Now that we've run through our top music videos and songs, it's time to talk about Bandwagon's favourite albums and EPs from 2022 so far.
By the looks of it, artists have already gotten a good grip on how to move around the pandemic. Yes, the virus still lingers everywhere, but that hasn't stopped the flow of creativity from pen to paper and to the recording studio. The likes of BTS, Hikaru Utada, (G)I-DLE, Harry Styles, DeVita, SixTONES, and EPIK HIGH are just some of the acts who've stayed busy, delivering fresh tunes to help make the world go round through these tough times.
Top Songs of 2022 (so far) – SEVENTEEN, Rina Sawayama, keshi, Gen Hoshino, ena mori, Jessi, Aimer, and more
Here are the Bandwagon editorial team's picks for top albums and EPs (in no particular order) from 2022 so far:
BAD MODE - Hikaru Utada
Hikaru Utada has always been among the acts who represent pop at its finest, taking things that are so deeply personal and creating records that resonate with so many people.
What makes this album extra special, though, is that it’s Utada’s first one after coming into terms with and coming out as non-binary. It’s also the first time they’ve released a record with both Japanese and English songs, which they said was a result of their decision to stop placing restrictions on themselves. Both these occurrences fit each other so well, and Utada lifting self-restrictions and embracing self-love is so apparent in this record.
Sonically, lyrically, thematically, BAD MODE is an exploration and revelation, one marked with a confidence and conviction that not many but Utada can convey, but hopefully, somehow surely to which we can relate. —Ginny Palma, Contributing Editor
I NEVER DIE - (G)I-DLE
(G)I-DLE's I NEVER DIE drips with an intoxicating amount of swag. With eight powerful tracks, Miyeon, Minnie, Soyeon, Yuqi, and Shuhua are each given a chance to shine and catch listeners off guard.
It's almost impossible to keep still with all the danceable and headbangable moments on I NEVER DIE. 'TOMBOY' is fueled with this pop-punk energy (à la Anna Tsuchiya and P!NK), as well as 'Never Stop Me' (reminding me of Olivia Rodrigo). The sexy, theatrical vibes on 'VILLAIN DIES' (could this be an answer to K/DA's 'VILLAIN'?) easily sends chills down your spine. They even deliver stuck-in-your-head earworms like 'MY BAG'.
Overall, it's an excellent collection of songs that prove (G)I-DLE are here to set the world on fire. —Kara Bodegon-Hikino, Staff Writer
PROOF - BTS
Proof is more than an anthology; it is a grand masterpiece showcasing their growth, journey, and path. BTS stand proud of their origins with a promise of showcasing work that reflects their passion and soul. Their trainee days, milestones, and hardships over the years felt as if they’d been folding their own paper cranes with each moment. They must have folded more than a thousand because they made other people’s wishes come true with their heartfelt actions and messages.
It’s like an adventure with an open ending; we’re patiently waiting for the next chapter while fueling our imagination with all the possibilities. There’s no need to rush because good things are bound to happen.
Proof is a gift to ARMYs whether you’ve followed BTS since their early years or recently discovered their music. It’s meant to be shared and talked about; turning your experiences into your own Proof of sheer joy, success, and self-love. It also highlights a message that we need to hear every once in a while: the most beautiful moments of our lives have yet to come. —PB Hermoso, Contributing Writer
Top Music Videos of 2022 (so far) – BTS, Red Velvet, SEVENTEEN, Jackson Wang, CHAI, NIKI, and more
No Goodbyes - Sandwich
Sandwich told us in late 2019 that they had recorded new music while they were at the beach. They had brought their entire rig there including their trusted sound engineer Shinji Tanaka.
Right before the pandemic began, the band released ‘Buhol Buhol’ as the first single, which as was accompanied by a video of frontman Raymund Marasigan on his bike zipping through traffic. They followed it up with ‘No Goodbyes,’ a song I heard them play live at their last in-person gig of 2020. ‘Curtains’ and ‘Negatives’ dropped earlier this year, with ‘You Don’t Know What You Have’ wrapping up the 5-track EP when they finally released it last May.
