The Best Music Of 2022: NPR Staff Picks The NPR Music staff shares their personal top 10 albums and songs from 2022.
Best of 2022: NPR Music's Staff Picks
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The Best Music Of 2022: NPR Staff Picks

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Vidar Logi/Courtesy of the artist

Björk

Vidar Logi/Courtesy of the artist

As a '90s kid who spent hours with a Walkman in the backseat of a car, an appreciation for the sonic narrative has stuck — that same patience, nuance and attention to detail can be found in my favorite albums of 2022. But songs? I needed immediate thrills, so that's why I've opted for 10 hardcore rippers that whipped my ass. Bonus shout out to @tacoplug's Turnstile/"Peanut Butter Jelly Time" mashup, the hardest mesh-shorts mosh-jam of 2022. No ranks, no masters. See y'all in the pit.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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• Björk, Fossora
• Straw Man Army, SOS
• Maggie Rogers, Surrender
• Linda Ayupuka, God Created Everything
• caroline, caroline
• Nancy Mounir, Nozhet El Nofous
• Bill Orcutt, Music for Four Guitars
• Editrix, Editrix II: Editrix Goes to Hell
• Hikaru Utada, BAD MODE
• SONJA, Loud Arriver

Top 10 Hardcore Songs of 2022

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• Soul Glo, "Jump!! (Or Get Jumped!!!)((by the future))"
• daddy's boy, "brb fetching the guillotine"
• Rigorous Institution, "Tempt Fate... And Win!"
• Gates of Hopeless, "True Justice Never Die"
• Warthog, "Four Walls"
• GEL, "Predominant Mask"
• Devil Despize, "Alpha & Omega"
• Hammered Hulls, "Rights and Reproduction"
• Petrol Girls, "Preachers"
• Speed, "Not That Nice"

X Alfonso (left) with his sister (right) and parents. Courtesy of X Alfonso hide caption

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Courtesy of X Alfonso

X Alfonso (left) with his sister (right) and parents.

Courtesy of X Alfonso

I say it every year and every year it becomes more and more true: The variety of amazingly creative expressions under the umbrella of "Latin music" is expanding so fast I can barely keep up. You can see it in our annual list of the best Latin music of the year, featuring work by musicians who mostly occupy the pop sphere. My own personal list explores music made by artists far from the pop world but who deserve as much attention.

My favorite album of 2022 was Ancestros Sinfónico by X Alfonso from Cuba. It is an imaginative meshing of the European symphonic tradition with the power and beauty of the music associated with the Afro-Cuban spiritual practice known as santeria.

It is a work of uncommon beauty. Alfonso celebrates his familial heritage by featuring his iconic Cuban musician parents, Carlos Alfonso and Ele Valdés, and younger sister Eme Alfonso. Together and individually they sing traditional rezos (prayers) over meticulously crafted orchestrations that either amplify the melodies, recreate the intricate traditional bata drum beats or deliver astounding emotional release that makes me feel as if I am indeed in touch with a higher spiritual presence.

I have a very good feeling I will be listening to this album for the rest of my life.

A bit more about the rest of my list: I included Rosalía, whose music I hear as a gifted absorption of all the music that surrounded the young singer as she sat out the initial pandemic lockdown in places like Miami, though complaints and allegations of cultural appropriation deserve deeper examination. I found it to be a very productive year for jazz vocalists from Latin America influenced by Mercedes Sosa as much as Ella Fitzgerald. Adrian Quesada and Antonio Sanchez each made albums that centered collaborations with a wide array of vocalists. Álvaro Lafuente and Hermanos Gutiérrez made guitar-based albums that show off distinctive and personal approaches to the instrument. Finally, I found two very different albums — one by Amaury Acosta, aka KingKlavé, and the other by the duo of DOMi & JD BECK — that helped me indulge my passion for all things rhythmic.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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• X Alfonso, Ancestros Sinfónico
• Rosalía, Motomami
• Claudia Acuña, Duo
• Roxana Amed, Unánime
• Dafnis Prieto featuring Luciana Souza, Cantar
• Adrian Quesada, Boleros Psicodélicos
• Antonio Sanchez, SHIFT (Bad Hombre, Vol. II)
• Hermanos Gutiérrez, El Bueno Y El Malo
• Guitarricadelafuente, La Cantera
• KingKlavé, KingKlavé
• DOMi & JD BECK, NOT TiGHT

