Group Chat: American Songwriter Staff Looks to New Releases Trends for 2022

Well, it’s officially 2022. We made it through last year and if you’re like us, you’re poised for a new calendar and 12 months of great music—music to help you celebrate, music to help you remember those important moments in your life, and even music to share with your family and friends near and far.

As you’ll see below, there are a number of new releases, tours, and trends American Songwriter is excited for that will kick off the year. And to explore those, we thought an American Songwriter “group chat” would be worthwhile to help sift through what’s coming up in January and beyond. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

Jacob Uitti: Tina, are there one or two releases you specifically have your eye on for this month and going into 2022?

Tina Eves: Absolutely! It’s hard to pick one or two, so I’ll go with three. There’s really no shortage of new music coming in January with Elvis Costello’s 32nd album The Boy Named If (Jan. 14), Band of Horses with Things Are Great (out Jan. 21), and Urge Overkill is back (finally!) with Oui (Jan. 28), but February can’t come any sooner for Johnny Marr’s upcoming Fever Dreams, Pts. 1-4. Recorded at his Crazy Face Factory in Manchester, England, the former Smiths guitarist has been releasing four-song batches of the 16-track double album before the official release on Feb. 28, his first new music since his third solo album Call the Comet in 2018. Somehow, Marr still knows how to capture the sounds I gravitated towards in my teens and meets me right where I am now.

“There’s a set of influences and a very broad sound that I’ve been developing, really since getting out of The Smiths until now, and I hear it in this record,” said Marr of the album. “There are so many strands of music in it. We didn’t do that consciously, but I think I’ve got a vocabulary of sound. And I feel very satisfied that I’ve been able to harness it.”

And there’s more… Marr. Check out his recent performance of The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now,” straight from his “Factory.”

Jack White hasn’t shied away from a double album either. He just decided to break his in half. (Question: Where does the man find the time?) Not only did he launch a multimedia art and design companyJack White Art & Design in 2020, showcasing his 20-plus years of work and talents across multiple disciplines, including furniture design and upholstery—he first opened Third Man Upholstery in Detroit in 1996—as well as graphic design, sculpture, interior, and industrial design, sculpture, instruments and hardware, film and, of course, vinyl concepts, but he found the time to write and record two new albums. His first album in four years since Boarding House Reach, White is set to release the first part Fear of the Dawn on April 8 and follow it up with Enter Heaven Alive on July 22. If his first single “Taking Me Back“—of course, White also plays every instrument in the video—is any indication of the music ahead on these albums, we’re in store from some classic rock White ahead.

We already have so many release dates locked in from spring through summer of 2022, including Tears For Fears’ upcoming The Tipping Point (out Feb. 22), the first album from the duo (Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith) in 17 years. Their second single “No Small Thing,” is one of the more moving pieces of music and visuals—watch the video, inspired by Koyaanisqatsi, the 1982 experimental, non-narrative film by Godfrey Reggio that examines the separation between humanity and nature—I’ve seen and heard in quite some time. Let yourself get lost in “No Small Thing.”

Catherine, what are you looking forward to in 2022? Are there some releases or trends you’re noticing that you see expanding as we move through the New Year?

Catherine Walthall: You know, I knew this question was coming, and it’s still difficult to only pick a few! 

But, I’ve always been a fan of The Lumineers, so I’m looking forward to their forthcoming album Brightside, which is set for a January 14 release. The indie-rock band alt-J also has a release coming up, and as of this moment, that record is coming out in February. Both bands are about to release their fourth studio album, so it will be interesting to see where they take their respective sounds after having already been to the proverbial rodeo a few times.

Rihanna also comes to mind, even though she hasn’t officially announced a record release date. She did tell paparazzi that new music was coming “soon,” and after a six-year hiatus, I’m excited to see what Rihanna in the 2020s sounds like. 

To get to the second part of your question Tina, which is a really interesting one to think about, I have a few trends that I think are going to take over the music industry in 2022. 

First of all, I can’t stop thinking about the massive influence short-form videos are having on the music world. This past year, TikTok proved to be another one of the social media giants with enough cultural pull to influence the entire ecosystem of music. On a more granular level, trending TikTok audios are also changing artists’ careers (just check out GAYLE’s “abcedfu” for one example). 

Now, YouTube has joined in on the short-form video movement with “YouTube Shorts” (which is how Ed Sheeran previewed his latest album, =). Moving into 2022, I think this style of video will only grow in size, and possibly force streaming platforms to respond.

