Archive | 7:35 AM

2022 Albums of the Year Countdown: Seriously Saying Something [Songs Ranked 9-1]

7 Dec

The Logistics (skip if you don’t care about math or the quantitative stuff):

I only judged good and up ranked songs this year.  I threw out OK, meh, and skip bc with streaming those will no longer get listened to.  Also, I did a percent of good and up songs per number on the album.  Because just stacking an album with garbage songs shouldn’t rank higher either.  You have to have good, great awesome songs, no matter the number of tracks.  I added the % of tracks that were good and above on the album to the score of the level (elite, A, Gr, G) for the final scores.  Highest is best.

Elite 6; awesome 5; A-Gr cusp 4.5; Great 4; Gr-G cusp 3.5; Good 3; G-N cusp 1; Neutral -1; N-M cusp -2; Meh -3; M-S cusp -4.5; Skip -6

For the two bands that put their albums out in installments (Weezer and Young the Giant, Imagine Dragon doesn’t count because I already ranked their entire 1st installment last year) I am going to judge them separately, but also as one unit.  So I’ll place each installment in their ranked position, but then I’ll also do a fifth entry for each band judging it as one album.

One last note: I went back and fourth on Brandi. She released some obvious Grammy reminder music this year. They are different versions of her 2021 album, but it’s still the same album pretty much. Other artists like the Indigo Girls have released a double album with rock on one disc and acoustic on the other. And the price point might have been a bit more expensive than just a single disc. But Brandi released her separately–to get more albums sold, acquire more streams, and remind everybody that last year’s album is Grammy nominated. But I think the acoustic version was even more expensive than my signed copy of the original album, and that plus the cheatee numbers game left a bad taste in my mouth. If it had not been one of my top-tier favorite artists of all time, I would have thrown the copycat album away and not bothered ranking it. But it’s Brandi, so I included it. And she’s amazing so of course it ranked high. But I counted it as a half number so as not to throw off the totally legit albums in the ranking. So there’s that, Brandi is making me messy. Again.
Ok, Weezer is really messing up my ranking because they aren’t releasing their fourth installment of this concept album until December 21.  I told me I would only rank my A+ favorites after October 21st.  I had to finish the countdown by the time Midnights dropped so I could focus on that.  And I like to post this prior to Christmas on the first week of December, while anybody is still paying attention to things aside from the holiday.  BUT I have ranked ¾ of Weezer’s material.  I might stop if it had been mediocre and toward the bottom since it wouldn’t make that much of a difference if they were 35th place rather than 39th, for example.  But they are nudging the top spot without 7 more songs!  So what I’m going to do is post this with them in their mathematical position, but then edit to include Winter in late December, which may change up the whole top of the list…

From Lowest to Highest:

9.

Lissie: 83.33% + 32.5 = 115.83 Final

10 of 12 total songs = 83.33%

2 Great 4; 1 Gr-G cusp 3.5; 7 Good 3

8+3.5+21 = 32.5

Sad- angsty. Bitter song! Catchy. Gr

Lonesome Wine- personal. G 

Night Moves- catchy. Sounds like Stevie Nicks. G

Flowers- self permission for emotion after a breakup. G.

Carving Canyons- deep! Descriptive. G.

I Hate This- autopsy of relationship. Regret. Breakup feels. Feeling. G 

Unlock the Chains- Inspired by Fleetwood Mac but original and not a copycat. Lyrics. Catchy. Gr.

Heart’s on Fire- Adult contemporary soft rock sound.  G.

Yellow Rose- backing sounds like Lord Huron, a little cowboy. G.

Midnight- good ending song for emotion after a breakup and for the album. Cohesive album. Tells full story. Notes. Brass. G-Gr

8.

Avril Lavigne: 75% + 41 = 116 Final

9 of 12 total songs = 75%

1 Elite awesome 6; 3 awesome 5; 2 A-Gr cusp 4.5; 2 Great 4; 1 Good 3

6+15+9+8+3 = 41

This was such an exciting album!  I really, really thought it would take album of the year, because I liked it so much, all throughout 2022.  It dropped very early, and I listened so many times and never tired of it. For treadmilling, it’s perfect. It reminds me of her first album, still edgy, but an adult. Nothing seemed forced or disengenuine and it’s so great to hear pop-punk rock again! I hope Avril stays right in this very genre and does more of this. I LOVED this album. But also, numbers don’t lie, it’s fair and square eigth.

