Here are the albums on repeat in 2022, from Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” to Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti.”
2022 brought us albums from Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, Taylor Swift, Steve Lacy and more.
2022 brought us albums from Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, Taylor Swift, Steve Lacy and more.
Illustration: HuffPost; Photos: Parkwood Ent/Columbia Records/1501 Certified Entertainment / 300 Entertainment/Republic/ L-M Records

Well, we did it, Joe. We made it through 2022 ― barely ― but we lost some musical icons along the way. This year, we mourned several artists who changed the industry forever, including “Fame” singer and songwriter Irene Cara, Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, country music trailblazer Loretta Lynn and TakeOff, the genius lyricist behind Atlanta rap trio Migos.

Amid the grief, some of our musical faves returned from yearslong hiatuses. Rihanna put her Savage Fenty line aside for three minutes and 15 seconds to give us “Lift Me Up,” a tribute track for the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” soundtrack. As we wait impatiently for R9, at least we’ll get to watch RiRi perform at the 2023 Super Bowl. R&B singer SZA finally stopped lying about — I mean, delaying — the release of her long-awaited single “T-Shirt.” Allegedly, she’ll be dropping her sophomore album “S.O.S.” on Friday.

My beloved pop-punk band Paramore returned with its first single in five years, titled “This Is Why,” reminding me exactly why I don’t leave the house. Soon, they’ll join Taylor Swift for a few shows on her forthcoming Eras tour. Speaking of Miss Swift, she damn near broke Ticketmaster, thanks to her tour for her 10th studio album — which ultimately led to a Justice Department investigation into the vendor. Like so many people on Twitter have said, the president better get this under control before Beyoncé announces her “Renaissance” tour, or America will have a problem.

Queen Bey released an album that not only landed me in the top 0.1% of her listeners, according to my Spotify Wrapped — proof that she definitely put something in it — but also encapsulated the joy that we fervently needed this year.

For that, she and so many talented artists have earned a spot on HuffPost’s best albums of ’22 list, an amalgamation of opinions from our culture desk and newsroom. Enjoy. — Ruth Etiesit Samuel

Beyonce better get Album of the Year in 2023.
Beyonce better get Album of the Year in 2023.
Robert Gauthier via Getty Images

“Renaissance” by Beyoncé

Listen, “Renaissance” has made me anew several times over since its summer release. Beyoncé’s seventh studio album had her diehard fans — and even several latecomers to the power of Bey — in a chokehold and a trance with this 16-track masterpiece. Admittedly, I didn’t fall in love with the first single, “Break My Soul,” but that “Cuff It,” “Energy (Beam),” “Break My Soul” sequence is so seamless that it made me reconsider my feelings. “Heated” and “Virgo’s Groove” are my favorite tracks; “Move” feels like a song reminiscent of the vibes from “The Gift,” the oft-disregarded Beyoncé-Lion King offering that I adored. I want to pop-lock like I’m on “Soul Train” any time “America Has A Problem” drops the beat, and feel like I’m walking down the runway with all eyes on me as soon as the album cues up with “I’m That Girl.” King Bey doesn’t need the Grammys to tell her she had the album of the year, but they’d damn sure be dumb to not award her that megaphone in 2023. — Erin E. Evans

“Midnights” by Taylor Swift

Fans would have been happy to get another re-recorded album from Taylor Swift’s back catalog this year — instead, the queen of Easter eggs surprised us all in August by announcing her 10th original offering. “Midnights” brings the listener into Swift’s lavender haze, a swirling, thumping pop soundscape that travels through the many stages of her life and career. She retraces long-gone relationships in “Maroon,” “Midnight Rain” and “Question…?” without looking back in anger — she’s less interested in revenge than examining the many ways people come together and fall apart. (Her vindictive side is reserved for turning in white-collar criminals to the FBI in “Vigilante Shit.”) Her maturity shows in the wide-spanning standouts “You’re On Your Own, Kid” and “Mastermind,” where she reflects on her rise in music and admits how carefully crafted she can be. And it wouldn’t be a Swift album with some major bops like “Bejeweled” and “Karma.” While the seven “3 a.m.” bonus tracks aren’t technically part of the album, I can’t leave out a nod to “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” the kind of plaintive, biting missive she does best. — Jillian Capewell

