It’s almost the end of the year, and that means we all get the chance to look back at the year that was. For me, this time of year usually sees me figuring out what the best releases in music were and what I’m looking forward to next year. So, it only makes sense that I make a list of the best albums of 2022, according to no one but me.
The Grammy’s recently released their nominations for the 2023 awards, and a few of my favourite albums or artists have been nominated. In saying that, there are a lot of other great works that have been released this year that I believe deserve a little recognition, especially from Aussie artists.
So without further ado, here are the best albums of 2022.
The best albums of 2022
Beyoncé – Renaissance
We’re going to start off with a bang and with my personal favourite album of 2022, Renaissance by Beyoncé.
I’ve long been a pretty big Beyoncé fan and massively enjoyed Lemonade, but Renaissance spoke to me on so many levels.
First of all, it was a certified club anthem fit for a summer filled with music, dancing and pure vibes. It was also a love letter to queer history and featured a lot of prominent LGBTQIA+ artists.
I also saw myself, my queerness and my identity in this album. It truly felt like an album that was made for LGBQTIA+ people.
The music in this album took us back to the roots of Ballroom culture, where a lot of POC and trans pioneers established much of what we consider queer culture today.
I haven’t been able to stop listening to this album since its release. I find new parts of the songs to love every day.
Favourite song: ‘Summer Renaissance’
Julia Jacklin – Pre Pleasure
Julia Jackin is probably one of the best songwriters we have in the country and one that I put on par with Lana Del Rey (the highest compliment I can give). Pre Pleasure is easily one of the best albums of 2022.
Pre Pleasure is Jacklin’s third studio album and features some of her best work yet.
In this album, Jacklin stepped away from the guitar and traded it for the piano, where she trawls through much of her childhood. She does so with both a sense of yearning and a sense of anguish.
Something that Jacklin masterfully achieves with Pre Pleasure is a deep level of introspection that a lot of us feel but are too afraid to vocalise.
There are also notes of religious guilt, which personally struck a few chords.
Favourite song: ‘I Was Neon’
Omar Apollo – Ivory
Omar Apollo is having quite the year, and rightly so.
Nominated Best New Artist for the 2023 Grammy’s and having his song Evergreen go viral on TikTok, Apollo’s album Ivory deserves every bit of attention it is getting.
I didn’t expect Ivory to be one of the best albums of 2022, but Apollo’s work is undeniable. The smoothness of his voice glides over the alternative R&B, funk-pop and indie songs on this debut album.
What spoke to me the most about Ivory was Apollo’s yearning for those who did not love him back, his confusion and disappointments in love and life and how much conviction he sings them with.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Apollo, it’s already looking very bright.
Favourite song: ‘En El Olvido’
Pip Millett – When Everything Is Better, I’ll Let You Know
Pip Millett is dangerously underrated, in my opinion, and her new album is easily one of the best of 2022.
After releasing incredible EPs and singles that blew me away, When Everything Is Better, I’ll Let You Know is a culmination of Millett’s best work so far.
This album explores a new stage in Millett’s life where she is on a journey of nurturing from the past and moving on from things she cannot control any longer.
It’s a perfect blend of Neo Soul with touches of vintage and current R&B sounds that are full of texture with her alluring vocals on top. You can clearly tell she’s influenced by powerhouses like Lauryn Hill.
Favourite song: ‘My Way’
Tove Lo – Dirt Femme
I truly did not expect Tove Lo to release one of the best albums of 2022, but she did just that with Dirt Femme.
Again, I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed Tove Lo’s music, but Dirt Femme had me completely transfixed; I didn’t want it to end.
The overall atmosphere is exactly what the album title evokes, it’s about a woman who has edges that could cut glass but still wants to celebrate all the things that make her unique.
There’s a lot of introspection in Dirt Femme, where Tove Lo grapples with ideas of femininity, relationships, body issues, motherhood and being a wife. Each of these ideas is woven into hyper-pop, synth-layered songs that make you want to dance in the corner under a disco ball alone.
Favourite song: ‘No One Dies From Love’
Noah Cyrus – The Hardest Part
I knew Noah Cyrus had an exceptional voice from her previous releases like ‘July’, but The Hardest Part is truly moving – and worthy of being on the best albums of 2022.
A blend between modern acoustic pop and country, Cryus’ album stands out amongst its peers for its raw and brutally honest songs that many her age are too scared to write.
Her voice commands you to listen to every word she is saying, and you can almost hear her heart breaking with each song.
This album gives Cyrus the chance to step away from being referred to as Miley’s sister or Billy Ray’s daughter. Instead, she stands very capably on her own.
Favourite song: ‘I Burned LA Down’
Spacey Jane – Here Comes Everybody
Aussie band Spacey Jane followed up their incredible debut album Sunlight with what I think is one of the best albums of 2022, Here Comes Everybody.
Spacey Jane has a powerful ability to make you want to sing, even though what you’re singing about isn’t overly pleasant. Maybe that’s because it speaks to all of us.
Themes of anxiety, depression, the general state of the world and trying to be the best you in relationships are explored in Here Comes Everybody.
What I love most about Spacey Jane’s 2022 album is that they don’t shy away from mental health struggles and how it infiltrates every aspect of a person’s life.
Especially for a band that has a largely young and male audience, exploring these themes allows listeners to think about their own struggles, and hopefully encourages them to ask for help if they need it.
This album also has the classic Aussie indie rock sound that catapulted Spacey Jane to fame with ‘Sunlight’.
Favourite song: ‘Hardlight’
Rosalía – Motomami
Motomami is very easily one of the best albums of 2022. Not only did it take the internet by storm, but it also launched Rosalía to incredible levels of recognition, all of which she deserves.
While it’s Rosalía’s third album, Motomami features her best vocal and sonic range. It’s actually hard to categorise it into a specific genre or sound, and that adds to the beauty and creativity in it.
From feel-good club bangers like ‘Bizcochito’ to incredibly heartfelt songs like ‘G3 N15’, the album will make you feel every emotion at once.
Her voice and its power are also what will stay with you long after you finish listening to Motomami. For such an experimental album, everything feels neatly planned and organised.
Favourite song: ‘G3 N15′
Special EP mention: Barkaa – Blak Matriarchy
I couldn’t put this list of the best albums of 2022 without mentioning Barkaa’s EP, Blak Matriarchy.
Yes, it’s not an album, I know, but this EP holds more power than many albums I’ve ever listened to.
Barkaa commands the respect that she and all First Nations women deserve and raps about racism, love, her children, the broken system of the law and how her ancestors power her through her life.
It’s an incredible body of work that every person in Australia (and the world, for that matter) should listen to.
Favourite song: ‘Bow Down’
Well, there you have it, my favourite albums of 2022!
Obviously, music taste is very personal, so these are just the albums that I was rocking out, scream-singing or disassociating to this year. I’d also love to hear your opinions, so let me know in the comments what your favourite albums of the year were.