The best albums of 2022

7 December 2022, 15:37

The best albums of 2022
The best albums of 2022. Picture: Republic Records, Parkwood Entertainment, RIMAS
Sam  Prance

By Sam Prance

Taylor Swift? Beyoncé? Bad Bunny? Our favourite albums of 2022 are...

2022 is almost over which means that it's officially time to rank the best albums of the year in the only list that really matters.

The past 12 months have given us so many musical highs. From exciting debuts by the likes of Ethel Cain and Ravyn Lenae to lo-fi masterpieces by the likes of Omar Apollo and Steve Lacy, there's been so much music to enjoy this year.

READ MORE: The best songs of 2022

On top of that, we've seen superstars like Harry Styles and Taylor Swift break massive records. Meanwhile, icons like Bad Bunny and Beyoncé have dominated the charts with undeniable classics.

How have we ranked this year's albums though? Scroll down to find out exactly who made our Top 20 and in what order.

20) Tove Lo - Dirt Femme

In terms of high art, it doesn’t get any higher than the lyrics 'I’m fully charged, nipples are hard, ready to go' from Tove Lo’s seminal pop masterpiece 'Disco Tits'. So, our expectations were high for Tove’s fifth studio album and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. Stacked with bops like 'No One Hurts From Love' and '2 Die 4', Tove proved that she’s still one of the best pop songwriters in the game. We bow down to Tove supremacy. - Woodrow Whyte

Tove Lo - Dirt Femme
Tove Lo - Dirt Femme. Picture: Pretty Swede

19) Ravyn Lenae - HYPNOS

Every day someone on stan Twitter will say "this album aged like fine wine" in reference to a project that came out less than 12 months ago. When it comes to Ravyn Lenae's Hypnos, I am that person. Hypnos is an immersive, expertly-crafted project overflowing with futuristic, R&B excellence. 'Xtasy' is nothing short of perfection and the remix featuring Doechii is truly out of this world. A remarkable debut album that is just as hypnotic as the title suggests. - Sam Prance

Ravyn Lenae - HYPNOS
Ravyn Lenae - HYPNOS. Picture: Atlantic

18) Kelsea Ballerini - SUBJECT TO CHANGE

From the giddy lead single 'HEARTFIRST' to the stunning 'LOVE IS A COWBOY', Kelsea Ballerini’s sublime storytelling is on full display in her latest country-pop offering. Subject To Change is a no-skips record. It’s personal yet relatable at the same time, and it only gets better with each listen. It’s also the only album on this year’s list with a feature from international treasure Kelly Clarkson. You can’t argue with that! - Katie Louise Smith

Kelsea Ballerini - SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Kelsea Ballerini - SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Picture: Black River


MUNA have made a career out of giving the gays everything they want and they're not stopping now. Their self-titled album features ethereal bops for when you're feeling wistful ('Silk Chiffon'), heartbreaking ballads for when you're going through it ('Kind Of Girl') and all-out bangers for when you wanna dance in the middle of a gay bar ('What I Want'). Also 'Home By Now' may be their best song yet. 10/10. No notes. - SP

MUNA - MUNA. Picture: Saddest Factory

16) Let's Eat Grandma - Two Ribbons

Following the devastating loss of a partner, and the sense that a lifelong friendship was being pulled in opposite directions, Let's Eat Grandma's Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton wrote songs separately for the first time. The change of approach worked, and the resulting record punches straight through to the heart, with songs like 'Levitation' and 'Sunday' lingering long after the record has finished playing. - WW

Let's Eat Grandma - Two Ribbons
Let's Eat Grandma - Two Ribbons. Picture: Transgressive Records


After laying her pain and anguish bare on MAGDELENE, FKA Twigs emerged from her musical cocoon in 2022 with her CAPRISONGS mixtape and a new, lighter energy. This version of Twigs is ready to party, send long voice notes complaining about boys and playfully shade her fans (justice for 'Why Don’t You Love Me'!). Most importantly of all, Twigs seems to be having fun doing it. - Emily Beard

FKA Twigs - CAPRISONGS. Picture: Atlantic Records

14) Rina Sawayama - Hold the Girl

Rina slayed so hard with Hold The Girl that some people think the human race might never slay again. Just think about that for a moment. As is the way with Rina’s projects, surprises abound at every turn. Whether it’s country-tinged bangers ('This Hell'), euro dance euphoria ('Holy (Til You Let Me Go)'), or crying in the club power ballads ('Phantom'), there is never a dull moment in the Sawayama universe. She came, she slayed, she conquered. - WW

