You know what time it is! Time for… We Plug Good Music’s Best Albums of 2022
As another crazy year is nearing its end, we are looking back at what it brought us or took away. Life went back to normal (or as normal as it can get) after the pandemic and we were lucky to be able to go to a pub with our friends, take our families on vacation or attend an event at a stadium packed with people. This normalcy was unfortunately quickly taken away in some parts of the world as conflicts arose, however people have shown enormous amounts of solidarity, strength, bravery and most of all, hope.
Our Christmas wish for this year is for people to never lose hope, to spend their precious time with the people they cherish the most and do what they love. We must say we are lucky enough to be able to do what we love, as music is all around us, so let’s see what happened in the music industry.
Thankfully, live music events came back everywhere, from your local punk band playing in a bar to the highest grossing tours of the year, Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres World Tour, Bad Bunny’s World’s Hottest Tour or Harry Styles’ Love on Tour. TikTok has continued its reign above all other social media, especially when it comes to creating viral songs and giving new upcoming artists the chance to explode.
Pop and rap music remain the pillars of the industry, 2022 however brought a surprising comeback of emo and pop punk, with My Chemical Romance bringing their hits back on tour, Avril Lavigne going back to her roots and Tom Delonge rejoining Blink-182. Other established artists have given us amazing things to be excited about, from Kendrick Lamar bringing Helen Mirren as a therapist for his music video to Beyoncé dropping an album without a notice for everyone to go crazy over. Taylor Swift took a break from re-recording her old material to bring us a new album and star in a movie.
Newer artists are also making their mark on the industry with Nova Twins using their chance to open for Bring Me The Horizon to the fullest and releasing a new rock album this year, Muna coming out with their best work yet on their self-titled album and SZA not only releasing an album, but also proving she can make anything sound good with a Twitter favourite Saturday Night Live skit.
Overall, this has been a great year for the comeback of music, and while you can revisit our list so far here, let’s have a look at We Plug Good Music’s Best Albums of 2022, from #40 to #31 below.
40. Ari Lennox – age/sex/location
DreamVille’s first lady, Ari Lennox enthroned her sophomore album age/sex/location a few months ago. And to date, it’s one of the chillest and captivating R&B albums of 2022.
Ari’s voice on this album is raw, unedited and the exemplary R&B sound. She was born to produce an exceptional rhythmic and blues project. age/sex/location is steamy, yet teases with a mixture of throwback hip-hop tunes and a classic R&B album tune. “POF” as the intro track, jumps in as just another track on the album.
The album instantly demolishes the constant narratives of “R&B is dead” all over net. It’s the exact mingling of groovy, upbeat, slow-tempo and sexy- just the right balance for a perfect R&B album. She caters to different types of the genre listeners, from Old Skool, Neo-Soul, Chill and Mainstream.
age/sex/location is one of the best of 2022 due to hitting the right spot for any listener. Ari Lennox sounds more in tune with her self and in control of her voice. You just can’t ever get enough of this R&B queen.
39. Alvvays – Blue Rev
38. Mitski – Laurel Hell
After nearly quitting music, Mitski has returned with a darkly sweet album full of heartache, introspection, and unbridled emotion titled Laurel Hell. At one point in time, Be The Cowboy could have been her final release after a gruelling touring cycle brought to light circumstances that demonstrated how bloodthirsty the music industry can be.
Whether she had quit music or not, her short legacy would have been the same – an extremely talented and expressive artist who has an innate knack for songwriting. Be The Cowboy would have offered a sudden sense of closure, whereas Laurel Hell ties up all loose ends.
Many still wonder whether Laurel Hell is her musical swansong, and regardless of that, it is an album full of excellence. It builds on the sonic palette of her previous album and fleshes out the eighties sound further.
Throughout the album, you will encounter lush synthpop, sad disco and guitar chords that riff and crunch with grit. The production is layered, and the instrumentals match her lyricism, both expressing the raw emotions Mitski often channels into her music.
Mitski has once again delivered an album that should be celebrated and most importantly, enjoyed. Laurel Hell captures a part of the singer/songwriter’s soul and because of that, it is a human experience given life through music. Make no mistake, this is some of her best music to date and if this is the final act, well, what a send-off it is
37. FKA twigs – CAPRISONGS
On the 14th of Janaury, just three days before her birthday, Tahliah Debrett Barnett, better and professionally known as FKA Twigs dropped her first ever mixtape CAPRISONGS boasting seventeen songs. The mixtape is laden with renditions and recordings from friends and herself, offering words of affirmation, encouragement, love, and healing.
The 34-year-old admitted on an Instagram post on the day of the release, that when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the globe in early 2020 she had had a conversation with her team “hinting at that maybe [she] had hit the end of the road in making music and putting [her] insides on blast as [she] have done for the last few years”.
