Monthly Music Recap – December 2022


December is generally not as popular a month for new music releases, as critical year-end lists and awards begin to finalize their picks. This December, though, several strong releases came through; internet-famous electronic artists like PinkPantheress and 100 gecs put out new EPs; SZA’s SOS and Metro Boomin’s HEROES & VILLAINS were quickly cemented as some of this year’s biggest hits. December was mainly a month for hip hop and R&B fans, but several pop artists made waves as well. Overall, this past month capped off a great year for music with a strong finish.


– Albums –

Metro Boomin – HEROES & VILLAINS

Trap producer Metro Boomin released his new highly anticipated album HEROES & VILLAINS, satisfying die-hard fans and casuals alike. This album isn’t too short or too long, being 15 tracks in length. It starts off with John Legend, somewhat of an unexpected collaborator, but this song still comes off as a powerful intro, and brings lots of anticipation and energy to start off the album. Despite a pretty strong start, the rest of the album is mostly carried through the production. Although the artists featured don’t necessarily have a poor performance at all, on the tracks where the production is pretty standard for trap music, it comes off as redundant. However, when Metro’s production is more experimental and unique to the trap scene, like most of the songs featuring Don Toliver on this project, then it is much more engaging and fresh. Metro’s production, regardless of its redundancy sometimes, is not bad, and is serving the fans what they want, and what is most popular. But the unique and more explorative cuts are more fascinating. Songs like “Feel The Fiyaaaa” are great incorporations to the album. All in all, HEROES & VILLAINS is in no way a disappointment, and gave the fans what they wanted. However, if you’re someone who doesn’t listen to much trap music, some tracks on here may feel a little basic or unadventurous. But the tracks that partially take risks leave a greater impression than others. – Nicolas


RM – Indigo

BTS rapper RM of astronomical K-pop fame released his debut full-length album this month after building a dedicated fanbase with two mixtapes released over the past several years. The influence from the American and British hip hop and R&B scenes is clear, especially in RM’s delivery and in the record’s mellow, smooth production. Indigo starts out strong with its first two tracks; “Yun,” which features legendary vocalist Erykah Badu, is an atmospheric track with smooth, rhythmic vocals from both Badu and RM; “Still Life,” which features celebrated rapper Anderson .Paak, is decidedly more upbeat and catchy, establishing itself as the album’s “fun song.” Unfortunately, though, Indigo drags after that and becomes less memorable, the only exception being “Wild Flower,” which features Korean alternative artist Youjeen. “Wild Flowers” is by far the most popular song on the album, and for good reason; it’s catchy, the instrumental is beautiful, and Youjeen’s powerful vocals will blow listeners away. Overall, Indigo is a solid kickoff for RM’s career as a solo artist. – Nico



It’s no doubt that SZA is a titan of the modern R&B scene with a concurrent 30+ million Spotify listeners year round. Her 2017 debut album CTRL is an R&B classic, reaching so many fans across the globe and becoming a certified triple platinum album this August, showing its continued listenability years later. And now, finally, after five long years, she has fed her starving fans another full-length album.  The December release titled SOS is SZA’s longest project yet, with 23 songs on the tracklist, reaching all-new heights. The surprising difference in genres on this album makes for an exquisite listen and proves the genius of SZA. Starting the album off gently with her classic R&B style, SZA slowly dives into unfamiliar territory. Rap, pop-punk, singer-songwriter, and apparently country now? What else is left for our dear SZA to take in as her own? On her more romantic-focused songs, she’s not afraid to say what comes to mind. Instead of hiding behind metaphors, SZA lets her exes know what’s up in songs like “Kill Bill” and “Blind.” Not only is she a blunt lyricist throughout the whole album, but she showcases her vocal talents in songs like “Gone Girl.” The album has a definite focus on a past love that leaves many of us weeping alongside her. The most surprising thing about SOS was the interesting feature from one of indie’s most beloved artists, Phoebe Bridgers. The song “Ghost in the Machine” captures Phoebe’s ghostly voice, which somehow suits SZA’s more projecting vocals over an electronic track. SZA’s growth over that five-year drought makes this album all the more delightful and it has easily become one of my favorite releases of the latter half of the year. – Amelia


brakence – hypochondriac

Hyperpop and experimental artist brakence delivered his new album hypochondriac, and it’s his best work yet. Quite a few singles and other releases came out teasing this project, keeping fans impatiently waiting. Now, it’s finally here, and it was totally worth the wait. This album is an earworm, leaving the listener with songs that are so addicting and flavorful that they can’t get enough of it. From track to track, there’s progression that is so enjoyable and emotional, hopping from intensity to relaxation. The most popular track from the album, “5g,” is an infectious song, with a mix of hyperpop, melodic rap, and even a touch of drill in the production. Another song, “venus fly trap,” is incredibly well written, catchy, and mainly has a pop focus. It has great progression throughout lyrics and production, tells a story, and ends beautifully with a repeating set of piano notes, transitioning into the next track. Many of the transitions on this release are very smooth and almost unnoticeable. While this project has plenty of good songs, there are some lowlights. For example, “preparation exercise no. 7,” which serves as a filler track despite its attempted incorporation to the story of hypochondriac. Throughout the album, some of brakence’s vocals can come off as a bit overwhelming, overexaggerated, and occasionally corny. Along with the egotistical lyrics and behavior, these can be things that kill the experience, especially for a new listener. Though, if one gets past these obstacles, this project is near perfection for its potential. Overall, brakence’s new release is filled with emotion, experimentation, and defines him as one of the most unique and skilled figures in the hyperpop scene. Despite its few setbacks, it’s one of the most catchy and intriguing albums of this year. – Nicolas 


