Top ten East Asian pop/rock albums of 2022

Top Albums of 2022

My favorite category of the year is getting a bit lopsided: not long ago was the time that K-pop was balancing out a lot of the J-pop on this list. But with the deteriorating quality of the former J-pop has been imposing a delightful monopoly of my time. Here are ten of the albums that impressed me the most this year, in no particular order:


Lonesome_Blue: Second To None // Philosophy no Dance: Ai no Tetsugaku


Haruka Kudo: Ryuusei Ressha // Bed-In: FREEDOM!


Tatsuro Yamashita: Softly // Girls’ Generation (SNSD): FOREVER 1




BAND-MAID: Unleash // Sumire Uesaka: ANTHOLOGY & DESTINY

Honorable Mentions


Sayonara Ponytail: Yoru no Dekigoto
Aimyon: Hitomi e Ochiru yo RECORD
Kirameki☆Anforent: Shin Uchuu±WARP DRIVE III


Top ten pop/electronic albums of 2022

Top Albums of 2022

One of my favorite categories, pop music is an ever-evolving genre that invites listeners to incorporate new sounds and ideas into standard forms while still making sure it remains accessible and, often, danceable. When you get tired of the art-housey stuff recommended on other lists, here are ten of the best from the year that might move you and definitely get you moving:


Mabel: About Last Night… // SZA: SOS


The Weeknd: Dawn FM // Charli XCX: CRASH

pop5 copy

Avril Lavigne: Love Sux // Neon Nox: Payback


Ella Mai: Heart on My Sleeve // Carly Rae Jepsen: The Loneliest Time



Honorable Mentions

Sweet California: Land of the Free
TLF: Planet Sadness
Years & Years: Nightcall
Tove Lo: Dirt Femme
Beyonce: Renasissance

Top ten metal/hard rock albums of 2022

Top Albums of 2022

I was a bit more conservative in my tastes and breadth in this genre in 2022, but still managed to find plenty to enjoy. Here are ten of the best:

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Blind Guardian: The God Machine // Michael Romero: War of the Worlds, Pt. 2


The Birthday Massacre: Fascination // Borealis: Illusions

Disillusion: Ayam // Ghost: IMPERA


Rammstein: Zeit // Riot City: Electric Elite


Evergrey: A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) // Imperial Circus Dead Decadence: Mogari — Shi e Fukeru Omoi wa Rikujyoku sura Kurai, Kanata no Sei wo Aisuru Tame ni Inochi wo Tataeru

Top ten original soundtracks/original scores of 2022

Top Albums of 2022

With only the biggest films making impact at the box office, more and more score work is being commissioned by streaming services than ever before. Whether or not this brings the same prestige will change over time as the medium becomes home to some of the best (and worst) soundtrack work of the year, especially these ten in 2022 (reminder: these are based entirely on the music and have nothing to do with the quality of the actual film/series/video game):


The Newton Brothers: The Midnight Club // Christopher Lennertz: The Curse of Bridge Hollow


Roman Molino Dunn: AI Love You // Oscillian: The Guardians of Justice, Vol.1


Various Artists: In Search of Tomorrow //  Brian Tyler: Redeeming Love


Daniel Pemberton: Enola Holmes 2 // Danny Elfman & Chris Bacon: Wednesday


Henry Jackman: Strange World // Terence Blanchard: The Woman King

Honorable Mentions


Ré Olunuga: Rise
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein: Stranger Things 4
Michael Giacchino: Lightyear
Kevin Kiner: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross: Empire of Light

Top ten debut albums of 2022

Top Albums of 2022

This category gets harder to curate every year, as I debate whether a low-key single counts as a proper debut, as opposed to an EP or album. Regardless, here are the top ten debuts by artists who made their biggest impacts in the calendar year.


iScream: i // Lonesome_Blue: First Utterance


FLO: The Lead // Em Beihold: Egg in the Backseat


Madison Rose: TECHNICOLOR // Naniwa Danshi: 1st Love


Kira Shiomi: TOKYO CONTINUE // Early Moods: Early Moods


Takanori Iwata: THE CHOCOLATE BOX // Gabi DeMartino: Paintings of Me

Top ten remastered/reissued albums of 2022

Top Albums of 2022

As catalog music becomes increasingly critical to record companies’ bottom lines, valued and pushed to a greater degree than the development of new artists and soundscapes, it’s borderline pathological to indulge and enjoy old music when the future of a healthy music industry is at stake. But there’s no denying that there’s something compelling, comfortable, and downright cozy about old favorites and tried and true hits. Here are ten of the best re-releases from the year, in no particular order:


Alan Menken: The Legacy Collection: Aladdin // PUFFY: JET [Vinyl]


Various Artists: BUBBLEGUM CRISIS 35th BOX // The S.O.S. Band: Sands of Time


Mariya Takeuchi: Quiet Life (30th Anniversary) // Takako Mamiya: LOVE TRIP


Spice Girls: Spiceworld 25 // Don Davis: Hyperspace (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)


Danny Elfman: Sleepy Hollow (Music from the Motion Picture) [Vinyl] // S.Kiyotaka & OMEGA TRIBE: RIVER’S ISLAND REMIX

