2022 is officially dead, and we have the end-of-year lists to prove it. A year that largely represented a resurgence throughout the music industry had plenty of insights to share with us about the future of entertainment. Hot blips turned into trends, and those trends then turned into mainstream plots, and those mainstream plots can tell us quite a bit about where music is going in 2023.
That’s not to say that everyone will be following these tides. But make no mistake: trend-chasing is one of the most tried and true methods for staying relevant. Every time a classic rock artist released a disco song or a 1980s hair metal band went grunge, it was because they were at least trying to stay on the curve (since they couldn’t get ahead of it).
This is why you hire “industry professionals”: to tell you where to turn and what the people want. 2022 had plenty of wonderful and bizarre trends that soon got co-opted to death, but some more low-key shifts could have major effects on what the music scene of 2023 could look like.
Below, we’ve singled out some of our favourite (and least favourite) trends of 2022 in an attempt to predict the future of 2023. Here’s what we can glean from some of the biggest stylistic shifts of 2022.
There’s no time to waste
This might take some rose-coloured mysticism away from art, but it’s official: being a musician is a full-time job. That means that in order to stay relevant, artists need to have something to sell. You can tour and sell merch until the end of time, but for a host of upstart acts, there’s nothing that can replace getting back in the studio.
Last year, Dry Cleaning embraced their work ethic by releasing their sophomore LP, Stumpwork, just a year after their debut. Other newcomer favourites from last year, including everyone from Wet Leg to Yard Act, have indicated that their follow-ups are on the way. 2023 won’t be a year to rest on laurels: it’ll be a time to strike while the iron is hot.
Digital is dead; long live analogue
Ever since the pandemic, the sales of physical media in music have skyrocketed. It’s not just on everybody’s favourite form – vinyl records – either. Everything from cassettes to CDs has seen increased sales numbers.
Now, the digital era isn’t truly dead. It’s far too convenient for us to let go of it now, and streaming is the de facto way to get your music heard nowadays. But increasingly, we’re seeing fans (especially of a younger generation) want something physical that they can hold in their hands, especially from their favourite modern artists. Analogue is back in a big way and will likely continue to dominate in 2023.
“Contemporary hits” don’t have to be contemporary anymore
One of the biggest songs on both sides of the Atlantic last year was a 40-year-old track from a legendary singer that didn’t even crack the top 20 in America during its original release. Kate Bush and ‘Running Up That Hill’ showed us the future that we had always known was going to happen: any song from any time can be a contemporary hit.
We can thank streaming and the proliferation of the internet (and Stranger Things and TikTok) for turning time into a flat circle. Some other notable “hits” include ‘Goo Goo Muck’ by The Cramps (thanks to Wednesday), ‘Something in the Way’ by Nirvana (thanks to The Batman), and, of course, our yearly Christmas battle between Mariah Carey and Wham! The internet is the eternal jukebox, and number one songs no longer have to be from the modern day to make gigantic runs on the charts.
Speed everything up
Here’s a short list of songs that didn’t make our Best Songs of 2022 list because they’re not very good: Gayle’s ‘ABCDEFU’, Oliver Tree’s ‘Miss You’, and Panic! at the Disco’s ‘House of Memories’. What do they all share? They’ve hopped on the “sped-up” remix trend that has blown up as of late.
It’s not just annoying pop songs either: metal gods Ghost scored their first real-deal hit thanks to a sped-up TikTok trend that revolved around their song ‘Mary On a Cross’. It isn’t terribly recent either: Beabadoobee largely got put on the map because the sped-up chorus from her song ‘Coffee’ was featured on Powfu’s sadboi hit ‘Death Bed’. Maybe it’s time to repent to our musical overlords: Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Sell your soul to Ticketmaster (or die trying)
I had at least three distinct nightmares involving Ticketmaster this year, all with three bands that couldn’t have been more different. Jam gods Dead & Company, pop icon Taylor Swift, and lone ranger indie heads Lord Huron have almost nothing in common other than the fact that I had to sell my soul to get tickets to see them at their 2023 concerts.
Ticketmaster has been the monopolistic boogieman of the entertainment industry for decades (just ask Pearl Jam), but last year saw the general public really turn against the corporate overlords who want them to pay $1,000 for a Blink-182 ticket. If Swifties can take down Ticketmaster, I’ll be celebrating in the streets.
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