Phoenix – Alpha Zulu
People are fond of criticising Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars for writing cryptic or nonsensical lyrics. I say: listen a little deeper, won’t you? Alpha Zulu, Phoenix’s seventh album, interrogates middle-aged ennui with razor-sharp wit, imbuing intoxicatingly sensory synthpop songs with deeply sad lyrics about the tensions between work and love. It ends with Identical, a tribute to the band’s late longtime producer Philippe Zdar, which also happens to be one of the band’s all-timer anthems – a eulogy to close out the biggest festival stage in the world. SD
Tove Lo – Dirt Femme
The Swedish pop star’s fifth – and first independent – album works as a decent primer for anyone who hasn’t been paying attention to the past few years in pop. It’s got Dua-style disco (thanks in part to sharing a collaborator in SG Lewis), Charli XCX’s death drive and one of those now-ubiquitous, infuriatingly catchy Y2K pop interpolations in 2 Die 4, which, quite bafflingly, samples Crazy Frog’s 2005 cover of Gershon Kingsley’s 1969 song Popcorn. Consequently Tove Lo is less of an eye-popping presence here than on her previous records, though her apparent recalcitrance makes her unusual anxiety and conflict around relationships and intensity all the more striking. LS
Kojey Radical – Reasons to Smile
Kojey Radical’s debut album finally arrived this year and, while a lot of long-gestating debuts can fall flat on arrival, Reasons to Smile was worth the wait. Its interplay of hip-hop grit and neo-soul smoothness is kinetic and hypnotic, like watching oil and vinegar try to emulsify. Radical himself is the glue between Reasons to Smile’s warring sides, a grinning, gloriously charismatic guide through his universe. SD
Earl Sweatshirt – Sick!
During a season of loss and introversion, an artist who made his name considering those states of being surprised listeners by expanding his purview, reaching outwards to forge connection – it’s there too in the warmth of the vintage soul-tinged production – and define some sense of freedom on his terms. It’s a beautiful example of Earl’s proclivity to defy expectations: on Sick!, the new father watches older members of his family die and reassesses his place in their lineage, past and future; he grapples with pain, how to process it rather than let it “fester into hate”, and works to stay present, aware of how “life can change in the blink of an eye”. LS
Danger Mouse and Black Thought – Cheat Codes
Danger Mouse, the defining producer of the 2000s, and Roots MC Black Thought have been working together for years, but their long-mooted full-length collab didn’t properly materialise until this summer. The result is soulful and whip-smart, and makes good on the promise of their first outing together, the 2005 Dangerdoom track Mad Nice: Cheat Codes contains granite-solid bars, luxuriant and sample-heavy beats in one of the most perfect producer/MC pairings of the past 20 years. SD
Special Interest – Endure
After six years on the DIY circuit, 2022 saw the New Orleans punk outfit head towards the mainstream. Compared with their back catalogue of distorted guitars and industrial synthesis, Endure was notably more pop-aligned, with buoyant keys and groovy riffs wrestling against lead singer Alli Logout’s grizzled vocals and a chugging drum machine. It was a change that felt like a liberating step forward, learning to embrace the more playful side of punk, rather than a sellout move. SB
Julia Jacklin – Pre Pleasure
Julia Jacklin’s first two records are rooted in relentless, cathartic self-interrogation. But Pre Pleasure is about picking yourself up, stepping over the strange entrails of truth you unearthed, and trying to remember who you are without the baggage and bad vibes. Pre Pleasure is all pristine, gently loping arrangements and reminders to stay healthy, stay happy, have some fun. It’s not a live, laugh, love album as much as a reminder to let yourself off the hook every once in a while. As Jacklin whispers on Ignore Tenderness, with more than a tiny wink: “Go on, let it all out.” SD
Suede – Autofiction
On Suede’s ninth album, Brett Anderson is in a reflective mood, contemplating the loss of his mother and his roles as a father, lover and performer, and how the latter cross paths with the younger versions of himself that populate his memories. It’s a nostalgic nook that many rock stars of his vintage find themselves in once they hit middle age – but unlike many rock stars of his vintage, Anderson bucks the expectation to frame these ruminations as a swan song. Instead he tackles them with all the guts, rage and euphoria of a young man with those evolutions and incarnations still ahead of him. LS
Alex G – God Save the Animals
When asked by Pitchfork why his ninth album was so awash in religious imagery, Alex Giannascoli replied: “A few people that I’m close to became religious. It made me wonder what they found.” God Save the Animals suggests that what they found may have been, plainly, ease – a contentment and faith in the world that’s been hard to find on Giannascoli’s past few albums. Although he may be as neurotic and searching as ever, God Save the Animals finds him zeroing in on tiny moments of relief from the anxieties of the world, trudging up a never-ending hill and telling himself a mantra steeped in earnestness and irony: “Every day is a blessing.” SD
Oliver Sim – Hideous Bastard
The greatest trick pulled by the xx is in how joint singers Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim dissolve their personal perspectives into an alluring, all-embracing whole. But on Sim’s debut album, he considers the many ways he has tried to disappear in his life – denial, fear, isolation, shame – and weighs up their cost. The antidote, Hideous Bastard suggests, is in unvarnished, often unflattering honesty; the slinky, seductive, often twisted music, produced by Sim’s bandmate Jamie xx, creates the perfect uncanny spotlight for it. LS
Alabaster DePlume – Gold – Go Forward in the Courage of Your Love
