20 albums to get excited about in 2022

From rising upstarts with killer debuts to returning titans such as Monkeys, Beyoncé and Riri, the next 12 months look set to be massive

Despite the black cloud that hovered over life in 2021, last year was another bumper 12 months for great music. It looks like it’ll be the same story next year, too, with some absolute titans of the music world set to return, and rising new upstarts ready to share their debut albums with us. If you’re in need of a bit of optimism for the year ahead, read on for 20 new albums to get excited about.

Rihanna, ‘TBA’

Rihanna
Rihanna CREDIT: Getty Images

Release date: TBA

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It’s been 65 years… OK, 2022 will actually only be six years since we last got the great gift of music from Riri, but it feels like a lot longer. At this point, it feels like putting her on this list every year is a good way to guarantee the follow-up to ‘Anti’ isn’t coming (sorry)!, but what can you do if you don’t have hope? Excitingly, though, Rihanna’s next album could be anything – she’s spoken over the years of making a reggae record, but she could easily have got bored of that idea and moved onto something else by now. Whenever it does arrive, it’ll be a big surprise – what could be better, eh?

They say: That it’s coming “soon soon soon”. Is she telling the truth or trolling us for the 134,347th time?

Charli XCX, ‘Crash’

Charli XCX
Charli XCX. CREDIT: Press

Release date: March 18

Charli XCX’s fifth album ‘Crash’ comes with a who’s who list of collaborators from the world of forward-thinking pop: A.G. Cook, Rina Sawayama, Christine And The Queens, Caroline Polachek, Oneohtrix Point Never, Ariel Rechtshaid and more. We’ve already had two addictive previews of the record so far in ‘New Shapes’ and ‘Good Ones’ and, if the full records follows their lead, it looks like 2022 will be the year of Charli continuing to remould the pop scene in her image.

They say: “I was able to possess and persuade an incredible group of producers and collaborators to contribute to ‘Crash’ by using my femme fatale powers and a multitude of dark spells and curses.”

Kendrick Lamar, ‘TBA’

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Kendrick Lamar performs live in 2016. CREDIT: Jim Bennett/FilmMagic

Release date: TBA

In his career so far, Kendrick’s albums have rarely fallen short of masterpiece status. The follow-up to 2017’s ‘DAMN.’, which will hopefully arrive in 2022, has a big task to do – not only continue that streak but also wrap up a whole era of legend-making. Lamar’s fifth record will be his last for label Top Dawg Entertainment before the superstar rapper moves on to pastures new. As tall an order as that might be, everything he’s done so far suggests we’re in safe hands.

They say: “Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family.”

Sky Ferreira, ‘Masochism’ 

Sky Ferreira
Sky Ferreira. CREDIT: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Release date: TBA

If you thought Rihanna fans had it bad, spare a thought for the Sky Ferreira devotees, who’ve been patiently waiting for a new album since 2013. Her debut ‘Night Time, My Time’, released nearly eight years ago, was a striking record of synth-pop majesty, so it’s no wonder people still have their fingers crossed for something more. According to the star herself, those prayers could finally be answered in 2022.

They say: “It happens every year but it’s actually coming out this time,” she captioned an Instagram article calling it one of the most anticipated records of 2022.

Megan Thee Stallion, ‘TBA’

Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion performs during Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on October 08, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Credit: Erika Goldring/WireImage.

Release date: TBA

Not satisfied with giving us a flawless mixtape in ‘Something For Thee Hotties’ and becoming a college graduate this year, Megan has also been cooking up another album for us. True hot girl behaviour – but despite keeping herself busy, the rapper is still trying to take her time and not rush through her next record. The results, then, should be even more considered and exciting than all the bangers she’s already treated us to.

They say: “I feel like [my new album] will be aggressive. I feel like this project is definitely something very well thought out. This project is me talking my shit, getting back comfortable with myself, getting back to the Megan that was on the come-up.”

Bastille, ‘Give Me The Future’ 

Credit: Sarah Louise Bennett

Release date: February 4

After drip-feeding us a series of singles over the course of 2021, Bastille will finally return with another full-length album early on in 2022. Their fourth album will tackle our strange modern world and “humanity in a tech age”, pulling together both the dark side of lives lived online and the progress technology has made for our world.

They say: “Working on these songs in such an apocalyptic period, with everyone stuck at home, glued to screens, fed into the feeling that what is real and what is not has become pretty difficult to discern sometimes. We’re in the age of deep fake, fake news and lying world leaders. But online, you can be anyone. What that does to our sense of self and to our relationships is huge and it’s fascinating.”

Rosalía, ‘Motomami’

Credit: Press

Release date: TBA

For her third album, breakout Spanish star Rosalía is digging deep. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, the singer shared some of the themes of ‘Motomami’ would include “transformation, sexuality, heartbreak, celebration, spirituality, self-respect and isolation”, while the record will be the first to pull from her personal life. The Weeknd provides assistance in that journey on stunning single ‘La Fama’ and The Neptunes and El Guincho are some of the producers who helped shape her next chapter.

