THE BEST OF 2022 (ACCORDING TO LOVE IS POP)

by Michael McCarthy (Beaulieu) & Jay Cavalon

First of all, I’m sure some of you will think that we’ve put some of these albums in the wrong categories. To that end, all we can say is that the best albums often transcend genre classifications and that this was what we came up with after careful consideration. These albums were placed in these categories based on what we felt best described them and nothing else. We may have assigned some albums a genre that differs from how the actual artists would describe them but we hope nobody will be offended if that’s the case.

Please note that the honorable mention albums are in no particular order. We’re not doing this to rank albums so much as to simply draw attention to some of our favorites that you may have overlooked.

When it comes to indie, we listed albums that we consider to have an indie spirit and sound. Some of these albums may be on major labels but embodied what we’d consider an indie vibe. Again, this list is simply based on our tastes and opinions, nothing more and nothing less. This was all done in the spirit of fun and to spread the word about some truly terrific music. We did not approach this like we were ranking things or having a competition.

If you think we’ve missed some great albums, feel free to comment and let us know what your favorites were this year.

POP ALBUM OF THE YEAR:


MYLENE FARMER: L’EMPRISE
Mylène Farmer has often been called the French version of Madonna but she’s so much more than that. Mind you, we love Madonna. But Mylène Farmer’s music is darker and much more mysterious. And Mylène is a superior lyricist. Of course, sometimes Mylène’s lyrics can be interpreted in different ways and we have limited knowledge of French so we’re not going to try to translate them for you but for those who know French, L’Emprise is a very deep and thought-provoking album. For those who don’t know any French, it’s still an superbly produced album blending brilliant orchestration and live instruments with some of the best electronic music production you’ll find on the planet. The songs on this album were mostly produced by an artist who goes by the name Woodkid; you’ve probably heard their music in several series and movies without realizing who you were hearing. If you like L’Emprise, you really owe it to yourself to look up their original music. Other tracks on L’Emprise were produced by the American artist Moby and the French artist AaRON.

POP HONORABLE MENTION:
LOLO ZOUAI: PLAYGIRL
ZAZIE: AILE-P
MUNA: MUNA
FLETCHER: GIRL OF MY DREAMS
KAILEE MORGUE: GIRL NEXT DOOR
TAYLOR SWIFT: MIDNIGHTS
CARLY RAE JEPSEN: THE LONELIEST TIME
GIRLS’ GENERATION: FOREVER – THE 7TH ALBUM
RINA SAWAYAMA: HOLD THE GIRL
MAGGIE ROGERS: SURRENDER
NINA NESBITT: ÄLSKAR
ANNA OF THE NORTH: CRAZY LIFE
CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS: REDCAR LES ADORABLES ETOILES (PROLOGUE)
ROBBIE WILLIAMS: XXV
MADELINE JUNO: BESSER KANN ICH ES NICHT ERKLAREN
PERFUME: PLASMA
MOTHICA: NOCTURNAL
BANANARAMA: MASQUERADE
ARIANA AND THE ROSE: LONELY HEARTS CLUB
HAYLEY KIYOKO: PANORAMA
BEN LEE: I’M FUN
FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS: LET YOURSELF FREE
ANITTA: VERSIONS OF ME
KT TUNSTALL: NUT
TOTALLY ENORMOUS EXTINCT DINOSAURS: WHEN THE LIGHTS GO
NOAH CYRUS: THE HARDEST PART
DILLON: 6ABOTAGE
BLACKPINK: BORN PINK
BETTY WHO: BIG!
LOUANE: SENTIMENTS
LOMEPAL: MAUVAIS ORDRE
OH WONDER: 22 MAKE
CHARLIE PUTH: CHARLIE

INDIE ALBUM OF THE YEAR:


