Selina Webb, Tony Harlow, Kanya King & more pick the albums of 2022

Selina Webb, Tony Harlow, Kanya King & more pick the albums of 2022

It's the end of another year and that means it's time once again for Music Week to hand the floor to the biggest names in the business to pick their favourite albums of the past 12 months. Here, we gather a selection of 80+ executives from across the industry to tell us about the records that have soundtracked 2022...

Selina Webb, EVP Universal Music UK
“This is cheating as I know the album was released last year, but I have to choose Self Esteem’s Prioritise Pleasure because I’ve had it on repeat. It’s such a compelling mix of light and dark, both musically and lyrically.”

Tony Harlow, CEO, Warner Music UK
“The album is dead! RIP Moor Mother’s Jazz Codes; Shabaka Hutchings’ Afrikan Culture; Rich Ruth’s I Survived; Vieux Farka Touré x Khruangbin; Mike Head’s Dear Scott; Gabriels’ Angels; Yard Act’s Overload because they all disproved the opening statement. Jazz Codes was the best of those for me.”

Shani Gonzales, managing director, Warner Chappell Music UK
“My favourite album of 2022 was David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. Of course, it was released in 1971, but Warner Chappell doing the Bowie deal prompted me to dive back into his catalogue again and this vinyl was never off my record player. Songs such as Changes, Life On Mars? and Kooks have truly stood the test of time and I love that he writes about his creative inspirations Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Andy Warhol.”

Cassandra Gracey, president, 4th Floor Creative
“Harry Styles – Harry’s House. The album is a classic and I will be listening for decades to come.”

Austin Daboh, EVP, Atlantic Records UK
“Kojey Radical’s Reason To Smile. A very important album for the culture that showed you can have impact whilst talking pain from a different angle.”

Laura Lukanz, head of music industry, UK, Australia & New Zealand, Amazon Music UK
“Argh! I can’t give one! I have so many favourite albums, so here are a few I’ve had on repeat, all of which have filled my heart with joy. Sault 11, Gabriels  Angels & Queens, Pusha T  It’s Almost Dry, Wet Leg  Wet Leg, Omah Lay  Boy Alone, Knucks  Alpha Place, Kendrick  Mr Morale & The Big Steppers, Ravyn Lenae  Hypnos, Muna  Muna, Steve Lacy  Gemini Rights, Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler  For All Our Days That Tear The Heart and Harry Styles – Harry’s House!”

Dipesh Parmar, president, Columbia
“This is slightly off-piste for my dance creds, but Harry Styles has done it again! Harry’s House is the epitome of the perfect credible pop record. It's confident, yet fragile but also so incredibly slick, I love the fact that As It Was is laid back production-wise, but the lyrics remains so powerful at the same time.”

Briony Turner, co-president, Atlantic Records
“Actual Life 3 by Fred Again... Take a listen and you’ll hear why!”

Kanya King, founder & CEO, MOBO
“Take a look at the list of nominations for Album Of The Year at the MOBO Awards, each of the artists produced an incredible body of work and each artist deserves recognition: Aitch, Knucks, Kojey Radical, Little Simz, M Huncho and Miraa May.

Peter Leathem, CEO, PPL
“This year I am going to be greedy and pick four. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert by Little Simz, Supernova by Nova Twins, Seventeen Going Under by Sam Fender and The Overload by Yard Act. All four artists have been supported by the PRS Foundation PPL Momentum Music Fund and these albums made up a third of this year’s Mercury Prize shortlist. We are very proud of what the Fund is helping UK artists to achieve.”

Emma Bownes, VP of venue programming (Europe), The O2
“Arctic Monkeys’ The Car.”

Tom Connaughton, MD, UK, Spotify
“Knucks is an artist who really exploded on Spotify this year and his album Alpha Place is at the very top of my Wrapped. It's a brilliant UK rap album. The production is incredible and his show at Koko was one of the live moments of 2022. Knucks is a storyteller every bit as cogent as the Notorious B.I.G – and the fact that the stories are grounded in North West London seals its place as my album of the year.”

Alex Boateng, co-president, 0207 Def Jam
Stormzy’s This Is What I Mean, because it’s the first full album that 0207 Def Jam have released and if I answer with that then someone might stop reading this and go and stream or buy it! Take in Potter Payper’s mixtape [Thanks For Waiting] too, because that’s cold! Then we can keep paying our bills. Thanks.”