Rina Sawayama - Hold the Girl
Rina Sawayama - Hold the Girl. Picture: Dirty Hit

13) Steve Lacy - Gemini Rights

Sexy, cool, funny…but enough about me. Gemini Rights is all of those things and then some. Comparisons to Stevie Wonder and Prince might sound like a reach if you’ve only heard 'Bad Habit' on your FYP but the songs don’t lie! 'Mercury' wouldn’t sound out of place on Talking Book. Prince would surely have appreciated 'Cody Freestyle'. Of course, Steve Lacy is in his own lane but such is the quality and potential throughout Gemini Rights that it’s impossible not to get excited about what’s to come next. - WW

Steve Lacy - Gemini Rights
Steve Lacy - Gemini Rights. Picture: RCA Records

12) Bad Bunny - Un Verano Sin Ti

Sorry for starting this with a dad joke but it is impossible to imagine the summer of 2022 without Un Verano Sin Ti. The LP perfectly captures everything that makes Bad Bunny such an exciting artist and songs like 'Ojitos Lindos' and 'Tití Preguntó' rank among his best. Who else is collaborating with chart-toppers like Rauw Alejandro and indie bands like The Marías on the same album? At 23 tracks long, Un Verano Sin Ti should feel bloated but it's nothing of the sort. Weddings, graduations, funerals - Un Verano Sin Ti was made for them all. - SP

Bad Bunny - Un Verano Sin Ti
Bad Bunny - Un Verano Sin Ti. Picture: RIMAS

11) Shygirl - Nymph

One of Shygirl’s most magical qualities is her ability to go between sugar sweet to acid tongued and back again all in the same song. Nowhere is this explored better than on Nymph. Shygirl shows us her softer side, whilst never losing focus of the signature sexual empowerment themes and ethereal dance productions that won her the hearts of so many fans. - EB

Shygirl - Nymph
Shygirl - Nymph. Picture: Nuxxe

10) Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

Every now and then an artist will release a debut album so fully formed that it's hard to remember what life was like before you knew them. In the same vein as projects like Lana Del Rey's Born to Die and Florence and the Machine's Lungs, Ethel Cain's Preacher's Daughter has a magical quality that transports you into a whole new dimension. The record is drenched in intricate sad girl anthems but 'American Teenager' also proves that Ethel could take over the radio if she wants to. A talent who's only just scratched the surface of what she's capable of. - SP

Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter
Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter. Picture: Daughters of Cain

9) Harry Styles - Harry's House

Described by the man himself as his "biggest and most fun, but by far the most intimate" record yet, there’s literally something for everyone at Harry’s House. You want a good time? 'Music For A Sushi Restaurant' will have you dancing on the table. You want a good cry? 'Matilda' will have you sobbing under the table three seconds later. Not a single second of the album’s 13 tracks is wasted, and Harry’s superstar confidence oozes throughout each and every song. Any album that contains the lyrics "Cocaine, side boob, choke her with a sea view", is an album I never want to stop listening to. - KLS

Harry Styles - Harry's House
Harry Styles - Harry's House. Picture: Columbia Records

8) The 1975 - Being Funny In a Foreign Language

It’s hard to imagine how a record from The 1975 could beat Matty Healy’s social media presence this year but somehow they did it with Being Funny In a Foreign Language. Considered a ‘return-to-form’ by fair-weather fans (#JusticeForNOACF), The 1975 dropped their previous album format of meandering 20-track opuses for something more refined. BFIAFL boils down The 1975's essence to what they do best: writing the perfect pop song. At their very best, indeed. - WW

The 1975 - Being Funny In a Foreign Language
The 1975 - Being Funny In a Foreign Language. Picture: Dirty Hit

7) Sabrina Carpenter - emails i can't send

Has reclaiming a narrative ever sounded so delicious? Coming off the back of a year in which she unfairly found herself at the centre of a media circus, Sabrina Carpenter used her pen to prove why she's one of pop's most underrated talents. Whether she's taunting an ex who wronged her ('bet u wanna'), reflecting on a doomed relationship ('Tornado Warnings') or setting fire to your perception of her ('because i liked a boy'), emails i can't send is somehow both gloriously petty and remarkably insightful. Sabrina's always made brilliant music but emails i can't send is the album she was born to make. - SP

Sabrina Carpenter - emails i can't send
Sabrina Carpenter - emails i can't send. Picture: Island Records