“Honestly, Nevermind” by Drake

Well, honestly, I’m not even a Drake fan, but you could not tell by how often I played this album from front to back. Diehard Drake fans probably wanted something different from the Certified Lover Boy, but “Honestly, Nevermind” was the perfect vibe for me. The five-song stretch on the album from “Texts Go Green” to “Sticky” is particularly good, and makes me feel like I should be half-naked with somebody’s son on a yacht drinking straight from a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Or hell, dancing around my apartment with a nice and spicy mezcal margarita. “Honestly, Nevermind” is a smooth, almost mindless listen — and at just under an hour, provides the perfect soundtrack for a peppy workout or even a power hour to get work done. That other album he released didn’t get more than one spin from me, but I’ll keep “Honestly, Nevermind” in rotation into the new year. — Evans

Bad Bunny's “Un Verano Sin Ti” is a masterpiece.
Bad Bunny's “Un Verano Sin Ti” is a masterpiece.
Kevin Winter via Getty Images

“Un Verano Sin Ti” by Bad Bunny

San Benito, San Benito, San Benito. This man has had an incredible year, and deservedly so. “Un Verano Sin Ti” was a masterpiece, side A to side B. The influence of Dominican dembow paired with an intentional message and album rollout? *Chef’s kiss.* I first heard Bad Bunny while listening to Becky G’s “Mayores” in 2017, then fell down the rabbit hole (no pun intended). I’ve been a fan of his since his first studio album, “X 100PRE,” but his latest project, “Un Verano Sin Ti,” is an homage to the Caribbean diaspora. From “Moscow Mule” and “Después de la Playa” to “El Apagón” and of course, “Tití Me Preguntó,” the album is a love letter to the region’s rhythms, joy and resilience. If I’m ever having a bad day, I just turn him on. — Samuel

“777” by Latto

BIG LATTO, BIG REMIX! I’m a Southern rap supremacist — no other region will top Southern rap, sorry, not sorry — and spent nine years in Georgia, so this one shouldn’t come as a surprise. Hailing from Clayton County, we have thee Grammy-nominated Queen of Da Souf, Latto. True superfans know Latto from her ascent on the 2016 reality TV series “The Rap Game.” I’ve been a fan of Latto since her breakout hit, “Bitch from Da Souf,” and her EP, “Queen of Da Souf.” But her latest album, “777,” is a testament to her rap evolution and maturity. I do not say this lightly: This is a no-skips album. It just makes you want to talk your shit! Yes, “Energy feat. Mariah Carey” was a crossover hit, but “Stepper?” “Soufside?” “777 pt. 2?” Latto said it herself: “Last time around / they slept on me / I woke ’em up / like BITCH IT’S UP!” In conclusion, stop playing with her. — Samuel

“Harry’s House” by Harry Styles

Of his third solo effort, British pop superstar Harry Styles confessed to Better Homes & Gardens that it was the first time “it doesn’t feel like my life is over if this album isn’t a commercial success.” He didn’t have much to worry about, however — “Harry’s House” was a hit straightaway, with all 13 of the album’s tracks landing in the top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100 in its first week. And it’s a musical success, too — the tracklist moves between big, body-moving songs like “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” and “Late Night Talking” to quieter, lyric-focused numbers like “Matilda,” an ode to resilience and chosen family, and “Keep Driving,” an evocative string of images that conjures a past relationship. Styles’ sound feels of the moment, but also like any given song could slot into another decade seamlessly. All we can hope for is future invitations into his space. — Capewell

Megan Thee Stallion shares her grief and rage on “Traumazine."
Megan Thee Stallion shares her grief and rage on “Traumazine."
Denise Truscello via Getty Images

“Traumazine” by Megan Thee Stallion

Meg’s sophomore album is her most vulnerable body of work yet. After a rollercoaster of public ups and downs over the past two years — including the loss of her mom and grandmother — the Houston Hottie wears her heart on her sleeve and tries to once again, for the umpteenth time, let us know how the trauma she’s endured has impacted her. She’s giving us a peek into her rage with tracks like “NDA,” “Ungrateful” and “Not Nice.” She shares her mental health and grief journey a bit on “Anxiety” and “Flip Flop.” She pays homage to her H-Tine roots with “Southside Royalty Freestyle.” And she reminds the world how much of a bad bitch she always has been and always will be throughout the album. It’s a good body of work to work out to, pregame to or cry to. It’s just a damn good album. Period. — Taryn Finley