Dominique Casimir, chief content officer, BMG
“Gabriels, Angels & Queens Part 1. To me, this is one of the most sensational debuts in a long time. It’s sensual, dark and poetic with a very dynamic, deep and powerful sound. It’s a record you can almost always listen to and it adapts to your mood, or the other way round maybe.”

Kim Frankiewicz, EVP, worldwide A&R, Concord
“Rosalia's Motomami – it delivers gem after gem.”

Lyor Cohen, global head of music, YouTube
“In honesty, I don’t have favourite tracks or albums. I try to stay curious and listen to everything that I can. This has been an exceptional year for music and I can’t wait to see what 2023 will bring.

Paul Hitchman, president, AWAL
“Sinead O’Brien’s Time Bend And Break The Bower is just the coolest of debut albums. Incisive, mysterious lyrics and hypnotically driving music that bears repeated listening.”

Anya Du Sauzay, head of marketing, Parlophone
“Gabriels' Angles & Queens Part 1. An absolutely world class body of work from a truly unique act. Just the start of what’s to come for Gabriels and they deserve every bit of recognition they get.”

Liz Goodwin, GM, Atlantic
“It’s a dead heat between Wu-Lu’s Loggerhead, my new artist discovery, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Cool It Down, which is an amazing comeback by a band I love.”

Glyn Aikins, co-president, Since '93
“Earth by Sault. These guys can do no wrong in my eyes. From start to finish this is a beautiful record and is my favourite of their albums so far.”

Matt Wilkinson, DJ, Apple Music 1
I Love You Jennifer B by Jockstrap. I think they’re the most inventive and exciting new British band of the last 10 years.”

Charisse Beaumont, chief executive, Black Lives In Music
“I'm enjoying Pip Millett's album and Nas' King Disease III.”

Chloë Roberts, COO, Young
“My favourite album has to be Hideous Bastard by Oliver Sim because it was such a breathtakingly personal and raw body of work. The creative around it was just incredible, including the three-part queer horror short film, Hideous.”

Alex Hardee, agent, Wasserman Music
“Albums are so 2021. Can I name a track, or a TikTok moment?”

Lisa Wilkinson, director, UK marketing, BMG
“One of our own – Louis Tomlinson's Faith In The Future. It’s full of great songwriting and musicianship, he’s such a brave, authentic and frankly underrated artist and it's been a privilege to work with him and live with this record over the past year.”

Leroy Harris, artist marketing lead, Spotify
“Lil Silva's Yesterday Is Heavy. He's a massive UK talent and I've followed so many of his projects over the years. It's been my soundtrack to the end of the day wind down.”

Louis Bloom, president, Island
“Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers.”

Vanessa Bosåen, managing director, Virgin Music UK
“I’ve got to say Rave & Roses by Rema. People will tell stories about this album, and the rise and rise of Rema for years to come. Did you see his set at Brixton? If not, Google it immediately.”

Alistair Norbury, president, repertoire & marketing UK, BMG
“Wet Leg’s eponymous album. It put the Isle of Wight on the rock and roll map with the band's energetic mix of melancholy and humour.”

Rebecca Prochnik, director of creative strategy, UK music, UTA
“I’ve been listening to Jean Dawson’s Chaos Now, having been turned on to him by vapour god George Clanton who I represent and who features on one of Dawson’s album tracks. I’ve been enjoying the freedom of style from track to track, or even within tracks across the album. Dawson genre-blends in such a native and refreshing way, creating an album that can neither be defined nor hemmed in.”

Jillian Gerngross, director of Amazon Music Europe 
“Last year I had too much fun walking and dancing around London to Becky Hill’s Only Honest On The Weekend, a habit that continued into 2022.”

Faron McKenzie, head of BBC Radio 1Xtra
“Kendrick Lamar – Mr.Morale & The Big Steppers. This is avant-garde hip-hop at its finest.”

Tega Oghenejobo, president, Mavin Records
“This is really really hard! I would have to pick the Mavin compilation Chapter X that came out recently. It features our entire roster, celebrates our 10 year anniversary and is so diverse, all the artists bought something totally different. It captures a lot of the things that are important to me both personally and work-wise and it shows me what we’ve built at the label. I can't help but be proud of us all.”

Annabella Coldrick, CEO, MMF
“Wet leg by Wet Leg, saw them for the first time at SXSW in a rammed room. This is such a great album, with brilliant, funny incisive writing and catchy tunes. They're lovely people and have a lovely manager too!”

