All signs point to 2022 being a big year for music. January tends to be a quiet month for releases, but we've already seen The Weeknd’s blockbuster Dawn FM dropping on the first Friday of the year, plus other albums from Earl Sweatshirt, Band of Horses, and FKA twigs. Although some of the names floating around in the discourse have yet to make any official announcements, here’s a list of some of the projects that are expected to make an impact on the music industry.
Mitski, Laurel Hell (February 4)
Three years after the eclectic Be the Cowboy, Mitski blessed her fans with the compelling single “Working for the Knife,” which described her recent feelings about creating art, in October of last year. Announcing the arrival date of Laurel Hell, the singer–songwriter described the album as “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 acknowledgment, and ultimately, love.”
Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You (February 11)
The Adrianne Lenker–led folk darlings are set to release a sprawling double album next month: It'll be their first release since the one–two punch of U.F.O.F. and Two Hands in 2019. The band has already been peppering the latter half of 2021 with singles set to appear on the new project, which Lenker considers to be “more uplifting and hopeful, which is funny, given the time we’re in.”
Charli XCX, Crash (March 18)
Charli tapped into her dark side with the rollout for her new album. Crash, her follow–up to 2020’s pandemic–inspired how i’m feeling now, is set to move away from the futuristic style of her past records and more towards the pop of the 1980s. Her fifth and final release under Atlantic Records is rumored to bear a heavy Janet Jackson influence, and comes with collaborations from other pop icons such as Caroline Polachek, Christine & the Queens, and Rina Sawayama.
Phife Dawg, Forever (March 22)
A posthumous effort from Phife Dawg has been in the works since he and the jazz–rap titans A Tribe Called Quest rounded off their career with the 2016 album We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service. The project's final release date, March 22, will be the sixth anniversary of Dawg's tragic passing. After years of care were put into the result, fans can hope for Forever to be a fun and worthy send–off for the legendary rapper.
Father John Misty, Chloë and the Next 20th Century (April 8)
Josh Tillman, known by his stage name Father John Misty, scaled back the heady and extravagant compositions and themes of his 2017 opus Pure Comedy for the vulnerable God’s Favorite Customer a year later. Now, without any full–length material from the divisive singer–songwriter in three years, fans may be eager to hear developments in his personal life, more musings about current politics, or maybe a bit of both. Given the orchestral arrangements of lead single “Funny Girl,” a return to grandiosity looks to be what Tillman's going for this time around.
Jack White, Fear of the Dawn (April 8) and Entering Heaven Alive (July 22)
Former White Stripes mastermind Jack White is gearing up for a two–album year. The double release comes after a busy end to the 2010s, during which White made the bizarre and bluesy Boarding House Reach while reuniting with former band The Raconteurs for the 2019 project Help Us Stranger. The first of his two releases will open with the throttling lead single “Taking Me Back” and feature a single guest appearance from Q–Tip of the aforementioned A Tribe Called Quest.
100 Gecs, 10000 gecs (TBD)
The boundary–pushing pop duo announced their upcoming record and released the lead single “mememe” last year, but they have yet to solidify a release date. The new release looks to signify their rising popularity while also keeping their distinct idiosyncrasies and hyper–pop sound in check. Surprisingly, there may be some songs where member Laura Les sheds the group’s trademark autotune entirely. Amidst changes in personnel and status, Les hopes that the new release is, fittingly, “10 times as good” as their last project, 1000 gecs.
Rosalía, Motomami (TBD)
Last November, Rosalía revealed a glittery teaser for her newest album, which follows 2018's Grammy–nominated El Mal Querer. In the span between these releases, she has accumulated collaborations with some of the biggest names in Spanish and English music, including Bad Bunny, J Balvin, and The Weeknd. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she spoke of the new project as “the most personal and confessional album that [she has] made so far.”
Kendrick Lamar, TBA (TBD)
In August of last year, the Compton rapper teased the long–awaited album that would end his tenure with his label Top Dawg Entertainment. Now, with Lamar’s upcoming Super Bowl performance and headlining performance for the Day N Night festival, that new record seems more imminent than ever. It would be his first since his chaotic DAMN. from 2017 (excluding his curation of the Black Panther soundtrack). Even without any official announcements about collaborators or songs to date, the return of Kendrick Lamar may still be the largest event for hip–hop fans this year.
My Bloody Valentine, TBA (TBD)
After announcing two albums last year, MBV frontman Kevin Shields said that the seminal shoegaze outfit would be making the albums public in 2022 after signing to Domino Records and finally opening their output to streaming services. A promise for material in late 2021 has come and gone with no further statements from the band, but one can only hope for a new project that would end the band’s eight–year absence.
SZA, TBA (TBD)
Another Top Dawg artist who has yet to deliver in almost 5 years is SZA, who may bring forth a sequel to the lush Ctrl by the end of this year. She's recently kept fans up to date on her creative process with a trio of SoundCloud songs and a flurry of singles and collaborations, including “Kiss Me More” with Doja Cat and “No Love” with Summer Walker. One of these SoundCloud tracks, "I Hate U," was officially released on streaming services after going viral on social media. She hasn’t revealed any clear details about the upcoming album, but she has talked about an endeavor into acting. Maybe the new project will coincide with a visual counterpart or a screen role elsewhere; either way, SZA is gearing up for a successful year.