They say: “[Feminism] is very much present in some songs, and maybe not some much in some others, because in the end, it’s all the emotional journey of the ups and downs an artist can take,” she told Rolling Stone. “There’s a lot of my day-to-day life that’s why this vindication of women and femininity are implicit.”

Arctic Monkeys, ‘TBA’

Arctic Monkeys performing live onstage in 2018
Arctic Monkeys perform live. CREDIT: Getty

Release date: TBA

Sound the alarm and get on those dancing shoes: Sheffield’s finest are back, back, back for 2022. Last time we heard from Arctic Monkeys, they were cruising around a fictional resort on the moon and tracing the dots from falling down the rabbit hole of The Strokes to being one of the biggest bands in the world. Their next record will “pick up where the other one left off in a way”, according to drummer Matt Helders, but still “move it on a little bit”. Expect to hear something before a summer of touring and festivals.

They say: “It makes sense when you think about it in the context of the last record,” Helders went on to explain. But we always do try and do something a bit different – it’s kind of hard to describe. You can tell it’s the same band.”

The Weeknd, ‘Dawn FM’

The Weeknd new single Take My Breath music video
Credit: The Weeknd official YouTube

Release date: January 7

The Weeknd’s last album ‘After Hours’ provided us with one of the most artistic and immersive eras of a modern artist in recent memory. Now he’s ditched the red blazer and bizarre face bandages, Abel Tesfaye will hope to present us with another period that equals that on that record’s follow-up. He’s off to a good start – August’s ‘Take My Breath’ was a deliciously dark piece of pop that felt like both a natural follow-up to the likes of ‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘Save Your Tears’, but also a gradual step into fresh territory. According to the star, that new ground will involve mashing up multiple styles in one track. “You’ll hear EDM, hip-hop, and three other types of sounds in one song – and somehow, we make it work,” he told Billboard recently. Oh, and it’ll feature cameos from Tyler, The Creator, Oneohtrix Point Never, Quincy Jones, Lil Wayne and actor Jim Carrey.

They say: “Picture the album being like the listener is dead,” Tesfaye explained to Billboard. And they’re stuck in this purgatory state, which I always imagined would be like being stuck in traffic waiting to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. And while you’re stuck in traffic, they got a radio station playing in the car, with a radio host guiding you to the light and helping you transition to the other side. So it could feel celebratory, could feel bleak – however you want to make it feel, but that’s what ‘The Dawn’ is for me.”

The Linda Lindas, ‘TBA’

The Linda Lindas
The Linda Lindas. CREDIT: Alice Baxley/Press

Release date: TBA

LA teens The Linda Lindas shot into our lives this year with a viral video of them performing their track ‘Racist, Sexist Boy’ in a library. In an instant, the world fell in love – here were four young women kicking against the pricks and reviving the true spirit of riot grrrl. Since then, they’ve signed with Epitaph and scored the support of icons like Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein, Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello, Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna and Best Coast. The singles they’ve released in the intervening months – including ‘Oh!’ and ‘Nino’ – suggest their debut album will be a vital blast of punk promise.

They say: They’ve been keeping pretty schtum so far.

Holly Humberstone, ‘TBA’ 

Holly Humberstone singer 2021
Holly Humberstone (Picture: Bryce Glenn / Press)

Release date: TBA

It’s been a big year for the Grantham singer-songwriter, who’s spent much of the last 12 months dropping beautiful, introspective slabs of pop and mesmerising with her first live performances. To cap it off, Holly Humberstone has also been announced as the winner of the BRITs Rising Star Award for 2022 – not a bad start to what promises to be an even bigger year for her. At some point in our next cycle through the calendar, she’ll release a debut album that, if her first two EPs are anything to go by, should be absolutely magical.

They say: “I’ve had loads of time now to just experiment and try different things out, and to have fun with my writing without the pressure.”

Jack White, ‘Fear Of The Dawn’ / ‘Entering Heaven Alive’ 

Jack White
Jack White. CREDIT: David James Swanson

Release date: April 8 / July 22

While some artists are still dithering about with one album, the Third Man Records head honcho is making sure to make 2022 a bumper year for his fans with not one, but two new albums on the way. According to a press release, both records are “entirely distinctive” and “each defined by different inspirations, different themes, different moods”. Knowing Jack White, we’d expect his new work to pay its respects to rock’s history while adding his own burst of originality to keep it moving forward.

They say: Not much – yet…

Wet Leg, ‘Wet Leg’ 

Wet Leg
Wet Leg Credit: Hollie Fernando

Release date: April 8

Once in a blue moon, a seemingly perfect new band just appears out of nowhere. In 2021, that band was Wet Leg, who struck gold four times with early singles and, now, are ready to follow that up with a full album. Expect lyrics dripping in dry humour, wiry post-punk riffs and hints of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Le Tigre, Violent Femmes and more to make their debut sparkle.

They say: “It’s the same feeling of doing a set where people know two songs. I wonder if people are gonna like it or if it’s gonna be what people expect. It doesn’t really matter though ’cause it is what it is!”