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Iga Gozdowska/Courtesy of the artist

While I'm not exactly a pessimist, I do realize that, in 2022, COVID is still ravaging lives and democracy is fighting for its life in this country. Yes, it's party time! Not. However, these songs and albums, in all their glorious, freewheeling diversity, delivered essential doses of beauty, joy, vitality and, ultimately, hope for me this year.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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• S.G. Goodman, Teeth Marks
• Jóhann Jóhannsson, Drone Mass
• Sean Shibe, Lost & Found
• Makaya McCraven, In These Times
• A Far Cry / Shara Nova, The Blue Hour
• Hermanos Gutiérrez, El Bueno Y El Malo
• Julia Bullock, Walking in the Dark
• Third Coast Percussion, Perspectives
• Klaus Mäkelä, Sibelius
• Ian William Craig, Music For Magnesium_173

Top 10 Songs of 2022

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• Julia Bullock, "One by One"
• Beyoncé, "VIRGO'S GROOVE"
• Stromae, "L'enfer"
• Wild Up, "Stay On It"
• Anna Tivel, "The Bell"
• Víkingur Ólafsson, "Study in Canonic Form, Op. 56, No. 1"
• Majid Bekkas, "Zagora Palms"
• Beth Orton, "Haunted Satellite"
• Jonathan Tetelman, "Pourquoi me réveiller"
• Pub, "Autumn"

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Ethan Kwon/Courtesy of the artist

redveil

Ethan Kwon/Courtesy of the artist

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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• Redveil, learn 2 swim
• Beyoncé, RENAISSANCE
• Alex Isley & Jack Dine, Marigold
• Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
• Amber Mark, Three Dimensions Deep
• DOMi & JD BECK, NOT TiGHT
• K. Roosevelt, Solstice
• JID, The Forever Story
• Steve Lacy, Gemini Rights
• Freddie Gibbs, $oul $old $eparately

Top 10 Songs of 2022

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• Hailey Knox, "Sun Bun Boy"
• Louis Cole, "Park Your Car On My Face"
• Vince Staples, "When Sparks Fly"
• Nxworries feat. H.E.R., "Where I Go"
• Q, "Today"
• Lil Yachty feat. Playboi Carti, "Poland"
• Smino feat. J. Cole, "90 Proof"
• Nas, "First Time"
• Swish Jaguar, "Morning Sunrise"
• Ari Lennox, "POF"

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Vincent Bancheri/Courtesy of the artist

Anna Tivel

Vincent Bancheri/Courtesy of the artist

Today we experience so much noise, and often without thinking turn it into an infinite soundtrack. I wake up to my alarm's little snippet of Joan Shelley's "Amberlit Morning" and head to the kitchen, where the smart refrigerator beeps and the coffeemaker zings. I walk outside, and Bad Bunny plays on a worker's truck radio as I walk the dog, while the groans of the garbage trucks mingle with the whoosh of the accordion bus and a train whistle in the distance. All of this competes with and feeds the sound-bit memory loops in my own head: the song that lingers from that movie I watched last night, that anthem the band played at the show a week ago, the tearjerker I only listen to when I'm alone.

Multi-tasking is a myth, and while multidirectional hearing is possible, listening requires focus. Meaningful encounters with sound both create and demand the kind of openness that comes with a little time. The abundance of albums with strong shapes this year is a gift. They made and marked the space around me, and within.

(I've also made a playlist of 100 songs that stuck with me this year, all of which helped stretch my listening experience into a new shape. You can hear it here.)

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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1. Anna Tivel, Outsiders
2. Silvana Estrada, Marchita
3. Jockstrap, I Love You Jennifer B
4. Stromae, Multitude
5. Tommy McLain, I Ran Down Every Dream
6. Fontaines D.C., Skinty Fia
7. Hurray for the Riff Raff, LIFE ON EARTH
8. Leyla McCalla, Breaking the Thermometer
9. Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler, For All Our Days That Tear the Heart
10. Gang of Youths, angel in realtime.