One of the year’s most confronting albums didn’t deal in noise or aggression, but deeply insistent compassion. “Don’t forget you’re precious,” the Manchester jazz poet insists across Gold, one of the album’s many such mantras. These are hard messages for anyone inclined to self-criticism to hear – and DePlume (AKA Gus Fairbairn) counts himself among them, laying bare his struggle to remember his own worth. In doing so he dodges the sentimentality that might otherwise overwhelm a record that proceeds with both palms held upright to the sky. And the sincerity of his mission is evident in its real-world application, with the eerie rhythms, heart-caressing vocal harmonies and vulnerable horns imperceptibly stitched together from days of improvisation with various different ensembles. If we can’t remember that we’re precious, he seems to suggest, being in community with others might remind us. LS
The Weather Station – How Is It That I Should Look at the Stars
Tamara Lindeman couldn’t have had any idea what was to come when she sat down at the piano from 10–12 March 2020 to record How Is It That I Should Look at the Stars. On the companion album to last year’s Ignorance, she weighs up what kind of uncertainty we can tolerate living with – and what the point of certainty is in a world in flux. Her conclusions, at least when it comes to politics and the environment, are less than reassuring. But she threads her anxieties with a resonant confidence that love, as unpredictable as it is, remains a risk worth investing in, the Joni-like spirit in her vocals undimmed. LS
Bad Bunny – Un Verano Sin Ti
The year’s most streamed album is an old-fashioned romantic epic. Un Verano Sin Ti’s achingly wistful tale of hedonism and heartbreak has a booze-soaked, tearstained mood; it feels tangentially indebted to classic literature (I hear the Bad Bunny of Un Verano Sin Ti, constantly jerking between the heat of partying and ice-cold alienation, as a perverse analogue to Neddy Merrill, from Cheever’s The Swimmer) as well as cinematic worldbuilding breakup albums such as Lorde’s Melodrama. Bad Bunny pairs his heartbroken missives with sublime reggaeton, dembow and bachata, as well as surprising moments of softness courtesy of indie artists such as the Marías, Buscabulla and Bomba Estéreo. He flits effortlessly between raucous party-starting and moments of wounded introversion, distilling all the divine drama of summer into 81 intoxicating, all-too-short minutes. SD
Wu-Lu – Loggerhead
Loggerhead is a little like a zombie movie where Wu-Lu is the lone survivor, a muffled voice of humanity trying to make out any remnants of life in an environment that no longer feels familiar. He stalks the album’s diffuse post-punk landscapes, alternately yelling and mumbling, singing and rapping, letting out a harsh, piercing scream during South, the record’s centrepiece. The closest comparison for this remarkable, haunted debut album would perhaps be enigmatic London experimentalist Dean Blunt, but where Blunt’s main mode is detachment, Wu-Lu seeks out the visceral and the guttural, making an indelible impression in the process. SD
Sharon Van Etten – We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong
At the dawn of the 2020s, Sharon Van Etten, like so many others, began to feel the natural world revolt. Her sixth album is her response – not a raging polemic, but an attempt to answer the question she asks on Darkish: “Where will we be when our world is done?” Over a thunder of synths and guitars, she writes love songs to her child and partner, attempts to make peace with her anxieties about motherhood, sex and self-image. As the album crescendos with the magnificent Mistakes, she unleashes a torrent of intermingled pain and joy: “Even when I make a mistake / It’s much better than that!” SD
Björk – Fossora
If Björk’s last album, 2017’s Utopia, was about an idealised version of life, she told us in August, then Fossora represented the real world: “Let’s see what it’s like when you walk into this fantasy and, you know, have a lunch and farrrrt and do normal things, like meet your friends.” Naturally, Björk’s musical rendering of domestic life didn’t hold much truck with verité depictions of daily life. Instead, she twisted an artillery of bass clarinets, gabber beats and that famously abundant vocal range into a typically idiosyncratic vision of community inspired by mushrooms and matrilineage. LS
Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul – Topical Dancer
In a world of rigid thinking and hard borders between countries and sounds, the Belgium-based duo make their lunge towards freedom. “Thank yourself / Praise your body / Celebrate and dance,” they urge. Liberation can be found in the body, they suggest – in reclaimed sexuality, a clear mind and a deep belly laugh – and they supply the tools to help get us there: the funk, the slink and a reminder of the pleasures of not taking life too seriously. LS
Oren Ambarchi / Johan Berthling / Andreas Werliin – Ghosted
In another typically prolific year for Oren Ambarchi, the Australian guitarist picked up the baton with some of his most enduring collaborators, the Swedes double bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Andreas Werliin. Ghosted is a hypnotic exploration of groove that seems to strip back over the course of its four already impressively lean songs: I is busy and curious; II shudders and flickers over a single repeated fretboard harmonic refrain. The eerie, pattering III starts leading the trio into the shadows before IV slips into the realm of hushed doom jazz plied by Bohren und der Club of Gore. As good an entry point as any into a rich catalogue (try Ambarchi’s glorious 2022 solo album Shebang, for one). LS
Yaya Bey – Remember Your North Star
Yaya Bey’s superlative second record is one of the year’s coolest, a heady mix of R&B and jazz that’s lived-in, conversational, meticulous; acidic in its humour and boundless in its empathy. Songs such as Keisha and Meet Me in Brooklyn are filled with subtle interlocking parts but never feel busy: the production equivalent of no-makeup makeup, they provide perfectly minimal backing for Bey to unspool her lackadaisical but painstakingly composed lyrics about relationships, work and Black womanhood. Recalling incisive, free-spirited chroniclers of sex and romance such as SZA and Cookie Mueller, Bey provides a much-needed voice for 21st-century singles everywhere, getting lost in love and looking good doing it. SD
