MDR’s Top Artists of 2022

Our favourite artists have really made 2022 their year, pushing genre boundaries, experimenting with new outlets and other musicians, releasing music and finally being able to play those rescheduled dates.

The ability to tour again has finally meant we can see our favourite artists perform again; an experience that’s tasted particularly sweet after being out of our reach for so long. But which artists in focus have really had us hooked this year? Did the return of Björk put you in a spin? Or was it the exciting rise of Anz, the indie explosion of Wet Leg, the ambitious work of Moor Mother? We’ve put together a round-up with help from our beloved Melodic community. Find your new favs below!

 


 

Eliza Rose | chosen by Danny de la Bastide (Melodic Distraction)

I massively respect Eliza Rose and the story of her progression as an artist. Stemming from a working-class background, she paved her way deservedly and carved out an incredible, chart-topping release back in mid-June with ‘B.O.T.A (Baddest Of Them All)’, released on her own label Rosebud. With Interplanetary Criminal, she created a tune of real euphoria; summery house-y beats, garage samples and beautiful, contrasting vocals throughout. A stunning ‘Alice in Wonderland’ inspired music video came with it too, a must see.

I had the pleasure of photographing Eliza Rose on two occasions; first in early June before the BOTA release at Baltic Weekender ’22, then last month at Giovanna’s meraki residency. After chatting with Eliza post-set, she was super inspiring to talk to about the journey of the track, the contrast between those two Liverpool shows, other elements that underpinned the song and the musical path she’s on. This ‘viral moment’ didn’t happen overnight though, BOTA is a token of the hard work Eliza Rose has done over many years, which often people oversee with blow-up moments – this will be just the start for her.

 


 

KOJ | chosen by OzMob

KOJ has continually upped his game in 2022, bringing different sounds to his ever-expanding fanbase. Having supported Protoje most recently in Manchester, he’s been able to effortlessly cross genre barriers and gain support. ‘Flying The Flag’ was dropped at Christmas 2021 and has continued to stay on heavy rotation. Plenty more genre-bending sounds to come along with new artists on OzMob production. 

 


 

Julia Jacklin | chosen by Lazygirl

I have been a fan of Julia Jacklin’s indie rock and folk stylings for a number of years, but she has emerged as one of my favourites of 2022 with the arrival of her album ‘PRE PLEASURE’ and its tour. Jacklin plays a perfect balancing act with her songs – weighing vulnerable, sometimes blunt lyricism and a bare production style against catchy motifs and hooks. So many of her tracks portray womanhood and sexuality in a way that makes me think she’s climbed into my head, and her words make me feel as though I’ve stumbled upon her private diary entries. Her vocal swings from minimalist retellings like ‘Moviegoer’, to intimate, emotional outbursts like 2019’s ‘Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You’ – and all are just as enamoring live.

 


 

Jalen Ngonda | chosen by Ni Maxine

Since catching Jalen Ngonda’s set at Cross The Tracks festival last summer, I’ve been hooked. Whether he’s performing with a full band or solo with his guitar, Jalen Ngonda ‘the romantic’ has a way of making the whole world around you stop when he opens his mouth to sing. His music is timeless, classic and soulful. His voice is so powerful that it can distract you from whatever you’re doing. I’d describe Jalen as ‘The Marvin Gaye of our generation’. If you haven’t heard his new single ‘Just Like You Used To’ yet, listen and make sure you see him live in 2023. You won’t be disappointed.

 


 

Horace Andy | chosen by King Toby (In Fine Style)

Horace Andy is a bonafide legend of the game. With one of the most distinctive voices in reggae music, his career has spanned almost the entire duration of the genre itself. Despite finding great success as the lead singer for Massive Attack most recently, original solo material from the reggae great has been relatively thin on the ground. Until this year that is.After not releasing a solo album for close to a decade, this year we’ve been treated to two magnificent albums, Midnight Rocker and its dubbier equivalent Midnight Scorchers. Both see Andy team up with one of the great luminaries of U.K Dub music, Adrian Sherwood – and as you’d expect, the results are exceptional. Despite his advanced years, Andy’s voice still carries all the power and range that he used to make a name for himself back in the halcyon days of Studio One (and beyond). Backed by Sherwood’s ever imaginative production, it’s another exciting chapter in an already glittering career. Which begs the question – where does he go from here? I for one couldn’t tell you, but I sure am excited to see what he decides.

 


 

Blackhaine | chosen by Ben Cowper & Harry Fitzpatrick (Get Serious)

Blackhaine is an artist we’ve been obsessed with this year. Moving from thick ambient passages to noisy drill whilst exploring the themes of addiction, class and morality. He’s been making serious waves in 2022 and we were lucky enough to catch him at Strange Brew in Bristol earlier this year. Serious energy from the start, huge tip!!

 


 

Shygirl – chosen by NIIX (Melodic Distraction)

Yep, it’s no surprise that Shygirl is my Top Artist of 2022. It’s not often that I can watch the same artist live three times in one year – twice in Manchester and once in Berlin – and leave absolutely stunned each time. Shygirl commands a whole room with what seems like such little effort; all she needs to do is stand still and the crowd goes nuts. She had us in awe most recently at Manchester’s Albert Hall as part of her ‘Nymph’ tour, playfully interacting with a huge mirrored back-drop that acted as her simple-yet-effective stage design.

First discovering Shygirl was definitely a sexual awakening – her fearless, abrasive approach to feminine sexuality lets it be known that “yeah, women enjoy sex too, y’know?”, and even more of a shock – that sex doesn’t have to be heterosexual. Shygirl’s fluidity across sexuality, gender, identity and music genres creates a space for those who always felt on the outside – until now.

It’s been fascinating to follow Shygirl on her journey, from her unapologetically heavy, grime-drenched introduction ‘Want More’ back in 2016 through to this year’s debut LP ‘Nypmh’, which cascades euro-pop, trance and PC Music. There are still musical notes of her of humble beginnings of course, only now this rapper from South East London is a  l i t e r a l (and extremely well-deserved) global superstar.

 


 

|| MDR’S TOP ALBUMS OF 2022 ||