While I knew these songs were written and made way before all of this started, it puts things in perspective when you listen to them now. Like Sandwich themselves, their music has a way of evolving and growing with you through time, being with you when you need it most. —Camille Castillo, Editorial Director
CITY - SixTONES
When I check out an idol group’s album, I don’t really look for central themes or storytelling, and am more than happy to just go along with the vibes. Not that it’s never been done, of course, but it’s just not crucial to my enjoyment. Still, it was quite a pleasant surprise to discover the amount of commitment SixTONES and the team behind CITY put into its concept.
The members, who were closely involved in the song selection and even some of the writing, described it as a record you can chill to while driving through the city, with each version designed to accompany you at different times of the day – morning, afternoon, and night. It’s an interesting way to create cohesion within an album that is otherwise composed of a motley of genres. I’d gone and listened to each version as suggested and had a uniquely immersive experience each time.
Because the full album isn’t available online and no two versions have the exact same contents, I’ve had to buy them in physical forms. And, honestly, I’m not mad about it at all. The packaging is simple but makes use of gradients so that all three versions together form a cityscape that transforms from dawn to dusk, making a rather breathtaking sight. Overall, it’s a real treat to have such a complete album experience offered to you this way (I haven’t even touched on their promotion campaign).
It isn’t a perfect record, but CITY solidifies these six guys’ dedication to their music and pushing the boundaries of their craft, making SixTONES one of the most exciting acts to come out of the J-pop scene in recent years. —Ginny Palma, Contributing Editor
American Gothic - DeVita
American Gothic is so moody and brooding, I’m obsessed. DeVita has such a unique sound, one that bounces back and forth between dark and light—it’s so hypnotic. My favourite song off the EP is either ‘Let u In’ or ‘Pine’. —Franchesca Judine Basbas, Staff Writer
VOYAGER - KIHYUN
I've been anticipating Kihyun's solo debut and was thrilled when he produced a rock album. He even added a personal touch to the theme which was self-growth and thriving in one's journey. —PB Hermoso, Contributing Writer
RAD - Rad Museum
RAD was one of the first albums that I listened to as a whole in 2022 and the awe that I felt upon its first listen never depletes with a second or third listen. With 13 tracks of individuality and uniqueness, Rad Museum echoes his intricate harmonies in each of them and genuinely gave me goosebumps at how detailed the songs’ layering was. A track that really hit the spot was ‘U’ with its ultra floaty vibe and addictive down-tempo beat.
Inevitably, the dream team of features on RAD didn’t hurt either. With Wonstein, Loco, So!YoON!, LeeHi, and where-is-his-new-music DEAN to name a few, the album was like a holy gathering of top K-R&B and Hip-hop voices. —Andrea See, Writer
Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers - Kendrick Lamar
Add another feather to Kendrick Lamar’s crown. As Kendrick is one of my favourite artists, this was the album that I was looking forward to for the longest time.
What does K.Dot have to share about everything that has happened in the “One-thousand eight-hundred and fifty-five days” since DAMN.? Simply put, Kendrick reflects about all parts of himself, from his insecurities, upbringing to toxic masculinity and even the ‘Saviour’ status associated with him in the hip-hop scene.
In this therapeutic album, minimalistic jazz pianos are paired with the grooviest grooves with immaculate flows and exceptional lyric writing. Ultimately, while there are a few decisions I’d debate over, this is an album that has become an instant classic to me. —Faseeh, Writer
Epik High Is Here (Part 2) - EPIK HIGH
No words can accurately describe the emotional impact of this album, creating its own story from when Part 1 was released during the start of the pandemic. It's a shared diary between EPIK HIGH and their listeners; the album wouldn't be complete without the people who've supported them. —PB Hermoso, Contributing Writer
LOVE. - Def.
Oh, the LOVE. of my life. When I heard that JAY B was going to release a whole EP as Def.—which is his more purely R&B music persona—I was unbelievably excited. I’ve always loved Def.’s music, it was the kind of music I would never get tired of playing again and again for years on end.
