2022: The year in music

2022: The year in music

© Robert Hanashiro/Beth Garrabrant/Lillie Eiger/Mason Poole
Clockwise from left: Bad Bunny. Taylor Swift, Harry Styles and Beyoncé all produced some of the best songs of 2022.

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast:

Music in 2022, what were the trends? What were the disappointments?

5 Things Sunday host James Brown sat down with USA TODAY music reporter Melissa Ruggieri to talk about the year of music in 2022.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

She also talks about what she thinks we will see in 2023 in terms of touring, residencies and if we will continue to see a return to pre pandemic levels.

For more on the 2022 year in music, read:

Beyoncé’s ‘Break My Soul.’ Taylor Swift’s ‘Anti-Hero.’ These are the 10 best songs of 2022, ranked.

Follow James Brown and Melissa Ruggieri on Twitter.

If you have a comment about the show or a question or topic you’d like us to discuss, send James Brown an email at jabrown@usatoday.com or podcasts@usatoday.com. You can also leave him a voicemail at 585-484-0339. We might have you on the show.

Podcasts: True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text. 

James Brown:                  Hello and welcome to 5 Things. I’m James Brown. It’s Sunday, December 25th, 2022. Go Bills. Every week we take an idea or concept in Go Deep, and this week we’re talking about the music year that was, with Melissa Ruggieri. She’s a music reporter for USA Today. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Christmas than with Melissa. We’re going to hop into a time machine. We’ll look back and forward at the business, the stars and everything surrounding music. Who was overlooked and can rock make a comeback? Melissa, welcome to 5 Things.

Melissa Ruggieri:          Great to be here. Thank you for having me again.

James Brown:                  Ready to go back in time?

Melissa Ruggieri:          How far back?

James Brown:                  Just about a year.

Melissa Ruggieri:          Okay.

James Brown:                  Think back to 2021.

Melissa Ruggieri:          Okay.

James Brown:                  It’s late in the year, and you’re having a conversation where you’re discussing what you were looking forward to in 2022. What was on that list, and what happened and what didn’t?

Melissa Ruggieri:          Well, I was expecting to see Adele in Las Vegas in January of 2022 and got there just in time to be turned away from my Covid test, because she had just made the announcement that she was postponing/canceling the residency 24 hours before it was supposed to start. So that was the end of January, and that kicked off a year of much tumultuousness, I guess, in the music industry. But it did work out fine, because I was able to see her in November when she eventually restarted the residency.

                                           And I actually had a tear come to my eye when she walked out on stage, just because it had been so long and I had some issues with the ticketing and that kind of stuff. So when I actually saw her on the stage in front of me, even up from my very high balcony seat, it was a relief that this was actually happening. And it’s a good thing that it’s happening, because it’s a wonderful show, and she’s there through March. So she even rolls into 2023. So next year when we talk about this, who knows, she might be part of the conversation again.

James Brown:                  Are you just a huge Adele fan?

Melissa Ruggieri:          I am an Adele fan. Not a huge Adele fan. I think some of her stuff is a little repetitive and a little whiny, but I do think she’s got a beautiful voice. I like the majority of her music, and you don’t get to see her live very often. And since this was canceled, because she was not happy with the production, I was really curious to see what she was actually going to come up with for the revamp version of it. And I got to say, her instincts were right.

                                           I mean, I don’t know what the original looked like, but this new show is absolutely phenomenal just in the production value and the song choice and just what her ability to insert herself into the show. Because she’s such a great personality, and that really comes through as well. So I think people who are spending a lot of money on these tickets to go are at least going to get a really worthwhile experience. Like when Celine was first in Vegas 15, 20 years ago, people didn’t know what to expect, and they walked out of there going, “Oh my God, who knew this was possible?” And I think with Adele, she raised the bar even for herself.

James Brown:                  My instant reaction when I think of acts in Vegas, I think about legacy acts. You mentioned Celine. Celine had come off a run of massive hits in the 90s. My Heart will Go on, et cetera, and she was past her prime, arguably.

Melissa Ruggieri:          Arguably, I would say that she found a new avenue for herself. While she may have been diminished at radio by that point, she started this whole new platform of live performance with the people coming to her. And I think that’s what some of the younger artists are finding too. Like Miranda Lambert actually started a residency this past year in Vegas. Carrie Underwood, Katie Perry, they all did.

                                           And when I’ve talked to all of them, they’ve all said the same thing, which is, “It’s really nice to be able to just unpack for a couple of weeks and not have to worry about getting on a tour bus.” I mean, Miranda Lambert’s like, “It’s great not to wake up in a parking lot on the tour bus.” And it’s so true, because you think of the grueling schedules that these current artists have running around the country, running around the globe, and here they’re able to at least situate themselves and let the fans come to them.

