'Best Albums of 2022' lists...who are these people?!? Man, I'm old

There was a time when I said to myself, I’m not going to get so old and out of touch that I haven’t even heard of most current popular music acts. I might not like the music, but I will be aware of it.

Then 30+ years happened.

So I checked out the NPR '50 Best Albums of 2022’ list, and man, did it make me feel old and out of touch. Out of 50 albums I only recognized 3 artists at all:

Ashley McBryde: even this is a bit of a stretch. Her name sounded familiar, and I would have guessed ‘Country singer’ but I couldn’t name a single song of hers.
Kendrick Lamar: again, I know the name, but that’s it. Was he married to a Kardashian? Not Kim, I’m not confusing him with Kanye.
Beyoncé: Of course. I would have had to have been stranded on a desert island for 10+ years not to have heard of her.

But maybe the NPR list is some more esoteric stuff. Maybe I’ll do better with the AVClub ‘30 Best Albums of 2022’ list…? And I did do a little better:

Charli XCX: Thanks to SNL
The Weeknd: Superbowl, here and there
Florence + the Machine: had that one song I liked that got radio play?
Spoon: probably the oldest musical act on either list.
Carly Rae Jepsen: This is crazy, but I have heard of her
Beyoncé: again, duh.

I know more than 3, but there are still a lot I don’t recognize. A lot of that has to do with the increasing availability and diversity of music - compare what you posted with the top album ratings on Metacritic…some crossover, but lots of unique listings.

Best Music and Albums - Metacritic

On a side note, this from one of your links made me laugh:

My brother introduced me to MJ Lenderman a year or so ago, saying he was “like Jason Molina with a little bit of Sparklehorse.”

Because I literally told my wife last week that I had been listening to MJ Lenderman a lot lately because he reminds me a lot of a somewhat brasher Jason Molina.

I don’t know anyone anymore. When they have 21st century music categories on Jeopardy! I start to think they’re just making up band names. I’ve never even heard of any of them.

Of course I get properly smug when these young whippersnappers can’t get Clapton or whatever.

I know about 75% of the artists on both the OP’s lists. I like about 30% of those I know.

It’s really hard. I consider myself fairly up-to-date on current pop music, and even I don’t recognize more than half the artists in both lists.

Of the names I recognize, I do like some of them a lot. I saw Mitzki in concert this year, she was phenomenal.

Well this statement definitely indicates you are old ;). The man has won 14 Grammys after all. As far as I know he hasn’t dated an y Kardasians.

Well, Strawberry Alarm Clock and Blues Magoos were already taken.

I think it is just a fact now, particularly among media critics, that there is a lot of cachet in obscurity. I am sure that the “Best of 2022” in movies, books and television will all include many things that I have never heard of, despite the fact that I am constantly keeping an eye out for appealing works.

I’ve heard of three of them as well, but two of them are different to the OP.
Ashley McBryde and Kendrick Lamar aren’t familiar to me.

I do listen to modern music but clearly not the artists on this particular list.

I don’t believe that that is a fact. I do think critics end up listening to a lot more new music than we do,.

There is some of that but the cliché that spawned “High Fidelity” and formed pretty much the raison d’etre of all NME critics has a huge dollop of truth in it.

It can be summarised as
“I’m cooler than you because I recognise the greatness of artists that you’ve never heard of”
And it isn’t confined to music either. Everyone likes to be a little bit special.

I understand that suspicion, but I actually think there is very little of that, particularly in year-end aggregations based on multiple reviewers. Since we don’t actually having a good definition of what qualifies as obscure, however, it’s a hard thing to prove either way.

Well I’m not familiar with NPR so couldn’t comment on them specifically but carefully cultivating obscure choices was always a running joke in my youth regarding music journalists both individually and collectively. It may have completely changed (but my gut feel is that people remain people though the times may change)

I was surprised that I’ve heard of some of the names cited here, but then I picked up the first Florence + The Machine album back in 2009 and I’ve kinda liked them since. I’m aware of Kendrick Lamar only because Bowie cited him as someone he was listening to a lot during the Blackstar period.

On the other hand, I stopped listening to the radio a few years ago, and recognize about one in twenty when it comes to SNL musical guests these days. The only album by a new(ish) artist I’ve bought in the past three years is Sam Fender’s latest, and it turns out it was released in 2021 so I’m still behind the curve.

I’m just an old fogey…virtually everything I acquire or listen to these days is back catalog. When I was over in London in October I went shopping at my favorite record store, Sister Ray, and the most recent thing I picked up was the album that X released during the pandemic.

You’re thinking of Lamar Odom, former NBA player and Kardashian spouse.

Interesting. I looked Lamar up on Amazon Music and gave a few of his biggest songs a sample listening after ISiddiqui mentioned the 14 Grammys, to see if I had heard anything he did along the way, and none of it was familiar to me. Maybe I’ll give his music more of a try.

Ah, that’s it!

And was a big part of the most recent Super Bowl halftime show…

I have the feeling that the tastes of NPR’s critics and mine do not overlap in any meaningful way.

Beyonce aside, on the first list I know of Bad Bunny and Kendrick Lamar but couldn’t name a song by either. However, I do know Wet Leg (‘Chaise Longue’, ‘Wet Dream’) and, surprisingly, Johann Johannsson whose Orphee album I’ve been listening to a lot this year. Wet Leg are a lot of fun; Johannsson is more meditative stuff.

On the AV list, I know of the same names as the OP at about the same level, and no others. I don’t know why but for no good reason I keep mixing up The Weeknd and Childish Gambino in my head and forgetting which one is Donald Glover. Probably would help if I could remember any of either one’s songs.

Yeah, Wet Leg was my first (and last so far) post-lockdown show earlier this year. They’re fun, but I don’t find myself listening to them as much as I almost a year ago. “Angelica” is the one that gets play on the local alternative station here, but “Chaise Longue” is their breakout single. “Angelica” is my favorite on the album.

I know about 15% of the artists. I usually let about a decade go by before doing a deep dive into the music I’ve missed in the meantime, but I haven’t hit that obsessive period of music listening yet.