What is 2022’s best album?

2022 started out as a slow year for new music, but music listeners are solidifying their favorite albums of the year so far. Despite the delayed start, this year is full of various genres and emerging artists.

Mainstream pop and hip-hop artists released albums this year, including The Weeknd’s Dawn FM, Harry Styles’ Harry’s House, Charli XCX’s Crash, Lizzo’s Special, and Beyonce’s Renaissance. Fan favorites from these albums play frequently on the radio, in TikTok videos, and in various advertisements.

“I like The Weeknd’s music, it’s very ethereal,” senior Dez Leon said. “I like that it plays on the radio because I can listen to it in my car when I don’t have Bluetooth.”

Several indie pop/rock artists have become mainstream through their newly released work. Beabadoobee’s Beatopia has multiple hits that are promoted on Spotify and used on social media.

Beatopia is Beabadoobee’s second studio album, and it is widely acknowledged as one of this year’s best.

Beatopia is my favorite album this year so far,” senior Carter Riedel said. “It makes me happy whenever I listen to it, and it has a ton of songs that I really like.”

Other indie albums dropped such as Laurel Hell by Mitski, Emotional Creature by Beach Bunny, Wet Leg by Wet Leg, Gemini Rights by Steve Lacy, and Who Cares by Rex Orange County. Both Gemini Rights and Who Cares went viral on several social media platforms, bringing the albums increased popularity.

Who Cares is definitely my favorite album this year,” junior Allie Detterman explained. “I saw [Rex Orange County] perform in a concert and it was one of the best experiences. Each song sounded so good live.”

2022 brought heaps of music to hip-hop heads. Rico Nasty, Flo Milli, and Megan Thee Stallion— three of the most notable female rappers right now— all dropped over the summer. Lyrical legend Kendrick Lamar released Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, a main contender for the Grammys’ Album of the Year award.

Some of the most influential hip-hop artists right now also delivered noteworthy albums including JID, Vince Staples, Saba, Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry, Jack Harlow, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Pusha T, Kid Cudi, and Drake.

“Kendrick’s album is also one of my favorites this year,” Leon said. “There’s a lot of new hip-hop to listen to this year.”

One of the most celebrated albums of 2022 is Ants from Up There by Black Country, New Road; due to its perplexing instrumentals and unique sound. Painless by Nilüfer Yanya, Capirsongs by FKA Twigs, and I Love You Jennifer B by Jockstrap are praised by music enthusiasts and critics, too.

These albums aren’t necessarily mainstream, although they are considered quality pieces by music listeners.

“I feel like a lot of great albums aren’t super popular,” Riedel continued. “The music you hear on the radio is fun, but there’s better music out there.”

Popular music among teenagers has completely shifted because of TikTok and algorithm-based playlists on streaming services. Teens are able to listen to a broader variety of music, bringing more artists to fame.

Spanish pop singer Rosalía came to fame when her songs appeared on Tiktok and all over Spotify’s recommendations. Her album, Motomami, is considered one of this year’s best, as she explores the reggaeton genre.

“I listen to a lot of the music that Spotify recommends to me,” Leon added. “It changes depending on what I listen to, and recommends new music that is similar to it.”

2022 anticipates several albums still to come. Taylor Swift’s Midnights comes out October 21, and Joji’s Smithereens is set to release November 4. 100 Gecs, Brockhampton, and Cardi B have also alluded to releasing studio albums, but there is no confirmation.