Best Music of 2022 Read our lists of the 50 Best Albums and 100 Best Songs of the year, as well as lists covering the best rock, hip-hop, R&B and more.

The Best Music of 2022


Being a music fan right now can feel like inhabiting a whole enormous, thriving, chaotic world that's embedded within a metaverse of other enormous, thriving, chaotic worlds you didn't even know existed. Even for the most industrious listeners, the amount of music released every day (EVERY. DAY.) is overwhelming, no less so when you attempt to look back over a whole calendar year. Who could keep up? But there's another way to consider the state of new music: Such abundance makes for a spectacular party.

Consider this your disco ball, a reflection on the year that revels in cacophony rather than trying to boil things down into a single authoritative point of view. Throughout December, this page will illuminate the best music of 2022 a few glittering facets at a time. Below, you'll find essays, podcasts and other discussions on the ways we'll remember the year. Above, you'll find links to our lists celebrating incredible songs and albums from the worlds of rock, R&B, hip-hop, classical, Latin, jazz, experimental and roots, folk and country. And of course, we'll also share countdowns of our 50 favorite albums and 100 favorite songs of the year, across all genres and styles, made by more than 50 contributors to NPR Music and our partner stations. Like we said: It's a party. It's no fun if things don't get a little messy.

NPR's Best Music of 2022

Updated daily with lists, essays and podcasts through December 20

  • NPR Music Staff Picks

    The individual staff members of NPR Music share their personal favorite albums and songs of 2022. Read the Lists

  • Poll Results: Listeners Pick the Best Albums of 2022

    You voted. We count them down. Listen to the Episode

  • The Best Roots Music of 2022

    The songs and albums of the year from the unstable "roots music" category showed artists getting personal even as they explored complex cultural lineages and challenged the rules of established scenes. Read the List

  • How niche rap stars quietly conquered 2022

    Hip-hop editor Sheldon Pearce on artists like NBA YoungBoy and Rod Wave, who pulled in massive streaming numbers this year while barely registering on mainstream pop's radar. Read the Essay

  • The story of jazz in 2022: A year-end listening party

    Not a Best Jazz of 2022 list, exactly. Instead, a group of keen listeners and critics gather to share the music of the year — one album and song each — worth shouting about. Read the List

  • The importance of remembering everything but the music

    Poet and critic Harmony Holiday spent her year interviewing descendants and torchbearers, finding that the soul of jazz needs preserving offstage and outside of the booth. Read the Essay

  • In 2022, Bad Bunny made pop stardom a subversive act

    Critic Isabelia Herrera on a year in which the irrepressible pop star continued to stand atop the global charts while refusing to temper his political provocations or move to U.S. pop's center. Read the Essay

  • Tyshawn Sorey's year of creative unity

    Across multiple recordings and in venues both intimate and echoing, the story of Sorey this year was one of a MacArthur genius reconciling his universe of talent and ambition into a singular expression. Read the Essay

  • Podcast: The Top 10 Songs of 2022

    NPR's Ann Powers and Anamaria Sayre and contributor LaTesha Harris join Robin Hilton to count down NPR Music's 10 best songs of the year. Listen to the Episode

  • The 100 Best Songs of 2022

    Agreeing on the top songs of this year was not easy. Here's a list of 100 songs that reflects the sprawling, energetic messiness of 2022. Read the List

  • Julius Rodriguez, a young pianist fusing (all) the music from inside-out

    On his debut album, the pianist and drummer converges past and present with stellar results, showcasing himself as a torchbearer among a cohort of young New York players bringing history into the future. Read the Essay

  • A return to live venues, guided by 'The 7th Hand'

    In 2022, WRTI editorial director Nate Chinen returned to live music with fervor — and one artist in particular, the young saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, emerged as a constant presence. Read the Essay

  • The 15 Best Latin Albums of 2022

    It was a heart-pounding, dance-inducing, head-spinning year in Latin music, from Bad Bunny's exponential rise to a relentless commitment from up and coming artists to play between genre lines. Read the List

  • Beyoncé's 'RENAISSANCE' is the No. 1 album of 2022

    Three critics — Daphne A. Brooks, Danyel Smith and Ann Powers — discuss why RENAISSANCE is NPR's pick for the album of the year, and why its glory lies in its many glittering details. Read the Conversation

  • The 50 Best Albums of 2022

    We ranked our 50 favorite records of the year, from hip-hop to classical and everything in between. Read the List

  • Podcast: The Top 10 Albums of 2022

    NPR's Ann Powers and Sheldon Pearce join critic Christina Lee and host Robin Hilton to countdown the top 10 albums of 2022. Listen to the Episode

  • Raina Douris' Favorite Music of 2022

    The top 10 albums from the host of World Cafe, from WXPN in Philadelphia. Read the List

  • The 11 Best Experimental Albums of 2022

    Difficult-to-classify sounds that gave us lovely, sometimes challenging fractal windows to jump through: microtonal rock jams, tender ambient, woozy nostalgia, Egyptian ghosts and an epic synth symphony. Read the List

  • Bob Boilen's Favorite Music of 2022

    The host of All Songs Considered listens for the moments when the poetry of a song's lyrics seem woven into its sound. This year, his playlists overflowed. Read the List

  • Sheldon Pearce's Top 20 Albums of 2022

    In a year when the industry bet on fresh tech and virtual worlds, NPR's hip-hop and R&B editor found these albums powerfully immersive all on their own. Read the List

  • The 20 Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2022

    Rap that reunited and revitalized old partnerships, revisited and critiqued old haunts, unearthed powerful new voices and even helped plug a new Minions movie. Read the List

  • The 10 Best Classical Albums of 2022

    This year's most compelling classical music covered a wide spectrum, from booby-trapped string quartets and chilled-out piano to full-throttle percussion, electric guitars and high-flying vocals. Read the List

  • The 20 Best R&B Albums of 2022

    In 2022, R&B rediscovered its place in the club, pushed into the outer reaches of space, and relished the beauty of the Black experience. Read the List

  • Nate Chinen's Favorite Music of 2022

    Nate Chinen, NPR Music critic and editorial director for WRTI in Philadelphia, shares some of his favorite music of the year. Read the List

  • The 10 Best Rock Albums of 2022

    In 2022, the top 10 rock albums took a pilgrimage to Memphis, communed with theologians and poets, found the interconnectedness of all beings and danced through pain and pleasure. Read the List

  • Podcast: The Year in Rock

    All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen is joined by NPR Music's Hazel Cills and Marissa Lorusso to count down our top 10 rock albums of 2022. Listen to the Episode

  • Ann Powers' Top 20 Albums of 2022

    NPR's pop critic and correspondent shares her favorite albums of this year. Read the List

  • Poll: Vote for the best albums of 2022

    We want you to tell us what new music you loved this year. Vote for up to five of your favorite albums or EPs that were released in 2022.