                                           And look, even the night that Adele canceled, I talked to a lot of really disappointed fans. Some had come from overseas, they didn’t find out until they landed, much like I did, just a few hours before. But they all had the attitude of, “Well, we’re in Vegas, so it’s not as if there’s nothing else for us to do here. And we certainly would like to get our money back from the tickets, but at least we’re going to make the best of it.”

                                           And so with having these artists in Vegas, it’s the same kind of thing. You’re getting people to come out to combine a vacation with going to see a top artist that they might not have been able to see, especially if you live in a smaller city, maybe they aren’t coming to your city. So this is your chance.

James Brown:                  That’s an interesting trend. Adele, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, top artists doing this. What other trends have you seen?

Melissa Ruggieri:          Well, Harry Styles did something interesting in that he did these many residencies, but he was on the road, but he was setting himself up for 10, 12 shows in a certain city. So he was at Madison Square Garden for two weeks. He was out in LA for two weeks. He was in Chicago for two weeks. And that also, even though he didn’t come, I live in the DC area, he didn’t play anywhere here.

                                           So I still though, would’ve had the opportunity throughout a two weeks span if I wanted to take the train up to New York or take a flight up to Chicago or whatever to go see him. So you’re giving fans in other cities the opportunity to still come to you. And he then is also able to set up his production in the place that he wanted, whatever arena he’s chosen to set it up in.

                                           Now, the arenas may or may not love it, because that also blocks off time that they can’t schedule other concerts or sporting events or whatever. But I’m sure an artist like Harry is bringing in enough money that they’re good with that situation. And Metallica is doing the same thing. Next year, they’re doing a stadium tour where they’re doing two nights in every city, and each show is going to be a completely different show.

                                           So I think they’re taking that same approach of maybe it’s not as long as what Harry was doing. Like I said, it was normally a couple weeks for him in each city, but just to take a couple of nights and do something different for the fans, which is a cool thing to do. So yeah, I think we might see more of that coming up as well, because why not really? Harry’s proven that it works.

James Brown:                  And it seems like it gives the artist more control.

Melissa Ruggieri:          It does. It does. Yes. Yeah. Well, Vegas especially, because again, going back to Adele, that was her whole thing. She wanted that production to be the way she wanted, and those types of shows aren’t made to travel. Carrie Underwood said the same thing, that her show in Vegas that started last year, actually, I think she started December of ’21.

                                           It has all these aerial things and all kinds of pyro and stuff that she can’t necessarily take on the road with her. So the show that she does in Vegas is still a little bit different than the tour that she’s just finished. So that gives the artists an opportunity to do two kinds of different things as well, which is cool.

James Brown:                  And most artists make their money primarily through touring, correct?

Melissa Ruggieri:          These days, yep. They sure do. Yeah, there’s no money to be made in music anymore. Mariah Carey was on Stephen Colbert the other night talking about her Christmas song and Christmasy things or whatever, and she reiterated the point that these streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, the artist gets one 16th of a penny for every stream.

                                           Now some of them have billions of streams, but even when you do the math, which I’m not very good at, but you’re not talking about 5 million CD sales at 16, 18 bucks a pop or album sales back in the seventies that bands were selling tens of millions of as well. So it’s a completely different model, and that’s why… And this past year, we also saw the most robust comeback of the live music industry, because we all know what had happened the two previous years and 2021, people were starting to come back a little bit, and fans were starting to go back into venues with a little less cautiousness.

                                           But 2022 was probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, touring year ever in the live music industry, because you had all these artists who couldn’t be on the road for a year and a half or two years, and this pent up demand for people who wanted to go to these shows. So yeah, it worked out great for everybody.

James Brown:                  Do you expect that to continue to spiral into next year? Or will things return to a pre pandemic norm?

Melissa Ruggieri:          I think it will be a little quieter in ’23. I don’t think there’ll be… Because what happened in 2022 is that since so many shows and tours were canceled midway in 2021, when the pandemic reared itself, again, you had the issue of artists not being able… There wasn’t enough room for them to play. So again, you look at all these venues across the country, they do other things in these venues.

                                           They have hockey games and basketball games and community theater shows and stuff like that. So dates were already taken for other things. And then you’ve got this confluence of artists who all want to play in the same 12-month period. So there were a lot of artists who took a step back and said, “You know what, maybe I’ll sit this one out and wait till ’23.”

                                           Taylor Swift is a good example. She probably could have released her album a little earlier and probably could have started a tour late fall, but why not wait until March of 2023, do it right, hit all the stadiums, be able to be outside when the weather’s a little warmer, all that stuff. So I do think we’re going to see a very busy live music season in ’23, but maybe not to the extent that we saw this current year.