Pusha T – It’s Almost Dry
Four years after his career-rejuvenating instant classic Daytona, Pusha T returned with It’s Almost Dry, arguably his sharpest and most appealingly persnickety album since his peak Clipse days. Unlike on Daytona, there’s no Drake beef here to draw Push’s ire; instead, his lyrics are all about petty rifts and decades-old dramas, scores that can only be settled with excoriating, ice-cold wordplay. While the credits list seems bloated – It’s Almost Dry is stacked with household names including Kanye West, Jay-Z, Pharrell, Kid Cudi and Lil Uzi Vert, and features a Beyoncé sample on grandiose highlight Rock n Roll – the focus is squarely on Pusha, as, nearly 20 years on from his first commercial peak, he re-establishes himself as one of the era’s most vital rappers. SD
Muna – Muna
After getting dropped by their major label, the LA trio signed to Phoebe Bridgers’ imprint of indie Secretly Canadian and made their poppiest album yet. Their collaboration with the boss, Silk Chiffon, is the purest hit on the record, a breathless, uncomplicated gasp of adoration in the direction of some perfect girl. But Muna’s eye for complicated – and often unflattering – relationship dynamics still seethes beneath the album’s gleaming pop structures, Y2K aesthetics and quasi-Taylor Swift hooks as singer Katie Gavin wrestles with post-breakup regret. LS
Let’s Eat Grandma – Two Ribbons
Since they arrived six years ago, the Norwich duo have never been anything less than unique, moving from the insular teen lore of their 2016 debut I, Gemini to neon-bright proto-hyperpop on 2018’s I’m All Ears. Two Ribbons is their third landmark record in a row: a viscerally brave contemplation of loss, as Jenny Hollingworth faced the death of her boyfriend from cancer, and she and Rosa Walton found themselves helplessly drifting apart, bridged via ravey euphoria, startling honesty and an intriguing newfound foray into ambience. LS
Jenny Hval – Classic Objects
After spending her whole career interrogating the norms and systems that bind us, the Norwegian songwriter turned her focus inwards to work out whether her own beliefs still served her and where they had come from in the first place. As with so many records released this year, she found a possible future guiding light in remaining open to possibility, a spirit she conveyed in her most plainly beautiful and openhearted music to date: lilting reggae, light-headed euphoria and sparkling choruses. LS
Gabriels – Angels & Queens – Part 1
In a sea of soul revivalists, Gabriels are the rare group actually pushing the genre forward. Their adventurous arrangements swap feelgood retro stylings for confrontational mosaics of samples, and moments where they pull the rug out from under the listener. Rather than dial up the volume or slather on the horns, as their less imaginative peers might, they use painstaking attention to detail as a way of heightening the drama. Equally shapeshifting is frontman Jacob Lusk, who can do diva, Nina and gut-wrenching balladeer at the light of the touchpaper: just listen to how he tastes the danger and deliciousness in the word “taboo” in a song of the same name. LS
The 1975 – Being Funny in a Foreign Language
No thoughts, head empty, only 1975 lyrics: “John’s obsessed with fat ass and he’s 10 years old”; “I know some vaccinista tote bag chic baristas”; “It seems that I was gaslighting you / I didn’t know that it had its own word.” Matty Healy, George Daniel and co get a lot of flak for being smartasses, but nearly every line on Being Funny in a Foreign Language is stupidly funny and devastatingly humane, some lovelorn-but-irony-poisoned phrase that probably should have been a tweet but, instead, is one of the most curiously insightful lyrics of the year. They pair those lyrics with production that’s gleefully wonky but deeply reverential of the canon at the same time – DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ loops, radiant R&B keys, a wall of sound that sounds like Heroes slowed to a crawl. This feels like a calling card record for the 1975 – their most delicate balance between romantic and ridiculous yet. SD
Alvvays – Blue Rev
The current sound of indie sophistication is all smooth, dulled surfaces and painfully wrought minimalism. Alvvays buck the trend with Blue Rev, an album that’s impossibly busy but devastatingly elegant – the musical equivalent of a rich, quiet aunt who always seems to be wearing a few too many pieces of jewellery. Guitar solos unspool into more solos; Molly Rankin’s lyrics are the stuff of acerbic, cult-favourite chapbooks, filled with “benevolent collegiates”, defiant spinsters and references to cult heroes and iconic pop stars. As on earlier records, Alvvays are still channelling bookish indie icons such as Swirlies, the Smiths and Teenage Fanclub. But Blue Rev goes beyond pure influence, turning that sound into something grand, buffeting and rich, leaving in all the craters of distortion – the equivalent of taking your teenage cassette player and blasting it through the speakers of Wembley Stadium. SD
Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
While Big Thief themselves can get a little tiresome – coming out with things like “we’re one big organism”, “it felt like we were inside a giant guitar”, or whatever – their music remains a tonic to the head-in-the-clouds discourse. Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You charts strange, invigoratingly experimental new plains: a hoedown powered by cartoonish jew’s harp, a noxious trip-hop dirge, and one song, Little Things, whose percussive guitar almost sounds like drawing pins being poured from one box to another. As ever, Adrianne Lenker’s lyrics are startlingly clarified in their mix of the pedestrian and poetic (“I wanna be the wrinkle in your eye / I wanna be the vapour that gets you high”) and the same could be said of the music itself: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You is transgressive, challenging, and a perfect comfort listen. SD
Ethel Cain – Preacher’s Daughter