BUTCH WALKER: BUTCH WALKER AS… GLENN
If there’s one thing you can say about Butch Walker, it’s that he doesn’t make the same album twice. Well, OK, he did release a rock opera called American Love Story during the start of the pandemic only to follow it up with a live version of the album approximately one year later but we believe that was only because the world was in lockdown mode and he couldn’t go out and perform it for people. Otherwise, Butch Walker definitely does not make the same album twice. If you look at his entire career, each album has been a significant departure from the album that preceded it and the rest of his catalog. In the case of Butch Walker As… Glenn, he’s rolled back the clock to the 1970s and imagined himself as a lonely bar singer who mostly expresses himself with somber ballads. It’s a decidedly mellow album that might have disappointed some of Walker’s rock fans but most of his fanbase seemed to react positively to the album and it perfectly suited the melancholic mood we were in throughout most of 2022. The best tracks on offer are “Leather Weather (Mr. and Ms. Understanding),” “Avalanche” and “Slow Leak.”

INDIE HONORABLE MENTION:
METRIC: FORMENTERA
INTERPOL: THE OTHER SIDE OF MAKE-BELIEVE
SHE & HIM: MELT AWAY: A TRIBUTE TO BRIAN WILSON
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB: KEEP ON SMILING
SANTIGOLD: SPIRITUALS
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE: ASPHALT MEADOWS
EDITORS: EBM
YEAH YEAH YEAHS: COOL IT DOWN
BROKEN BELLS: INTO THE BLUE
CHLOE MORIONDO: SUCKERPUNCH
CATHERINE DURAND: LA MAISON ORPHELINE
NESSA BARRETT: YOUNG FOREVER
ARCTIC MONKEYS: THE CAR
TEGAN & SARA: CRYBABY
LIMBLIFTER: LITTLE PAYNE
FOUSHEE: SOFTCORE
KYGO: THRILL OF THE CHASE

ROCK ALBUM OF THE YEAR:


THE CORONAS: TIME STOPPED
The Coronas are a band we’ve been listening to for several years now; Michael first fell in love with them when he heard the song “Give Me A Minute” from their 2017 album Trust The Wire. Since then they’ve released a handful of albums comprised of songs ranging from up-tempo guitar rock nuggets to tearful piano ballads. If you like early Coldplay and have wished that they would return to their roots, then The Corona’s Time Stopped may be just the album you’ve been searching for. Think of them as Coldplay meets Elton John. Everything about this band is entirely perfect from their earnest vocals to their ultra-touching lyrics to their potent hooks. Perhaps some might think that this is a bit of a mellow album for us to name it the rock album of the year but we obviously would disagree.

ROCK HONORABLE MENTION:
THE 1975: BEING FUNNY IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
BLOC PARTY: ALPHA GAMES
KASABIAN: THE ALCHEMIST’S EUPHORIA
DEMI LOVATO: HOLY FVCK
MUSE: THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE
BENJAMIN BIOLAY: SAINT CLAIR
TYLER BRYANT & THE SHAKEDOWN: SHAKE THE ROOTS
THE JOY FORMIDABLE: INTO THE BLUE
SUEDE: AUTOFICTION
PIXIES: DOGGEREL
KULICK: EVERYONE I KNOW WILL DIE
LARKIN POE: BLOOD HARMONY

INDUSTRIAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR:


STABBING WESTWARD: CHASING GHOSTS
Stabbing Westward’s first album in at least two decades was arguably the year’s best reunion record. Songs like “I Am Nothing” and “Damaged Goods” find them doing their introspective best and splitting the difference between Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. We suppose this could be considered a metal album just as easily as an industrial album but industrial is obviously what we’re going with, largely because the album mixes punchy programmed beats and loops with drums, guitars and bass with brilliant results. If you like your lyrics to be a tad on the self-deprecating side of things then this one is for you. And if you’re depressed or angry then you’ll love it that much more.

INDUSTRIAL HONORABLE MENTION:
MAGGIE LINDEMANN: SUCKERPUNCH
PIG: THE MERCILESS LIGHT
KMFDM: HYENA

R&B/SOUL ALBUM OF THE YEAR:


SELAH SUE: PERSONA
We’re calling this uber-tasty third album by Belgian singer Selah Sue the R&B/Soul album of the year but we’re probably wrong about that. Meaning that it’s probably not a soul or R&B album. But if not that, then what is it? If you just listened to the opening track, “Kingdom,” you might think it’s a hip-hop album. Actually, if you listened to several of these songs you might come to that conclusion. Think of this album as a cross between Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black and classic hip-hop by Tupac and Nas. If you’re a fan of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black then you’ll love this similarly produced album packed with big beats and serious hooks that sounds like it could’ve easily been produced by Mark Ronson or Dangermouse.