(Read more of Ann Powers' picks for the best music of 2022)

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Michelle Yoon/Courtesy of the artist

Tomberlin

Michelle Yoon/Courtesy of the artist

Lyrics and sound drive my love of music more than beats and hooks. As much as I love the words and story in a song, it isn't always a narrative that grabs me. What I love best is when the lyrics seem woven right into the tone or atmosphere of a song. You'll hear that in most all of the selections below.

Among the artists who made my list of 2022 favorites are quite a few new to me, including the charming, sometimes goofy, catchy debut album from Wet Leg, but it was also a year in which past favorites made better records than ever; maybe the time away from touring during COVID shaped richer, more introspective sets of songs.

Below you'll find my 10 favorite albums and my top 10 songs of 2022, but of course there's so much more worth hearing, and I made a playlist that stretches to 100 songs (listen on Spotify or Apple Music) that will hopefully help you discover some gems you may have missed.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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1. Tomberlin, i don't know who needs to hear this...
2. Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
3. Wet Leg, Wet Leg
4. Florist, Florist
5. Curse of Lono, People In Cars
6. Regina Spektor, Home, before and after
7. Saya Gray, 19 MASTERS
8. Lizzy McAlpine, five seconds flat
9. Aldous Harding, Warm Chris
10. Kevin Morby, This Is A Photograph

Top 10 Songs of 2022

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1. Regina Spektor, "Up The Mountain"
2. Curse Of Lono (feat. Tess Parks), "So Damned Beautiful"
3. Tomberlin, "stoned"
4. Big Thief, "Spud Infinity"
5. Porridge Radio, "Back To The Radio"
6. Florist, "Red Bird Pt. 2 (Morning)"
7. Lizzy McAlpine (feat. Ben Kessler), "reckless driving"
8. Hurray for the Riff Raff, "PRECIOUS CARGO"
9. Madi Diaz, "Hangover"
10. Spiritualized, "Always Together With You"

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Nate Schuls/Courtesy of the artist

Makaya McCraven

Nate Schuls/Courtesy of the artist

There was so much music to process in 2022 — and so much of it warranted close listening. What I found myself gravitating toward was the sound of revelation, a word that I could apply to most of the albums and songs on this list, in different ways. We spent the year reintegrating and rehabilitating, finding a new way back to the old ways. Here is the best of what got me there — first albums, then the songs.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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• Immanuel Wilkins, The 7th Hand
• Mary Halvorson, Amaryllis
• Rosalía, Motomami
• Tyshawn Sorey, The Off-Off Broadway Guide to Synergism
• Makaya McCraven, In These Times
• Danger Mouse & Black Thought, Cheat Codes
• David Virelles, Nuna
• Cécile McLorin Salvant, Ghost Song
• Patricia Brennan, More Touch
• Julian Lage, View With A Room

Top 10 Songs of 2022

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• Beyoncé, "VIRGO'S GROOVE"
• Tom Skinner, "The Journey"
• Beth Orton, "Lonely"
• SZA, "Shirt"
• Kendrick Lamar, "N95"
• Moor Mother, "Arms Save (feat. Nicole Mitchell)"
• Nduduzo Makhathini, "Emlilweni"
• Wilco, "Falling Apart (Right Now)"
• DOMi & JD Beck & Thundercat, "BOWLiNG"
• Matthew Shipp Trio, "World Construct"

(Read more of Nate Chinen's picks for the best music of 2022)

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MUNA

Isaac Schneider/Courtesy of the artist

For a year with so many consensus favorites, my own Top 10 has moved around constantly in recent days, thanks to last-minute listening, my own capriciousness and SZA's decision to drop a magnificent record after most Top 10 lists had already been filed. My favorite records of 2022 (or at least my favorite records of one specific moment in December) are about liberation, introspection, identity and joy — sometimes all at once.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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1. MUNA, MUNA
2. Tove Lo, Dirt Femme
3. SZA, SOS
4. Sudan Archives, Natural Brown Prom Queen
5. Ethel Cain, Preacher's Daughter
6. Beyoncé, RENAISSANCE
7. Taylor Swift, Midnights
8. Alvvays, Blue Rev
9. Leikeli47, Shape Up
10. Wet Leg, Wet Leg