LOVE. is so good and I play it nonstop all the time (I even rushed to buy the CD the moment pre-orders opened up). Lyrically, it feels like an honest diary about love and what it's like navigating that complicated emotion, like someone actually going through all its ups and downs in real time. While sonically, it’s just a world of lo-fi and R&B that you just want to swim in. —Franchesca Judine Basbas, Staff Writer
Dawn FM - The Weeknd
Dawn FM is easily my favourite album this year. As the follow-up to his immensely successful 2020 album After Hours, this album dives even deeper into the '80s new wave and synthpop sound.
I really love how committed Abel was in bringing the radio station concept of the album to life with the spoken interludes interspersed throughout the tracklist to really make it seem like one is listening to the radio. The production is just really crisp and pleasing, it’s great for all occasions—from a chill day by the beach to an intense workout session. —Fidel Tan, Writer
Harry's House - Harry Styles
The whole album is simple: you can dance, unwind, and slow down with it. It's the kind of music that would make any space feel like one's home. —PB Hermoso, Contributing Writer
Preacher’s Daughter - Ethel Cain
I’ve only discovered Ethel Cain last month, but I think she has already found a spot among one of my favourite artists of recent times. Her debut album Preacher’s Daughter was highly acclaimed by international critics so I decided to check it out. I went in without any expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
I particularly love her voice, it’s tender and charged with a great deal of emotion. The whole album just puts me in such a trance. There have been several nights where I just lose myself in the introspective and atmospheric world Cain has built with this album, and I reckon there’ll be many more nights like these to come. —Fidel Tan, Writer
The Mystery Coffee Mixtape - Space Walk
The entire experience of listening to Space Walk’s latest EP is frankly, indescribable. It's only so often that a single release can reflect so many dimensions of a singular artist and it’s even more admirable that The Mystery Coffee Mixtape blends the edges of each track for there somehow, to be a wholeness and collectivity in sound throughout the entire EP.
My personal favourite from the release would be ‘Amber’, which leads the other 3 tracks with its classic, husky, and almost seductive rock-and-roll flavour. —Andrea See, Writer
Top Collaborations of 2022 (so far) – PSY & SUGA, Benjamin Kheng & Bea Lorenzo, Jay Park & IU, BIGONE & JAY B, and more
Present Tense - Yumi Zouma
I started listening to Yumi Zouma a few years back, after I saw them live at a show in Manila. Since then, I’ve backtracked into their discography and looked forward to every new release.
I first heard ‘Give It Hell’ from the new album and have made that one of my anti-veerus theme songs. With 10 songs that’s just somehow less vibey and more head-on, Present Tense seems to be their strongest record to date. That said, it’s hard to believe that the album was created remotely.
With their members scattered across the globe because of the pandemic, they had to work on the album from their individual homebases for this album. Just shows how music transcends time and distance. —Camille Castillo, Editorial Director
Who Cares? - Rex Orange County
I’m sucker for songs that whine and complain about love, youth, and mundane inconveniences against a happy indie pop beat, it’s a juxtaposition I will eat up all the time. And WHO CARES? does it so well!
In my personal life, I’m currently in my dramatic era haha so that touch of suspenseful, brooding strings across the entire album before he proceeds to talk about feelings of being lost and being perpetually confused is so beautiful. —Franchesca Judine Basbas, Staff Writer
From Capelton Hill - Stars
I’ve loved Stars for a very long time, and I've enjoyed pretty much every album they've released in their own right. But the ultimate Stars experience for me will always be what listening to Set Yourself on Fire had felt like: dancing in place but with no abandon while letting your feelings just sway on the brink of overflow, imprinting on lines that punch you at the gut as they pass through your ears. Years later, that's what From Capelton Hill feels like.
I’d seen someone say that this album is a reminder that “it’s okay for you to rely on your own strengths”, and I get what they mean exactly, but to me this is about something deeper than reliance. I hear familiarity and comfort, but I also hear adventure and growth. This feels like a homecoming, a stark but secure reminder of who you are and have become. As Amy and Torquil sing in the final track, “Nothing here has changed, except you / you don't look the same, you look older / you don't sound the same, you sound stronger.” —Ginny Palma, Contributing Editor
This is the third part of Bandwagon's Top Releases of 2022 (So Far) lists. Watch out as we unveil our favourite collaborations from this first half of the year next.
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