Phoenix, ‘TBA’

Thomas Mars of Phoenix performs live in 2018. CREDIT: Burak Cingi/Redferns

Release date: TBA

We heard from the French indie-pop kings in 2017, on their phenomenal sixth album ‘Ti Amo’, a record of grand romance and sun-kissed fantasies of Roman holidays. For their seventh, Phoenix will switch things up once again and return to their more eclectic roots, swapping soft synth-pop for, apparently, more disparate styles.

They say: “There’s no coherence and it’s a little bit like our first record, maybe; ‘United’, which had songs that would explore heavy metal and then country music. And then this is the same sort of weird Frankenstein of an album.”

Father John Misty, ‘Chloe And The Next 20th Century’

Father John Misty. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Father John Misty. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Release date: April 8

Indie’s most sarcastic troubadour returns next year to fill the withering and verbose voids in our lives with his first album since 2018’s ‘God’s Favourite Customer’. Of course, life hasn’t been completely free of Father John Misty in the intervening years and his minimal activities could hit at what’s to come in 2022. At live shows pre-pandemic, he debuted a handful of new songs, all laced with sax, while in 2018 he also shared an EP featuring covers of Leonard Cohen and Link Wray. Time will tell if they’ve had any bearing on ‘Chloe And The Next 20th Century’.

They say: “11 new tracks produced by Jonathan Wilson and Josh Tillman. ‘Chloe And The Next 20th Century’. It’s technically new.”

Cardi B, ‘TBA’

Cardi B
Cardi B during Paris Fashion Week 2021. Credit: Neil Warner/MEGA/GC Images.

Release date: TBA

She might not have released an album since her 2018 debut ‘Invasion Of Privacy’, but Cardi B has certainly kept hold of – and strengthened – her grip on the crown of rap queen. In 2022, she will prove why she’s still ruling with another full-length record. Little might be known about it at present, but you only have to look at the viral dominance of singles like ‘WAP’ and ‘Up’ to know that it’s likely going to spawn at least a handful of tracks that will be unavoidable over the next 12 months.

They say: “My music is always going to make a woman feel like a bad bitch. When you make a woman feel like she’s the baddest bitch in the room, to me, that’s female empowerment. But this album is going to be really different. Of course, it’s going to have my ‘Lemonade’ moments, my personal relationship moments.”

BTS, ‘TBA’ 

bts hybe 7 fates: chakho
BTS. Credits: HYBE

Release date: TBA

At 13 months so far, the gap between BTS albums is the longest it’s been since they debuted in 2013. Still, the Korean record-breakers have managed to keep us entertained in the time since ‘BE’ dropped in November 2020 with two infectious singles in ‘Butter’ and ‘Permission To Dance’. They’ve yet to drop any hints about what direction they’ll take next but, the group have already proved their knack for versatility and experimentation, as well as their ability to craft supreme bangers. What’s more exciting than that?

They say: Not much, but their label HYBE has confirmed a new record is in the works.

Mitski, ‘Laurel Hell’

Mitski press shot 2021
Mitski, 2021. CREDIT: Ebru Yildiz

Release date: February 4

Mitski’s 2018 album ‘Be The Cowboy’, her fifth, sent her to dizzying new heights of fame – and for good reason. Judging by the first singles from ‘Laurel Hell’, that ascent is only set to continue next year, with the indie star leaning into whirring synths and profound tales of love, personal reckonings and the impact of capitalist culture on our lives.

They say: “‘Laurel Hell’ is a soundtrack for transformation, a map to the place where vulnerability and resilience, sorrow and delight, error and transcendence can all sit within our humanity, can all be seen as worthy of acknowledgement and, ultimately, love. I accept it all. I forgive it all.”

Sunflower Bean, ‘TBA’

Sunflower Bean CREDIT: Press

Release date: TBA

Sunflower Bean have long carved out their place as one of the most exciting bands around right now and their third album looks set to reinforce that notion, if recent track ‘Baby Don’t Cry’ is any measure. It presents a band who don’t rest on their laurels but are constantly evolving their sound, with that track shifting away from the dreamy Fleetwood Mac echoes of their 2018 album ‘Twentytwo In Blue’ to gleaming radio rock with plenty of heart.

They say: “There’s definitely stuff coming. We’re still being a little quiet about it, but we’ve been writing the whole time. We’re super-excited about it.”

Beyoncé, ‘TBA’

Beyoncé
Beyoncé. CREDIT: Getty

Release date: First quarter of 2022

Whenever Beyoncé’s been a little too quiet, you have to start to be on your guard – she is the queen of dropping a surprise album, after all. This time, we know Bey’s been hard at work – she’s confirmed as much in interviews this year. Of course, she hasn’t really told us what to expect, but with her being who she is, you can almost guarantee it’ll be a record that resets pop culture as a whole the second it lands.

They say: “I feel a renaissance emerging, and I want to be part of nurturing that escape in any way possible. I’ve been in the studio for a year-and-a-half.”

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