Top 10 Songs of 2022

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1. Lizzo, "About Damn Time"
2. MUNA, "What I Want"
3. Taylor Swift, "You're On Your Own, Kid"
4. The Mountain Goats, "Training Montage"
5. Harry Styles, "As It Was"
6. Chappell Roan, "Casual"
7. Tove Lo, "2 Die 4"
8. Stromae, "L'enfer"
9. The Weeknd, "Less Than Zero"
10. Carly Rae Jepsen, "Beach House"

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Sophie Hur/Courtesy of the artist

Soccer Mommy

Sophie Hur/Courtesy of the artist

I've already written at length about albums, so grant me a brief moment here to talk specifically about songs. 2022 was a helter-skelter year for big, compelling singles, but it was a restorative one for more peculiar creations — fragmentary stuff (FKA twigs' "pamplemousse"), experimental stuff (Lucrecia Dalt's "Dicen") and epic stuff (any sequence of The Blue Hour). I found the most comfort in songs that felt irregular in some way, or like they were mid-development in an evolutionary cycle.

Global pop felt particularly dynamic and progressive, with many artists testing long-standing rules of genre: Bad Bunny and Rosalía, Koffee and Bayka, LE SSERAFIM and Hikaru Utada. It was a great year for K-pop singles (IVE's "After LIKE," LOONA's "Flip That," WJSN's "Last Sequence," LIGHTSUM's "i," pretty much every NewJeans song) and deep cuts (STAYC's "YOUNG LUV," Kep1er's "Downtown," HYOLYN's "BODY TALK," Girls' Generation's "Freedom," Chung Ha's "XXXX"), for Afro-pop (Oxlade's "KU LO SA," CKay's "samson and delilah," Ayra Starr's "Running," Rema's "Calm Down," Asake's "Organise") and dancehall/reggae (Skeng's "New Era," Jahvillani's "Rockefeller," Shenseea's "Can't Anymore," Protoje's "Late at Night," Kranium's "No Regret"). With all of this momentum in so many directions, I'm excited to hear the resulting sprawl in 2023.

Brief shoutout to some songs that technically came out in 2021 but are of 2022 and would have otherwise been on this list: Two Shell's "home," Earl Sweatshirt's "2010," Koffee's "West Indies," Chief Keef's "B**** Where" and AURORA's "Cure For Me."

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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• FKA twigs, CAPRISONGS
• Rosalía, Motomami
• Ethel Cain, Preacher's Daughter
• DOMi & JD Beck, NOT TiGHT
• Koffee, Gifted
• Kojey Radical, Reason to Smile
• Lucrecia Dalt, ¡Ay!
• Immanuel Wilkins, The 7th Hand
• Caroline Shaw & Attacca Quartet, Evergreen
• Roc Marciano & the Alchemist, The Elephant Man's Bones

Top 10 Songs of 2022

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• Gunna & Future (ft. Young Thug), "pushin P"
• Bayka, "1Uptown"
• Ice Spice, "Euphoric"
• SZA, "Gone Girl"
• LE SSERAFIM, "Impurities"
• Soccer Mommy, "Shotgun"
• iayze, "556 (Green Tip)"
• WILLOW, "hover like a GODDESS"
• Bad Bunny, "Tití Me Preguntó"
• Hikaru Utada, "Somewhere Near Marseilles"

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Courtesy of the artist

Molly Nilsson.