Cannonball- Such a high energy opener! Always gets stuck in my head. Good beat. Great example of pop-punk. Elite-A.

Bite Me- Tough girl. Talking shit to ex-loser. Catchy. Gr-A.

Love Sux- bitter song. I love that she holds HIM accountable but still acknowledges her hurt. More edgy version of Avril is back and I’m happy to hear it. A.

Avalanche- more of a vulnerable song. Touches on mental illness. Always stuck in my head. A.

Deja vu- Relatable song about someone doing the same garbage over and over and the girlfriend getting tired of it. Bitter song! A.

FU- Frustration of talking to someone you can’t get through to no matter what. Realizing you can’t change someone. Gr.

All I Wanted – They sound perfect together. Just a touch of that late 90s CA pop-punk. Gr-A

Dare to Love Me- Quiet song. Strong singing. G.

Break of a Heartache- ends album on an upbeat note. Says she’s tired of hurting.  Gr.

7.

Michelle Branch: 90%+30.5 = 120.5 Final

9 of 10 total songs = 90%

1 Elite awesome 6; 1 Gr-G cusp 3.5; 7 Good 3

6+3.5+21 = 30.5

Who knew?! I liked her (overplayed) stuff in my younger years, and really, really liked her side project the Wreckers. I didn’t know where she went, but Michelle is back. And she’s speaking up. I love how she addresses real issues, yet keeps the songs themselves light and catchy.

Beating on the Outside- jarring opening line. Sex and marriage. Snippets of guitar sound good. G.

Closest thing to heaven- swirling guitar. G.

You got me where you want me- cello. Beautiful. Descriptive. G-Gr.

I’m a Man- I like how straightforward and blatant. Abortion rights. Why men are problematic. First notes get me pumped up! Elite awesome.

I’m sorry- the backing music increases intensity. Instrumental bridge. G.

Not My Lover- sounds like band Garbage. G.

When that somebody is you- quiet. Introspective. G.

You get me- adult contemporary. G

Zut! Alors- G.

6.5

Brandi Carlile:  90.91%+36 = 126.91 Final

10 of 11 total songs = 90.91%

1 A-Gr cusp 4.5; 3 Great 4; 3 Gr-G cusp 3.5; 3 Good 3

4.5+12+10.5+9 = 36

Doesn’t count?

You already saw my disclaimer at the start of every ranking. I am not here for the money grab. Same songs but acoustic. IG just gave both same time same price. Don’t like $18 for the same stuff. I need to have a talk to the Grammys about album sales. She’s not the only one, but it $ucks all the same. But yet.. that VOICE. Brandi has the chops and knows how to use them. And I appreciate that the twins are featured more prominently in the acoustics. Brandi should know that the band can rock and harmonize since she was basically the third Indigo Girl for years. But alas, this is good, just not fair to fans.

Right on Time- stripped down. Focus on harmonies. More twin involvement is good. They took out everything that made the song excellent. Touch of western on the instrumental brought it up a notch. G-Gr.

You and me on the Rock- pretty harmonies. Quiet. Nobody can compare to Brandi’s singing I would just have had Catherine sing with her bc her voice is thin by itself. G.

This time tomorrow- I don’t like when they change key or whatever for a song I’m familiar with. It always sounds off to me. Nice piano and harmony though. Instruments bring a fullness that wasn’t in the original. G-Gr.

Broken Horses- not as punchy. Not as impactful. Not THE scream-note. Doesn’t make the cut.

Letter to the Past- nice harmonies. Good that the twins are heavily featured. Like the different instruments on short interlude. More western. G-Gr 

Mama Werewolf- love the bridge – angelic. Harmony sounds good. Piano brings a seriousness to it.  She took out high notes unnecessarily, making the vocals a little worse. G

When you’re wrong- wish that the rocking versions also featured more twin harmonies. Piano is nice. Cello is star. Singing is haunting. Gr-A.

Stay gentle- swelling strings. Should have been in the original version. Gr.

Sinners Saints and Fools- dropped from elite awesome to excellent. Still great, but the other version is whoa. Lyrics more easily heard here. Gr.

Throwing good after Bad- nice harmonies. G.

Space Oddity- God. She has such a voice. She can make anything sound good. Gr.

6.