Over 75 gruelling minutes, Hayden Anhedönia charts out the life of her Ethel Cain persona – a story of sexual abuse and slavery, absentee boyfriends, abduction and, in the album’s final tracks, untimely death. It’s a hazy, psychedelic southern gothic bildungsroman that’s excruciatingly slow, musically and conceptually confronting, and meticulous in its worldbuilding. Cain couldn’t have conceived of a more striking introduction – a star-making debut that revels in its own alienation. SD
Cate Le Bon – Pompeii
Pompeii is a tango with fear and suffering – Cate Le Bon’s attempt to reckon with her anxieties about the state of the world without letting go of the sinewy grooves that have worked their way to the heart of her opalescent post-punk. Its lyrics are drawn from ancient tales, essays on architecture, diary entries, sharply contrasting modernist elan with stark confessional – a rarity for a Cate Le Bon album. Much like its grimy sax and off-kilter rhythms, most of Pompeii’s questions lie unanswered long after the album is over. We’re left with an image of Le Bon, dancing amid the rubble of civilisation: “Raise a glass in a season of ash / And pour it over me.” SD
Mitski – Laurel Hell
In psychology, arrival fallacy describes the feeling of fulfilling a goal and yet still feeling disappointed. These are the underpinnings of Mitski’s sixth album, in which the Japanese American songwriter confronts the compromises her career has forced on her art and personhood – an album, no less, that she had no intention of making until she realised she still owed her label one more. These sound like inauspicious invitations to listen to Laurel Hell until you remember that – perhaps unfortunately for Mitski – her songwriting thrives amid this sort of conflict, between what we’re meant to want and what we truly want. Set primarily to the kind of tarnished 80s synth-pop the Weeknd would also explore on Dawn FM, Mitski charts the captivating battle between her weariness and drive, her rage and her discipline. LS
Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems
Diaspora Problems is sad, funny and, above all, brutal – the sound of a band contending with the horrors of racism and capitalism with an absurdist grin and an uncompromising eye. Fusing raw, flayed hardcore with dense rap, meme-ish humour, horn sections and jagged samples, Soul Glo reorient punk towards its anarchic and anti-capitalist roots, away from the When We Were Young-ified TikTok punk aesthetic and towards something that – in a rarity for 2022 – felt genuinely vital and transgressive. SD
Dry Cleaning – Stumpwork
An air of unease haunts the south London band’s second album: the guitars are dank and sludgy, the rhythm section proceeds at a suspicious pace, pockets of ambience linger unsettlingly. And yet, Stumpwork is even more captivating than the more rollicking New Long Leg because it demands we pay closer attention. In Florence Shaw’s inimitable lyrics, she nudges towards intimacy and flinches at mistrust, and her expressions of inferiority and fear pierce with a strange, ineffable sort of sadness. But the prevailing disquiet also makes Stumpwork’s fleeting moments of joy and humour all the more gratifying: “Things are shit but they’re gonna be OK,” Shaw sings on Kwenchy Kups. “And I’m gonna see the otters.” LS
Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights
After the release of his watery debut album Apollo XXI, it felt as if any goodwill towards Steve Lacy – accrued thanks to the promise of his sleeper hit debut EP Steve Lacy’s Demo, his work on Kendrick Lamar’s Damn, and the showstopping charisma he displayed as a member of the Internet – had burnt up as fast as it had arrived. Then he released Gemini Rights: an electrifyingly bitchy breakup album that’s sad and viciously horny one moment, nihilistic and cartoonishly forlorn the next. The perfect expression of Lacy’s indie-meets-R&B-meets-funk style – the kind of genrelessness that genuinely feels invigorating and intentional, not just mushy – Gemini Rights is fuelled by contradiction, detailing Lacy’s hedonistic pursuit of women after having his heart broken by a man and mashing his ostentatious, peacock-y musical sensibility (and fashion sense) with the shyness of all the best shoegazers. Smutty, candid and strange, it was the year’s most pleasantly surprising breakthrough. SD
Taylor Swift – Midnights
Of all the reflective projects Taylor Swift has embarked upon recently – re-recording her first six albums to reclaim ownership over them; two sepia-tinted lockdown releases – her tenth studio album was the most revealing. Midnights revisits 13 sleepless nights from across her life, her mature perspective casting new light on stories we thought we knew: the toll of success as a young woman and of relationships that look exploitative in hindsight; how she has chafed against expectations of femininity; the self-loathing underpinnings of her public persona. Fittingly, its sound put a moody, sophisticated filter on the pop that made her name while still serving up crowdpleasers. It felt like Swift finally shaking off the ingenue, and hopefully lays the groundwork for her to strike forward and process her present with this level of acuity on whatever comes next. LS
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cool It Down
At their historic best, Yeah Yeah Yeahs have made music for cramped spaces: basements they can strain against and blow the roof off. But their fifth album, and first in nine years, is proper big-sky music, full of cavernous, lovingly patient songs made for staring at the stars and pondering your place among them. Karen O is at her most intimate and open-hearted here as she weighs up the balance between futility and optimism, comfort and the wild, in strikingly elemental and intuitive lyricism; meanwhile Nick Zinner, Brian Chase and O’s still-sharp punk teeth gnash at the edges of the magnificent vistas they conjure. LS
FKA twigs – Caprisongs
Before this year, it was well established that FKA twigs could do pretty much anything – sing, write, produce, pole dance, sword fight – but until the release of Caprisongs, one question lingered: could she make party records? Caprisongs showed that the answer was an unequivocal, neon-lit yes. Humid, rhythmic and alive, it slips between distended dance tracks ranging from hyperpop to reggae to afrobeats, and serene, moonlit balladry. It feels like a summer night that stretches until dawn, constantly drifting from the party to the street to an overstuffed Uber. After the alien soundscapes of Magdalene, Caprisongs brings twigs down to earth, crying and laughing and dancing like the rest of us. SD