Rob Pascoe, managing director, Motown Records UK
“Kendrick Lamar's Mr Morale & The Big Steppers. Sheer rap excellence, stacked with teachable lyrics. Matched only by the visuals and the rollout.”

Amber Davis, head of A&R, Warner Chappell Music UK
“Burna Boy’s Love, Damini is a great album that has cemented his status as a global star. With interesting collabs it’s no surprise it’s generated more than one billion streams to date.”

Jeff Smith, head of music, BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music/chair, Mercury Prize judging panel
“The amazing repackage and remix of The Beatles' Revolver made me reappraise one of the greatest albums ever released. In terms of new albums from this year, I loved the ambition of the Arctic Monkeys and The 1975’s records.”

Sheniece Charway, artist partnerships manager, Black music & culture, YouTube
“There were so many incredible albums this year from Knucks, K-Trap, Rimzee, Beyonce, Asake and Wizkid, but my album of the year has to be Kendrick Lamar’s Mr Morale & the Big Steppers. It touched on a lot of experiences in the Black community that have never been spoken about. Also, it explored social topics like cancel culture, which I don’t feel many people have really spoken about.”

Helen Smith, executive chair, IMPALA
“Could We Be More by Kokoroko on Brownswood. This is music to get lost to. I finally managed to see Kokoroko live in Brussels earlier this year and it was very uplifting.”

Chris Price, head of music, BBC Radio 1/1Xtra
“If you could alchemize the perfect blend of my personal and professional passions in a lab, it would sound an awful lot like Harry’s House by Harry Styles. Creatively it draws on many of my ’60s and ’70s heroes – Harry Nilsson, David Bowie and Paul McCartney among others – layering contemporary pop production onto exceptional song writing for standout singles that light up the radio. A week after it came out, Harry headlined Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Coventry – it was a joyful celebration of an album that would go on to become the biggest of the year.”

Andrea Czapary Martin, CEO, PRS For Music
“I saw Joss Stone perform in Montreal many years ago and I’ve been following her music ever since. I loved her album Never Forget My Love which she released in February. It’s been on constant rotation. She’s one of my favourite artists.”

Helen Thomas, head of BBC Radio 2
“I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift’s Midnights on repeat. I remember seeing her perform for Radio 2 in Concert in 2011 at Abbey Road Studios after our country music presenter Bob Harris said she was a star for the future – wasn’t he right!”

Milana Lewis, CEO, Stem
“This one is a bit sentimental and has a really special personal story. LANY recently released Live From The Forum, an album from their sold out show in November 2021 that has been playing non stop in my car since it came out on the anniversary of the show. My husband, Jbeau, signed them before they even put out their first single and I’ve got to watch them go from zero to arena shows. The boys used to hang in our backyard and BBQ with my family. Back then, my niece was six years old. Now she’s 14, and I brought her with me to the show at the Forum. It was a really special night for everyone that now I can relive. It was a true full circle moment because LANY recently went independent, and Stem had the honour of releasing the album.”

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, CEO, UK music
“There have been some great releases this year, but if I’m forced to choose one then I’d go with Wet Leg’s self-titled debut album, which I thought was brilliant.”

Steve Homer, CEO, AEG Presents UK
“The Nightingales – The Last Laugh. For a band that have been going this long to still be producing very creative music is amazing.”

George Ergatoudis, head of music UK & Ireland, Apple
“Gold Panda’s The Work. I love organic electronic music and there have been some great albums in that space this year, but Gold Panda’s album is just gorgeous from start to end.”

Rebecca Allen, co-president, EMI
“Loyle Carner – Hugo. I was a fan before I joined the label, but being part of the journey for Hugo felt so incredibly special to me. I have been so fortunate to spend time with Ben [Coyle-Larner], and always find our conversations so inspiring. There are themes in this album that resonate on a deeply personal level for me, and there are words spoken throughout that move me to tears. I am so proud of Ben, I love this album, and it will always continue to be on my ‘forever album’ playlist.”

David Morgendorff, head of music, TikTok UK
"Alpha Place by Knucks. I loved this record from first listen thanks to the depth of the storytelling coupled with the outstanding musicality, and the incredible cast of features speaks volumes about the respect in which Knucks is held by his peers.