Top ten most disappointing albums of 2022

Top Albums of 2022

Just to be clear, the biggest disappointment of the year was the release of the soundtrack (not score) for Stranger Things 4 which did not include the mix of “Running Up That Hill” used in the show’s pivotal scene, nor the gorgeous orchestral mix used for the episode’s end credits. What did we get instead? Seven dozen mediocre, awful, and increasingly annoying cover versions that failed to understand the point of the original and that quickly deteriorated its magic and impact. That’s just how disappointments work — they’re not things you hate, or that are inherently terrible. They’re things that fail to meet your expectations or fail to provide what you were looking or hoping for. Here are ten of this year’s in no particular order:


Circa Survive: Two Dreams // Red Velvet: Bloom


Sigrid: How to Let Go // aespa: GIRLS


Cleo: Vinylova // Above & Beyond: The Last Glaciers (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)


Taylor Swift: Midnights // Key: Gasoline


TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE: NOCTURNAL // Michael Jackson: Thriller 40

Top ten 2021-misses of 2022

Top Albums of 2022

As we get started on this year’s best-of lists, here first, in no particular order, are ten of the best albums, of any genre and category, released in 2021 that I didn’t discover until 2022, and in some other better, alternate universe, might have made last year’s lists.

HALLCA: Paradise Gate // Gigolette: SHINE


Maurizio Malagnini: Coppelia (Original Soundtrack) // Max Cruise: Cruise Control


Nicholas Britell: Don’t Look Up (Soundtrack from the Netflix Film) // Zsasz:


Ramin Djawadi: Eternals (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) // Shannon & The Clams: Year of the Spider


S. Kiyotaka & OMEGA TRIBE: AQUA CITY REMIX // Night Tempo: Ladies in the City

Best albums of 2022

Top Albums of 2022

Once again, we’re going to keep the year-end lists short and sweet. Why? Well, one strong indicator of the year’s state of music manifests in a final list that I curate just for myself – the ultimate top ten albums of the year, based not necessarily on how good an album is, but on how much I personally loved it and how often I played it over and over again simply because I couldn’t stop listening to it. How easy was it to make this list? Could I instantly pick ten albums that found themselves in a natural heavy rotation? Did I struggle to come up with ten? Did I struggle to keep it down to ten? Unfortunately, I did struggle a bit this year. We still had great albums, but I found myself constantly listening more to new music than replaying albums in a constant quest for something to really knock me sideways. Luckily, two last-minute albums really saved the year, but all in all, I would say it was a solid, but unremarkable, year.

We’ve got all eight categories again this year. Each category features ten of my favorite albums, followed by five Honorable Mentions where available. The complete list, posting schedule, and further information are as follows (note: this list will be updated with links as the posts go live):

(12/26) Top ten 2021-misses: Any album, in any genre, released in 2021 that I didn’t hear until this year.
(12/27) Top ten most disappointing: Any album, in any genre, that failed to meet expectations.
(12/28) Top ten remasters/reissues: Any remastered or reissued album from anywhere in the world, whether CD, vinyl, box set, etc.
(12/29) Top ten debut albums: Any artist who released an original studio album, or comparable EP, for the first time in 2022 from anywhere in the world.
(12/30) Top ten original soundtracks/original scores: Any original soundtrack or score composed exclusively for film, television/streaming, or video game from anywhere in the world.
(12/31) Top ten hard rock/metal: Any hard rock or metal album released by a mostly English-speaking and/or Western band/artist.
(01/01) Top ten pop/electronic: Any pop or electronic album released by an English-speaking and/or Western band/artist.
(01/02) Top ten East Asian pop/rock: Any pop or rock album released in East Asia (especially Japan and South Korea).

These lists are not meant to be exhaustive, nor absolute: they are simply a reflection of the genres I listened to the most in 2022. In addition, a lot of great songs that never appeared on albums, or that were featured on just-okay (or disappointing) ones were released, and I won’t be getting the chance to highlight them in this year’s lists.

Thank you to everyone who continues to visit this tiny corner of the Internet. I appreciate you all sticking with me immensely. I can’t wait to start looking back with you all, and wish everyone the best in the new year.

Top ten East Asian pop/rock albums of 2021


My listening veered towards the familiar when it came to East Asian pop this year, with many of this year’s top artists making second or third appearances on these year-end lists. This is totally unremarkable, considering that the most pervasive feeling I have had lately is the nagging gloom that 2020 and 2021 have actually just been one very long year, and everything bleeding together makes it hard to distinguish this year’s J-pop from last. Treading water is what you do when you’re trying not to drown, not when the environment is conducive to innovation, and so we saw a lot of trends hanging on throughout 2021, from the lasting impact of The Weeknd’s sizzling synths in “Blinding Lights,” (RYUJI IMAICHI, Lexie Lu) to the last gasps of a certain kind of aggressive dance-pop unique to mid-00s (w-inds.), warm bubble-bath Johnny’s (SixTONES, Snow Man), all the way to a doubling-down of all the familiar tropes of idol- and K- and City-pop (Yufu Terashima, TWICE, YUKIKA). Here are my top ten favorite, in no particular order:

Lexie Liu: GONE GOLD // LatuLatu: Hyakkaryoransen

Morning Musume ’21.: 16th ~ That’s J-POP // YUKIKA: TIMEABOUT,


GENIE HIGH: GENIE STAR // TWICE: Formula of Love: O+T=<3

NiziU: U // w-inds.: 20XX “We are”

Honorable Mentions

BANDMAID: Unseen World
Sakurako Ohara: l
Key: Bad Love