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. Let’s have a look at We Plug Good Music’s Best Albums of 2022.
50. Bad Bunny – Un Verano Sin Ti
49. Hurray For The Riff Raff – LIFE ON EARTH
48. Roc Marciano & The Alchemist – The Elephant Man’s Bones
The Elephant Man’s Bones is Roc Marciano’s tenth studio album and The Alchemist and Marciano have come together to create musical hip-hop magic. On their collaborative album, they pair together Roc’s eloquent and smooth rhythmic technique with The Alchemists unique and ear grabbing production.
The project welcomes you with a slow mumble and intermittent speech of Marciano, followed with a delicate instrument lingering on in the background. There is a visceral aura of being planted right in New York watching the strong culture before your eyes.
The New York native’s album is a thin line between the rust and grit of 90s New York and the mellifluous and effortless flow of the rapper. The Alchemist provides yet again with a silky smooth and refined rhythm that is a rapper’s playground.
Nostalgia could quite possibly be one of the strongest emotions you feel when diving into this album. Music is one of the closest things we have to a time machine and these tracks are a wonderful example of that.
Music releases like this will be incredibly pleasing to the millennials, Generation X-ers and really anyone else who’s appreciate of raw, hip hop music.
The flow, ethereal tech sounds from The Alchemist, mixed with what seems like the producers just having a ball makes for an eclectic sounding project. Using audio pieces from experts discussing their expertise about life and it’s complexities, you feel as though you’re in for an experience. It’s almost as if we’ve been invited to open a book of rhymes, literally.
The contrast of slow yet intense is a common theme throughout the album. As far as the lyrics, he has no problem using the intonation of certain words to piece together words you didn’t even know could rhyme. That’s the testament of a true rapper.
47. AURORA – The Gods We Can Touch
After having graced our screens as the voice of the north wind in Disney’s Frozen 2, on the 21st of January 2022, AURORA handed us the gift of her third studio album titled The Gods We Can Touch. This album is a beautiful balance between an angelic softness and an electrifying elevation for those who enjoy compositions that challenge and offer comfort at the same time.
Throughout this body of work, AURORA maintains a beautiful sense of simplicity in her lyricism, and in each song, the message is clear and concise, there are no lines to read between, because the Norwegian singer/songwriter is saying what she means and meaning what she is saying.
This aspect of her music makes it easy for a great many people to feel seen and in doing so makes it feel as though songs that you may connect with were specifically written for you.
It is a journey through the current time that we live in and the concepts and ideas that come with it, it feels like armour or a soft landing that can protect or catch us when life and living throw us into the depths of self-doubt and invalidation.
While AURORA grabs our attention in the simple positioning of her words in each song, that is in fact the only simple thing about the entire listening experience. Entangled in the simplicity of her lyricism are the complexities of everything else that comes together to make this music.
From the intricate notes she hits, which can be likened to traditional Indian vocalizations, to the complexity of the rhythms, melodies and tunes that accompany her vocals. While we can acknowledge the difference in the components of each song, when looked at and analysed as a whole there is no doubt that each part of the puzzle has been meticulously and graciously put together from an intricate and relatable experience
46. Charli XCX – Crash
45. Koffee – Gifted
44. Yaya Bey – Remember Your North Star
43. Saba – Few Good Things
Nostalgic and rife with themes of self-actualization and realization, the third studio album Few Good Things from Saba digs deeper into his growth as an artist and what his art represents to him.
Accompanied by a captivating short-film, the album evokes sentimental and reflective themes and seeks to rivet in that validation from external sources holds little weight and that true growth comes from sense of self. He gets his message across by creating a diverse sonic world unlike any we’ve heard previously from Saba.
In his own words, “I challenge you not to come in with preconceived notions of what I’ve done in the past and use that to dictate what my next work will be”.
Saba uses the album as a means to acknowledge the full spectrum of black emotion, from joy to sorrow, from rising above adversity to moments of self-doubt. He crafts an impressive sound world through very organic beats with live instrumentation as well as his signature storytelling and versatile flow.
Coupled with the slice-of-life visuals from the film, Saba paints a poignant picture of not only his place musically in the West Chicago scene, but also the experiences of the black folk that live there.
The album’s title track “Few Good Things” represents excellent artistic progression from Saba as well as a moving audiovisual tribute to Chicago. Saba extends his talents to the production as usual, bouncing between keyboards, guitars, bass, and drum programming with producing partners Daoud and daedaePIVOT truly creating a warm, organic feel to the album.
As he raps on the final track, “We turned a bunch of nothing to abundance”, showing how a few good things can mean the world
42. Ezra Collective – Where I’m Meant To Be
41. Yeule – Glitch Princess
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