Courtesy of the artist

For the second time in three years, the U.K. collective SAULT placed two records on my personal Top 10 list, and I could have included a third (go listen to Hendrix-inspired Today & Tomorrow, which was the last of its surprise Nov. 1 downloadable albums to hit streaming services). The members of the group continue to operate under the veil of plausible deniability, which I believe is the only reason we haven't truly reckoned with this historic run of excellence. Whoever gets the first Inflo interview should win a Peabody. As for the rest of these lists, my favorite discovery of the year was Olympia, Wash., songwriter Field School, who makes jangle-pop with the gain cranked ever so slightly. I usually have to wait until after year-end season to go on my annual twee spree, but thanks to When Summer Comes, January arrived early.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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1. Molly Nilsson, Extreme
2.
SAULT, Air
3. Field School, When Summer Comes
4. Oren Ambarchi, Shebang
5. SAULT, 11
6. Panda Bear & Sonic Boom, Reset
7. Angeline Morrison, The Sorrow Songs: Folk Songs of Black British Experience
8. Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul, Topical Dancer
9. Shirt & Jack Splash, I Turned Myself Into Myself
10. Pinch Points, Process

Top 10 Songs of 2022

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1. Molly Nilsson, "Pompeii"
2. Ethel Cain, "American Teenager"
3. MUNA, "What I Want"
4. Fireboy DML & Asake, "Bandana"
5. Russ Millions x Buni x YV, "Reggae & Calypso"
6. Let's Eat Grandma, "Happy New Year"
7. Joy Orbison x Overmono (feat. Abra), "Blind Date"
8. Conway the Machine, "Stressed"
9. Taylor Swift, "Mastermind"
10. Sunbeam Sound Machine, "I Promise That I'll Try To Give You All My Love"

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Alexis Gross/Courtesy of the artist

Special Interest

Alexis Gross/Courtesy of the artist

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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• Alex G, God Save the Animals
• Beyoncé, RENAISSANCE
• Jenny Hval, Classic Objects
• Nilüfer Yanya, PAINLESS
• Rachika Nayar, Heaven Come Crashing
• Special Interest, Endure
• MUNA, MUNA
• Huerco S., Plonk
• Caterina Barbieri, Spirit Exit
• Angel Olsen, Big Time

Top 10 Songs of 2022

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• Beyoncé, "ALIEN SUPERSTAR"
• Alex G, "Runner"
• beabadoobee, "Talk"
• Jenny Hval, "American Coffee"
• MUNA, "Anything But Me"
• Angel Olsen, "All The Good Times"
• Hikaru Utada, "BAD MODE"
• Let's Eat Grandma, "Happy New Year"
• Charli XCX, "Sorry If I Hurt You"
• Sun's Signature, "Apples"

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Tim Ives/Courtesy of the artist

Grace Ives

Tim Ives/Courtesy of the artist

This year, I moved to a new city and began seeing live music again after a pandemic-induced hiatus: two things that dramatically reframed and reshaped my listening life. The music that moved me most this year — instant classics from new discoveries like MJ Lenderman and Grace Ives; high-water marks from dependable favorites like Perfume Genius and Alex G; anthems of autonomy from MUNA and Petrol Girls and odes to complicated kinship from Quinn Christopherson and Jenny Hval — propelled me forward, offered a space to recharge and rose above the din of New York's outrageously loud subway system. It's been a rush, a blur, a slog, a thrill; I was grateful for a soundtrack (arranged alphabetically, below) that could keep up with all of it.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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• Alex G, God Save the Animals
• Hurray For the Riff Raff, LIFE ON EARTH
• Grace Ives, Janky Star
• MJ Lenderman, Boat Songs
• MUNA, MUNA
• Perfume Genius, Ugly Season
• S.G. Goodman, Teeth Marks
• Soul Glo, Diaspora Problems
• Special Interest, Endure
• Tomberlin, i don't know who needs to hear this...