Sudan Archives – Natural Brown Prom Queen
“I’m a home maker,” Brittney Parks sings on the opening track of her second album proper. “Only bad bitches in my trellis / And baby I’m the baddest.” It’s both an invitation to her space and a gauntlet thrown to see if listeners can keep up with her across Natural Brown Prom Queen, which skips from looped strings (on Parks’ primary instrument, the cello) to the club and stops off everywhere in between, sometimes within the scope of a single song. She’s an R&B traditionalist and an experimental innovator, admirably cocksure and relatably insecure: a dazzling maximalist whose idea of home feels cosmos-like in scope. LS
Gilla Band – Most Normal
Pure, obliterating derangement is the order of the day in Gilla Band’s third album, which turns rock inside out, feeds it through a post-Yeezus filter of pixilated howls and distortion, then transfuses it with a vital shot of humour and dread. Despite the Irish four-piece’s taste for desecration, Most Normal retains a supremely addictive sense of pop integrity: it’s filled with twisted earworms (“I can’t wear hats I just get slagged!”), a kaleidoscopic wealth of texture, and dramatic climaxes as addictive as any Top 40 middle-eight. LS
Harry Styles – Harry’s House
It’s a tall order for a superstar to pull off an intimate record: it’s a contradiction of scale, plus the more famous you are, the more fiercely guarded your privacy. On Styles’ third album, he comes admirably close to landing the pitch. It isn’t quite Paul McCartney’s Ram, but there’s a lived-in quality to Harry’s House in the domestic settings, the unexplained snatches of dialogue between lovers and friends, and the sudden awareness of change as you see a shadow lengthen with the seasons. The music, too, seems to flick through Styles’ own record collection: there’s some flagrant Macca-isms there from a well-documented fan, as well as west coast bonhomie, big-ticket 80s pop and Laurel Canyon delicacy. LS
Shygirl – Nymph
The London producer’s long-awaited debut brought a blast of fresh air to the filthy, dripping club tunes that she broke out with, putting Blane Muise front and centre of brighter productions (collaborations with Danny L Harle, Sega Bodega and Arca among others) that touched on UK garage, bloghouse and, on Little Bit, apparently the detritus of Y2K-era Timbaland. While Shygirl is never backwards in coming forward, her vulnerabilities also shone through here as she addressed a lover’s treachery and admitted to her own. An impressively cohesive debut, though try telling her that: “I can have it all but I’m never satisfied,” she flexes on Woe. LS
Nilüfer Yanya – Painless
What Painless lacks in immediacy it more than makes up for in directness, and the after effects linger long past its lean running time. This is a more muscular version of Yanya’s sound, with more space and fewer adornments. She steps up to the challenge of having nowhere to hide, and there is a resolve here that gives the impression of an artist firmly and confidently finding her feet. It can be a painful listen at times, but its refusal to back down from the ugliness and complexity of raw emotions, particularly when it comes to love, is bracing and compulsive. Read more. Rebecca Nicholson
Fontaines DC – Skinty Fia
This year’s Skinty Fia signalled the Irish band’s most radical metamorphosis yet. There aren’t too many signs left of the rabble-rousing punk of their debut; instead, the five-piece has become more reflective while also throwing in curveballs from Irish folk accordion to hints of drum’n’bass. Chiefly driven by considerable shifts in geography after the band left Dublin to set up home in London, the songs mostly address Ireland and Irishness from the viewpoint of the Irish diaspora abroad, acknowledging the band’s desire to broaden their horizons while holding on to strong, if occasionally bittersweet, affection for their homeland. Digging into the disconnect between ordinary humans and societal structures, Fontaines DC make unusual subjects seem universal, and like the Smiths or the Pogues, they know that you can address all manner of uncomfortable topics – from the Tuam care home abuses to toxic relationships – if the tunes are strong enough. Read more. Dave Simpson
Wet Leg – Wet Leg
On one level, Wet Leg’s rollicking debut album is an autopsy of a past relationship conducted with goofiness, with Rhian Teasdale often sounding openly disgusted by men before spraying a squirty-cream smiley face over that judgment. But she and Hester Chambers pair sweet with sour to disarm, then pull you in close and whisper the real story in your ear. It’s also an album about middle-class millennial malaise – though they always temper worry with something lighthearted: their gags and the sing-a-long choruses hint at an attitude so throwaway it’s almost absurdist. But look beyond the smirk and there’s skill, observational wit and melodies that burrow into your brain. Read more. Tshepo Mokoena
Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B
On their debut album, Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye pan for nuggets of sound that have never been put together before. Everything that makes a noise is fair game as they plunder every genre for a possible production style here, a unique chord progression there. I Love You Jennifer B should sound like a nightmare – and sometimes it does – but there’s a current of fun that holds it all together: the cartoonish chopping and reassembling of vocals reminds you that this album is not as po-faced or art school as it might sound on paper. Read more. Kate Solomon
Arctic Monkeys – The Car
Arctic Monkeys’ best music has always been about yearning in all its forms; here, this is manifest in Alex Turner’s unmistakable, swooning vocals that brim with intimacy and lyrical longing, and instrumentals that make moods of love, lust, grief, insecurity and dislocation flutter somewhere deep within. The Car delves into depths and subtleties of feeling with gilded music that belongs to a past which never existed: velveteen strings, gleaming keys and licks of guitar that veer from funky to blazing and anticipatory. Read more. Tara Joshi
