Best Music of 2022: NPR

Being a music fan right now you might feel like you’re inhabiting an entire vast, thriving, chaotic world that’s embedded in a metauniverse of other vast, thriving, chaotic worlds you never knew existed. Even for the most diligent listeners, the amount of music released every day (EVERY. DAY.) is overwhelming, no less when you try to look back over an entire calendar year. Who could handle it? But there’s another way to judge the state of new music: such exuberance makes for a spectacular party.

Consider this your disco ball, a reflection of the year that revels in cacophony rather than trying to boil things down to a single authoritative point of view. Throughout December, this page will shine a light on the best music of 2022 in several brilliant ways at once. Below you’ll find essays, podcasts, and other discussions about ways we’ll remember the year. Above you’ll find links to our lists that celebrate amazing songs and albums from the worlds of rock, R&B, hip-hop, classical, Latin, jazz, experimental and roots, folk and country. And of course, we’ll also share a countdown of our 50 Favorite Albums and 100 Favorite Songs of the Year, across all genres and styles, made by more than 50 NPR Music contributors and our partner stations. Like we said: It’s a party. It’s no fun if things don’t get a little messy.

  • NPR Music Staff Pick

    Individual NPR Music staff share their personal favorite albums and songs of 2022. Read the lists

  • Poll Results: Listeners Pick the Best Albums of 2022

    Our listener poll results: Your picks for the best albums of 2022

  • The Best Roots Music of 2022

    SG Goodman's Teeth Marks is one of NPR Music's favorite roots albums of the year.

    The year’s songs and albums from the volatile “roots” category showcased artists getting personal even as they explored complex cultural lines and challenged the rules of established scenes. Read the list

  • How Niche Rap Stars Quietly Conquered 2022

    YoungBoy Never Broke Again (aka NBA Youngboy) is among a handful of rappers who achieved massive streaming numbers in 2022 while remaining largely invisible to the pop establishment.

    Hip-hop editor Sheldon Pierce on artists like NBA YoungBoy and Rod Wave, who gained massive streaming this year while barely registering on mainstream pop’s radar. Read the essay

  • The Jazz Story in 2022: A Year-End Listening Party

    Guitarist Jeff Parker, whose free-form album Mondays at Enfield Tennis Academy was among the best jazz releases of the year.

    Not exactly a best-of-jazz-for-2022 list. Instead, a group of avid listeners and critics come together to share the year’s music—one album and song each—that’s worth bragging about. Read the list

  • The importance of remembering everything but the music

    Charles Mingus, photographed at a party in New York on August 4, 1976. For poet and critic Harmony Holliday, the complexity underlying legacies like Mingus' has been a constant puzzle this year.

    Poet and critic Harmony Holliday spent a year interviewing descendants and torchbearers, discovering that the soul of jazz must be preserved off the stage and out of the booth. Read the essay

  • In 2022, Bad Bunny turned the pop star into a subversive act

    Bad Bunny has a preternatural gift for reality, which he wields with fluidity because that's what the Caribbean demands.  It makes his fame feel delightful and deviant.

    Critic Isabelia Herrera on the year in which the irrepressible pop star continued to top the global charts while refusing to tone down her political provocations or move to the center of American pop. Read the essay

  • Tyshawn Sorey’s year of creative unity

    Tyshawn Sorey

    Across multiple recordings and in venues both intimate and reverberating, Sorey’s story this year has been one of MacArthur genius combining his universe of talent and ambition into unique expression. Read the essay

  • Podcast: The 10 Best Songs of 2022

    NPR Music staff and contributors count down the 10 best songs of the year.

    NPR’s Ann Powers and Annamaria Sayre and contributor LaTesha Harris join Robin Hilton to count down NPR Music’s 10 best songs of the year. Listen to the episode

  • The 100 Best Songs of 2022

    NPR Music's list of the 100 best songs of 2022

    Agreeing on the best songs of this year was not easy. Here’s a list of 100 songs that reflect the sprawling, energetic mess of 2022. Read the list

  • Julius Rodríguez, a young pianist who fuses (all) music from the inside out

    Julius Rodriguez, whose album Let the Sound Tell It All, headlined this year for journalist and author Marcus J.  Moore.

    On his debut album, the pianist and drummer merge past and present with stellar results, establishing himself as a torchbearer among a cohort of young New York musicians carrying history into the future. Read the essay

  • Return to live venues hosted by ‘The 7th Hand’

    Immanuel Wilkins in performance for Jazz Night in America at PhilaMOCA in January 2022.

