I must admit that I live in a world isolated from the Billboard Hot 100.
Last semester was rough. I relied on a playlist of disconsolate artists like Phoebe Bridgers and her subsidiaries.
Quite frankly, I don't care about Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber or whatever other radio sell-out that executive big wigs try to push onto audiences. In fact, there seems to be a silent widespread acceptance of this opinion among my peers at UNC. Alternative music – however one defines it – seems to dominate the headphones of my classmates.
Though I was too young to sentiently experience it, 2013 has been hailed on Twitter as a renaissance of alternative music. It was the year of Tumblr’s peak, mustache aesthetics and galaxy-printed phone cases.
It was also the peak of One Direction, which arguably drove many teenagers who were “not like other girls” to alternative artists like Lorde, The Neighbourhood, Twenty One Pilots and Imagine Dragons.
Now, Lorde is happily yellow-clad and running through beaches of dancers. The Neighbourhood is making desperately British lo-fi rap. Twenty One Pilots’ most recent album was a facetious, forgettable radio-friendly pop album, and Imagine Dragons is producing music that can only be described as annoying.
It seems the alternative sound that ruled the early 2010s is defunct.
It is disappointing to see some of the artists who once ruled my Spotify lose their ability to create gracefully aging music.
The 2013 aesthetic was also defined by artists like Mitski with “Retired from Sad, New Career in Business,” Charli XCX with “True Romance,” Paramore with “Paramore,” Kurt Vile with “Wakin on a Pretty Daze,” Arctic Monkeys with “AM” and Sky Ferreira with “Night Time, My Time.”
Each of these artists is slated to return — either officially or unofficially — with a new album in 2022. Mitski returns in February with her sixth album, “Laurel Hell.” Charli XCX returns in March with her fifth album, “Crash.”
Undated, unofficial releases include Paramore’s sixth album, Kurt Vile’s ninth album and the Arctic Monkeys’ seventh album.
The big question, however – will Sky Ferreira actually return with her second full-length album, “Masochism,” in 2022? Sky Ferreira’s “Night Time, My Time,” arguably the holy grail of modern alternative rock, was released in October of 2013.
Almost nine years later, Ferreira is still performing the same album at music festivals and constantly teasing her next album, confirmed to be named Masochism by a tweet on April 6, 2015.
Ferreira recently wrote on her Instagram story that “it happens every year but it’s actually coming out this time.”
If Ferreira will ever return to music, 2022 is the year to do it.
Other alternative returns include — in order of their level of confirmation — FKA Twigs, Big Thief, Alice Glass, Grimes, 100 gecs, and Rina Sawayama.
I am so eager to hear each of these projects, and I expect nothing less than excellence. Hopefully, they will stay true to their anarchical sound and not bend to the wishes of label executives, radio listeners or TikTok dancers.
A column about the 2022 music forecast would be incomplete without a mention of three non-alternative artists who are predicted to return this year.
Though she is unpredictable, I assume Taylor Swift will release two rerecordings this year, considering both Fearless and Red were rereleased last year. Because she is not allowed to begin rerecording Reputation until late fall of 2022 — given the five-year waiting period after its release — I predict that Swift will release Speak Now and 1989 this year.
She has hinted at both, though it’s impossible to determine which will be first. Considering the revival of success of Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version) on TikTok, it might be smarter to release 1989 first, but I’m sure she has a plan for success — she always does.
Beyoncé was once on a pretty consistent schedule of releasing an album once every two and a half years. However, the release of “Everything is Love” with her husband Jay-Z under the name The Carters and the release of “The Lion King: The Gift” has taken her off this schedule.
Is 2022 the year that Beyoncé will return? Rob Stringer, CEO for Sony Music, the record label to which she is signed, stated in an interview that her new album will be released this year, but every Beyoncé fan knows that she operates on no one’s schedule but her own, and that she loves a surprise.
On the flip side, Rihanna has been releasing everything but music. I predict that by the end of the year, Fenty will have a line of dishwashers or a selection of steak sauces. However, I don’t know if this is the year of Rihanna’s return. She seems to be happy in her lane, ironically chuckling at fans who publicly demand that she drop the album.
So, 2022 is here. It will be a year of new music to walk to class to. It will be a year of music that will inevitably define my nineteenth year. It will be a year of music by artists who remind me of simpler times — times when my mask loops didn’t interfere with my AirPods.
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