Rosalía – Motomami
Rosalía’s third album delights in flinging diverse, even contradictory styles together – dembow, hip-hop, dubstep, salsa, industrial, bachata, the experimental electronics of Arca, R&B, flamenco, pure radio-ready pop – and presenting the results to the listener with an insouciant take-it-or-leave-it shrug. It’s the work of an artist who clearly sees her success as a platform that enables her to do what she wants rather than as an end in itself. “Es mala amante la fama y no va a quererme de verdad,” as the Weeknd puts it on their collaboration La Fama: fame’s a lousy lover and won’t ever love you for real. Better to exploit it than chase it. Read more. Alexis Petridis
Charli XCX – Crash
On Charli XCX’s fifth album – and last on the contract she signed with Atlantic aged 16 – she temporarily sidelined the mutant vision behind Pop 2 and Vroom Vroom to embrace every trapping the label had to offer, “to make a major-label album in the major label way”. Before you call Charli a “sellout”, know that she’d only take it as a compliment: “You say I’m turning evil / I’ll say I’m finally pure,” as she sings on the housey kiss-off Used to Know Me. Crash works because the one-time mainstream refusenik commits so wholeheartedly to the big-ticket concept – there are deliciously villainous anthems that strut on punishing gothic synths, flesh-slapping boogie and Cameo-worthy guitar sleaze – and you can tell she’s enjoying it. Read more. LS
The Weeknd – Dawn FM
Dawn FM is the Dom Pérignon of male manipulator music – a slick of negging and neediness, sleaze and sanctimony that carries the unnatural, alluring glow of toxic waste. Released without fanfare on the first week of the year and still as luridly spectacular 40-odd weeks later, Abel Tesfaye’s fifth album as the Weeknd is also his most dazzlingly deranged, juxtaposing Rilke citations, Jim Carrey narration and a cameo from indie film-maker Josh Safdie with a hallucinatory vortex of disco, R&B, electro, EDM and hip-hop. Once known for his bloody-minded pursuit of one ultra-specific vibe, here Tesfaye proves he has far more in him than meets the eye; it confirms his status as one of our greatest living stars, an auteur with inspiration and idiosyncrasy to burn. Read more. SD
Kendrick Lamar – Mr Morale & the Big Steppers
Mr Morale represented a sizeable risk for Kendrick Lamar: a personal excavation so messy that he toyed with not releasing it at all. But even in a crowded field of musicians reckoning with trauma, Mr Morale stands out for Lamar’s deeply attuned, perceptive and often unflattering storytelling, addressing his flaws and laying bare his contradictions. This blurriness created interesting questions in turn: what does Lamar owe his audience? And what happens when ingrained mechanisms to tough it out through life come face-to-face with those who suffer as collateral damage? At any rate, it was hard to argue with the album’s sumptuous production and a number of songs that count among Lamar’s finest. Read more. Gabriel Szatan
Beyoncé – Renaissance
Capturing the unspoken connectivity that so many of us crave from the club, Renaissance sees Beyoncé at her most lyrically playful, political by destiny rather than design. Like an expert DJ set, Renaissance was sequenced and blended to create a sense of proper night-time immersion, resisting the lull of the smoking area. There are no ballads, just endless horny bops; with minimal features from heteronormative guests, Beyoncé appears to have recommitted to Destiny’s Child’s recommendation that you leave men at home if you want to have a good time. Borrowing from Chicago house, Detroit techno and New York disco, the album is a tribute to the influence and endurance of the Black LGBTQ+ community, made in collaboration with producers whose lived experiences and historical weight bring gravity to the sound. Read more. Jenessa Williams
Bad Bunny's Un Verano Sin Ti wrapped 2022 as the most popular album of the year in the U.S., according to music data tracking firm Luminate.What is the most listened to album in 2022? ›
Bad Bunny's Un Verano Sin Ti wrapped 2022 as the most popular album of the year in the U.S., according to music data tracking firm Luminate.What is the number 1 album of 2022? ›
Taylor Swift's tenth studio album, Midnights, opened with over one million copies sold and became the best selling album of 2022.What is the best-selling album 2022 so far? ›
's 2022 year-end report: 1. Midnights (1.818 million) 2. Harry's House (757,000) 3. Proof (422,000) 4.What albums sold the most in 2022? ›
Best-Selling Albums of 2022 (physical & digital combined - US) Taylor Swift's Midnights is the best-selling album (across physical and digital formats) of 2022 in the US, selling 1.818 million copies. Midnights sold 945,000 vinyl records and 640,000 CDs, topping the lists for both formats.Who has the most #1 album? ›
As a musician, Paul McCartney has the most No. 1 albums, with 27. This includes 19 albums from his work with The Beatles, three solo albums and five albums as a part of his 1970s group Wings.Who has number 1 album? ›
|1. (1)||1||One Thing At A Time Morgan Wallen peak position: 1 – total weeks: 7|
|2. (new)||new||72 Seasons Highest Debut Metallica peak position: 2 – total weeks: 1|
|3. (4)||4||Sos SZA peak position: 1 – total weeks: 19|
|4. (3)||3||Midnights Taylor Swift peak position: 1 – total weeks: 26|
Michael Jackson's Thriller, estimated to have sold 70 million copies worldwide, is the best-selling album ever. Jackson also currently has the highest number of albums on the list with five, Celine Dion has four, while the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Madonna and Whitney Houston each have three.What is the #1 song right now 2022? ›
|1||AS IT WAS||HARRY STYLES|
|2||BAD HABITS||ED SHEERAN|
|3||PERU||FIREBOY DML & ED SHEERAN|
Top-selling artists worldwide as of 2022. Perhaps unsurprisingly, British rock band The Beatles are top of the list for best-selling artists worldwide, with 183 million units certified sales. Second is Garth Brooks with over 157 million units sales, followed by Elvis Presley with 139 million units.Who is the best selling artist 2022? ›
- Taylor Swift.
