Festivities Begin!
5. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
6. The Beths, Expert in a Dying Field 
7. The Linda Lindas, Growing Up
8. Yahritza y Su Esencia, Obsessed 
9. Blackpink, Born Pink
10. Weyes Blood, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow 

In Pandemic Year Three, the angst and fear, anger and exhaustion of these times still lingered, but also it was as if something cracked (or maybe “bloomed” is the more optimistic word?) inside and we just needed to move. Luckily, some longtime favorites were willing to oblige, and some new delightful stars were welcomed to the floor. I call it “dance songs for moody girls.”  The existential dread is there, but at least it’s got a good beat.

Simon Vozick-Levinson, Deputy Music Editor

1. Bartees Strange, Farm to Table
2. Pusha T, It’s Almost Dry
3. Alvvays, Blue Rev
4. Sunflower Bean, Headful of Sugar
5. The Smile, A Light for Attracting Attention
6. FKA Twigs, Caprisongs
7. Zora, Z1
8. Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti
9. Soccer Mommy, Sometimes, Forever
10. Alex G, God Save the Animals

What a year for new music! Bartees Strange isn’t just a powerfully human songwriter, with extraordinary passion and truth in every line he sings; he’s also the rare rock artist whose second-album experiments feel earned, someone who truly lived up to the hype he’d amassed over the past two years of fearless studio work and incendiary live shows. Pusha T made his leanest, meanest solo LP a full 20 years after he became one of my favorite rappers with the opening bars of “Grindin’.” Read that sentence again — how many artists in any genre are doing their best work at 45? Alvvays delivered another instant classic, making me wonder if they’re some kind of alien time-lords from a planet where the atmosphere is composed of bittersweet indie-pop perfection instead of oxygen. And that’s just my top three! The rest of this list is full of albums that blew my mind, albums that helped me screw my head back on, and everything in between. Some seriously incredible releases just missed my top 10 (apologies to Beyoncé, Taylor, and Wilco). It was that kind of year.

Alison Weinflash, Managing Editor

1. Taylor Swift, Midnights
2. Harry Styles, Harry’s House
3. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
4. SZA, SOS
5. Plains, I Walked With You a Ways
6. Lizzo, Special
7. Beyoncé, Renaissance
8. Spoon, Lucifer on the Sofa
9. Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
10. Mitski, Laurel Hell 

All of these records and artists have been written about far more eloquently than I can. So I’m going to write about my favorite 20 seconds of music released this year: the excellent horns section on “Music for a Sushi Restaurant.” Those horns were pure exuberance and magically lifted my mood whenever I listened, which was 67 times, per my Spotify Wrapped. One of my biggest regrets of the year is that I didn’t get to see it performed live. Here’s hoping Harry goes on tour again in 2023.

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Ilana Woldenberg, Video Producer

1. Taylor Swift, Midnights (3am Edition)
2. Rosalia, Motomami +
3. Sabrina Carpenter, Emails I Can’t Send
4. Miley Cyrus, Attention: Miley Live
5. Reneé Rapp, Everything to Everyone
6. Anna of the North, Crazy Life
7. SIX Original Broadway Cast, SIX: Live on Opening Night
8. Harry Styles, Harry’s House
9. Beyoncé, Renaissance
10. Lizzo, Special

When I interviewed for this job, our editor-in-chief asked me what kind of music I listen to, and I replied, “Music that makes me happy.” I’ve recently discovered the powerful tool that is manifestation through music — it’s reciprocal determinism and it freaking works! This year, I healed my inner child by listening to Miley belting “The Climb” on Attention. I became empowered while blasting “No Way” from SIX while I cleaned my room (if Catherine of Aragon could put up with Henry VIII, then I could certainly manage to put away that pile of clothes living rent-free on my chair). I nearly cried tears of joy every time I heard Taylor Swift’s “Karma takes all of my friends to the summit,” because, retweet bestie. “Pure/Honey” became my go-to getting-ready-before-a-night-out anthem because it absolutely should “cost a billion to look this good,” and don’t even get me started on the espresso shot that is “Despechá,” a song that could awaken the party girl lying dormant within us all. I could hear Lizzo smiling in the booth throughout the entirety of Special, and somehow I couldn’t help but smile back. (Ilana’s Songs That Will Make You Happy 2022 Honorable Mentions: “Too Well” by Renee Rapp, “Nonsense” by Sabrina Carpenter, “Grapejuice” by Harry Styles, “Bird Sing” by Anna of the North, “I Love You Bitch” by Lizzo, “Like a Prayer” by Miley Cyrus.)



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