Miranda Lambert: 80% + 47.5 = 127.5 Final

12 of 15 total songs = 80%

1 Elite awesome 6; 2 awesome 5; 2 A-Gr cusp 4.5; 3 Gr-G cusp 3.5; 4 Good 3

6+10+9+10.5+12 = 47.5

I thought this album might win. I love how cheeky and feisty Miranda always is in her songs. She really brought in with this album and it was a fun, yet sincere set of cohesive songs. The cowgirl vibe and outlaw mentality add a lot and seem totally apt for the singer. Miranda always does her best to shake up the boys’ club that is the country music industry, and I appreciate her always putting herself out there. More. Like. This. Please!

Actin Up- I like a cheeky song. Also liked the state call-outs . G

Scenes- catchy. Gritty sound puts you in the gritty travel that is living on the road. G-Gr.

Carousel- emotional. G.

I’ll be lovn you – catchy. Piano. Gr-A 

If I was a cowboy- gender bender. Feisty. G-Gr 

Country money- fun. Sassy. Is that Gwen Stefani’s voice at the end? G.

Geraldine – Lambert’s take on Jolene is one of my favorite songs of the year! Elite awesome

Music City Queen- probably the best featured artist of the year. The B52s fit the vibe of the song and make their presence known without overwhelming the song. Catchy. A.

Pursuit of happiness- empowering. Hopeful. G-Gr.

Strange- catchy . She is not specific about the problems that cause these strange feelings , but in this year 2022 we can guess the COVID/quarantine &/ politics. I like how she gives suggestions for letting loose and being easy on yourself during these odd times. A.

Wandering spirit -. The begging is low- and quiet then the backing instruments and choir come in on the wandering spirit part. Sounds full and conveys cowgirl to match the cover art. Gr-A.

Waxahatchee- G.

5.

Weezer-Summer: 100% + 28.5 = 128.5 Final

7 out of 7 total tracks = 100%

1 awesome 5; 2 A-Gr cusp 4.5; 2 Great 4; 1 Gr-G cusp 3.5; 1 Good 3

5+9+8+3.5+3 = 28.5

Lawn Chair- strings sound orchestral and lovely. Adds a beat. Lyrics are jarring compared to instruments. Gr.

Records- electric guitar is great. Like the beat. G-Gr.

Blue like jazz- I like the harder rock. Instruments are edgy. Swirling backing. Rounds/harmony. Gr-A

Opposite of me- piano swirling! Do do do are catchy. Gr-A 

What’s the good of being good- a march. Best friend stole his gal and talked $hit so he’s contemplating why not to go low. G.

Cuomoville- rock is nice to hear. Hopeful, positive lyrics. Feed em to the lions sounds really cool. Love the beat. Gr.

Thank you and good night- perfect to end the show. Electric guitar is awesome. Hard rock howl is cool. End is awesome! A.

4.

Taylor Swift:  75%+57.5 = 132.5 Final

15 out of 20 (I didn’t buy the Target album, so there’s one song I don’t have) = 75%

2 awesome 5; 2 A-Gr cusp 4.5; 4 Great 4; 3 Gr-G cusp 3.5; 4 Good 3; 1 Awesome-skip cusp -0.5; G-N cusp 1; 1 Neutral -1; 1 elite-meh cusp 2; N-M cusp -2; 2 Meh -3; M-S cusp -4.5; Skip -6

10+9+16+10.5+12 = 57.5

I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t love it. The rollout for the era was very retro 1970s so I think my expectations ruined my perception. I have no idea why there was a random 70s theme, because the songs do not convey that to me–it’s a very Man of the Woods moment. If Taylor had not had some rando promo, I think I would have enjoyed the album more. Also, the tricky, cheatee way of dropping a 100 different colored albums, different pictures, having 4 make a clock, recording a million versions of one song to amp up streams doesn’t set well with me. I wish the charts and the Grammys would modify the rules and records so that fans were not exploited. Buying the green album only to find out the purple album with an extra song was rolled out a week later is $hitty. I don’t like it, but it shows the power of curating a loyal fan base. Taylor’s sales and records may be inflated, but the number and buying power of her fans is not–she has a legitimate, obsessed following.

I will say the songs grew on me over many listens. What the album did do was inspire me to research and analyze and think. So I love that! Engaging with the work is my favorite part of being a music fan, and Taylor gave me a lot of fodder this year.

