There’s no other way to say it: Last year was monumental when it came to music. After a somewhat sparse 2021, 2022 was filled with fantastic music across all genres, surprising, in particular, with its next-level jazz and rap music.
Not to be left far behind, even pop seemed to reinvent itself (yet again), leaning back into its inner R&B notes.
Although, of course, music is subjective, here’s the list of GulfWeekly’s five favourite albums of 2022.
5. Midnights by Taylor Swift
The 10th studio album of Taylor Swift - and her first since she re-recorded her old music after her acrimonious split from her label - made waves when it was released so close to the end of the year, just in time to hit the top of many Top Music lists.
Inspired by the “sleepless nights” of Taylor’s life, Midnights is a cryptic confession, ruminating on themes like anxiety, insecurity, self-criticism, self-awareness, insomnia, and self-confidence.
In a series of videos released alongside the drop of the new album, Taylor revealed five things that kept her up at night and inspired Midnights - self-loathing, fantasising about revenge, wondering what might have been, falling in love and falling apart.
4. Dawn FM by the Weeknd
The fifth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter the Weeknd takes listeners through purgatory, with a spectrum of influences including dance-pop, synth-pop, funk and electronic dance.
One of the artist’s most ambitious albums, the melodic and introspective project oscillates from his acceptance of his pop icon status and his journey through isolation towards a dance-filled post-pandemic world. In line with its name, the album feels like you are listening to an adult contemporary radio station, as you sit in traffic – some songs are absolutely epic, while others feel necessary as you travel through a tunnel, past the usual Weeknd self-immolation towards a bold self-aware musical palate.
3. I Never Liked You by Future
There are few artists who have had as rock-solid a discography as Future. The American rapper’s repertoire is filled with albums that not only sound good at release, but hold up even years later.
And his ninth studio album, I Never Liked You, is no different. And just like previous Future albums, this feels like a party of the best rappers and hip hop artists.
The album features guest appearances from Kanye West, Gunna, Young Thug, Drake, Tems, EST Gee, and Kodak Black. The deluxe edition was released three days later on May 2, 2022, with additional guest appearances from Babyface Ray, 42 Dugg, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, and Young Scooter.
2. Renaissance by Beyoncé
Of course the seventh studio album by Beyonce would be on any top music list, and with its eclec-tic sound, unmatched vocals and dense references, the spot is well-earned.
Like many musicians in 2022, Beyonce sought to dance to the final notes of the Covid-19 pandemic – a lofty dream – and she achieved a near-perfect album that is equal parts anguish and hope.
Now, we expect some of you might protest about why it only made it to number two on our list – and it was a very tough decision, but ultimately, the controversy around the album took away some of the initial excitement that comes with every new album by the queen of modern music.
1. Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers by Kendrick Lamar
Our favourite album of the year, after much deliberation, had to be Pulitzer Prize-winning musician Kendrick Lamar’s fifth studio album.
When a musician like Kendrick reaches this level of fame and legend status so early in his career, it is natural to see a separation between his reality and that of his listeners.
But Kendrick eschews that stereotype with his razor-sharp lyrics, observations about African-American life and self-awareness. It may have taken him five years to release this album, but it is worth it and his status - not just as a musician but as one of the smartest thinkers in entertainment - remains unassailable.