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The Best Music of 2022
All my favorite ~music~ items of the last year.
I do a best-of music list every year. This year is no different!
Career Defining Album: Mykki Blanco Stay Close To Music
Mykki has been mistcast their entire life as far as music, paraded as a “queer rapper” for so long. This album sees them borrowing from Yves Tumor to create an album so steeped with emotion and queer resonance – Not to mention some of the best collabs of the year, from Michael Stipe to Kelsy Lu! – that it seemed to redefine their career, while seeming to hit a high I hope they can replicate. I was disappointed more people didn’t talk about this album!
Most “Eh.” Trend: 2000s Dance-Electro Making A Comeback
The returns of Alan Braxe, Benoit & Sergio, Justice, and Morgan Geist was a blast to the system, a return to when I was a sophomore in college – and I was not expecting it. The music wasn’t bad, but they didn’t seem to say much of anything, feeling like come backs to tread water.
Best Return: Sally Shapiro Sad City
Ironic, given the previous item, but Shapiro’s less-is-more thesis of a career saw this comeback as both unexpected and slightly boring – but it bloomed with such a force. I felt similarly with the new Junior Boys, which was so gentle you could fall asleep (which is kind of the point).
Best Discover From A Mix, I: Dee Digg’s use of Boston Cherry’s “Pleasure Principle” Remix
Get the full remix here.
Best Discover From A Mix, II: TDJ’s “Bittersweet Symphony” Edit
I have searched everywhere for the ID on this. It would be my most-played track of the year, if it was a single.
Most Unexpected: Björk Fossora
The first single sounded bad. The concept sounded bad. It didn’t seem good at all! But it was one of the most emotional, arresting listens of the year, not to mention her best since Vulnicara.
I Give Up, I: Rosalía
They may kick me out of Spain for saying this but I have to be controversial but brave: I want to love Rosalia but I think her albums are so uneven and, at points, unlistenable. Motomami was no exception. That said: “Despechá” was the song of the summer and I will forever think of July 2022.
I Give Up, II: Rina Sawayama
I have tried and tried and tried with her. I love her aesthetic! Her vibe! But the music just sucks. “XS” is a banger but everything else is like bad theater kid wanna be alt.
Best Music Video of 2022: Bad Bunny “El Apagón”
The Bard of 2022: Nilüfer Yanya PAINLESS
I am not one who listens to music “for the words.” But Yanya’s PAINLESS was some of the best writing of the year, capturing some of the biggest emotions that you could ever feel. A runner up here is the always delicious Maggie Rogers, who is a better singles artist than album artist.
Best Song From TikTok: Plustwo’s “Melody”
Best Exhumed Song: Orbital’s “Halcyon and On and On (Original Mix)”
This song was in so many mixes and seemed to be my thesis for the year.
Best Mixes of 2022
Best Albums of 2022
Best Songs of 2022
Mix of 2022: Cinthie’s DJ-Kicks & Beige’s AMEN! Vol. 1
These mixes are both fantastic, but for different reasons. Cinthie gives a world class tour of house, with specific reverence to places like Detroit. It’s an epic production, flawlessly done, that is as groovy the first listen as it is the one hundredth listen. Beige’s mix takes a different approach, something that is steeped in personality, appropriating (in the best way possible) the language and culture of church while ascribing it to dance music. The feeling is that of fun, underscored by the aggressively danceable nature of the songs selected. It’s fun, it’s camp, it’s the most fun in a mix this year.
Reissue of 2022: Nate Scheble’s Fairfax
This album is a revelation, a triumph of found sounds. It’s sad, it’s joyful, it’s a tragedy that yields to hope. The sounds that Scheble is able to craft with Fairfax are some of the most interesting music of the past decade, a mixture of warbling, broken-speaker soundscapes and glowing early morning synths. It’s perhaps the most present statement on “American” culture, a meditation on daily tragedies of the less-thans. I’ve written about this before and, had this not come out in 2017, it would have easily been my album of the year. Thank god it was rereleased, getting an overdue redo.
Album of 2022: Roza Terenzi & D. Tiffany Edge of Innocence
Can techno be soft? Fluffy? Lovely? Adorable? Not really, as most techno is aggressive and thumping to the point of making it feel like your brain is going to ooze out of your ears. That’s part of what makes this genre so great, for losing your mind in a basement club, but there’s often a loss of the self, of humanity, as you’re giving yourself up to the music of machines. What (icons) Roza Terenzi and D. Tiffany did is bring their trademark upbeat, queer spirits together to craft a techno album that is full of the trademark thumps and bumps of the genre but all textured to that of purple velvet, a lush and less-gruff album that is less about losing yourself and more about connection and conversation. Songs like “Lil’ Drummer Boi” and “Gravity Bongo” stress a sort of unity on the dance floor, which is hard to do when you’re using a sonic language divorced of literal words (or big statements besides “beat on my drum”). There’s a sex appeal and silliness here, a wide-eyed excitement about fucking around with friends. Isn’t that what we all wanted a bit of this year? This album isn’t without gravity though, as they do wander in the dark and the heavy as opener “Spiritual Delusion” shows – but the duo always undercut the sound with a lightness, that the music isn’t weighed unnecessarily with bass. This makes as listenable at 9AM as it is as 3PM as it is at 1AM: it’s the rare every-person’s techno, capturing a vision of dance’s future.
Song of 2022: Nilüfer Yanya “anotherlife”
Earlier in the year, Will Wiesenfeld (aka BATHS) tweeted a picture of this song playing, noting “truly like song of the year type shit. impossibly perfect.” It was a bold statement, made barely a quarter of the year, but it wasn’t wrong. A song about trying to get someone back, about reminiscing while moving forward, about loving your losses, about replaying and replaying our big and small tragedies, about letting our imaginations heal us. It’s an end-of-the-movie type song that sees you walking into the sunset of a moment, reflective and hopeful while acknowledging your pain, all set to Yanya’s unique, gauzy voice that hops between intimate and confessional to the deep but fragile, a literal low quality that carries the song’s pleading qualities. It’s truly a masterwork, the rare song that feels like a 1980s Peter Gabriel ballad combined with bedroom Björk. This album is incredible, yes, but it’s this song, the album’s closer, lands the plane with hope despite a constant craving. It’s more than a song of the year but a song of a moment, an early 2020s meditation on our losses and hopes dashed while taking that next step forward.
Artist of the Year: TDJ
I don’t know what to say about TDJ other than she put out an album, a remix album, an official mix of all new tracks, an edits album, all while producing excellent mixes for third parties, all while coming off of the previous year’s releases of an EP and remix EP, an official mix, and twoedits albums. Did I mention she also made a music video for the entire mix SPF INFINITI 2? There are a lot of artists working hard and “doing the work” and TDJ truly went above and beyond showing what you want from a musician, someone who always has something for you to listen to, to dance to, to have fun with. Her next-generation variety of trance-pop is the best early aughts references happening, making music that feels perfectly situated on something like Fired Up. Few musicians are having fun, often taking too seriously their craft. TDJ doesn’t give a shit: she’s making good music, having fun, and looking hot while doing it. If that isn’t the energy I needed this year, I don’t know what is. Cheers to TDJ for creating the soundtrack to my 2022 – and I have a feeling 2023 will be her year.
For more, check my Last.FM 2022 recap (but note a lot of it is ambient music for working or sleeping). Peruse previous years here (even if most of the links are broken): 2021, 2020, 2017, 2016, 2013, 2012, 2011, etc.