R&B/SOUL HONORABLE MENTION:
SABRINA CARPENTER: E-MAILS I CAN’T SEND
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE
ALICIA KEYS: KEYS II
DAWN RICHARD AND SPENCER ZAHN: PIGMENTS

ELECTRONIC ALBUM OF THE YEAR:


i_o & LIGHTS: WAREHOUSE SUMMER
Dems some hard ass beats, yo! But, seriously, loud, punchy beats dominate this exquisitely produced gem of an album by i_o and electro-pop singer Lights. It’s an excellent album that blends house, trance and hints of damn near every other electronic music genre with delightful results. It’s an album that also calls to mind early 90s techno on tracks like “SuperMelt” and “idk.” We wouldn’t recommend listening to this album while driving because it’s liable to hypnotize you with its repetitive beats and give you a sever case of white line fever. It’s perfect for dancing at your own private rave, however!

ELECTRONIC HONORABLE MENTION:
BJORK: FOSSORA
THE GLITCH MOB: CTRL ALT REALITY
DRAGONETTE: TWENNIES
GRYFFIN: ALIVE
SYLVAN ESSO: NO RULES SANDY
HOT CHIP: FREAKOUT/RELEASE
TOBACCO: SKIDS AND ANGELS
ARCA: KICK

COUNTRY ALBUM OF THE YEAR:


NICOLLE GALYON: FIRSTBORN
What a precious album. Nicolle Galyon’s brutally honest and often self-deprecating lyrics are some of the year’s best words put to music. You may recall a song she penned called “Consequences” from Camila Cabello’s first album. She does her own superior version of it on Firstborn and it’s highly touching but then you could say that of everything on this album. It’s worth a listen just for the vivid lyrics but Nicolle is one professional songwriter whose voice demands to be heard because she’s actually an excellent singer. Hearing this, you’ll find yourself scratching your head and wondering why she wasn’t releasing her own albums since she started out. Honestly, Firstborn is probably better than every single one of the albums that her songs have previously appeared on. The way she sings with her heart on her sleeve and an air of vulnerability about her voice is deeply affecting. The album is also beautifully produced. If you like Kacey Musgraves last two albums, you’ll love this one, which also has vague hints of electronic music as flourishes among the live instruments.

COUNTRY HONORABLE MENTION:
SHELLY FRALEY: DRIFT
KELSEA BALLERINI: SUBJECT TO CHANGE
MADDIE & TAE: THROUGH THE MADNESS VOL. 2
GINGER WILDHEART & THE SINNERS
JESSICA CHASTAIN & MICHAEL SHANNON: GEORGE & TAMMY (SOUNDTRACK)

RAP ALBUM OF THE YEAR:


STROMAE: MULTITUDE
Perhaps you may be put off by the fact that Stromae’s powerful Multitude album is in French but the beats are so splendidly produced that you should be able to get absorbed in it even if you don’t speak a word of French. Of course, if you do know French you’ll appreciate it on a much deeper level but it’s definitely worth a listen even if you don’t. Trust us, there’s a reason why Stromae has been able to do successful tours in the United States and that’s that his music is so powerful that it transcends the language barrier. Plus, there’s something really special about the way the French language lends itself to rapid-fire hip-hop music that can be appreciated even if you don’t speak the language.