Top 10 Songs of 2022

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• Alex G, "Runner"
• The Beths, "Expert in a Dying Field"
• Quinn Christopherson, "Celine"
• Jenny Hval, "Year of Love"
• MUNA, "What I Want"
• Plains, "Problem With It"
• Petrol Girls, "Preachers"
• Raveena, "Rush"
• Sadurn, "snake"
• Rina Sawayama, "This Hell"

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Nwaka Okparaeke/Courtesy of the artist

Koffee

Nwaka Okparaeke/Courtesy of the artist

Reducing my musical year to 10 songs and albums is excruciating. There are, to my mind, innumerable artists whose songs made an impression on me. (According to Spotify, that figure is actually 6,644.) For me, it was a year of revisiting soul balms and discovering the artists, old and new, who became the soundtrack to my reflections, periods of mourning and, of course, celebrations. To choppily paraphrase Levar Burton, there is no common thread that ties the unranked songs or albums on my list together, other than the fact that I love them and I hope you will, too.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

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• Koffee, Gifted
• Tanerélle, 82 Moons
• Frida Touray, Mending
• Alison Shearer, View From Above
• Babyface, Girls Night Out
• Takuya Kuroda, Midnight Crisp
• KingKlavé, KingKlavé
• Latto, 777
• Samora Pinderhughes, GRIEF
• Methodman, Meth Lab Season 3: The Rehab

Top 10 Songs of 2022

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• Patrice Roberts, "Mind My Business"
• Endea Owens, "Where the Nubians Grow"
• Clueso (feat ELIF), "Mond"
• Marco Bernardis, "Discover We Can Fly"
• Nova Twins, "Cleopatra"
• Thee Illusions, "Thunderstorms and Earthquakes"
• James Casey, "Christmafunk"
• Ciara (feat. Coast Contra), "Jump"
• RuPaul, "Show Me That You Festive"
• Pharell Williams (feat. 21 Savage and Tyler, The Creator), "Cash In Cash Out"

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Jacob Webster/Courtesy of the artist

SZA

Jacob Webster/Courtesy of the artist

2022 felt like three years jampacked into one. Yes, my perception of time might be shot, but we've been fed an insane amount of music, especially within the realm of hip-hop and R&B, and artists are continuing to drop heat to warm us during this more frigid final month of the year. Big shout out to SZA. With a high-volume of releases + the TikTokification of music, this makes it all the more difficult and more impressive for a record/song to have endured to the final moments of the year. Here's a list of 10 albums and songs of 2022 that are stuck with me.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• Beyoncé, RENAISSANCE
• JID, The Forever Story
• Steve Lacy, Gemini Rights
• Ravyn Lenae, HYPNOS
• Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
• Cisco Swank & Luke Titus, Some Things Take Time
• Alex Vaughn, The Hurtbook
• Flwr Chyld, Luv n Chaos
• Durand Bernarr, Wanderlust
• SZA, SOS

Top 10 Songs of 2022

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• Alex Isley feat. Robert Glasper, "Still Wonder"
• Joyce Wrice, "Spent"
• Trey Graves, "Gimme"
• Ambré, "Wild Life..."
• NxWorries feat. H.E.R., "Where I Go"
• Doechii, "Persuasive"
• GloRilla feat. Cardi B, "Tomorrow 2"
• Dreamville (feat. JID, J. Cole, Kenny Mason, Sheck Wes), "Stick"
• Young Nudy, "Fresh As F***"
• Jacob Collier feat. Lizzy McAlpine & John Mayer, "Never Gonna Be Alone"

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Edwig Henson/Courtesy of the artist

Sudan Archives

Edwig Henson/Courtesy of the artist

This year, if it wasn't gassing me up or soothing my spirit I didn't want it. So, in creating this list, I thought a lot about what energy I want to carry with me into 2023 and beyond. That essentially boils down to tracks and projects that offered me some comfort or inspiration, or challenged my perspective. This was a sick year for hip-hop and R&B, and while newcomers definitely made a splash onto my radar, a lot of my favorite artists put out what I think is some of their best work to date. So here's a list of more than just music: It's good vibes, advice and feelings I just can't seem to let go of. I hope you carry some of them forward with you, too!