    In 2022, WRTI editorial director Nate Chinen returned with fervor to live music — and one artist in particular, young saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, emerged as a constant presence. Read the essay

  • The 15 Best Latin Albums of 2022

    Rosalía's Motomami is one of the best Latin albums of 2022.

    From the exponential rise of Bad Bunny to the relentless commitment of up-and-coming artists to play across genre lines, it’s been a stomping, dance-pumping and stunning year in Latin music. Read the list

  • Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE Is 2022’s #1 Album

    Beyoncé's RENAISSANCE is NPR Music's pick for best album of 2022.

    Three critics—Daphne A. Brooks, Danielle Smith, and Ann Powers—discuss why REVIVAL is NPR’s pick for album of the year, and why its glory lies in its many shining details. Read the conversation

  • The 50 Best Albums of 2022

    The 50 Best Albums of 2022

    We’ve ranked our 50 favorite records of the year, from hip-hop to classics and everything in between. Read the list

  • Podcast: The 10 Best Albums of 2022

    Top 10 Albums of 2022
    Top 10 Albums of 2022

    NPR’s Ann Powers and Sheldon Pierce join critic Christina Lee and host Robin Hilton to count down the 10 best albums of 2022. Listen to the episode

  • Raina Douris’ Favorite Music of 2022

    Chloe and the Next 20th Century by Father John Misty

    Top 10 album of the host of World Cafefrom WXPN in Philadelphia. Read the list

  • The 11 Best Experimental Albums of 2022

    OHYUNG imagines a goal!  is one of NPR Music's 11 Best Experimental Music Albums of 2022.

    Hard-to-classify sounds that gave us wonderful, sometimes challenging fractal windows to jump through: microtonal rock jams, gentle ambient, mind-blowing nostalgia, Egyptian ghosts and epic synth symphony. Read the list

  • Bob Boylan’s Favorite Music of 2022

    Tomberlin's I don't know who needs to hear this... was among Bob Boilen's favorite albums of 2022.

    The host of All Songs Reviewed listens for the moments when the poetry of a song’s lyrics seems woven into its sound. This year, his playlists overflowed. Read the list

  • Top 20 Sheldon Pierce Albums of 2022

    Caprisongs by FKA twigs was among Sheldon Pierce's favorite albums of 2022.

    In a year when the industry has bet on fresh technology and virtual worlds, NPR’s hip-hop and R&B editor found these albums highly immersive in their own right. Read the list

  • The 20 Best Hip Hop Albums of 2022

    Pusha T

    Rap that reunited and revived old partnerships, revisited and critiqued old haunts, revealed strong new voices, and even helped usher in a new The minions movie. Read the list

  • The 10 Best Classical Albums of 2022

    Julia Bullock

    This year’s most compelling classical music ran the gamut from snare string quartets and laid-back piano to full-throttle percussion, electric guitars and soaring vocals. Read the list

  • The 20 Best R&B Albums of 2022

    The 20 Best R&B Albums of 2022

    In 2022, R&B rediscovered its place in the club, pushed itself to the fringes of space, and reveled in the beauty of the black experience. Read the list

  • Nate Chinen’s Favorite Music of 2022

    Nate Chinen's Favorite Music of 2022

    Nate Chinen, music critic and editorial director of NPR for WRTI in Philadelphia, shares some of his favorite music of the year. Read the list

  • The 10 Best Rock Albums of 2022

    Nilufer Yanya

    In 2022, the top 10 rock albums made a pilgrimage to Memphis, communed with theologians and poets, discovered the interconnectedness of all beings, and danced through pain and pleasure. Read the list

  • Podcast: The Year in Rock

    Top 10 Rock Albums of 2022

    All Songs Reviewed Host Bob Boilen is joined by NPR Music’s Hazel Sills and Marisa Lorusso to count down our top 10 rock albums of 2022. Listen to the episode

  • Ann Powers’ Top 20 Albums of 2022

    Anne Powers' Favorite Music of 2022

    The pop critic and NPR correspondent shares his favorite albums of the year. Read the list

  • Poll: Vote for the best albums of 2022

    Vote for your favorite albums of 2022.

    We want you to tell us what new music You loved this year. Vote for up to five of your favorite albums or EPs released in 2022.

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