2022 was no slouch when it came to music. With releases from the likes of The 1975, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lizzy McAlpine, Rina Sawayama, and of course, Taylor Swift, this year was chock-full with comebacks and catchy tunes. We asked our staff to tell us about some of their favorites and why they made the top of their end-of-year lists. Check out their responses below.
Rina Sawayama – Hold the Girl
When Rina said she could “be your Frankenstein,” one thing’s for sure: she’s a genius with experimentation. While some of the lyrics felt rudimentary and some songs weren’t as impactful, Rina brings the acceptance to life in a way that only someone who wants it can. Her grief is not invisible, not unimportant, not erasable—but she is finding ways to forgive, nonetheless.
Fun fact: Marisa’s favorite tracks include “Hold the Girl” and “Your Age”
Lizzy McAlpine – Five Seconds Flat
In comparison to her last album, Five Seconds Flat is a huge step up in production, with beautifully intrinsic harmonies, instrumentals, and storylines. Each song packs a punch in its own way, some being wonderful love songs that really make you feel, while others cover deeper topics of heartbreak and dealing with mental health. Overall, Five Seconds Flat is a stellar album and really showcases the talents and huge improvements Lizzy McAlpine has made over the years.
– Sara De Ledesma
The 1975 – Being Funny In A Foreign Language
Being Funny In A Foreign Language was a step up for The 1975, after giving us albums that were almost too experimental for their own good. Instead of making an over-the-top, elaborate album that continued to push boundaries, the guys gave us a more mature project that shows their growth and confirms their identity. It marked a change for the band, showing off what they do best but not getting carried away with itself.
– Christine Sloman
Barrie – Barbara
This album flew under many folks’ radar, but it’s the album I’ve returned to the most as 2022 passed by. Barrie has a remarkable knack for writing songs that are specific enough to her own journey, but are easily related to by listeners looking for an escape. Sonically, this album is a journey — whether it’s the delicate folksy stylings of “Bully” or the 80s soft-rock of “Quarry,” you’re bound to find something you love in a big way.
– Jones Willingham
Fun fact: you can read an interview Jones did with Barrie earlier this year here.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love
Unlimited Love scores big points right out of the gate by being the first Chili Peppers album with guitarist John Frusciante since 2006. The quintessential L.A. funk-rockers, who are now in their 60’s, still deliver something fresh. That much is evident in “Black Summer” and “These Are the Ways,” two singles that take the latter-day RHCP approach and squeeze it subtly.
– Hailey Howard
Loveless – End of an era
From viral pop-punk-rock renditions of covers on TikTok (which have garnered the duo more than 2 million followers), to a 9-track album filled with original tracks and covers, Loveless has shown the pop-punk community they’re here with some bangers on their 2022 release, End of an era. Each track carries a level of emotion despite the upbeat, poppy sound. From the album’s most popular track, “MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT,” which is a cover from Elley Duhé, down to the pessimistic lyrics behind “Everest,” the intensity of each track leaves you wanting more, but not without a sense of fulfillment at the same time. Although it’s truly just the beginning of the duo’s 2 years together, it’s clear that Loveless are here to stay.
– Victoria Goodwin
Avril Lavigne – Love Sux
The past few years have been tough on all of us, so in 2022 I found myself gravitating towards fun, and occasionally mindless, pop. One album that encapsulated this carefree attitude perfectly was Avril Lavigne’s Love Sux, a collection of 12 hyper pop punk tracks that sound as if the artist is fronting Enema of the State era Blink-182. Short, fast, loud, ultra-produced, and laden with the f-word, these songs don’t take themselves seriously (… like, at all), and I think that’s exactly what I needed this year.
Ethel Cain – Preacher’s Daughter
Preacher’s Daughter is the first full length album by Hayden Silas Anhedönia, AKA Ethel Cain. Ethel Cain is Anhedönia’s stage name and character concept, and she draws on experiences from her life growing up in a small southern Baptist community to tell her story. The album takes the listener through a devastating emotional journey that explores love, religious and generational trauma, and ends with its protagonist being murdered and cannibalized. The gothic dream pop and slowcore-inspired production paired with Anhedönia’s heartbreaking lyrics make for an epic listening experience.
– Hailey Collins
Djo – DECIDE
On Djo’s sophomore album, DECIDE, the artist takes a trip through time. Throughout the LP, Djo (Joe Keery) reflects upon the changes he has been through, and those he anticipates. On the surface, DECIDE is a vibrant, psych-influenced synth-pop record, but there is substance to this project.
– Lexi Whitney
Taylor Swift – Midnights
It’s no secret that Taylor Swift is superhuman in the world of pop music. Seemingly on a roll with re-releasing her old material after she lost the rights to her music, Tay surprised fans in August when she announced that she had an album of brand new songs on the way. From there an uncharacteristically straightforward roll-out took place, with Swift being upfront as opposed to coy in sharing everything: song titles, visual aesthetics, music video teasers, and more. But there was still some element of mystery as no one was sure what the songs would sound like: would the artist continue in her “cottagecore” groove? Experiment with the sounds of 70’s folk pop ala Joni Mitchell? It turns out that neither of these guesses were true, and instead we were delivered an album full of pop gems… or should we saw jewels?
Fun fact: you can read Lexi Whitney’s review of Midnights here.