Top 10 Albums of 2022

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• Sudan Archives, Natural Brown Prom Queen
• FKA twigs, Caprisongs
• Denzel Curry, Melt My Eyez See Your Future
• Flo Milli, You Still Here, Ho?
• Bartees Strange, Farm to Table
• JID, The Forever Story
• Ravyn Lenae, HYPNOS
• Nick Hakim, COMETA
• Rico Nasty, Las Ruinas
• Omar Apollo, Ivory

Top 10 Songs of 2022

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• Ravyn Lenae, "Light Me Up"
• Doechii, "Crazy"
• Khruangbin & Leon Bridges, "B-Side"
• Baby Tate, "Perfect"
• Megan Thee Stallion, "Not Nice"
• Beyoncé, "PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA"
• FKA twigs, "oh my love"
• Smino, "Matinee"
• Nick Hakim, "Perfume"
• Steve Lacy, "Give You the World"

Courtesy of RCA Records
Fousheé
Courtesy of RCA Records

It's just impossible to include all of the great music that was produced in 2022, so that's why I decided to share some favorites that (mostly) did not appear in our Best Albums and Songs lists. I'll take this opportunity to shout out "Why We Speak" by Robert Glasper, featuring Q-Tip and esperanza spalding, which was my absolute favorite song this year. It's cheerful and uplifting; it's funky and jazzy. Q-Tip's vocal resonance and rapping cadence is always a comfort while esperanza's melodic lines soar on top of her gorgeous harmonies.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• IDK, Simple.
• The Smile, A Light for Attracting Attention
• Wayne Shorter, Terri Lyne Carrington, Leo Genovese, esperanza spalding, Live at the Detroit Jazz Festival
• Fousheé, softCORE
• Mary Halvorson, Amaryllis
• Moor Mother, Jazz Codes
• Leikeli47, Shape Up
• Sarathy Korwar, KALAK
• Jensen McRae, Are You Happy Now?
• Flo Milli, You Still Here, Ho?

Top 10 Songs of 2022

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• Robert Glasper feat. Q-Tip & esperanza spalding, "Why We Speak"
• Girl Ultra, "Nada q hacer"
• Drake, "Massive"
• Saba feat. Black Thought and Eryn Allen Kane, "Few Good Things"
• Chronixx, "Never Give Up"
• Tokischa & Treintisiete, "Sistema De Patio"
• Nilüfer Yanya, "midnight sun"
• Bonny Light Horseman, "California"
• Lava La Rue feat. Biig Piig, "Hi-Fidelity"
• Donia Wael & El Waili, "Bekya"

Jockstrap Eddie Whelan/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Eddie Whelan/Courtesy of the artist

Jockstrap

Eddie Whelan/Courtesy of the artist

No repeats between my album list and my songs list, though many of the songs came from great albums and the albums are mostly full of wonderful songs. I divided and organized these by repeat-listening divination. Whatever format a piece of music most demanded to be heard in is where it landed below. I was thrilled by much of Motomami but felt jostled by its hairpin turns, until its deluxe edition arrived in September with a live version of "LA FAMA," on which Rosalía jettisons The Weeknd from her sidecar for the only duet partner worthy of her in 2022: the unrestrained adoration of her audience.

Top 10 Albums of 2021

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• Jockstrap, I Love You Jennifer B
• Alvvays, Blue Rev
• caroline, caroline
• Jeff Parker ETA IVtet, Mondays at The Enfield Tennis Academy
• Alex G, God Save the Animals
• Makaya McCraven, In These Times
• Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul, Topical Dancer
• Lucrecia Dalt, ¡Ay!
• Broadcast, Maida Vale Sessions
• The Weeknd, Dawn FM

Top 10 Songs of 2021

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• Rosalia, "LA FAMA (live en el Palau Sant Jordi)"
• Mitski, "Stay Soft"
• Beyoncé, "ALL UP IN YOUR MIND"
• SAULT, "Fight for Love"
• Soccer Mommy, "Shotgun"
• Molly Nilsson, "Pompeii"
• Caitlin Rose, "Getting It Right"
• Sky Ferreira, "Don't Forget"
• S.G. Goodman, "Work Until I Die"
• The 1975, "Happiness"

Doechii Chris Parsons/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Chris Parsons/Courtesy of the artist

Doechii

Chris Parsons/Courtesy of the artist

Every song on this list served as a conduit to the angst, euphoria, confusion, joy and chaos of the lives I lived this year. If you let Spotify tell it, I am an "adventurer," constantly on the lookout for new artists, but more than that, I am drawn to creators that pour themselves earnestly into their music, committing wholeheartedly to feeling. This list is unranked but definitely curated to take you through the journey that was 2022. More than anything, this list feels like catharsis. Enjoy the ride.

