By Anthony Cesario
Soon enough 2022 will be coming to a close, and looking back, it’s been a great year for music. Today I’ll be ranking my top 20 albums of the year, some of which are so good they’ll be definitely making my all-time lists.
20. Maren Morris - Humble Quest
Maren Morris consistently delivers incredible country-pop music, and her latest offering, Humble Quest, is another great addition to her catalogue. Though more stripped back than its predecessors, Humble Quest reveals its beauty with further listens, as it delivers wisdom in such simple yet poignant ways.
Favorite tracks: I Can’t Love You Anymore, Background Music, Detour
19. The 1975 - Being Funny in a Foreign Language
The 1975 are usually hit-or-miss when it comes to structuring an album, but thankfully Being Funny in a Foreign Language cuts the filler and makes for the bands’ best, most concise project yet. It’s classic The 1975 in sound yet still spans numerous other genres, like folk, shoegaze, and jazz.
Favorite tracks: About You, Oh Caroline, I’m in Love With You
18. Brimheim - can’t hate myself into a different shape
The latest addition to the realm of “sad indie girl” music is Brimheim, who, on can’t hate myself into a different shape, delivers dark, honest anecdotes with humanity, empathy, and even a touch of humor. Her beautiful voice, great lyricism, and indie rock/grunge sounds brings to mind a host of influences – St. Vincent, Caroline Polachek, Mitski, Lucy Dacus – but she still carves out a sound that’s distinctly her own.
Favorite tracks: can’t hate myself into a different shape, this weeks laundry, hey amanda
17. FKA twigs - CAPRISONGS
FKA twigs’ mixtape CAPRISONGS combines her art-pop and avant-garde inclinations with a poppier, more palatable soundscape than usual, and the result is a project that’s both worthy of repeated listens and straight-up fun to listen to. It sounds like a night out with the best of your friends, while not sacrificing the artistry FKA twigs has established of herself up to this point.
Favorite tracks: papi bones, which way, tears in the club
16. Bad Bunny - Un Verano Sin Ti
One of the year’s most notable albums, Un Verano Sin Ti has dominated the world since its release, and deservingly so. It takes great skill to make a 23-track album not lose a listener’s interest, but Bad Bunny achieved it in spades with this summer-fied collection of songs that are sure to be party staples for years to come.
Favorite tracks: Tití Me Preguntó, Otro Atardecer, Me Porto Bonito
15. MUNA - MUNA
MUNA’s self-titled album feels like a warm hug, a slumber party spent with your best friends. From punchy synth-pop bangers to soft folk songs, MUNA delivers messages of hope, perseverance, and liberation and provides a refreshing perspective on queer representation in music.
Favorite tracks: What I Want, Kind of Girl, Silk Chiffon
14. Sabrina Carpenter - emails i can’t send
As the title suggests, emails i can’t send is a collection of confessionals, a bundle of songs so full of emotions we’d probably never say to someone in person. There’s something for everybody on this album, whether you’re looking for something to party to or something that’ll make you cry your eyes out.
Favorite tracks: Bad For Business, Vicious, bet u wanna
13. Demi Lovato - HOLY FVCK
As pop-punk becomes the new hot trend, some artists’ embrace of the genre feels more authentic than others; one of them is Demi Lovato, who, after all, began her career as a pop-rock/pop-punk artist. HOLY FVCK is the first album that finally, truly shows off her full range of talents, with killer hooks and vocals that are hard to compete with.
Favorite tracks: WASTED, EAT ME, SUBSTANCE
12. Charli XCX - CRASH
There’s sell-out albums, and then there’s Charli XCX’s version of a sell-out album, which still outclasses most artists’ best work. Despite being more “basic pop” than her releases over the past five years, CRASH is the type of album that could only have been made by an artist who truly gets the pop genre.
Favorite tracks: Used to Know Me, Good Ones, Baby
11. Kehlani - blue water road
With tracks that seep into the next like water on a sandy shoreline, blue water road is an immersive, fulfilling listening experience. It’s not always the most immediate of albums, but once it gets a hold of you, there’s no letting go.
