Usually my list is a bit eclectic, including everything from metal to country to trance. But this year I just wasn't interested in straying from pop, and so I didn't. Thus here's my favorite pop albums of 2022 for your listening pleasure (I am next to positive that I'm missing some stuff on here because I lost my list back in November and had to recreate it!)...
#1 Flying Machines by Max Frost
Max first came to my attention thanks to his music mashups on TikTok where he sings a song by one band in the style of another band... playing all the parts himself. Most of them were very good. Some of them were exceptional (singing Dream by Fleetwood Mac in the style of The 1975 was genius). His original stuff never really grabbed me until he debuted Flying Machines which is filled with catchy pop tracks that I listened to a lot in 2022.
#2 Muna by Muna
Muna completely captivated me with their 2017 debut album, About U. Every track was brilliant, and I still find myself listening to it often. In 2019 they gave us Muna Saves the World which was nice, but it didn't hook me the same. Now they're back with their third album and it gets an awful lot right. Really well-crafted tracks that show they haven't lost their touch.
#3 Being Funny in a Foreign Language by The 1975
This is likely my favorite contemporary pop band going today. The problem is that after their debut album... where I obsessed over every track... the results have been mixed. I like maybe half the tracks and can leave the rest. Their latest is maybe sitting at a little over half, which is nice, but it's still missing something for me. Even so, the tracks I like got played a lot.
#4 Harry's House by Harry Styles
I have been awaiting the follow-up to Fine Line for three years and largely found the resulting album worth the wait.
#5 Midnights by Taylor Swift
I don't know what it is with me and Taylor. The holy trifecta of 1986, Reputation, and Lover took her to the top of my list when it comes to music. But then we got Folklore and Evermore which sent her stock plummeting because I only enjoyed a few songs off of each. Now Taylor has made some improvements with Midnights, that's a well-crafted album I've been enjoying quite a lot... just not at the level of past pop perfection.
#6 Fear Fear by Working Men's Club
I was very late to the party with the debut album of Working Men's Club, but I was right on time for the follow-up. Fear Fear is a glorious post-punk, new-wave masterpiece that could have sat comfortably next to Depeche Mode and other acts in the 80's. My favorite track, Circumference has serious vibes from so many bands of that era that it almost seems impossible to have come from 2022.
#7 Crash by Charlie XCX
I'll say one thing about Charlie, she's consistent. She knows exactly what her fans want to hear, then delivers beautifully.
#8 Dawn FM by The Weeknd
My relationship with The Weeknd is complicated. When he has a song I like, I love it beyond measure. But when he's being experimental or trying to make some statement art piece, it's beyond frustrating. This time around he's got some really great tracks sprinkled amongst some oddities which don't track... all while performing under his "Old Weeknd" persona (which is a step above his "Car Wreck Bandaged Weeknd," I guess?).
#9 *Happiness Not Included by Soft Cell
This is band which is completely defined by their debut masterpiece, Nonstop Erotic Cabaret. It was a sleazy, sex-filled romp that dropped track after track on a theme you didn't want to end. Forty years later and the sound is still oozing from your speakers with a sleazy disdain, and that ain't a bad thing. The songs are new. The vibe is not. And what more could you want? How about a collaboration with The Pet Shop Boys? Well, here you go...
#10 The Tipping Point by Tears For Fears
Here we are with another 80's band giving us something new while holding on to the sound their fans are wanting.
#11 The Loneliest Time by Carly Rae Jepsen
I never really paid attention to Carly Rae, only noticing when she had a hit climbing the pop charts. Then came Emotion, and I had a friend gushing about it so I gave the album a shot. It was gold. Since then I've been hoping to hear another album that catches me like that, but 2019's Dedicated wasn't it. Neither is The Loneliest Time, but I'm still enjoying it.
#12 Night Call by Years and Years
While not quite reaching past heights, this is a darn good album with some real treats to be had.
BEST ALBUM THAT WASN'T AN ALBUM: All the single releases from Fly by Midnight from 2022!
This has to be one of the most brilliantly prolific pop bands running. In 2022 they release a seemingly non-stop parade of songs... none of them from an album. Or even an LP! Some bands use albums to tell a story... the songs on it connecting to create a narrative. Other bands just put tracks on the album that are collected for no particular reason, they just want an album out. Fly by Midnight doesn't bother. The just keep going and going. I mean, seriously, JUST LISTEN TO THESE GEMS! If these were off an album, that release would have topped my list.
HONORABLE MENTION: See You in the Stars by The Lightning Seeds
After Cloudcuckooland, Sense, and Jollification I didn't think that things could get much better for Ian Broudie's music project. And I was, unfortunately, right... there was a steady decline as the music just wasn't hitting like it had in those first three albums. See You In The Stars is more of the same, but did provide enough feeling of nostalgia for me to tune into it with fondness.
HONORABLE MENTION: Melt Away: A Tribute to Brian Wilson by She & Him
Zooey Deschanel and and M Ward's band has had some pretty great highs in their musical careers. Which is why I'm just not getting the need for an album of Brian Wilson covers. It's not bad... they don't embarrass themselves or anything, and it's perfectly listenable... it's just that this album isn't really needed. The Wilson originals bury the effort six feet under, and I wish they had spent their time on something that mattered.
SINGLE OF THE MOMENT: Loser by Charlie Puth
I have to take Charlie in small doses because listening to an album stacked up has me growing really tired really quickly. That being said, I really loved his track Loser, which is quite a banger.
LATE ADDITION: Wrapped Around Your Finger by Post Malone
I maintain my list all throughout the year, adding albums and songs as they pop up. This one popped up for me two weeks ago! It's the kind of music from Posty that I love, and ended my year of music on a happy note.