That said, if I was ranking Midnights against Taylor’s own catalog, it would not fare well. Every song had some element that I didn’t like: A beat, a phrase, the lyrics, etc… I think the entire thing would have benefitted from another draft and another edit. It shows that some of these lyrics, some of the songs were drafts, or vault, or half-worked. I think Taylor hustled to finish them up to feed the audience while the legalities of the Re-records get worked out. Taylor had to keep attention and her Eras tour substantiates that this album is to keep people listening and waiting for each old album to drop. She needs the “Taylor’s Versions” to be successful to complete her plan.

At any rate, I wish I liked the songs better, but I do like trying to decode the subtext.

Sidenote, I did not calculate anything below Good in my ranking to stay consistent with the whole list. I did include my opinions on those lower songs just for funsies. They are marked XXX to show I didn’t count them.

Lavender haze- Catchy. Good message. Calling out heteronormative milestones and pressure to hit them quickly/at all. Didn’t like the little ah ah stuff at first but it really grew on me. Like the faster go viral. One note. Good heartbeat noise in parts. Gr

Maroon- The song itself is just good. But the fact Taylor inspires me to research and analyze the meaning brings it up to great. So G-Gr 

Question…- Catchy. Tells a story. I like the sexy noises. Pronoun game is on pointe. Kissgate and it’s aftermath. Brave of Taylor to be so direct. The slowed down mean-girl /tone statement. Gr.

Anti-hero- This might be the most Catchy on Midnights. Self aware. Really putting herself out there more than usual. HATE sexy baby. It just makes my brain go to pedophile. DIL is confusing. The video didn’t count toward this ranking, but it was cheeky-Taylor (my favorite Taylor) I liked the quirky humor and wink wink aspects. Adorable! Gr-A

XXX Snow on the beach- Boring. Not really a duet. Not that catchy. Janet reference is jarring. M.

You’re on Your Own Now Kid- Explains why Taylor feels so lonely and isolated. G

XXX Midnight rain- I absolutely hate the distorted voice. Tells a story. Nothing really going on with backing. No notes. OK

Vigilante Shit- A bitter song! Calling people out. Superhero imagry- consistent throughout. Moag! The production is perfect – understated Reputation. A

Bejeweled- Kind of a throway song. Lyrics kind of superficial. I like the nice! Who is she talking to? The bridge brings something interesting to the song. G.

XXX Labyrinth- The backing has some nice touches but it’s not enough to redeem the blah. It’s too dreamy and half asleep. Lyrics repeat too much. M.

Karma- To everyone who closeted her, started her bearding, and foiled her coming out. With the masters heist. Subtle moag. Very detailed. Visual.  Gr.

Sweet nothings- Sweet song. I listen to it through the lens that it’s about her mom. The only person who loves Taylor unconditionally. Very subdued but it fits well the story perfectly. Tranquility and calm. G-Gr.

XXX Mastermind- This song makes her seem sociopathic. I think it addressed how she is an active participant in bearding and furthering her career with meticulous planning. I think she meant it cheeky but to me it comes across as creepy. That said this might be my favorite production on Midnights. Love moag and videogame noises. It would be looking at awesome territory if not for the psychopathic words.S-A

The great war- The story of Kaylor! Catchy. I like the snare to go along with war. Lyrics invoke war symbolism. Gr.

Bigger than the whole sky- Jarring transition between songs. This song so beautifully encapsulates grief.  This is where dream pop really shines. Conveys agony. I think a lot of people will find solace in this song after any ending  A 

Paris- Snarky. Someone gossiping about kissgate and the 1975 guy being a hookup. Pictures = kissgate. The fictional Paris is when Kaylor boarded up the windos and went private.  Cleaver change of characters. Her fantasy world. Not the kind that’s thrown is clunky. Meant to say it’s Tree, her publicist doing PR damage control. Brainwash Karly to pick her over josh. Go to the lakes or tower in actual paris. But it’s all imaginary  The song is flat and one dimensional in my opinion (which all of this is). G.

XXX High infidelity- Compelling. Makes me want to dig into the analysis. Multiple story threads weaved together masterfully. The oooo ooos are reminiscent of the train so many songs talk about. Lots of callback. Sort of boring musically but lyrics are elite. M-elite

Glitch- Catchy. Is this about Kaylor being a deviation from bearding. Or her dalliance with Kelsea? G.

Could’ve would’ve should’ve- Finally not boring at all. Good backing. Telling a few stories covertly. Extra points for motivating me to untangle who and why. Finally some actual skillful singing in the bridge. I wish the album had more of this. I like the different sounds of the song throughout. The fast part at the end makes me FEEL. Gr-A

Dear reader- I didn’t like it at first. Found the title like the start of a 3rd graders essay. But after a couple of listens I realized Taylor wrote a letter directly to the Gaylors- which is very special. I like the echoing sound. The vulnerability is really likeable. G-Gr 

3.