Remi Harris, founder, Remi Harris consulting
“The Encanto soundtrack. I think my whole family knows it off by heart. Also, Ertha by Tawiah and Al Moore, it's a proper concept album, in a good way, with incredibly soulful and beautiful storytelling. I cried listening to it.”

Jack Melhuish, director of marketing, strategy & partnerships, Parlophone
“Gabriels’ Angels & Queens Part 1 takes you on a journey and is wonderfully dramatic and nuanced. The production and arrangements alongside Jacob Lusk’s vocals are genuinely sensational. To be enjoyed with a glass of red wine on a Friday evening!”

Jodie Cammidge, co-managing director, Polydor
“Such an easy one this year. It’s unquestionably Arctic Monkeys’ The Car. I'm not sure exactly how it happens but I fall in love with this band time and time again. They have me in a chokehold. The album is stunning from start to finish, it’s quite simply a masterpiece and I listen to it every day.”

Zena White, COO, Partisan
“It’s a tiebreaker: Steve Lacy’s Gemini Rights and Rosalía with Motomami.”

Tim Major, co-MD, Sony Music Publishing
“Arctic Monkeys' The Car. Not only is it incredible but it’s also a proper album – a body of work that needs to be listened to from start to finish. The songwriting and musicianship is simply first class.” 

Nadia Khan, chair, AIM & founder, Women In CTRL
“Bellah's Adultsville. It’s so refreshing and is literal ear candy. From her latest visual releases to impeccable style and quality, Bellah knows how to take us on a musical adventure with her.”

Mike McCormack, MD, UMPG UK
“Paolo Nutini – Last Night In The Bittersweet. I just love this record and Paolo is on a different level to most other artists in the UK. He’s not afraid to push the boundaries creatively, is an exceptional songwriter and that voice… Wow!”

Dorothy Hui, SVP of digital and audience development at 4th Floor Creative, Sony Music UK
“The Dangerous Summer - Coming Home.”

Christian D'Acuña, senior programming director (UK), The O2:
“Reeling by The Mysterines. The first track on this album Life’s a Bitch (But I Like it So Much) reeled me in when I heard it on my Spotify Release Radar, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to the album since. Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.”

Safiya Lambie-Knight, head of music, UK & Ireland, Spotify
“Beyoncé’s Renaissance. The world needed a new project from Beyoncé and she really delivered in an incredible way.”

David Bradley, agent, WME
“Angel In Realtime by Gang Of Youths. It’s a deeply personal account of singer David Le'aupepe's experience of losing his dad. It's a real tearjerker in places, but also a musical triumph with brilliant nerdy nods to Steve Reich, Arthur Russell, Brian Eno and others”.

Golnar Khosrowshahi, CEO, Reservoir Media
“Emeli Sande’s Let’s Say For Instance. This was an inspiring album from start to finish and it was an honour to play several roles across our organisation as Emeli’s publisher with Reservoir, her label with Chrysalis and management company in Big Life, as she went on this journey of rebirth and renewal, both musically and personally.”

Ben Mortimer, president, Polydor
“Jamie T – The Theory Of Whatever. One of my favourite moments of the year was helping him get his first No.1 album with his first record on Polydor. It’s Jamie T back at his surreal and liveliest best.”

Joe Kentish, president, Warner Records UK
“Mr Money With The Vibe by Asake. This album just makes you glad to be alive, it’s still on repeat.”

Mark Mitchell, co-president, Parlophone
“I'm not sure I have one favourite. The Paolo Nutini album is a joy, like some long-lost document of the past 40 years of music. The recent Tom Odell album is one of the bravest and most vulnerable albums I’ve heard for a long time, and I keep coming back to Lil Silva’s Yesterday is Heavy.”

Amy Wheatley, MD, Columbia
“Kendrick Lamar’s Mr Morale & The Big Steppers. An amazing album, amazing creative and amazing live. Can I have TSHA’s Capricorn Sun too? An awesome listen from start to finish and love to see her win!”

Taponeswa Mavunga, director of Africa, Sony Music UK
“KOA II Part 1 by Kabza De Small from South Africa. For anyone who wants to find out what all the fuss is with amapiano, this is a good guide, and fans of amapiano will remember why they love the genre. Also Wizkid’s More Love, Less Ego. It’s a whole vibe.”

Paul Hourican, global head of music, TikTok
“My favourite new album was Cub by Wunderhorse, courtesy of a Zane Lowe TikTok recommending the album. My favourite rediscovery was O.C Word...Life, quintessential 90's New York hip-hop.”

