2022 has seen some of the best album releases across all genres. This year, many artists created records that went beyond the usual standard in the music industry by experimenting with new territories and accomplishing different sounds.
Looking back over the last 12 months, here are five of the best albums of 2022:
CRASH by Charli XCX
Recently, The Guardian ranked Charli XCX's fifth studio album as No. 4 on their Best Albums of 2022 list, proof that the British singer-songwriter's pop comeback was worth the list this year. The publication said, "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."
From songs like "Baby" and "Good Ones" that are sensual and personality-driven to tell-all confessionals such as "Every Rule" and "Yuck," Charli XCX truly embraced the pop-star attitude while also breaking through the barriers assigned to it.
Sometimes, Forever by Soccer Mommy
In the alternative scene, Soccer Mommy has always been considered a singer who truly knows her audience. Still, her third studio album, "Sometimes, Forever," saw the 25-year-old spin her webs to create a magical and haunting body of work. The album centers around experiences one has in their 20s, especially as she is a young singer who's worked in the music industry since her teenage years.
There are utter euphoric highs with songs such as "Shotgun," which sees Soccer Mommy admit to finding joy in a relationship and desperate lows with other tracks like "Darkness Forever" and "Unholy Affliction," the singer opens up about her struggles with mental health. Overall, this album was a turn in direction for the singer and was one of the year's most underrated albums.
RENAISSANCE by Beyonce
"You won't break my soul" is a central theme of Beyonce's seventh studio album, "RENAISSANCE." After a six-year break from creating solo music, the mom of three shocked the world with a club album, with all of her tracks inspired by LGBTQIA+ and black artists. While lengthy, this album is simply one that is timeless, a statement piece that a woman in her 40s can still create pop music that not only has meaning but celebrates life and recovery as well.
Songs like "ALIEN SUPERSTAR" and "HEATED" prove that you shouldn't mess with Queen Bey and that one should also embrace their roots. Meanwhile, others such as "VIRGO'S GROOVE" and "CUFF IT" takes listeners back in time, reminiscent of music from the 1970s and 1980s. Basically, Beyonce really pushed herself to be as bold and daring with her new music, definitely topping previous albums such as 2016's "Lemonade" and 2014's "BEYONCE."
Morale & the Big Steppers by Kendrick Lamar
After his widely successful Pulitzer Prize-winning album, "DAMN.," in 2017, many fans weren't sure how Kendrick Lamar would be able to top a body of work that won over the masses for its conversations about racial prejudice and American politics. Luckily, "Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers" was the perfect addition to the rapper's musical catalog.
This time, Lamar examined family trauma, reflecting on his position as a successful black rapper and his role as a father, son and family member. With storytelling that is raw and unflattering at times, evident with songs such as "Father Time (feat. Sampha)" and "We Cry Together (feat. Taylour Paige)," the album's main goal was to make listeners uncomfortable. This goal allowed the rapper to produce a personal, timely and extremely relatable record for people of color, making it a standout from this year.
MOTOMAMI by Rosalia
Rosalia truly brought Latin music to the forefront this year with "MOTOMAMI," the singer's third studio album. Integrating sounds from genres such as dembow, hip-hop, dubstep, salsa and R&B, the singer redefined what pop music could be in 2022. This album is pure fun and sees Rosalia talk openly about her sexuality and femininity with songs such as "HENTAI" and "CANDY."
Clearly, the singer wanted to do her own thing, regardless of how the mainstream perceived her. This carefree attitude helped launch Rosalia into the successful Latin star she is now. The album experiments with playfulness and satire, and with her newfound fame, the artist continues to focus on being true to herself.