Top 10 Best Albums of 2022


Amelia Knust

As the year comes to a close, it is important that the most awe-inspiring albums are praised. 2022’s music has broken boundaries, exceeded expectations, and has shown a diverse range of talented musicians.

2022 has been an exciting year for music, with albums of all genres breaking records like never before. With the help of social media, especially TikTok, many artists gained popularity and spread their influence. Whether these artists have been in the music industry for years or have just gained attraction this year, 2022 has introduced everyone to a plethora of critically-acclaimed albums. As a listener of all genres of music, it was hard to narrow down to just ten projects that exceeded my expectations this year. However, the albums below stood out because of their intricate creative visions and high-quality songs.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Being Funny in a Foreign Language- The 1975 
  • The Loneliest Time- Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Gemini Rights– Steve Lacy 
  • Caprisongs– FKA Twigs 
  • Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers- Kendrick Lamar

  1. CRASH– Charli XCX

If there’s any artist who can seamlessly master the genres of both experimental and pop, it would, without a doubt, be Charli XCX. CRASH tends to be more on the blatant pop side when compared to the rest of her discography, with the album’s leading singles having an 80s-synth influence. However, there is no “mainstream” or “basic” sounding pop album for Charli XCX. She utilizes producers like George Daniel and A.G. Cook, who have both been known for their work in electro-pop. Their influence can be seen on tracks like “Lightning” and “New Shapes.” The album included features of alternative stars like Caroline Polachek, Christine & The Queens, and Rina Sawayama, making this anything but a typical pop album. While the album may lack lyrical complexity in an attempt to create pure, mindless pop bangers, songs like “Yuck” or “Used To Know Me” show that great production can overpower strong lyrics. Although CRASH is a different route than Charli’s experimental forte, it still is an addicting and fun project that anyone can enjoy and dance to.

Recommended Song: Used To Know Me

Album Link: CRASH

  1. Harry’s House– Harry Styles

It is no surprise to anyone that Harry Styles took over the internet once again this year with his catchy songs, eccentric visuals, and seemingly endless world tour. In Harry’s House, Styles incorporates many pop elements, whether disco, synth, or even hints of funk. With every song, listeners are transported into a world that encapsulates the radiant energy that Harry Styles has to show. This lighter tone of music acknowledges a shift from his past albums, which tended to be more melodramatic. His record-breaking pop hit “As it Was” dominated the radio this year, but the deeper cuts on this album are where the true beauty lies. Songs like “Grapejuice,” “Little Freak,” and “Keep Driving” showcase Styles’s unique but personal songwriting, as well as his impressive range. Seeing how Harry’s House dropped in May, the album also provided perfect summer anthems like “Daylight” or “Late Night​​ Talking.” The only downside to this album is that I got quickly tired of hearing several of the tracks after the radio and TikTok played them nonstop. However, this only further proves the unprecedented influence of Harry Styles. Overall, Harry’s House provides the quintessential soundtrack for anyone, as the songs cover a wide range of topics and are simply addicting with their high-quality production.

Recommended Song: Satellite

Album Link: Harry’s House

  1. Midnights (3am Edition)– Taylor Swift

If there’s one thing Taylor Swift can repeatedly do, it is to break the internet with any significant or minor announcement. Her name has been in the headlines nonstop this year, especially with the release of her new album, Midnights. This album is a direct contrast from her past two non-rereleased albums, Folklore and Evermore, which are piano-based albums that mainly tell fictional narratives. With Midnights, Swift returns to a subdued version of her signature pop sound, with the songs covering various self-reflective  topics. The lead single, “Anti-Hero,” is an introspective look at her self-loathing. “Karma” expresses Swift’s peace in life, knowing that the ones who wronged her have eventually gotten payback in some way. The standard edition of Midnights left me unsatisfied due to lackluster lyricism and subpar production from certain tracks. The lack of quality lyrics and production was less due to Swift but more to Jack Antonoff, the household producer for all subdued pop and alternative music. He has worked with Swift on her last four non-rereleased albums, but his lack of creativity in production is starting to show. Many tracks had striking similarities in production to Lorde’s Melodrama, which Jack Antonoff also produced in 2017. Whether the similarities were purposeful or not, it still felt like Antonoff was giving a recycled sound to Midnights

Nevertheless, I gained a new perspective on the album when Midnights (3am Edition), which included seven more exclusive tracks, dropped just 3 hours after the initial release. These songs had the metaphorical lyricism and addictive production I was looking for in the standard version, and many of these tracks were not produced by Antonoff, which I appreciated. On the 3am Edition, the track that stood out to me the most was “The Great War” due to the genius lyrical connections to World War 1 and the imagery it evoked while listening. Other tracks on the 3am edition that I heavily enjoy include “Bigger Than The Whole Sky” and “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.” There were still some powerful tracks on the standard version, like “You’re On Your Own, Kid” and “Maroon.” Swift has always succeeded in creating meaningful projects, and Midnights (3am Edition) added a handful of excellent tracks to her already legendary repertoire. 