David Ventura, UK president, co-MD and SVP international, Sony Music Publishing
“I just can’t pick just one, so I’ll mention four that reflect how rich 2022 has been. Danger Mouse and Black Thought’s Cheat Code, The Car by Arctic Monkeys, Actual Life 3 by Fred Again.. and The Alchemist's Euphoria by Kasabian.”

Kwame Kwaten, director, Ferocious Talent
“Motherland Journey by Blue Lab Beats. Why? Well I know what went into it. I know how much effort they put into it and I knew whilst it was being made that it was going to be a special one. The live version of it at the Royal Albert Hall needs a special mention too. Labels is my track of the year again, too.”

Aled Haydn Jones, head of BBC Radio 1
“Wet Leg’s debut. We’ve been behind them from the early stages and have loved welcoming them into the Live Lounge this year. It was great to see them hit No.1.”

Andreea Gleeson, CEO, TuneCore
“Sevdaliza's Raving Dahlia. Sevdaliza’s artistry and her strong feminist point of view comes through with every song of this album. Her creation of the “femmenoid” robot, Dahlia ingeniously depicting the unrealistic expectations of women in society, spoke to me. That she releases her music independently, through TuneCore is a point of pride for me personally.”

Sheryl Nwosu, chair, Black Music Coalition
“Beyoncé’s Renaissance, because it doesn’t matter where I start with it I’m going to feel what I need to feel, and I still find so much in it with every listen. Also, as a technical body of work I really appreciate how it’s put together, the transitions and the flow of the whole body of work is impeccable. I now have an internal tussle over which Knowles sister has put out what I consider to be one of the best albums!”

Trevor Nelson, DJ, BBC Radio 2
“Beyonce’s Renaissance, simply because 25 years after she first recorded with Destiny’s Child, she’s still so relevant. I was excited about so much that I heard on this album. She’s still the torch-bearer for female artists.”

Kim Bayley, CEO, ERA
“The Shires’ 10 Year Plan. For me it’s their best album yet – it just leaves you feeling happy in these challenging times.”

Sam Moy, head of BBC Radio 6 Music
“Arctic Monkeys – The Car because my husband has played it relentlessly.”

Michael Adex, CEO, NQ
“Close To Home by Aitch is by far my favourite album of the year, I know how much work went into that project and it’s a blessing to be able to see an artist like Aitch grow into himself and have the confidence to be able to give a piece of himself in his art. The project defines growth for me which is something I always push everyone I know including me to seek. It can be uncomfortable, but that is where you gain the most growth.”

Ben Wynter, fonder, Unstoppable Music Group, co-founder, Power Up
“Knucks' Alpha Place was independently released and it managed to chart highly. It is a really well worked project with drill, hip-hop and jazz infusions married with real rap and lyricism. It almost feels like a London-based Illmatic for 2022, which is high praised indeed.”

Lorna Clarke, director of music, BBC
“There’s something hugely exciting when an album drops and everyone is listening to it and talking about it all over the world at the same time, which is what happened with Beyonce’s return with Renaissance. She embraced dance wholeheartedly and when Break My Soul dropped, its pure house sound turned a lot of heads – and ears!”

Nick Burgess, co-president, Parlophone
“Harry's House and our very own Gabriels’ Angels & Queens Part 1.”

Olly Bengough, CEO/founder, Koko
“Gabriels Angels And Queens. They played a three night residency with us in Ellen’s our little speakeasy in The House Of Koko and then they went on to play the main stage in the theatre a few months later. Between their music and their performance they have something very special going on. They are truly unique.”

Lucy Dickins, global head of contemporary music and touring, WME
“Gemini Rights by Steve Lacy, Marcus Mumford’s (self-titled) and Jamie T’s The Theory Of Whatever.”

Simon Williams, founder, Fierce Panda
“The Enjoyable Listen by Enjoyable Listens. Noirish darkpop from a showbiz genius who unites Nick Cave and Rick Astley in one lithe form.”

Merck Mercuriadis, CEO & founder, Hipgnosis
“I have three. Neil Young’s World Record, Stromae’s Multitude and Bleachers’ Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night. Jack Antonoff is a genius.”

Lizzie Dickson, head of UK label relations, YouTube
“Wet Leg by Wet Leg. It's funny, irreverent and they make brilliant videos.”

Barbara Charone, co-founder, MBCPR
“Father John Misty, Chloe And The Next 20th Century.”

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