The book is closing on 2022, and what a year it has been for music. Giant stars came back out of the shadows after COVID-19 and delivered some of their best work yet, including Beyonce, Björk and Kendrick Lamar. Pop stars like Taylor Swift, The Weeknd and Harry Styles also released hit albums. Drake put out multiple projects, Bad Bunny was fantastic and Steve Lacy hit the mainstream more than ever before. Alas, this list is a personal opinion of the 10 best albums 2022 offered.

Honorable Mentions: “Laurel Hell” by Mitski, “CHAOS NOW*” by Jean Dawson, “Vinyl Days” by Logic, “It’s Almost Dry” by Pusha T, “CAPRISONGS” by FKA twigs, “Fear of the Dawn” by Jack White.

10. “Ivory” by Omar Apollo

Omar Apollo’s “Ivory” is a soothing and emotionally charged debut for the Mexican singer-songwriter. There are notes of everything from “Bad Life,” a Frank Ocean-inspired ballad to “Tamagotchi,” showing off Apollo’s rapping full of endless swagger. A major highlight is “Invincible,” where Apollo and guest Daniel Caesar compliment each other in a soulfully transcendent exploration of heartbreak. Whatever Apollo works on next will be on the radar for sure.

9. “Melt My Eyez See Your Future” by Denzel Curry

Denzel Curry has already been a bombastic, passionate rapper, but now he makes a left turn into ethereal jazz rap. The results are magnificent, with lyrical talent at the top of the rap genre through his mix of honest introspection and brilliant social commentary. Featuring sultry keys, various flow changes and a few bangers, Curry proves he isn’t afraid to change his sound drastically, making music for himself before anyone else.

8. “Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You” by Big Thief

Big Thief began the year 2022 with a whopping double album full of pensive and pleasing mixes of folk, rock and country. Adrianne Lenker’s voice is a godsend and works so well with the undeniable earworms of melody the instrumentals provide to each song. Its ramshackle vibe lets the beautiful words come through. Even though it’s a long one, it’s without a doubt one of the year’s best.

7. “Ants from Up There” by Black Country, New Road

Coming as a complete surprise, “Ants from Up There” is an absolute triumph of a work of music. Humorous, grand and cathartic, Black Country, New Road’s sophomore, final album is one of the most refreshing albums to date.

6. “RENAISSANCE” by Beyoncé

Beyoncé returns to the music world with a 16-track album showing that she has not lost a step. Beyoncé is as confident as ever singing about sex and braggadocio in front of dance-pop instrumentals. The collection of songs is not only infectious, but they will make you move through its vigor and vitality that can only be found on the dance floor. Beyonce’s decision to venture into uncharted territory while retaining what makes her special in the first place is an insane feat.

5. “The Forever Story” by JID

JID’s technically proficient and entertaining flows along with his compelling ways of storytelling have put him on the map for a couple of years now. “The Forever Story” may be his best, however, putting his heart on his sleeve in a project that does not miss. “Dance Now” feels like a fever dream, “Bruddanem” shows off JID’s soulful vocals and “Just in Time” has one of the best beats of the year. The features are not only star-studded but stars of their respective songs, such as 21 Savage, Lil Durk and Lil Wayne.

4. “Dawn FM” by The Weeknd

“Dawn FM” took time to warm up, but once it did it has to be the best pop album of 2022. Beginning with narration by Jim Carrey, songs flow into each other in a cold, dark and contemplative atmosphere. The Weeknd’s melodies are the most different they have ever been, backed by drum machines and synths. The choruses are catchy, the songs never lose their vibrancy and The Weeknd proves he is still a megastar.

3. “From 2 to 3” by Peach Pit

From the opening notes of “Up Granville,” indie rock band Peach Pit was going in a softer direction toward easy listening. The listening is easy for sure, but somehow never gets old after putting this album on replay all year. Utilizing slide guitar, acoustic arrangements and twangy textures, Peach Pit reaches your heart effortlessly. It will take a long time to find a replacement that is as delightful and charming as “From 2 to 3.”

2. “Waiting to Spill” by The Backseat Lovers

The Backseat Lovers are not widely known but their sophomore album “Waiting to Spill” is a creation that shows a rate of progress akin to the best bands ever, such as Radiohead and The Beatles. The indie rock quartet takes inspiration from these bands and forms their own sound, one that is mature and poignant. Epic musical climaxes, purifying guitar solos and passionate lead vocals by Joshua Harmon make “Waiting to Spill” a special experience that conveys the relatable fear of growing up and the indecision on when that time will come.

1. “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” by Kendrick Lamar

At 19 songs and over an hour long, Kendrick Lamar begins his album by saying “I’m going through something.” These words are a sign of the complexities of the rap game, African Americans and Lamar himself that he explores. These are usual themes of his albums, but “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” surprisingly tears down the wall between Lamar and his listeners, revealing vivid details of his life for his most intimate album yet. His journey of sex addiction, overcompensating masculinity, relationships, parenting and transgender family identities is illuminating and riveting to listen to. The musical arrangements are creative and varied, ranging from dreamy trap in “Silent Hill” to the tender R and B cut “Die Hard.” Everything is intricate and meticulous, reminding fans that Lamar will destroy the competition, no matter how long he waits to put out an album.