Little Simz – NO THANK YOU

Little Simz gained passionate fans and respect from tastemakers like Pitchfork and Anthony Fantano with last year’s Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. SIMBI is a hard act to follow, but Little Simz truly delivers on NO THANK YOU. The atmospheric, jazzy production is the perfect companion to Simz’ impeccably smooth bars. It’s immersive from the get-go, opening with the lush “Angel.” Longtime collaborator, childhood friend, and producer Inflo’s style is diverse yet cohesive; it brings in a variety of genres, from jazz to soul to gospel. The album arguably hits its peak at the seventh track, “Broken.” The seven-minute epic is backed with beautiful, swelling orchestral instrumentation and features Simz at her most vulnerable, lyrically speaking. She reflects on how systemic racism affects Black people in every aspect of their lives and speaks out about the mental health issues that are complicated by this throughout: “Why is mental health a taboo in the Black community?” With its profound, relevant, and clever lyrics, not to mention the musical talents of Simz and Inflo, NO THANK YOU once again proves that Little Simz is in a league of her own in hip hop today. – Nico


– Singles & EPs –

100 gecs – Snake Eyes

The popular hyperpop duo that first blew up during the beginning of the pandemic with their debut 1000 gecs have just released their EP Snake Eyes in anticipation of their upcoming 2023 album 10000 gecs. The EP opens with “Hey Big Man,” which sees the duo eschewing their usual pitched-up, autotuned vocals for more of a punkish talk-singing delivery, vaguely reminiscent of rap rock acts like Rage Against the Machine. “Hey Big Man” is undoubtedly a banger; its catchy digitized and distorted guitar riff is a welcome earworm, and Laura Les’ vocals are as punchy as ever. The other two tracks, which return to the hyperpop formula, however, are lackluster in comparison, but are a far cry from being bad. Nevertheless, Snake Eyes is building hype and excitement for 10000 gecs, which will be released this March. – Nico


Caroline Polachek – “Welcome to My Island”

The yodeling queen is back with another single this month in anticipation of her upcoming album, Desire, I Want To Turn Into You, which is expected to be released on Valentine’s Day 2023. Her debut album Pang was easily the most refreshing album of 2019, containing her biggest hit “So Hot You’re Hurting my Feelings.” This month’s single, “Welcome To My Island” sees Polachek taking a different stance than what is seen in her previous work. With a change of attitude, Polachek rips into her thoughts in hopes that it would be cathartic. Breaking the repetition of the lyrics from the chorus and refrains, we hear her go on a long, spiraling rant about ego and self hatred. Lyrics like “And it’s all your fault and it’s all your mess / And you’re all alone and can’t go to bed” accompanied by the drowning instrumentals contribute to that sinking feeling you get late at night when you’re rethinking your life choices. – Amelia


PinkPantheress – Take me home

English lo-fi and pop artist PinkPantheress has released a few songs included in her short EP “Take me home.” This short listen leaves a decent impact for its length; it serves as good relaxing music, or a mini mood-booster. Starting with “Boy’s a liar,” the most well-received song on the project, is enjoyed by many for good reason. Its catchy chorus and gentle bass makes the track so pleasant and gives it lots of replay value. The next song “Do you miss me?” carries a similar trend with its sweet melodies, though it gives more room for the instrumental to breathe. The final song and title track “Take me home” features classic breakcore drum breaks in the intro, and continues to follow the same formula as the previous tracks, aside from the slowed outro. Overall, this EP has a great impression on the listener for its tight three tracks, and continues to show why PinkPantheress is one of the catchiest new artists out there. – Nicolas


Rebecca Black – “Look At You”

Rebecca Black has come a long way from her days with the popular (and infamous) 2011 song “Friday.” Moving her sound to a more electronic genre, Rebecca Black has been flourishing over the past few years to no one’s surprise. Without having an actual album to her name, Black is a star waiting to brightly shine on a larger audience. Her 2021 EP Rebecca Black Was Here serves up an electronic banger across 6 tracks (my favorite being “NGL”). Her newest single “Look At You” was not what I was expecting, though. Before listening I anticipated another pure electronic glitchy song to put me in a good mood with lyrics I can love without having to relate. That did not happen. Instead, the song starts off with a melancholic vocal melody over a quiet synth with equally heartbreaking lyrics. A piano comes in during the first chorus to ease the pain a little followed by a fast bass line and beat to begin the second verse. Though the instrumentation lifts you up, the lyrics stay upsetting. Hearing “You’d drive your car straight through a wall /  If it meant that you’d lessen the burden” made my heart sink and almost brought me to tears, which is a rare experience. The song of universal admiration for someone close to you hits me right over the head, leaving me only wanting more and wishing that Rebecca Black made more songs like “Look At You.” – Amelia