- Bad Bunny.
- The Weeknd.
- Stray Kids.
- Harry Styles.
- 2022: Bad Bunny Un Verano Sin Ti.
- 2021: Adele 30.
- 2020: BTS Map of the Soul: 7.
- 2019: Taylor Swift: Lover.
- 2018: Drake Scorpion.
- 2017: Ed Sheeran ÷ (Divide)
- 2016: Drake Views.
- 2015: Adele 25.
25 by Adele is the fastest-selling album of all time in the US with 3,378,000 copies sold in its first seven days.What albums went platinum in 2022? ›
Only four albums earned Platinum status in 2022. They are Beyonce's Renaissance, Future's I Never Liked You, Harry Styles' Harry's House and Lil Durk's 7220.Who sold the most albums this decade? ›
Eminem sold 13.862 million albums over the past decade, third overall behind Adele (23.924 million) and Taylor Swift (22.972 million). Rounding out the top 5 were Justin Bieber (12.098 million) and Drake (10.526 million). Eminem also ranked No.What albums have 5 number 1 hits? ›
Coincidentally, Michael Jackson's Bad and Katy's Teenage Dream are the only albums in US chart history to each score five Number 1s on the Billboard Hot 100.Who has had 5 number ones in one album? ›
Michael Jackson Official Site
On this date in 1988, Michael Jackson became the first artist is music history to have five consecutive #1 singles from one album when “Dirty Diana” topped the Billboard Hot 100.
The Beatles have the most No. 1 hits of all time: 20. Though unclear for how long, the Beatles still reign supreme as the artist with the most No. 1 songs of all time.What is #1 song right now? ›
The current number one pop song on iTunes right now is Flowers by Miley Cyrus. Related Charts: Top new pop songs, iTunes top pop albums, and iTunes top 100 songs.
"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks. It also became the fastest song in history to be certified diamond.Who are the Big 3 rappers? ›
Ranking the 'Big 3' Every Year Since 2010. A decade ago, three rappers emerged at the top of their class: Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole. Each of them have approached their careers in very different ways in the years since then, but all three have made lasting contributions to rap.Who has 4 #1 albums in a Year? ›
The only band to have four number one albums in the same year is The Monkees.Who is No 1 Billboard artist? ›
BTS currently holds the record for most consecutive weeks at number one with 180.Who is the only artist to win Album of the Year 3 times? ›
Three-time winner Stevie Wonder won in 1974, 1975 and 1977. Taylor Swift is the first woman to win two and three times as a lead artist, in 2010, 2016 and 2021. Three-time winner Paul Simon won twice as the main credited artist, in 1976 and 1987. U2 is the only group act to win twice, in 1988 and 2006.Who has sold over 100 million albums? ›
Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney and Phil Collins are the only musicians to have sold over 100 million albums as a solo artist and member of a group.Who has a diamond album? ›
|Year of release||Artist(s)||Title|
|1980||AC/DC||Back in Black|
Post Malone holds the record for the most diamond-certified songs in history with eight to his name. He earned his first in 2019 for "Congratulations." He received two more awards in 2020 (for "Rockstar" and "Sunflower") and an additional two in 2022 (for "White Iverson" and "Psycho" featuring Ty Dolla $ign).What was the #1 song in 2023? ›
Miley Cyrus, “Flowers”What song is #1 on Billboard 2022? ›
Glass Animals' 'Heat Waves' Is the No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 Song, Bad Bunny Is Top Artist: Year in Charts 2022. "Heat Waves" took a record 59 weeks to hit No. 1 and logged an unprecedented 91 frames on the weekly Hot 100.