RAP HONORABLE MENTION:
NAS: KING’S DISEASE III
DANGER MOUSE & BLACK THOUGHT: CHEAT CODES
JAY WORTHY & DJ MUGGS: WHAT THEY HITTIN 4
STORMZY: THIS IS WHAT I MEAN

METAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR:


STRYPER: THE FINAL BATTLE
God bless Michael Sweet – he’s been on a roll for a decade now, delivering one killer album after another. When Stryper first reunited roughly 20 years ago, they released a few albums that were good but not excellent but The Final Battle is the fourth album in a row that’s truly brilliant from start to finish. One of the things we love about it is the fact that the songs actually have pep. So many bands that debuted in the 80s have gradually come to play their music slower and slower as they’ve aged but that is definitely not the case with Stryper. Just listen to The Final Battle’s vicious opening track, “Transgressor,” and you’ll see what we mean. Not only is it mighty heavy, it’s also blisteringly fast. And Michael Sweet can still sing, too. Boy does he hit those high notes. And yet he’s still pretty humble, having actually talked about a time when he might stop being Styper’s singer and just stand back and play guitar while a younger singer who can hit higher notes performs lead vocals. We certainly hope that day never comes but, thankfully, we doubt it ever will because Sweet still sounds fantastic.

METAL HONORABLE MENTION:
ENUFF Z’NUFF: FINER THAN SIN
SKID ROW: THE GANG’S ALL HERE
SLIPKNOT: THE END, SO FAR
OZZY OSBOURNE: PATIENT NUMBER 9
HOUSE OF LORDS: SAINTS & SINNERS
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA: COLOR DECAY
SAMMY HAGAR & THE CIRCLE: CRAZY TIMES
BUSH: THE ART OF SURVIVAL
SHINEDOWN: PLANET ZERO
ORIANTHI: ROCK CANDY
LACUNA COIL: COMALIES XX
AUTOGRAPH: BEYOND

FOLK ALBUM OF THE YEAR:


ALISON SUDOL: STILL COME THE NIGHT
The artist formerly known as A Fine Frenzy releases her first album in a decade and it proves to have been well worth the wait. Still Come The Night is a deeply touching album from start to finish with Sudol’s poetic lyrics and sweet, sweet voice resonating as much today as they did when she released her first album all those years ago. The songs on this record span a few different genres but the folk category sounded like it would be the best fit so we went with that. If you like female singer/songwriters of any genre then you owe it to yourself to check out this album from one of her generation’s best artists.

FOLK HONORABLE MENTION:
FIRST AID KIT: PALOMINO
JESCA HOOP: ORDER OF ROMANCE
MAYA HAWKE: MOSS

And a few categories we didn’t have time to write anything about because we wanted to get this posted already…

SCORE OF THE YEAR:
KYLE DIXON & MICHAEL STEIN: STRANGER THINGS SEASON 4

SCORE HONORABLE MENTION:
CRISTOBAL TAPIA DE VEER & KIM NEUNDORF: THE WHITE LOTUS SEASON 2
PJ HARVEY: BAD SISTERS
UELE LAMORE: THE APOLOGY

CHRISTMAS ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
AXELLE RED: THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM

CHRISTMAS HONORABLE MENTION:
OLIVIA ROX: AN OLIVIA ROX CHRISTMAS
SWITCHFOOT: THIS IS OUR CHRISTMAS ALBUM
DEBBIE GIBSON: WINTERLICIOUS
SARAH CONNOR: NOT SO SILENT NIGHT

EP OF THE YEAR (ALL GENRES):
BILLY IDOL: THE CAGE

EP OF THE YEAR HONORABLE MENTION:
POPPY: STAGGER
AIMER: DEEP DOWN
RED VELVET: THE REVE FESTIVAL 2022 – BIRTHDAY
ITZY: CHESHIRE
EMI OKAMOTO: WWAVESS
BREE RUNWAY: WOAH, WHAT A BLUR!
BEGINNERS: IF THE WORLD IS ENDING
DEATHBYROMY: ENTROPY
JUSTICE: PLANISPHERE
LOLA: FLICKER
TERI GENDER BENDER: STATE OF FEAR

JAZZ ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
NIKKI YANOFSKY: LITTLE SECRET

GOSPEL ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
LEANNE RIMES: GOD’S WORK

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Written by

Paris365

An entertainment journalist for 20 years, Michael McCarthy was a columnist and contributing editor for the magazines Lollipop and LiveWire. He co-created and wrote for Cinezine, one of the '90's most popular movie E-zines. The only time he's not listening to music is when he's watching television shows and movies or reading, usually music magazines.

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