Another trend that seems likely to expand in 2022 is the popularity of the K-Pop genre. After the seven-member boyband, BTS swept at the American Music Awards, their international popularity was officially solidified. (Although the release of “Butter” and the collaborative “My Universe” with Coldplay had already launched them into stardom.) The music industry seems to only be slightly behind the cinematic universe with this trend—the 2019 South Korean film Parasite won four Academy Awards in 2020 and the increasingly popular TV series Squid Game is currently Netflix’s most-watched series.

Now, I’m curious to hear what Jake thinks about this new year. 

Jake, what are you most looking forward to this year in the music world? What do you think will happen this year that didn’t happen last year?

Jake Uitti: Wow, what a list y’all! Great job. I too am looking forward to the Lumineers, Band of Horses, and alt-J. For those reading along here, there may be some interviews in the works, so watch out for those hitting AmericanSongwriter.com.

As for your questions, Catherine, I’m looking forward to discovering new songs that are just super-moving. Artists I adored last year were Natalie Bergman, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Allison Russell, Valerie June, Rhiannon Giddens, Sufjan Stevens. The list goes on. And I had no idea I’d fall for any of those before I knew of them in real-time. What a joy that is. So, in a way, I don’t even know what I’m looking forward to.

Catherine, I think you’re right to keep an eye on BTS. What will those seven artists bring next and how will the world react? I also think about a potential new Missy Elliott album that she’s been teasing. Jack White, too, Tina—that’s a great call. And maybe even a personal favorite, Fishbone. Can’t wait for these. I wonder how his sound will continue to evolve. 

I’m also curious if the livestream will come back into our lives. Beginning with more COVID variants and people cancelling shows out of “an abundance of caution,” will we find ourselves diving into more pre-recorded sets from the likes of Billy Strings or even giant bands like Pearl Jam and others? I enjoyed livestreams—but I’m a hermit! 

And we haven’t even talked about the elephant in the room: NFTs.

But let’s keep this conversation going. Tina, is there a tour in 2022 you’d want to hit if you could wave your magic wand? 

Tina Eves: The Cure. The last time I saw them was in 2018 when I flew to London for their 40th anniversary show in Hyde Park. Of course, Robert Smith and co. walked on stage just as the sun (a rarity in those parts) was setting. It was a magical evening. Luckily, I don’t have to wave a wand to see them again. The band just revealed their European tour dates, starting fall of 2022, with some North American shows (hopefully) following soon. 

I’m also ready to see The Afghan Whigs and Placebo, who both have new music on the way in ’22. By spring, I hope to set my post-punk heart alight at the Cruel World Fest, May 14 and 15, in Los Angeles.

If the current state of  COVID is under some control, and all tours/shows move ahead as planned (and rescheduled), I would also love to see the following in 2022, which are in no particular rank:

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Johnny Marr with The Killers
White Lies
Elton John
Alice Cooper
Bauhaus
Tenacious D
The Toadies
Urge Overkill
Iron Maiden
Eddie Vedder
Tears for Fears
Modern English
Adele
Cat Power

Well, I can easily keep going here, but you get the idea…

Here’s to more live music (and fewer postponements and cancellations) in 2022.

You both like The Lumineers, and it looks like they already have some tour dates starting in Feb. 2022. Are there some shows, or a tour in particular, that you’re excited about in 2022?

Catherine: I do have my eye on a few tours for this year, including Elton John and Adele—great picks, Tina! Especially after watching Adele’s One Night Only performance and TV special, I’m more certain that she is one of the best entertainers in the industry today. 

I would also like to see Kacey Musgraves, Coldplay, and the Foo Fighters in concert. Additionally, The Weeknd recently rescheduled his tour dates, so I’d love to see where he tours this year once that is announced. Looks like we’re going to be pretty busy this year. Maybe we should all meet up at The Lumineers concert and compare tour notes.

Jake, what are we forgetting to discuss when it comes to the music industry in 2022?

Jake: I think we hit a great amount. Well done, all!

I’m also interested to see how the Grammys play out. Got my fingers crossed for Valerie June, Allison Russell, and a number of other folks. Oh, and COVID needs to go bother Jupiter or Mars or something. Get out of the earth. Other than that, I’m grateful for what we got to hear in 2021 and rather excited for offerings in 2022. 

Let’s all check back in a few months and do this again! Until then! 

Photo: David James Swanson/Big Hassle

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