James Brown:                  That makes sense. Any big disappointments out of 2022?

Melissa Ruggieri:          Oh gosh. Disappointments. Well, I guess disappointments are always subjective. I think people were maybe hoping that Rihanna would release something more than just a single this year. But with the Super Bowl halftime performance coming up for her in February, I think we’ll hear more from her. She has said that she’s not planning on releasing an album, but I do think that there’ll be a little bit more than just the one new song from her.

                                           I think people might have liked to have heard Beyonce announce a tour for 2023 since her album came out in the summer, and she certainly could have announced something in the fall, but I don’t know what’s going on with that. I haven’t heard anything, as far as, what her plans are, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see her on the road in 2023. Janet Jackson actually just announced a tour for next year, which is a nice comeback for her as well.

                                           But as far as anything really disappointing… Now, if Adele had not rescheduled that Vegas thing, I think a lot of fans would’ve been disappointed, because a lot of us had our money tied up waiting to see what was going to happen. And as I said, these were not cheap tickets, so that would’ve been really annoying. But I think for the most part, I guess you could say it was a disappointment for Taylor Swift fans who weren’t able to get tickets for her tour.

                                           What can you do when you’ve got 100 million people trying to get tickets, and there are only 50 million available, just throwing out numbers. It’s just supply and demand. And with her, she has the good problem of there being so much demand that she basically broke the internet, and fans were getting really frustrated about not being able to get tickets. So that could be a disappointment in a way. But if you’re one of the tens of millions of people who got tickets to her tour, then yeah, you’re good.

James Brown:                  And let’s say we get back into that time machine. It’s 10 years from now, and we look back on 2022, what were the things that were bigger than most of us recognize today?

Melissa Ruggieri:          I think not enough people recognize the popularity and power of Bad Bunny. This is a guy who broke through in a huge way this year from the Latin community into more mainstream. But yet a lot of people still aren’t aware of the accomplishments he’s had. I mean, he was just named Billboard’s Top Artist of the Year. His album, Un Verano Sin Ti, is the number one album of the year on the Billboard 200.

                                           He’s also Billboard’s Top Male Artist of the year. Taylor’s number two, by the way. Oh, Taylor’s number two of Artists of the Year, and she’s number one for female artists. But I mean, he really was everywhere. But yet, when I talk to a lot of people who aren’t necessarily steeped in music or interest or whatever, they give me that puzzled look like, “Oh, is he Spanish? Is he…? What does he do? What are his songs?”

                                           And then if you name some songs, they still look at you a little puzzled too. So I think that it’s a growing trend with Latin music really coming through. But I do think that not enough people maybe have recognized the power of it, particularly this year with Bad Bunny just doing some astounding things, selling out stadiums around the world. I mean, the guy is just really huge.

James Brown:                  I would think it may speak to the fragmentation of today we’re all in digital bubbles that are reinforcing our choices.

Melissa Ruggieri:          You’re so true. It’s so true. You go back to the days when MTV was MTV, and you might see a video from Kate Bush, and then you might see a video from Motley Crue. You are being exposed to a lot more stuff. Whereas sure, we all live in the click the thing that’s most synonymous with our viewpoints, even if you’re reading something and on the music front when you’ve got all these algorithms that, “Oh, so you like this, you might like that.”

                                           And you are still going to miss a whole lot of stuff. Because when you look at Spotify, there are thousands and thousands of songs on there, and anybody can really upload a song. How do you really weed through it? And if you’re not somebody who’s clicked, “I’m interested in Latin music,” then you’re probably not going to hear from some of these Latin artists like Bad Bunny.

James Brown:                  Is there a thing that was huge that we’re going to look back and think, really?

Melissa Ruggieri:          Oh gosh, I’d have to think about that. I’m trying to think. Every year there does seem to be the weird one hit wonder or some kind of trend that you roll your eyes at. But I can’t… Nothing’s popped into mind immediately this year. I don’t even think there was a song that truly annoyed me. I didn’t really have any of that this year.

                                           And maybe I was listening to more varied outlets of things, and I wasn’t listening to the same genre of music as much, so I didn’t hear the same songs as much. So that’s a possibility. My favorite band of the year who really broke out is an Italian rock band. Their name looks like Maneskin, but that’s pronounced Maneskin. And they are really just fun and charismatic and tight as a band. I saw them over the summer play a little venue in New York for a Sirius XM show with about 800 people in it.

