This year was a masterclass in music.
Beyoncé sashayed to the discotheque with her first solo album since 2016, Taylor Swift pressed pause on her re-records to drop an instant classic and Bad Bunny all but broke Spotify and Apple Music with a summer-defining masterpiece.
Plenty of up-and-coming artists earned their flowers, too: Zach Bryan breathed new life into Americana, while Wet Leg kicked the quarantine blues to the curb with their humorous breakthrough.
Here are the 10 albums that Page Six couldn’t turn off in 2022.
10. Drake, “Honestly, Nevermind”
Let’s face it: Drake the rapper doesn’t hit the same in 2022 as he did in 2011. But Drake the dance floor divo? That’s another story. On “Honestly, Nevermind,” Champagne Papi ditches his hip-hop roots for lush club beats, experimenting with entrancing sounds that no one saw coming from the emcee behind “The Motto” and “God’s Plan.” Sure, Drake has gotten his groove on before (“Passionfruit” is still on rotation all these years later), but a full album’s worth of trancy tunes was a pleasant surprise that showcased his range as an artist.
9. Wet Leg, “Wet Leg”
Wet Leg may be an underdog at next year’s Grammys, where they’re nominated against established acts like Björk and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but don’t count them out just yet. The duo’s self-titled debut is an infectious collection of sharp tunes with brazen lyrics about wet dreams, doomscrolling and grocery shopping while stoned. They even manage to effortlessly work a “Mean Girls” quote (“Is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?”) into the post-punk single “Chaise Lounge,” which is impressive in itself.
8. Taylor Swift, “Midnights”
Taylor Swift emerged from the woods of “Folklore” and “Evermore” moodier than ever. Her 10th album, “Midnights,” stunningly documents 13 sleepless nights with autobiographical lyrics about self-loathing (“Anti-Hero”), coming of age (“You’re On Your Own, Kid”) and scheming to spark a love story (“Mastermind”). It’s a sonic mix of “1989” and “Reputation” with the same magical pen-to-paper songwriting that’s bound to secure Swift a coveted spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame one day.
7. Lizzo, “Special”
Megaproducers Max Martin and Mark Ronson set Lizzo up for guaranteed success by contributing to “Special” … but did she really need them? The charismatic singer-rapper holds her own on the follow-up to her 2019 breakthrough, “Cuz I Love You,” delivering hook after hook with the chart-topping banger “About Damn Time” and posh standout “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready).” Even when she’s at her most vulnerable on the album’s title track, Lizzo stops to look upward, brushing off “people judgin’” so that she can fall “so in love” with herself.
6. Zach Bryan, “American Heartbreak”
Few artists can release a triple album as their major-label debut and still keep people’s attention. Zach Bryan did just that with “American Heartbreak,” which chronicles a whirlwind five years of the Navy veteran’s life, from losing his beloved mom (“She’s Alright”) to finding sobriety (“Mine Again”) to closing the door on an ill-fated relationship (“Something in the Orange”). From folk to soul to country, there’s a little something here for everyone, and that’s what makes a true body of art.
5. Rosalía, “Motomami”
If there’s a boundary, Rosalía will push it. Case in point: Her experimental, brilliantly produced confessional “Motomami” is one big middle finger to musical genres, blending together everything from flamenco to hip-hop to reggaeton to bachata. And somehow, it works. If Rosalía’s ace collaborators The Weeknd (“La Fama”) and Pharrell Williams (“Hentai”) are any indication of her star power, her name is going to be on people’s lips for years to come.
4. The 1975, “Being Funny in a Foreign Language”
Matty Healy becoming a TikTok sensation shouldn’t come as a surprise. As evidenced by viral videos from The 1975’s “At Their Very Best” tour, the frontman has a charm that’s equal parts endearing and forbidden. The band’s latest record, “Being Funny in a Foreign Language,” is just as enigmatic. “Looking for Somebody (To Love)” tells the devastating story of a school shooter over the catchiest guitar riff of 2022, while “Part of the Band” finds Healy rhyming “baristas” and “keisters” in a way that only he could. It’s pure chaos in the most beautiful way from start to finish.
3. Bad Bunny, “Un Verano Sin Ti”
Bad Bunny had one goal in mind while bouncing around ideas for his fourth album: to make it the “happiest” of his career. Mission accomplished. Don’t let the frowning heart on the cover fool you because “Un Verano Sin Ti” is a jubilant vacation through the Caribbean islands, paying homage to the skilled local musicians who turned a young Puerto Rican boy named Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio into a hit-making wiz. With summer anthems like “Tití Me Preguntó” and “Después de la Playa,” it’s no wonder “Un Verano Sin Ti” was 2022’s most-streamed album.
2. Harry Styles, “Harry’s House”
“Harry’s House” made it cool to like Harry Styles. Even though One Direction fans have known about the heartthrob’s vocal prowess for a decade and his 2017 solo debut introduced him to a legion of new listeners, his third post-boy band effort catapulted him to another level of superstardom. “As It Was” spent a whopping 15 weeks at No. 1, and earworms like “Late Night Talking” and “Satellite” drove people of all ages and backgrounds to arenas this summer to marvel at Styles doing what he does best: putting on a stellar show.
1. Beyoncé, “Renaissance”
With her seventh studio album, Beyoncé decided to let the music speak for itself. No videos, no companion film, not even a performance. And, boy, what a statement she made. “Renaissance” is a career triumph, a cohesive celebration of house music and the black and queer pioneers who’ve kept the genre alive and well for decades. Queen Bey gets filthy on “Plastic Off the Sofa,” samples dance legends Robin S. and Donna Summer on “Break My Soul” and “Summer Renaissance,” respectively, and delivers her greatest song since “Love on Top” with “Cuff It.” So, yeah, she’s earned the right to brag, “I’m one of one / I’m number one / I’m the only one.”
Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order):
Charli XCX, “Crash”; FKA twigs, “Caprisongs”; Kendrick Lamar, “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers”; MUNA, “MUNA”; Angel Olsen, “Big Time”; Charlie Puth, “Charlie”; Vince Staples, “Ramona Park Broke My Heart”; SZA, “SOS”; The Weeknd, “Dawn FM.”