“You Still Here, Ho?” by Flo Milli

In the words of the 20-year-old hitmaker from Alabama, “It’s Flo Milli shit, bitch!” Born Tamia Monique Carter, rapper Flo Milli stole my heart in 2019 with the most incredible opening line I’ve ever heard: “Dicks up when I step in the party!” After her single “BeefFloMix” went viral on TikTok in the spring of 2020, Flo Milli released her first album “Ho, Why Is You Here?” followed by her sophomore album, “You Still Here, Ho?” which came out in July. From her unfuckwitable confidence to reality television-inspired skits, Flo Milli is a creative mastermind with an incredible pen game. Her album is full of bangers: “Conceited” to “Bed Time,” “F.N.G.M.” and my personal favorite, “Come Outside.” When she said, “Top 2 and I’m not 2 / bum bitch, I am not you / I’m hot shit, trending topic / I’m y’all weak bitches’ gossip,” I felt that. The princess of rap is taking over. — Samuel

“Love, Damini” by Burna Boy

Welp, Afrobeats star Burna Boy has done it again. After dropping the heartbreak anthem of the summer, “Last, Last” ― and forcing me to explain some Nigerian pidgin since everyone was butchering the lyrics ― he released his sixth studio album, “Love, Damini,” days after his 31st birthday. Following his previous album, “Twice as Tall,” I was pleasantly surprised with the emotional journey “Love, Damini” took listeners on. A mix of yearning, romanticism and, of course, braggadocious lyrics, this album seemed more pensive, reflective of Burna Boy’s coming-of-age. Some of my favorite tracks include “Science,” “Plenty,” “Kilometre,” of course, and “Wild Dreams feat. Khalid,” sans the Martin Luther King Jr. mention that made the track extra somber. What I’m trying to figure out, though, is why Ron Weasley — I mean, Ed Sheeran — keeps infiltrating Afrobeats and manages to collaborate with the genre’s biggest stars? Abeg, leave us alone, Ron! — Samuel

Steve Lacy lays out the good and bad of life in your 20s in "Gemini Rights."
Steve Lacy lays out the good and bad of life in your 20s in "Gemini Rights."
NBC via Getty Images

“Gemini Rights” by Steve Lacy

Despite the court of popular opinion, this 24-year-old guitarist makes a compelling argument about why Geminis do, in fact, deserve rights on his second studio album. And as a Gemini Moon, I wholeheartedly agree. I couldn’t — and still can’t — put this album down. Throughout “Gemini Rights,” Lacy takes us on a journey of yearning for love, reminiscing over fumbled connections and resenting the lovers he fell out with. As messy, childish and indecisive as the stories Lacy tells on this album can be, the production and musical value of “Gemini Rights” are beautiful, free and dreamy. It’s both all of the gorgeous and ugly things about being, loving and living in your early 20s. Even beyond the No. 1 hit “Bad Habit,” Lacy gives replay-worthy bops and ballads. The drums and guitar playfully tease your eardrums on “Buttons” while the ethereal “Give You The World” puts you in enough of a trance to believe that beautiful lie. As far as I’m concerned, Lacy and all of his intrusive post-break-up thoughts on this album have given us the gift of a truly solid album worth playing into 2023. — Finley

“Surrender” by Maggie Rogers

I don’t own a car, but nothing I listened to this year made me want to stare down an open road pushing 80 at the wheel of a beat-up Volvo quite like “Surrender.” Maggie Rogers’ sophomore effort successfully builds on the promise of 2019’s “Heard It in a Past Life,” trading in the folky-pop sound of the first for something grittier but just as melodic. Rogers’ outstanding vocals are on display here, whether in the self-assured croon on “That’s Where I Am” or stripped down and yearning on “Horses.” On the fuzzy, rocking “Shatter,” she delivers the chorus in a nearly out-of-breath howl, all frenetic energy spilling over her edges. The line “I’d rather hear the wind than hear that song I’m supposed to know / By some fucking bro,” on the heart-soaring “Anywhere with You,” stuck in my brain the first time I heard it and has yet to leave. Fucking bros, you’ve been put on watch. — Capewell

“MUNA” by MUNA

I have been a casual fan of the band MUNA since their first album release in 2017, but I was converted into an all-out enthusiast after they dropped their self-titled album “MUNA” in June. This is their first release after signing to Phoebe Bridgers’ label Saddest Factory Records, and it’s a vulnerable yet heartwarming album that seamlessly transitions between pop anthems (“What I Want”) and tender ballads (“Loose Garment”). MUNA’s extraordinary talent as a band is the ability to be completely intimate in their lyricism ― they have mastered the art of placing delicate emotion in listeners’ hands without ever making it feel too heavy to carry. This album is a strong indicator of even greater work ahead from the trio, but in the meantime, I will continue listening to the bridge of “Home By Now” over and over again, like I have been doing for the past five months. — Alexandra Niforos

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