|Elvis Presley||United States||500 million|
|Michael Jackson||United States||400 million|
|Elton John||United Kingdom||300 million 250 million|
|Queen||United Kingdom||300 million 250 million|
Abel Tesfaye, more commonly known as The Weeknd, is statistically the most popular musician on the planet, and no one else even comes close. The 33-year-old Canadian singer's success has seen him set two new Guinness World Records titles: Most monthly listeners on Spotify – 111.4 million (as of 20 March 2023)Has any artist sold a billion records? ›
Over the course of Elvis' life, he achieved some of the highest accolades in music and film. It is estimated that more than one billion Elvis records have been sold worldwide, more than anyone in record industry history.Who is the hottest selling artist? ›
As of April 28, 2023, The Beatles have the highest total certified albums and Drake has the highest total certified digital singles. Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Eminem, and Taylor Swift are the only acts in the top 30 of both lists.Who is the biggest solo artist of 2022? ›
Bad Bunny is additionally 2022's top male artist for the first time, while Taylor Swift is the top female (No. 2 on the overall list), Glass Animals is the top duo/group (No. 18 overall) and Latto leads the 2022 Top New Artists chart (No.Who is the most heard artist 2022? ›
Ed Sheeran starts off 2023 still in the top spot – 2022 saw the British popstar become the first artist to reach 100 million followers on Spotify, with the total still rising. Next is the most-followed female artist, Ariana Grande, chased by the youngest artist on the list, newly-turned 21-year-old Billie Eilish.Who has the number 3 best-selling album? ›
|2||Eagles||Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)|
|3||Shania Twain||Come On Over|
|4||Led Zeppelin||Led Zeppelin IV|
- Michael Jackson – Thriller.
- The Eagles – The Greatest Hits 1971 – 1975 (1976) ...
- AC/DC – Back in Black (1980) ...
- Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of The Moon (1973) ...
- Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977) ...
- Whitney Houston & Various Artists – The Bodyguard (1992) ...
- Eagles – Hotel California. ...
"The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album" by Whitney Houston and various artists. "The Bodyguard" soundtrack — co-executive produced by Clive Davis and Whitney Houston, who starred in the film — became the first album verified by Nielsen to move more than 1 million units in the US in a single week.What albums spent longest at number 1? ›
The Beatles feature five times on the all time longevity chart; their debut album Please Please Me spent a whopping 30 weeks at the top spot, and holds the record for most consecutive weeks at Number 1 in history for an artist album.
Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" Is the Fastest-Selling Diamond Record of All Time.What song has gone platinum the most? ›
1. "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. "Old Town Road" was certified 15-times platinum on September 17, 2021.Who has gone platinum the most? ›
Since the RIAA introduced its awards on 14 March 1958, Elvis Presley holds the record for the most platinum certificates for both albums and singles with 82.Who has a diamond album 2022? ›
"Thriller" by Michael Jackson
"Thriller" was certified diamond on August 29, 2022.
Most streamed albums and songs in 2022
According to Spotify Wrapped 2022, Un Verano Sin Ti by Bad Bunny is the most streamed album, followed by Harry's House by Harry Styles, SOUR by Olivia Rodrigo, = (equals) by Ed Sheeran and Planet Her by Doja Cat.
Number one on the top albums chart was Un Verano Sin Ti by Bad Bunny, declared the most-streamed album on Spotify in 2022 by the platform itself.Who is number 1 on Billboard 2022? ›
"Heat Waves", the 2020 single by British indie-pop band Glass Animals, topped the Hot 100 in 2022 for five weeks. It became the best-charting song of the year.What is the most streamed song of 2022? ›
Harry Styles' "As It Was" was 2022's most streamed Spotify song | Guinness World Records.What is the #1 streamed album of all time? ›
Most streamed albums on Spotify, as of 16 February 2023: 1. ÷ (Deluxe) by Ed Sheeran (2017) – 12,835,902,755 streams.What is the #1 most streamed album in the US? ›
Michael Jackson's Thriller, estimated to have sold 70 million copies worldwide, is the best-selling album ever.What is the number one album on Spotify? ›
Bad Bunny Tops Spotify Records for Most-Streamed Album in 2022, Most-Streamed Artist Globally in a Day. With the release of 'Un Verano Sin Ti,' Bad Bunny broke two streaming records on Spotify.What is most listened to song on Spotify? ›
- Señorita. Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello.
- Heat Waves. Glass Animals.
- Starboy. The Weeknd, Daft Punk.
- Dolce Vita. Shab.
- Say You Won't Let Go. James Arthur.
- bad guy. Billie Eilish.
- But Anyways. The Hourglass Effect.
- lovely (with Khalid) Billie Eilish, Khalid.
As of April 2023, Canadian rapper Drake is the most-streamed artist of all time on Spotify, while American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is the most-streamed female artist.What is the #1 song of all time? ›
According to Guinness World Records, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" (1942) as performed by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single worldwide, with estimated sales of over 50 million copies.What is the #1 song in 2022? ›
Harry Styles & Bad Bunny Lead the Charge: The Year in Global Charts 2022. Styles' “As It Was” is the top song of 2022 on the Billboard Global 200 and Global Excl.Who is the most streamed female artist? ›
Taylor Swift (USA) surged ahead of Ariana Grande as the most streamed female artist on Spotify soon after her 12th studio album Midnights hit streaming services worldwide on 21 October 2022.Who is #2 on Spotify? ›
Bad Bunny began his career in 2013 and is now the runner-up for the title of the most-streamed artist on Spotify. Bad Bunny made his way to the No. 2 spot on our list by adopting a unique style that made him stand out among his competitors.