The 10 best albums of 2022, ranked

A&E voted and decided on the 10 albums we enjoyed the most this year.

by A&E Staff

Escapist music, like ‘90s house, became a trend among international superstars and indie upstarts alike in a year of reclamation for music. COVID-19 finally subsided enough for dancefloors to reopen and indoor concerts joined those outdoors in a year full of crowded line-ups.

It felt like the year live music fans, karaoke bar singers and night club dancers had long waited for. From indie favorites to global popstars, the artists delivered enough content in 2022 that we can rest assured at least a few Como house parties and frat formals will have some fun “roaring 2020s” themes in about ten years.

Here’s to 10 great albums that reintroduced us to the medium. -James Schaak

  1. “Renaissance” by Beyoncé
    Beyoncé’s highly anticipated seventh studio album drew a dance pop through line from ‘70s disco classics and ‘90s ball culture into the present-day. The tracks transition smoothly from one to the next as the album progresses, highlighting the wide scope of Black queer music history with help from a disparate list of contributors including Skrillex, The-Dream, Grace Jones and more. While it may be a far cry from the deeply personal lyricism of her last three solo studio albums, “Renaissance” remains well-deserving of its positive critical reception in all of its club-centric and overwhelming glory. -Sophia Zimmerman
  2. “Midnights” by Taylor Swift
    It should come as no surprise that Taylor Swift’s tenth album made it onto this list, as it broke several sales records and reminded fans of prodigal songwriting talent. Taylor Swift became the first artist in history to occupy all of the top 10 spots on the Hot 100 Billboard and her ensuing concert sales became a political flashpoint. “Midnights” includes 20 moody and synthy songs that dissect introspective stories from the singer-songwriter’s life. As always, Swift somehow made the specifics of her superstar life sound weirdly relatable. -Victoria Schutz
  3. “Crash” by Charli XCX
    Charli XCX has always flirted with the boundaries and ideas surrounding pop-stardom. With “Crash,” she finally dove headfirst into the trope by reintroducing ‘90s classics and elevating Britney Spears’ catchy tactics. Each track pulses with the kind of urgency of one final night out before the apocalypse ensues. The United Kingdom, Charli’s home, plunged into a recession, dealt with three different prime ministers and mourned a monumental death this year. If Donna Summer in the ‘70s or Lady Gaga in the ‘00s taught us anything, it’s that economic and political uncertainty make for outstanding dance pop records. -James Schaak
  4. “Hold On Baby” by King Princess
    Art pop singer King Princess’ second studio album, “Hold On Baby,” offered a new glimpse into the artist’s songwriting and vocal abilities. Her tracks held a much more solemn and introspective tone than previous ones, tackling topics like the complex emotions felt in long-term relationships and the realities of mental illness. -Victoria Schutz
  5. “Special” by Lizzo
    Lizzo knows how to have a good time, which is highly evident throughout “Special.” The hotly-anticipated follow-up to 2019’s “Cuz I Love You” is an upbeat assortment of disco-pop and R&B hits. From the quick tempo of TikTok hit “About Damn Time” to the sultrier tune of “Naked,” Lizzo sticks to the themes she knows best throughout “Special” — self-love and the beauty of not caring about what anyone else thinks. -Sophia Zimmerman
  6. “Surrender” by Maggie Rogers
    Grammy-nominated folk-pop artist Maggie Rogers’ sophomore album showcases her self-reflection in depth. “Surrender” also happens to be the name of Rogers’ thesis at Harvard Divinity School, where she graduated this past spring with a degree in religion and public life. She co-produced the album in all of its folksy glory with British pop genius Kid Harpoon. Rogers wrote part of the album during the pandemic, and the theme of the turmoil of human emotions in the face of uncertainty remains strong amid the album’s synthy beats and catchy hooks. -Sophia Zimmerman
  7. “Nymph” by Shygirl
    London-based DJ Shygirl finally delivered on her years-long run of momentum-building EPs and events with her studio debut, “Nymph.” Deconstructed club, bloghouse and Pharrell-inspired rapping thrive alongside each other in Shygirl’s dark room of an album. No other artist working today can so accurately put a sound to the allure of a Mugler runway or a Berlin afterparty. -James Schaak
  8. “MUNA” by MUNA
    MUNA delivered their third studio album this year, featuring a mix of dance cuts and country ballads. After signing onto Phoebe Bridgers’ independent label, Saddest Factory Records, the queer band displayed a newfound confidence. Upbeat tracks like “Silk Chiffon” and “What I Want” will be playing on my car’s stereo for quite some time. -Victoria Schutz
    I have never seen ROSALĺA live and before this year, I don’t think I could have named five of her songs. And yet, the Catalan popstar reached such internet ubiquity with her genre-bending third studio album that I now know ROSALĺA theatrically chews a piece of gum onstage before performing “BIZCOCHITO.” MOTOMAMI sat atop Metacritic’s list of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2022 since just after its release, and for good reason. Somehow both accessible and experimental, ROSALĺA’s vision of pop music lives lightyears ahead of us. -James Schaak
  10. “I Love You Jennifer B” by Jockstrap
    Two former London music school students, Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye, joined forces this year for one of pop’s most interesting albums in recent history. Ellery, who also plays violin in experimental rock band Black Country, New Road, sings and writes the lyrics while Skye, who cites dubstep as an inspiration, produces the wacky collaborations. A violinist and a dubstep DJ? “I Love You Jennifer B” somehow pulls it off in a fantastically weird way. -James Schaak