Kelsea Ballerini:  86.67% + 49 = 135.67 Final

13 of 15 total songs = 86.67%

1 Elite awesome 6; 2 awesome 5; 1 Great 4; 4 Gr-G cusp 3.5; 5 Good 3

6+10+4+14+ 15 = 49

Oh my goodness! This album inspired me to analyze so much. I love the multiple layers and hidden meanings throughout every song. I think Kelsea is one to watch, and I also hope she will fully come out one day. This album is just brimming with Sapphic feelings and I would love for a successful country singer to be open AND remain famous.

I can’t help myself- fun! Inspired by Shania. The repeated words make it cute. Gr.

If you go down I’m going down to- very much could be a (Dixie) chicks song. Strings sound good with it. A.

Love is a Cowboy- good imagry- being with you is like ropin the wind. Hints of fiddle. G.

Muscle Memory- catchy. G.

I guess they call it Fallin- love the faster lyrics. G-Gr 

Weather- upbeat. Catchy though lyrics are kinda sad. G-Gr.

Universe- slow. Pretty. Love song. G. 

Walk in the park- love despite being difficult sometimes. G-Gr.

Heartfirst- following your heart. G 

You’re drunk go home- fun! Love talking shit. Love the features. Notes! Like Shania, chicks, any country that’s cheeky. Elite awesome.

Doin my best- relatable. Talks about insider info. Snaps/claps. G.

Marilyn- thoughtful sounds. Double subject. G-Gr.

What I have- appreciate what you have. Introspective. A.

2.

Weezer:

16/21= 76.19% ¾ year + 60.5 yr = 136.69 Semi-Final

16.5 + 28.5 + 15.5 = 60.5

1.

Amy Ray: 100%+37.5 = 137.5 Final

10 out of 10 total songs = 100%

2 awesome 5; 1 A-Gr cusp 4.5; 1 Great 4; 2 Gr-G cusp 3.5; 4 Good 3

10+4.5+4+7+12 = 37.5

Amy Ray has always been political. She continuously makes her work mean something, it’s not just words on a page to her. She also puts her beliefs into action with her advocacy. I have always loved the Indigo Girls duo (They are my top of the top all-time favorite music/artists/band) and have grown to love Amy’s solo efforts as well. The transition between the two musical entities is sometimes jarring, but still on-brand.

I like how this album tells a story rarely (never?) heard. Amy Ray is Southern and loves her rural roots. She is also part of the LGBTQQAA community and I think based on interviews I’ve heard, that her identity has shifted over time, and with society’s level of acceptance. Amy Ray started out just being herself, and not really acknowledging her queerness, or taking an identity, let alone projecting it out to the masses. She pinged anyway and her band became pegged “lesbian music” by the mainstream. As part of the Indigo Girls, Amy was portrayed in a stereotypical, non-flattering light on sketch shows, sometimes derided, always in the center of her close-knit fan’s hearts. She learned to embrace her differences and used that to help others. I think now she leans NB or even trans, but in the podcast I heard Amy Ray indicated that it wasn’t a visible option for her when she was younger. Now she may feel too old (her sentiment, not mine) to totally change her trajectory.

All that is to say that this album of a southern queer is an important contribution to the landscape, and as with the Indigo Girls, I hope it opens doors for other artists to embrace their queer/rural roots simultaneously.

Joy Train- Reminds me of Bonnie Raitt. Great banjo!  Vocals are intentionally discordant but it’s not that pleasing to the ear. G.

Chuck will’s widow- Strings are the star. Very folksy. G-Gr.

They won’t have me- Recycled song. String interlude great. More powerful, emotive singing. Heavier bass gives it more urgency. Gr-A

From the room- slow. Harmony. G.

Tear it down- slow. Harmony. G

A mighty thing- after slow/bleak a welcome faster, brighter instrumentation. About homophobia. A.

Subway- could be an IG song. Love string interlude. Singing is powerful & longing. Gay rights. A 

Cowboys and pirates- catchy.  tells a story. Folksy/Americana. String! Gr.

Muscadine- slow. G.

North Star- a bit more triumphant sounding. Hint of choral/gospel. Hymn-like. G-Gr.