                                           And then I just saw them last week here in DC play for 6,000 people at a club. And just the ability that these guys and the girls, the female bass player, have to captivate and their songs are just… I mean, people who say Rock and roll is dead, they obviously have not discovered Maneskin yet, because rock and roll is very much alive, and it came from Italy. My people, not that I’m giving a plug to my people. It doesn’t hurt that they’re from Italy, but they’re really a great band. And if you haven’t checked them out and you like rock music…

                                           I mean, they’re pretty hard rock. And they’ve got their debut English album coming out in January. They’ve released a couple of albums that have been part Italian, part American, they had a hit over the summer with supermodel. That was their breakthrough. They’d been on some award shows on SNL, so they were getting some buzz. I hope that we’ll see a lot more of them next year when the album comes out too.

James Brown:                  Maneskin.

Melissa Ruggieri:          Maneskin.

James Brown:                  Maneskin.

Melissa Ruggieri:          Maneskin, yes. It’s weird. They’re Italian, but it’s a Danish word. The bass player, she’s part Danish. So that’s where they came up with the name. They just thought it sounded cool, apparently.

James Brown:                  To your point, a friend of mine and I really like rock, and we look around and we don’t see much on the modern American rock scene. Any chance that changes at all? Do you see any sprouts there?

Melissa Ruggieri:          Yeah, there are seeds. Rap has become the most popular music genre. So that is what is primarily on the charts. And then of course, your big pop stars like Taylor or Harry are still doing very well. But as far as guitar oriented rock and roll, there is a bit of a dirt, but there are glimmers.

James Brown:                  Maneskin, of course. Greta Van Fleet is a band that’s been around for a few years that are a young, really good rock band. They sound very much like Led Zeppelin, even though they claim that they weren’t an influence. I’m not really sure how that’s possible, because the singer actually sounds almost exactly like a young Robert Plant. Have you heard them?

                                           Yes, I’ve seen them. And no, I don’t believe that at all.

Melissa Ruggieri:          Yes. So there’s got to be. And Wolfgang Van Halen, this kid is just phenomenal. He’s a wonderful songwriter. He plays every instrument. I mean, music is in his blood, obviously. He’s the son of Eddie Van Halen, the late great Eddie Van Halen, one of the best guitarists, if not the best guitarist ever. And Wolf, he’s been around music and playing music since he was a toddler, basically. This kid though, he’s just really gone out there and making a name for himself with his band Mammoth WVH, and good for him.

                                           He’s been on many tours. He’s going to be touring with Metallica next year. Did some of his own touring this past year, the small stuff, the clubs. And that’s what you got to love about a lot of rock bands, because they still know that the way you become a great performer is by playing to 300 people in a club. Then graduating to the bigger club, and then the theater, and then maybe an opening slot on an arena tour, and then your own arena tour.

                                           You know what I mean? So many artists today, they just want to start off at their own arena tour, and then they find themselves playing to half empty venues because they’re not quite there yet. They haven’t really even honed their abilities as a live band. Wolfgang has been out there for a couple of years now, just playing small, mid-size places, but yet he can hold his own just fine opening for Metallica with his band on the stadium show. So I think it’s funny that the future of rock could be the offspring of one of the most celebrated rock legends of all time.

                                           But hey, if it works that way, that’s great. Greta Van Fleet, I’d like to hear some more from them. I haven’t heard a ton from them lately, but I think they’re a really good band. And they’re a really good live band too. That’s the other thing with rock bands, you really want to check them out live, because sometimes things that you hear on record, you might go, “Yeah, that’s okay.”

                                           But seeing them live, and Maneskin’s an example of that too. Supermodel, it’s a fun song. They did a great cover of the Four Seasons, Beggin’. They turned it into a really rough rock song, and that’s perfectly good on record too. But when you see them live, that’s where the energy comes from. That’s where the visceral punch comes from in rock and roll. So I always encourage anybody to go see live music as much as you can, because you’re not going to get that feeling just looking at a video screen or putting your headphones on or whatever. It’s just not the same.

James Brown:                  Any famous last words?

Melissa Ruggieri:          Go see live music in 2023. Those are my last words. Go support musicians who aren’t necessarily the ones making millions of dollars every year. Go support the people who are just out there on the road, in the tour bus, waking up in the parking lots every day, just playing their hearts out, because they’re the ones that… Like we were saying, this is the way that they make a living now and they need people like us to go out there and support them.

James Brown:                  Melissa Ruggieri, thanks for joining me.

Melissa Ruggieri:          Thank you. This was great.

James Brown:                  If you liked this show, write us a review on Apple Podcast or wherever you’re listening. And do me a favor, share with a friend. What do you think of the show? Email me at jabrown@usatoday.com or leave me a message 585-484-0339. We might have you on the show. Thanks to Alexis Gustin and Shannon Ray Green for their production assistance, and from all of us at USA Today, thanks for listening. I’m James Brown, and as always, be well.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2022: The year in music