Top 10 Songs of 2022

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• Beyoncé, "AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM"
• Obongjayar, "Message in a Hammer"
• Megan Thee Stallion, "Plan B"
• Lizzo, "The Sign"
• Doechii, "Crazy"
• GloRilla & Hitkidd, "F.N.F. (Let's Go)"
• Jamila Woods, "Boundaries"
• Gystere feat. esperanza spalding, "Sacred Grounds"
• PJ Morton feat. Stevie Wonder & Nas, "Be Like Water"
• Hiatus Kaiyote, "Get Sun (Georgia Anne Muldrow Remix)"

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Zamar Velez/Courtesy of the artist

Omar Apollo

Zamar Velez/Courtesy of the artist

The stars aligned perfectly for both Beyoncé and Bad Bunny albums this year — and though I can't praise them or Rosalía enough — I wanted to use this list to celebrate other heavy-hitters that carried me through 2022. I sit at a desk and mix audio all day, so I mostly listened to music while in motion this year: biking, dancing, cleaning. A lot of my picks reflect that; they build momentum through disco nostalgia and dark '80s synths. But these are albums and songs that stopped me in my tracks, beckoned me to sit with them and demanded my full attention. They helped me slow down, then start moving again.

Top 10 Albums of 2022

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• Julieta Venegas, Tu Historia
• Rauw Alejandro, SATURNO
• Stromae, Multitude
• Villano Antillano, La Sustancia X
• Steve Lacy, Gemini Rights
• Divino Niño, Last Spa on Earth
• SASAMI, Squeeze
• Phony Ppl, Euphonyus
• Weyes Blood, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow
• Mitski, Laurel Hell

Top 10 Songs of 2022

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• Tokischa & Marshmello, "ESTILAZO"
• Simon Grossmann,"Corolla 94"
• SZA, "F2F"
• Ezra Furman, "Book of Our Names"
• Omar Apollo,"En El Olvido"
• Say She She, "Prism"
• Khruangbin & Leon Bridges, "Mariella"
• Young Miko, "Riri"
• Elsa y Elmar, "atravesao"
• Guitarricadelafuente, "Caballito"

December 21

NPR Music 2022 Staff Picks: Fi O'Reilly

5 Seconds of Summer Michael Tran/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Michael Tran/AFP via Getty Images

5 Seconds of Summer

Michael Tran/AFP via Getty Images

Like so many others, my 2022 featured a lot of Bad Bunny, but in between "Después de la Playa" and "Neverita," I found plenty of moments to explore other fabulous releases. Tragically, it won't all fit here. Blessedly, plenty of it does! So please enjoy my (abridged, alphabetically ordered) soundtrack for taking the bus, visiting the post office or indulging in the profound luxury of solo museum trips!

Top 10 Albums of 2022

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• 5 Seconds of Summer, 5SOS5
• Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti
• Fontaines D.C., Skinty Fia
• Joyce, Natureza
• Mali Obomsawin, Sweet Tooth
• Moura, Axexan, espreitan
• Rauw Alejandro, SATURNO
• Rico Nasty, Las Ruinas
• Telefís, a hAon
• Villano Antillo, La Sustancia X

Top 10 Songs of 2022

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

• Alejandra Robles, "Las Joyas de Oaxaca: Los Zancudos de Zaachila"
• FIDLAR, "Sand on the Beach"
• Gotopo, "Maravilla En La Desgracia"
• Lynks, "Hey Joe (Relax)"
• The Mary Wallopers, "Lots of Little Soldiers"
• Natalia Lafourcade, "María la Curandera"
• sapu punk, maquina de emociones & soñez, "y que"
• Seba Otero & Rafa Pabön, "Guapea"
• Sistema de entretenimiento, "Su cuerpo está a punto de explotar"
• Trueno & Victor Heredia, "TIERRA ZANTA"