The 10 biggest music moments of 2022 — Beyonce's renaissance and the fall of Kanye West

From the revival of an '80s classic to the sudden death of Foo Fighters' drummer, here's how the industry navigated the year

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This year has been an important one in music. Live shows, previously decimated owing to the pandemic, made a roaring comeback with concerts and festivals in full swing.

The year has also welcomed the release of forward-thinking albums by major pop stars and an overdue appreciation of an enigmatic artist nearly four decades on.

Pakistani singer Arooj Aftab won big at the Grammy Awards, while Kanye West’s career is fast becoming unsalvageable.

With all that said, these were some of 2022's biggest stories in music.

1. The Weeknd said no to the Grammys

The year was barely a week old when The Weeknd released one of the albums of the year.

The dreamy and pensive synth-pop of Dawn FM, featuring the narration of actor and fellow Canadian Jim Carrey, is a career-best effort and cemented The Weeknd's place as the new king of pop.

Perhaps the only people concerned with the ascension were the organisers of the Grammy Awards.

With The Weeknd boycotting the competition, in reaction to previously critically acclaimed album After Hours receiving no nominations last year, next year's ceremony will run without one of the best albums and songs in contention.

2. Hip-hop was the star of the Super Bowl

From left: Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Dr Dre, Mary J Blige, 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg performed at this year's half-time Super Bowl show. Photo: Mark J Rebilas

Hip-hop was well and truly in the building at this year’s Super Bowl in February.

Held in Los Angeles, the half-time show, headlined by Dr Dre, was not only a celebration of his pioneering career but an overdue coronation of hip-hop’s place in pop culture today.

Special guests, from Snoop Dogg and Eminem to Mary J Blige and 50 Cent, reminded us of the genre’s dominance over the last three decades.

3. The rock world mourned Taylor Hawkins

Fans left tributes outside the Casa Medina Hotel, Bogota, where Taylor Hawkins died in March. Getty Images

The death of the Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, 50, in March rocked the band's global fan base and the music industry.

After complaining of chest pains, an ambulance crew found Hawkins unresponsive in his hotel room in Bogota, Colombia, during the band's South American tour.

Hawkins was declared dead at the scene with health authorities reportedly stating he suffered a "cardiovascular collapse".

Tribute concerts were held in London and Los Angeles by the Foo Fighters later in the year, featuring special guests such as Dave Chappelle, Liam Gallagher, Nile Rodgers and John Paul Jones.

The Foo Fighters cancelled all their remaining dates and, aside from the two tribute gigs, have yet to play a full show since the tragedy.

4. Arooj Aftab made Grammy history

Arooj Aftab won the Grammy for Best Global Music Performance. Reuters

Arooj Aftab became the first Pakistani woman to win a Grammy Award in April.

Beating the likes of heavyweights Yo-Yo Ma, Wizkid and Burna Boy, the singer took the prize for Best Global Music Performance for the song Mohabbat.

“Thank you so much to everyone who helped me make this record,” she said during her acceptance speech.

“All my incredible collaborators, for following me and making this music I made about everything that broke me and put me back together. Thank you for listening to it and making it yours.”

5. Kate Bush hit No 1 after nearly four decades

Nearly 40 years after its release, Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) by British singer Kate Bush continues to make an impression.

The ethereal track, first released in 1985, enamoured a new generation of fans after being featured in the popular Netflix series Stranger Things.

The song topped the UK chart in July and now holds the record, according to the Official Charts Company, for taking the longest period to reach number one.

"I'm overwhelmed by the scale of affection and support the song is receiving and it's all happening really fast, as if it's being driven along by a kind of elemental force," the enigmatic artist wrote on her website.

"I have to admit I feel really moved by it all.”

6. Louis Theroux became a TikTok sensation

Another track that took its time to become an unexpected hit was Jiggle Jiggle by Louis Theroux.

The presenter and journalist originally wrote and performed the track in 2002 as part of his TV series Weird Weekends, only for it to be remixed and transformed into a club hit by Manchester producers Duke & Jones.

Not only was it a viral sensation when released in July, it came eighth in the top 10 most popular songs on TikTok in the UK.

7. Beyonce hit the club

Beyonce all but owned the summer after releasing her eagerly anticipated album Renaissance in July.

Trailed by the monster single Break My Soul, the album shed personal and social traumas explored in previous releases with a dance-heavy album filled with basslines so thick it tested the sturdiest of sound systems.

Fans responded by sending Rennaisance to the top of the charts in the US and UK, with Beyonce confirming she will tour again soon.

Beyonce is set to perform at the opening of Atlantis The Royal next month. The invite-only concert will be her first since 2018.

8. Mental health was a priority for Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes

Despite the enthusiasm for the return of live concerts, some stars found it hard to adjust to life back on the road.

This year, a number of major acts cancelled tours over health issues.

Justin Bieber cut his Justice World Tour, which included two Dubai shows, in September citing exhaustion.

The singer, 28, has been battling Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, which left half of his face paralysed.

Bieber followed fellow Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes, who postponed his world tour for three weeks to focus on his mental health.

Mendes, 24, went on to pull the plug on the whole tour stating his need to take care of his mental health.

"I started this tour excited to finally get back to playing live after a long break due to the pandemic, but the reality is I was not at all ready for how difficult touring would be after this time away," he posted on Instagram.

"It has become more clear that I need to take the time I've never taken personally, to ground myself and come back stronger."

Both artists were praised by fans and peers for highlighting the importance of self-care to their young fans.

9. DJ Khaled visited Saudi Arabia

The American artist, who has Palestinian roots, received a hero's welcome in a rare concert at Riyadh's Soundstorm festival earlier this month.

Joining him on stage in front of more than 150,000 people were Rick Ross, Future and Busta Rhymes.

In addition to visiting the Unesco-listed AlUla, DJ Khaled ended his Saudi Arabia trip with an emotional visit to the holy city of Makkah, where he performed Umrah with boxer Mike Tyson.

"The second I walked in Makkah, tears came down my eyes ... tears of joy," he wrote on Instagram alongside a video of himself performing Tawaf around the Kaaba.

"My whole life I wanted to go to Makkah to pray and give my gratitude to Allah.

I prayed for the world for more love, more life, more peace, more joy, more happiness, more health and protection for all of us. God is the greatest!"

10. Kanye West suffered a public career meltdown

Kanye West's music and fashion career are in turmoil due to his controversial behaviour. Reuters

One of the year's biggest losers is Kanye West, who ends 2022 with his music and fashion career hanging by a thread.

Ye, as he now goes by, sparked outrage and condemnation through a blizzard of anti-Semitic comments and offensive tropes about the Jewish community in interviews.

They were predated by West appearing at Paris Fashion Week wearing a shirt with the slogan "White Lives Matter", in what is viewed as a rebuke to the Black Lives Matter racial equality movement.

With fashion brands adidas and Balenciaga cutting their lucrative ties with West and the music industry shunning the rapper, it is hard to see how he will make an effective comeback next year.

Updated: December 28, 2022, 9:48 AM