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AP’s top albums 2022: ‘Renaissance’, ‘Motomami’, Bad Bunny

AP – The best albums of the year, as selected by The Associated Press (AP) entertainment journalists:


Few would be shocked that Beyoncé’s Renaissance would makes our top albums list, but just because it’s low hanging fruit doesn’t negate how delicious it is. Dropping her first album in six years, Queen Bey once again proved why she’s worth the wait. Led by the multi-format dance track Break My Soul and the TikTok-crazed Cuff It which both reached No 1 on various Billboard Charts including Soul reaching the top of the Hot 100, Renaissance boasted plenty of fan favourites including Cozy, Alien Superstar, Plastic off the Sofa and Virgo’s Groove. But beyond the two-stepping and body-rolling was the messaging within the music, championing Black women they have an ally in her. Whether meticulously planned or purely coincidental her highness released the album as the coronavirus pandemic moves behind us, if her goal was to get us out of our houses and out dancing again, then mission accomplished. – Gary Gerard Hamilton


Making a low-key entry last January, Dawn FM is a concept album that The Weeknd likened to listening to a radio station in purgatory, hence its mix of styles and effects from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s mixed in with modern production. Much of it is downright weird: The fake British accent, a spoken-word interlude by Quincy Jones, the funny radio ads, narration by Jim Carrey and the singer digitally aged on the cover. It is also brilliant, a dance record with lyrics of hopelessness, with nods to Michael Jackson, New Wave, neo-soul, Prince and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. If this is what purgatory sounds like, heaven is overrated. – Mark Kennedy

Cover image released by XO/Republic Records shows ‘Dawn FM’ by The Weeknd. PHOTO: AP


Spanish singer Rosalía turned three years of anguish and home sickness into mega successful third studio album Motomami (biker chick). It was perhaps impossible not to make lemonade out of lemons for such a bold artist whose ease in playing with genres and words are her greatest strengths. Described as an alternative reggaeton record, the hefty 16-track Motomami delivers something for everyone and every mood. From Candy’s stripped down reggaeton, to Chicken Teriyaki’s playfulness and Diablo’s experimental sound, or La Fama’s classic Latin beats, Rosalía shows her prowess as a singer. Her four Latin Grammys for the album were just the beginning. Next stop: the world. – Cristina Jaleru


In the age of streaming, the musical floodgates are wide open as artistes release multiple projects in a single year: EPs, double albums, deluxe albums and on and on. Country artist Zach Bryan upped the ante by dropping the 34-song album American Heartbreak as his major label debut in 2022. The Navy veteran’s stories span the vast landscape of his Oklahoma upbringing with coming-of-age ragers like Heavy Eyes, the wanderlust on Highway Boys and odes to the towns he’s outgrown like Oklahoma City. His stripped down production and confessional, narrative lyrics have earned him comparisons to Jason Isbell and Taylor Swift alike (He’s a Swiftie). But he’s at his best when he’s describing the colours of those Western vistas in the standout track, Something in the Orange, as he dwells in the loneliness of heartbreak. Bryan has proved he’s providing both quality and quantity. – Kristin M Hall


Former pop idol Jackson Wang turned solo artist turned Magic Man on his sophomore album. With an incisive, cohesive sound that harks back to ’90s rock mixed with ’80s synths, Wang’s record shows he’s ready for a leading role; the character he plays in Magic Man is a debonair, seductive stranger who likes the pleasures of life. The singer rises up to the challenge of delivering some sultry vocals off the back of classic guitar riffs in Blow, and Cruel. But where it all takes off is the pop ditty Drive It Like You Stole It, which lights up the discoball section of the amygdala. Some magic stuff indeed. – Cristina Jaleru


Blxst is considered as the preeminent voice of Los Angeles R&B after the release of his mixtape album No Love Lost in 2020. But the singer-rapper expanded his reach with his impeccable album Before You Go along with his recent Grammy nominations for his feature work on Kendrick Lamar’s single Die Hard. On Before You Go, he delivers an assortment of catchy hooks and smooth melodies that earned praise from critics and fans alike. He cleverly works through the matters of handling relationships on About You and Still Omw, a fan favourite. He talks about experiencing the ocean views and driving down the Pacific Coast Highway while escaping the fake element of his hometown in Fake Love in LA, featuring Arin Ray. He mentions him carrying the torch of delivering quality music after the loss of Nipsey Hussle, thinking big and being blessed with a strong support system on Couldn’t Wait for It with Rick Ross. In all, Blxst put together a full collection of infectious songs from start to finish. – Jonathan Landrum Jr.


Bad Bunny is a bonafide global superstar, and if you weren’t aware previously, Un Verano Sin Ti snapped you into reality. Spending 13 weeks at No 1 on the Billboard 200, the Puerto Rican artiste expertly blended reggaeton, pop and EDM, effortlessly transporting you to a beach on his home island for a temporary break from real world stressors. Party-ready songs such as Tití Me Preguntó and Me Porto Bonito featuring Chencho Corleone have each racked up half a billion views on YouTube, and he headlined arguably the biggest tour of the year. Despite ascending to the realm of one of the world’s biggest artists, he also used his music to criticise issues on the island such as gentrification and repeated power outages. Did it matter to me that Un Verano Sin Ti is mainly in Spanish? Not at all. While dancing, his music motivates you to learn more, and that’s what great art does. – Gary Gerard Hamilton


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