The Biggest Pop Albums Heading Our Way In 2022
Is 2022 finally the year for Sky Ferreira?
For musicians, the last two years have been an era of postponements; trying to make an album happen, from conception to recording to the tour circuit, has been an exercise in patience, flexibility, and resilience.
Cases surge and subside, taking with them plans and aspirations for release rollouts, no matter how big or how small the artist may be. In short, it’s been a trying time – and no one’s been immune to the devastation of COVID.
Many musicians I know looked to 2022 with a glimmer of hope — with vaccines, came the promise of fewer disruptions to shows and touring, more opportunities to meet in person to record, to write, to collaborate. The latest wave of the omicron variant has put a severe dampener on these hopes — and now, as governments wash their hands of any responsibility, many musicians are cancelling shows, changing plans once again, out of caution, or because themselves or their crew, or the venue, have been exposed to COVID.
In short, it’s a mess, an endlessly impossible logistical nightmare for creatives who have spent the last two years waiting, compromising, making the best of a bad deal.
Amongst the chaos, however, it’s important to relish in the joy of music itself — something that is often set aside in favour of the all-important hustle, the litres of lemonade that must be made during times like this. It’s the reason for all the struggle, and still provides fulfillment and happiness like nothing else can, despite the circumstances.
In saying this, here’s a wrap-up of some of the most exciting pop records that are expected to drop in 2022 — some have concrete release dates, and some have been hinted at by artists themselves, or by industry moves like a new label deal, or a full summer festival schedule. I can’t wait to cherish each one and maybe even catch a couple live as the year goes on.
Charli XCX (March 2022)
Arguably the most anticipated pop album of 2022, Charli XCX’s fifth studio album Crash will follow Charli’s introspective how i’m feeling now — and is expected by many stans to be Charli’s ultimate passage into the mainstream, the album that cements her rightful spot alongside legendary pop girls Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, for all time.
As savvy and charismatic as ever, Charli seems to be encouraging this attitude, alluding to her ‘pop sellout’ era on socials for a while now. Charli dropped lead single ‘Good Ones’ last year, a magnetic, synthetic, dark banger about intentionally abandoning good behaviour and succumbing to the sinister. ‘New Shapes’, the latest single from the record, features fellow art-pop makers Caroline Polachek and Christine and the Queens — a reassuring nod from Charli that ensures she will continue to balance her mainstream pop ambitions with her pioneering, hyperpop roots.
Rina Sawayama (June-August 2022)
The early 2000s are truly back en vogue — good news to all aging millennials out there — and arguably no musician has embraced the Y2k sound, and managed to marry it with modern, innovative arrangements quite like Rina Sawayama. Her debut album SAWAYAMA, released in 2020, marries nu-metal with smooth R&B, hyperpop synths with main-pop-girl toplines.
SAWAYAMA moves through themes of racism, intergenerational pain, chosen families, capitalism, climate change and divorce, with overflowing passion, intent and nuance. In between working with Elton John, releasing an ‘Enter Sandman’ cover for Metallica’s The Blacklist project, and filming John Wick: Chapter 4, in which she’ll be making her film debut as Akira, Sawayama has also managed to write her next album, confirming the release window to a fan on Twitter.
Described by Pitchfork as ‘the dream-pop icon of tomorrow’, Australian shoegaze superstar Hatchie makes music to fall in love to; it’s a soft, floating reverberant world, as sparkling and saturated as Baz Lurhmanns’ Romeo + Juliet and just as heart-wrenching, too.
Hatchie’s latest single, ‘This Enchanted’, released late last year, was the first since her 2019 debut album Keepsake, and demonstrates a ripened sound, upbeat and modern while still maintaining a gorgeous nod to the swaying shoegaze of the ‘90s. Hatchie has recently relocated to the US and announced a label deal with Secretly Canadian — and all signs are pointing to a new Hatchie album in 2022.
Harry Styles (Likely March 2022)
The buzz for HS3 began pretty much straight after Love On Tour wrapped in the States. Fans have been dissecting everything from Harry’s outfit choices to setlist amendments, digging for clues – to be fair, the lack of any additional Love On Tour shows in any other part of the world besides the states is as much confirmation as this writer needs that Harry’s third album is close on the horizon.
We really don’t know anything about the new album — no co-writers, no producers, nothing — but if Fine Line is anything to go by, he may be working with co-writers Kid Harpoon, Tyler Johnson and Amy Johnson again — or not! He might play the dulcimer again. Or not. One thing I really do hope transcends Fine Line and permeates the new album is the self-described overarching theme of ‘having sex and feeling sad’. After everything the world has been through since Fine Line was released, it’s what we deserve.
It’s hard to say if Mauboy’s self-assured, effortlessly cool single ‘Glow’ is the first taste of new music from the Australian pop superstar — she’s keeping tight-lipped on whether or not there’s an album to follow.
“Welcome to my future,” she almost purrs, right at the top of the song — it’s a goosebumps moment, so confident, and steeped in joy and self-love. Reminiscent of Doja Cat’s ‘Say So’, ‘Glow’ pulses along, as on-trend as anything you’d hear on triple j (in fact, it was added to rotation on the station upon release).
It’s an exciting new direction for Jessica Mauboy, one of few local pop artists to garner consistent airtime on Australian commercial radio. She’s heading out on tour in March 2022, with her tour blurb promising that the setlist “…will read as an anthology of Jessica’s global smash hits since her first solo album in 2008, elevating them to a new era of empowerment.”
At this point, Sky Ferreira’s second album is the stuff of pop legend — promised by the artist many times over, and still yet to land for reasons largely unknown but rumoured to be largely due to her label — it finally seems like 2022 is the year for Masochism, the title of the record revealed by Ferreira way back in 2015.
The main reason it seems like 2022 is finally the year? Sky Ferreira is booked and busy, announcing several dates on the EU festival circuit for June 2022. Night time, my time, time for a new album. More and more people are saying it.