Recommended Song: You’re On Your Own, Kid

Album Link: Midnights (3am Edition)

  1. Superache– Conan Gray

Conan Gray has been an essential artist to keep track of in the past couple of years, with his quick rise from YouTube to stardom. His sophomore album Superache proves his dedication to the art of music and his undeniable success as a pop singer. Since his first EP, Sunset Season, in 2018, Gray has been known for his yearning songs about love, loss, and growing up. This niche of topics continues throughout Superache, with many comparing the tracks to the melancholic ballads of his friends Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo. Songs like “Astronomy” and “Footnote” describe the bittersweet feeling of knowing that things will never work out between you and your crush. “People Watching” and “Movies” express Gray’s tendencies to romanticize his life to help deal with his loneliness and rejection. Superache is a painful but passionate album, and you are guaranteed to relate heavily to at least one song throughout the brief 12-song tracklist. 

Recommended Song: Footnote

Album Link: Superache

  1. BORN PINK– Blackpink

Blackpink returned to music this year after a two-year hiatus with a new energy that no one should ignore. It is impossible to deny their current title as the biggest girl group in the world, and their latest album, BORN PINK, clearly showcases their versatility and ability to create something more extensive than just K-pop. The lead single, “Pink Venom,” is a hip-hop-inspired track where the four members take turns singing catchy hooks about how Blackpink is back and better than ever. Although “Pink Venom” gave many worldwide listeners their first introduction to Blackpink’s music, the song barely scrapes the surface of what Blackpink has to offer. Within BORN PINK, each member truly shines in their own way. “Hard to Love,” sung entirely in English by member Rosé, showcases a pop-punk sound reminiscent of 2010 pop-diva hits. “Shut Down” samples Niccolò Paganini’s violin piece “La Campanella” mixed with a trap beat in the back as the members sing about their wealth and fame. “The Happiest Girl” highlights the vocal talents of each member as they sing a heartbreaking piano ballad that sounds like it could belong on an Olivia Rodrigo album. BORN PINK has a song for everyone, and it is a relatively easy listen, with the entire album being less than 25 minutes.

Recommended Song: Hard To Love

Album Link: BORN PINK

  1. MOTOMAMI– Rosalía

As someone who had never listened to Latin pop before this year, I would have never believed that an album almost entirely in Spanish would have intrigued me this much. However, Rosalía’s artistic vision in MOTOMAMI left me in awe. In this project, Rosalía combines her roots in Flamenco-style music with contrasting hyper pop and reggaeton influences. Although this combination seems like it would clash, it succeeds in a beautiful but chaotic way. The album opens with “SAOKO,” a high-energy track about the constant transformation of culture, produced almost entirely by Rosalía herself. The reggaeton-and jazz-inspired track has quickly become one of my favorite pieces of music in terms of production. This song perfectly expresses the unapologetic self-expression that the rest of the album unmasks. Throughout the album, each melody is addicting, whether from the irregular production or the haunting vocals shown in the more Flamenco-style songs. MOTOMAMI transcends all boundaries of music as it combines almost every genre and style into one album, and it is definitely worth your time. Even if you have never listened to Latin pop, Rosalía creates music that anyone with an open mind can enjoy.

Recommended Song: BIZCOCHITO

Album Link: MOTOMAMI

  1. RENAISSANCE– Beyoncé

“I’m too classy for this world, forever I’m that girl,” Beyoncé self-proclaims in “Alien Superstar” as she releases her most danceable album yet, RENAISSANCE. Making this her first solo studio album since 2016, Beyoncé came onto the record more confident than ever before, delivering powerful and undeniably fun lyrics. In a time where most popular albums tend to fall into a very formulaic mold of mellow production and shying away from the type of pop that dominated the radio in the early 2010s, it is so uplifting to see an artist truly embrace the importance of releasing a purely pop album. Tracks like “PURE/HONEY” and “CUFF IT” are club-ready anthems with a euphoric feeling that only an artist like Beyoncé can create. “BREAK MY SOUL” is almost impossible not to dance to wherever you hear it played, as Beyoncé spits out repeated affirmations with a vogueing-worthy beat in the back. RENAISSANCE further proves that Beyoncé is one of the most versatile artists of our time and that anything she touches turns into a masterpiece. 

Recommended Song: Alien Superstar


  1. Dawn FM– The Weeknd

After the worldwide success of After Hours, it was impossible to know if The Weeknd would be able to top his supposed magnum opus. However, Dawn FM dropped less than two years later, creating his most creative and immersive album. The album features the narration of Jim Carrey throughout a handful of tracks as he leads you on an existential journey through life, death, and whatever lies in between. Dawn FM has an 80s-synth and R&B pattern, with The Weeknd often adding smooth transitions between each song so that you feel like you’re listening to a continuous loop on a broken radio, hence the title of the album. Even though the album is made to tell a particular story, each song stands out in its own way too. “Gasoline” and “Sacrifice” both show The Weeknd’s dedication to creating the perfect mix of retro and futuristic-sounding music, which seems to be his signature sound in music now. He even includes Tyler, The Creator, in a sonically beautiful track, “Here We Go…Again,” one of my favorites, and not just because The Weeknd references his Tampa Superbowl performance in the lyrics. Regardless if you listen to the songs individually or the whole album in order, which I heavily suggest, The Weeknd truly transports his listeners into an otherworldly dimension with Dawn FM.