Favorite tracks: altar, wish i never, melt
10. Tove Lo - Dirt Femme
Tove Lo’s newest album sees her going on a surprisingly revealing journey through the dark underbellies of her femininity and sexuality, and yet the songs are massive bangers at the same time. It’s an art she’s been perfecting for years; this is one of her strongest statements yet.
Favorite tracks: Cute & Cruel, Grapefruit, No One Dies From Love
09. Maggie Rogers - Surrender
While I wasn’t big on Maggie’s debut album, her sophomore record was much more up my alley with its embrace of ‘90s alt-rock sounds. It’s a big ode to the messiness of life, as evident by the extremities to which Maggie takes her voice on here. And it captures that perfect, aching type of nostalgia that makes it seem like an album that’s existed for decades.
Favorite tracks: Want Want, Be Cool, Honey
08. Hatchie - Giving the World Away
Another great ‘90s-tinged album, Giving the World Away seamlessly blends dream pop with shoegaze and grunge for an immersive experience from start to finish. The melodies are absolutely gorgeous, and listening to this album is like being drowned in sound in the best way possible.
Favorite tracks: Quicksand, Til We Run Out of Air, Don’t Leave Me in the Rain
07. ROSALÍA - MOTOMAMI
One of the best-produced, most consistently exciting records of the year is ROSALÍA’s avant-garde masterpiece MOTOMAMI. The jarring tracklist – going from party bangers to ballads with stunning vocals – is indicative of the two sides of her femininity ROSALÍA sought to represent with it. Each song is wonderful on its own, but takes on new depths when consumed in the context of the full album.
Favorite tracks: HENTAI, CHICKEN TERIYAKI, CUUUUuuuuuute
06. Rina Sawayama - Hold the Girl
On Rina Sawayama’s sophomore album, maximalist pop meets Shania Twain country meets folk meets Linkin Park nu-metal, and a whole lot more. It’s a journey of self acceptance in the face of the trials of life, turned into a collection of dance bangers and tearjerking ballads. Even though I’m disappointed my tour date got canceled and I didn’t get to see this album performed live, it’s a masterpiece nonetheless.
Favorite tracks: Minor Feelings, Hold the Girl, Send My Love to John
05. Omar Apollo - Ivory
Omar Apollo’s long-awaited debut album is a stunning display of his talents, as he hops from genre to genre (and from English to Spanish) and sings of desire, intimacy, and heartbreak. It’s equal parts heartbreak as it is fun (well…maybe a bit more heartbreak than fun) and is taken to towering heights by his angelic voice.
Favorite tracks: Petrified, Endlessly, Archetype
04. Beyoncé - RENAISSANCE
After years of a pandemic, RENAISSANCE is exactly the album we needed. Not only that, but it’s one of the best dance albums I’ve heard period, with each track seamlessly leading to the next, making it impossible to just pick and choose a single one to listen to at a time. Yet despite its upbeat, joyful sound, every song is loaded with layers of details and complexities that make it evident just how much love and care was put into making this album.
Favorite tracks: PURE/HONEY, AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM, SUMMER RENAISSANCE
03. Zella Day - Sunday in Heaven
Sunday in Heaven is all about trying to enjoy the journey just as much as the destination, because of how disappointing the destination can often be. It’s an effervescent blend of Laurel Canyon pop and psychedelic disco, with some of the best melodies, hooks, and vocals I’ve ever heard.
Favorite tracks: Mushroom Punch, Radio Silence, Last Time
02. Taylor Swift - Midnights
Even though I’m a little resentful right now because of how much of a disaster the process of getting tickets to Taylor Swift’s tour has been, I’m of the belief that Midnights is her best album yet. It combines all of her strengths – her songwriting, her emotive performances, her catchy-beyond-belief hooks – into a single project and has something for everyone, all while having absolutely no filler at all.
Favorite tracks: You’re On Your Own Kid, Maroon, Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve
01. Avril Lavigne - Love Sux
As someone who’s been Avril’s self-proclaimed biggest fan for years now, Love Sux – her return to pop-punk – is what I’ve been craving from her for years. It’s a riot from start to finish, a pure blast of energy I’ve played more times than I care to admit. What’s even more exciting is we have a deluxe version of it coming next week, complete with three new songs (including the fantastic “I’m a Mess”).
Favorite tracks: Avalanche, Déjà vu, Cannonball, I’m a Mess