The big album releases of 2022 happened very slowly, then all at once. After a big first weekend of unexpected rollouts in early January, the calendar laid mostly bare for weeks and weeks on end, with just the slowest trickle of movement — until this past month, when the blockbusters finally started bursting through the door at overwhelming volume and velocity, making up for lost time in a blinding blur of activity. And now here we are, already nearing the year’s halfway point, even though it feels in many ways like things only just kicked off in earnest.
Most of those huge recent drops are represented in Billboard‘s list of our favorite albums of 2022 so far, major releases by major stars that dominated the headlines and blanketed the charts. But so, of course, are the albums that filled the time in their early absence; sets by old favorites still getting it done decades into their career, and by brand-new acts who we could’ve never predicted emerging in time to make some of our favorite music of 2022. They’re the LPs that proved that even when the A-listers take an extra few months to emerge from their hibernation, there’s no such thing as a slow year for great music.
Here are our staff’s 50 favorite albums so far in 2022 — and let’s hope the momentum of the past month’s schedule keeps up for the rest of the year, for artists big and small.