6) Omar Apollo - Ivory

After becoming dissatisfied with his first attempt at Ivory because "it didn't feel like me", Omar went back to the drawing board. Delaying his debut album was a gamble but it paid off. Ivory opened up the singer-songwriter to a brand new audience, critical acclaim, and it bagged him a Best New Artist Grammy nomination too. Much is made of his genre-defying style but it’s Omar’s voice, especially on songs like the Fleetwood Mac-esque 'Go Away' or balled 'Petrified' that really elevate Ivory to another level. I'm literally ascending while listening to it right now. - WW

Omar Apollo - Ivory
Omar Apollo - Ivory. Picture: Warner Records

5) Charli XCX - CRASH

Charli XCX crash landed onto her album cover windscreen and into our hearts with her phenomenal latest album CRASH. From the main-character energy of 'Baby' to the surprisingly introspective 'Every Rule', CRASH has a song for every emotion. With Charli’s razor-sharp lyrics, signature self-aware winks to camera, and firecracker production, the release is yet another musical high in Charli’s jam-packed musical catalogue. - EB

Charli XCX - CRASH
Charli XCX - CRASH. Picture: Atlantic Records

4) The Weeknd - Dawn FM

Dawn FM came with an unexpected conceptual narrative: a retro-pop radio station set in purgatory, broken up with commercials for the afterlife voiced by Jim Carrey. Now if that doesn’t sound reet up your street, listen to 'Out of Time', 'Sacrifice' or 'Take My Breath' and get back to me. The real surprise here though was the release strategy, which lacked the sort of fanfare that should have greeted Abel’s most satisfying and creatively bold record in years. - WW

The Weeknd - Dawn FM
The Weeknd - Dawn FM. Picture: Republic Records

3) Taylor Swift - Midnights

After an unforgettable excursion into the woods with Folklore and Evermore, Taylor Swift catapults herself back into full autobiographical writing mode on Midnights and she does not disappoint. Midnights is an album for the Swifties: A scoop of 1989, a dash of Reputation, a pinch of Lover, accompanied by a freshly baked batch of quintessential Taylor Swift bridges that are just begging to be screamed out loud in a sold-out stadium. Ten (!!) albums into her remarkable career and Taylor is still leaving us shook each and every time. - KLS

Taylor Swift - Midnights
Taylor Swift - Midnights. Picture: Republic Records


To quote a wise woman, Rosalía is talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, showstopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before. And that last part is especially true on MOTOMAMI. Fusing classical and contemporary genres, Rosalía’s adventurous creative flair produced something truly original, and you just can’t argue with bops like 'CANDY', 'LA COMBI VERSACE' and 'LA FAMA'. - WW

ROSALÍA - MOTOMAMI. Picture: Columbia Records

1) Beyoncé - RENAISSANCE

She's one of one. She's number one. She's the only one. Ever since Beyoncé released her debut album in 2003, she's found new and game-changing ways to expand the limits of the album format. RENAISSANCE is no different. It's not just a dance album. It's an innovatively sequenced opus that explores dance and all its sub-genres in ways you couldn't even begin to imagine. 'HEATED' melds ballroom culture and afrobeats seamlessly. 'ALIEN SUPERSTAR' takes an 'I'm Too Sexy' sample and makes it sound sublime. 'VIRGO'S GROOVE' summons the spirit of Donna Summer and takes you on a seven-minute journey of pure ecstasy. All 16 tracks offer something *UNIQUE* and layered that stops you in your tracks.

Perhaps most importantly, RENAISSANCE is a love letter to Beyoncé's Uncle Johnny and all of the Black, queer icons who were instrumental in building dance as a genre. Not only is their impact all over Renaissance but LGBTQ+ legends like Big Freedia, Ts Madison and Honey Dijon actually appear on the record. Hearing Kevin Aviance and Moi Renee alongside Beyoncé on 'PURE/HONEY' is nothing short of electrifying. The album is a history lesson but never once does it feel like you're being taught. After the deep introspection of Lemonade, Beyoncé is letting loose and it's impossible to be taken over by that sense of joy and release the wiggle (Ha!) with her.

Beyoncé ends RENAISSANCE singing 'I'm in my bag'. No truer words have ever been spoken. - SP

Beyoncé - RENAISSANCE. Picture: Parkwood Entertainment

Previous winners...

🏆 Halsey - If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power (2021)

🏆 Chloe x Halle - Ungodly Hour (2020)


🏆 Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy (2018)

🏆 Khalid - American Teen (2017)

🏆 The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (2016)

🏆 Carly Rae Jepsen - E•MO•TION (2015)