This year was undoubtedly one of the best years for new music we have had in a long time — and it was well worth it. From rap to pop to indie, all music lovers were rewarded with new music. So as the year comes to a close, VALLEY wants to recap 10 of the most popular chart-topping albums of the year, and give our thoughts and an overview of the listening experience.
(Albums will be listed according to their release date.)
Dawn FM – The Weeknd
Coming first on our list is The Weeknd’s fifth studio album, “Dawn FM.” This funky album mixes the styles of synth-pop, dance-pop and rap. “Dawn FM” is unlike any other album The Weeknd has released and its uniqueness — and how highly anticipated it was — definitely added to why it made our list. If you haven’t given it a listen yet, we highly recommend it. Brooding, unique and stylistic, this album is one of our favorites.
Ants From Up There – Black Country, New Road
This experimental-rock album is an exceptional second album from this London group. It is the closest thing to a Pink Floyd-style album from this new generation of music. Soft and melodic, it transports you as you listen to it. Though this album may not be for everyone, it is brilliant and heart aching which makes for a wonderful listen. The overall devastating and slow mood of this album — in the best way of course — makes it confounding and beautiful.
MOTOMAMI – ROSALÍA
This bold, pop and R&B album is a true showcase of Rosalía’s talent and range. The overall dark, electronica vibe of this album makes for such a compelling listen. Rosalía is in her prime and only getting better. Well-balanced and beautiful, we really suggest taking a listen.
Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers – Kendrick Lamar
The most anticipated rap album of the year and one of the most anticipated albums overall, Kendrick Lamar made the wait completely worth it for his fifth studio album. “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” turns away from the limelight of fame and focuses on himself. One of his most ambitious albums, it rings true to the stylistic nature that is specific to Kendrick, including larger themes and perspectives from the world we live in today. This album is a perfect listen from start to finish, and really tells a story to its listeners.
Harry’s House – Harry Styles
Harry’s third solo album invites the listeners into his home — well his representation of it musically. These songs are all yours to laugh, sing, and cry to. Unsurprisingly, this was one of the most successful albums of 2022, and for good reason. It is an intimate and easy listen, a song that can captivate anyone who will give it a listen. Indie-pop and pop-rock vibes encapsulate this album and (as we like to say) make this album a perfect driving album. But whether you are blasting it in your car or listening while you do homework, this album is the perfect company.
Gemini Rights – Steve Lacy
Truly the sleeper hit of this list is Steve Lacy’s “Gemini Rights.” Even though it was not overwhelmingly popular when first released, Steve Lacy fans made sure this album was heard. As it made its way around, “Gemini Rights” quickly became one of 2022’s most listened-to albums. This album is the perfect mix of indie, pop and R&B. The mood of this album is steamy —warm and yearnful — you can feel it in your soul. The guitar and melodies of this album really make it worth the listen.
Renaissance – Beyoncé
“Renaissance” is the perfect title for this album because that is what it is — a renaissance of music. This rich celebration of club-style music is unifying and powerful. Every song is hypnotizing and an undeniable reminder to listeners that music comes first! Even though there was some skepticism surrounding the club vibe of this album, Beyoncé over-delivered in the subgenres of disco, house, funky and Afrobeat — all flowing seamlessly together.
Midnights – Taylor Swift
Who knows if the world was ready for “Midnights,” but it was certainly ready for the world. Taylor explores a new subdued pop sound in her 10th album that focuses more on setting an atmosphere and vibe. Her confident songwriting is what she is known for and that definitely still reins true for “Midnights.” This album perfectly balances a love story/revenge plot over a synth-pop of sound. One of the most anticipated albums, it more than deserves a spot on our list and a couple of listens through.
Her Loss – Drake and 21 Savage
It was clearly a big year for rap and hip-hop. This collaboration album between Drake and 21 Savage has definitely been met with some criticism, but it is undoubtedly one of the most popular 2022 albums, which is exceptional on its own because of how late it was released, and still has some amazing hits. Finally, we are gifted with some “old Drake” vibes in this album. Drake and 21 Savage may struggle to stay balanced in some songs, but overall “Her Loss” has produced some quality songs that are perfect to put in your getting-ready or going-out playlists.
The Family – BROCKHAMPTON
The last album on our list is BROCKHAMPTON’s “The Family.” The purported last album from the group chronicles their rise and fall and their highs and lows through 17 songs. It is a perfect finishing album for the group. It combines experimental hip-hop and pop-rap to generate a balanced energetic and melodic album. Though Kevin Abstract is the only featured vocalist on the album, it captures the spirit of the group almost as if their group coming to an end freed them up creatively like never before. The album wraps up as a thank-you letter to their fans and even if you haven’t been an avid BROCKHAMPTON listener in the past, this album still is worth a listen.
Thank You 2022
What would we be without music? 2022 has been a wild year that’s for sure, but in that chaos, we were blessed with some new music from our favorite artists. And honestly, that makes it all worth it.
Even though not every new album from this year is featured on this list, we still want to know what your favorite ones were. DM us on Twitter @VALLEYmag or Instagram @valleymag to share your thoughts!
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