Recommended Song: Less Than Zero

Album Link: Dawn FM

  1. Emails I Can’t Send– Sabrina Carpenter

Sabrina Carpenter has been in the music industry for about seven years, but her work always seemed to be dismissed due to Hollywood Records’ lack of promotion of her records and consistently portraying her with the Disney-girl image. However, in Emails I Can’t Send, her pivotal fifth studio album released under newly-signed Island Records, the difference in artistic vision and image is seen and appreciated. In this project, Carpenter presents herself as lively and confident, with the songs emanating the pure energy of young adulthood and femininity. The clever and sometimes humorous lyrics in songs like “Nonsense” or “How Many Times” showcase Carpenter’s musical duality and charisma. She reflects upon heartbreaking relationships with ex-lovers and family members in the namesake track of the album, as well as “Vicious.” However, she lets her listeners know she’s still living life like there’s no tomorrow in tracks like “Skinny Dipping” and “Fast Times.” This album’s intended stand-out track was supposed to be the slow-burning pop lead single, “because i liked a boy,” a track about the internet’s harsh reaction to Carpenter’s relationship with Joshua Bassett, but it ended up not charting as well as expected. However, fans have flocked to the non-single track “Nonsense,” a catchy and fun song that has drawn many praising comparisons to the musical style of Ariana Grande. As the song has been used over 115k times on TikTok, Carpenter has earned her first semi-hit song in years. Her years of being overlooked in the industry are coming to a close as she continues to have more creative freedom with her projects. Emails I Can’t Send shows that Sabrina Carpenter’s name is not one to be dismissed regarding exceptional pop music. 

Recommended Song: Nonsense 

Album Link: emails i can’t send

  1. Preacher’s Daughter– Ethel Cain

Of all the artists that gained attraction only this year, Ethel Cain, who is slowly growing as she just hit one million listeners on Spotify, has been the most intriguing by far. Her rural-Americana aesthetic makes her wildly different from any artist you may encounter. Although Cain’s style is charismatically unique, many have compared the quality of her work to artists like Florence + The Machine, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, and Phoebe Bridgers. Her debut album, Preacher’s Daughter, is a genre-bending and storytelling masterpiece that has quickly gained the attention of critics. Cain’s creative vision is rivaled by no one else in the music industry, as every aspect of her music and image has intense symbolism and depth. For starters, “Ethel Cain” is just a stage name for Florida-native singer Hayden Anhedönia. To Anhedönia, Ethel Cain is simply an exaggerated version of herself, down to her strict religious upbringing and rural childhood. 

I was first introduced to her work through the lead single of Preacher’s Daughter, the coming-of-age anthem, “American Teenager,” which I would call a quintessential pop song of the decade. In this track, Cain expresses her frustration with the “American dream” and the struggles of being a young adult in a small town. There is no other word to describe the song other than simply cathartic. However, nothing could’ve prepared me for the entire album, which shares the whole life story from birth to death of Ethel Cain. The album opens with a few tracks setting the stage for Cain’s life, in which she describes that she has been “swinging by her neck from the family tree,” subtly hinting at the character’s inevitable demise at the end of the album. “American Teenager” also appears at the beginning half of the album. It is the only attempt at pure alternative pop throughout the project, as the rest of the tracks mix country, gospel, chamber pop, folk, and alternative rock. A track that should not be missed at the start of this album is “A House In Nebraska,” a gut-wrenching look at Cain’s mourning of the worst heartbreak she has ever felt. The track is well over seven minutes long, with the first half almost acapella, except for the haunting piano keys. However, the bass that kicks in after about four minutes is ethereal and can make anyone feel the pain of a doomed relationship. The first half of the album concludes with my personal favorite track, “Thoroughfare,” a country-inspired track that is nearly 10 minutes long. “Thoroughfare” has the most passionate storytelling I have ever seen in a song, as it describes the unlikely journey from Texas to California that Cain finds herself on with a man she met who was looking to find love on the West Coast. As they reach the edge of America, Cain realizes he is her true love. The guitar and drum build-up of “Thoroughfare” is almost emotional, as it perfectly captures the feeling of seeing the world from a new perspective. However, the album takes a dramatic turn after the song ends. Before Cain realizes that her new love isn’t who she thought he was, she is killed at the hands of her psychotic so-called lover in the 9th song of the album, “Ptolemaea.” The album eventually concludes with a deceased Cain reflecting upon her life, lovers, family, and religion, leaving the listener at a loss for words.  Even if the thematic intensity of the album may cause some people to be hesitant to tune in, “American Teenager” can be easily listened to without any context of the story. The album isn’t a quick listen with its 1 hour and 15-minute run-time, but I guarantee that if you take the time to listen to it, Preacher’s Daughter will change your life. 

Recommended Song: American Teenager

Album Link: Preacher’s Daughter