This statement is not so far off the mark, as over the years since the release of her first ever studio album LP1 in August 2014, the musical genius has, in every sense of the term, bared it all, lyrically, emotionally, and psychologically through song and performance.
So, it only made sense that after a time that was difficult for everyone around the globe, a time that found everyone plunged into a depressive state, that she brought something to the fore that immerses her audience into her own journey of healing.
The title of the mixtape itself has a piece of FKA Twigs as the singer-songwriter’s zodiac sign is Capricorn, which many believe is a great contributing factor to her being highly dedicated to her craft and exuding passion which can be felt throughout her work.
The authenticity of her work can be attributed not only to her hard work and fervour, but to her zodiac being an earthly sign, signifying being grounded, authentic and unwavering.
However, dare I compare the Caprisongs to a Capri Sun, because, whether you relate because you have recovered from a fender bender yourself, or you are currently caught in one, FKA Twigs’ Caprisongs definitely quenches exactly in the same manner an ice-cold Capri Sun would on a hot summer day.
FKA Twigs’ Caprisongs is giving ab offering of healing, an offering of care, love and affection, whether romantically or platonically, because it is the fine between alive and dead.
It cannot be denied that FKA Twigs gives herself to her craft and her considerations of stopping making and creating for the world are justified, she has given and given. Caprisongs was a necessary project, not only to replenish her drying wells, but to offer hope to a world riddled by a pandemic and has left many in a state of despondency.
The Caprisongs continue to quench our thirst, as we continue to drink.
36. Earl Sweatshirt – SICK!
Thebe Kgositsile, known better as Earl Sweatshirt, made his Hip-Hop debut in 2010 with his mixtape Earl. Following a two-year hiatus from music, the Chicago born rapper released his first studio album, Doris (2013), named after his deceased grandmother.
The succession then follows with two albums – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside (2015), and Some Rap Songs (2018) – then his 2019 EP, Feet of Clay, which commemorates the rapper’s late, poet, father. After almost three years of retrospection, introspection, and the onset of fatherhood, Earl Sweatshirt dropped SICK! this year – a 24 minute long, ten-song collection, curated by the poet himself.
In an interview with Dhruva Balram for Mixmag, a stark contrast is created between the artist as Thebe and himself as Earl, pointing out that his rap persona has dominated control since the rapper began his career.
It is with this album, SICK!, that Thebe has been let out to explore and make sense of the difficult times that he and Earl have experienced. Earl and Thebe, hand-in-hand, takes us through emotions, thought processes, and learning outcomes as we delve into SICK!: a melodious album filled with the depth of an artist who is sharing his growth with his audience.
SICK! is a compilation of easy, Lo-Fi listening, with a sprinkle to taste of his earlier rap style reminiscent of his first works, Earl. Earl uses poetic rhyme schemes, a method which some may find unconventional, but a style that allows precise articulation of his thoughts.
Considering his ancestry in poetry, Earl uses what he knows to convey his messages. Another mark of conceptional beauty in this album comes from the short duration of each song. While being an album that suits the 2022 attention span, Earl is making it obvious that SICK! is something to pay attention to.
SICK! is a reminder to appreciate what you have, to reflect on where you came from and to better yourself for the future. In the process of Earl giving Thebe room for them to express equally, the album shows the rapper’s mentality shift from dark and broody to hopeful and wholesome. All in all, SICK! is a fantastic album because of its replay value, poetic lyricism, and beautiful beats
35. Kojey Radical – Reason To Smile
Kwado Adu Genfi, better known as Kojey Radical, is one of the artists at the forefront of British music who are behind the new sound that the UK have to offer.
Radical expresses himself as a musician, creative director and a mixed media visual artist. For his latest offering and debut album, Reason To Smile, he personifies a sense of royalty, heritage and a breakthrough.
From just listening to this project, you get to explore the 29-year-old rapper’s personality. A few songs in and you are already exposed to his vulnerable side, his heart’s desires and his gratitude towards the things that life has to offer.
This project is likely to distract us from the most dominant aspect of pop culture; small moments, drugs, strippers and the haunting sounds of auto-tune on trap beats. He uses what sounds like skits of his mother’s voice in some of the songs. I would imagine this is one way to embrace his Ghanaian heritage, where his parents were born and raised.
It’s probably safe to address Kojey Radical as an awesome musician considering his ability to put together a finely-calibrated project in Reason To Smile. If he maintains the same energy for future projects, he might find himself rapping with the big boys in no time.
34. Ibibio Sound Machine – Electricity
33. TSHA – Capricorn Sun
32. Taylor Swift – Midnights
31. Rina Sawayama – Hold The Girl
Click HERE for a full list of our Top 50 Albums of 2022!
Words by Tereza Bittnerova, Ruby Adele, Melissa Nyk, Sinalo Bambeni, Abigale Du Plessis, Kim Nina and Zeze Maseko // List curated by Ayo Adepoju