The Music News That Defined 2022
The year's highlights and lowlights — including the Sadies, touring woes, and the return of Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell
Published Dec 21, 2022After two years of lockdowns, 2022 was the year that the music industry fully returned to life. It was meant to be joyous — and in many ways it was, as the year brought lots of incredible albums, a seemingly non-stop string of tours, feuds, comebacks and reunions, and all of the drama we'd been missing during the quieter stages of 2020 and 2021.
But it wasn't quite so simple. The pandemic isn't actually over, of course, and lots of artists were forced to cancel tours after coming down with COVID-19 or dealing with mental health challenges. Even those who did make it out on the road often didn't reap any financial rewards; due to inflation, high overheads and supply chain issues, many artists who staged successful tours didn't actually make any money. Given the low royalties associated with streaming services and some unfortunate changes to satellite radio, many artists were left wondering where their money was supposed to come from now.
From tragic deaths to fraught controversies and industry-shifting announcements, these are the top music stories that defined 2022.
Concerts Shut Again
In response to the Omicron variant, capacity restrictions returned across much of Canada, and Ontario shuttered venues once again.
CD Sales on the Rise
Much has been made of the vinyl comeback — but 2021 data revealed that CDs sales were up for the first time since 2004.
Toronto Bands Get Evicted
Following the sale of Rehearsal Factory's building to discriminatory megachurch C3, bands began getting evicted — part of a complete dissolving of the Toronto practice space chain.
R.I.P. Meat Loaf
The singer died at the age of 74, reportedly due to complications after contracting COVID-19.
Damon Albarn vs. Taylor Swift
The Blur/Gorillaz leader apologized (and tried to blame "clickbait") after claiming that Taylor Swift "doesn't write her own songs," because co-writing "doesn't count."
Neil Young vs. Joe Rogan
Neil Young pulled his catalogue from Spotify due to Joe Rogan spreading vaccine misinformation through his podcast.
NFT Marketplace Enrages Music Industry
NFTs were huge in 2021, but 2022 seemed to be one crypto disaster after another — including HitPiece, an unauthorized marketplace allegedly auctioning music without the artists' permission.
R.I.P. Dallas Good
The Sadies' singer-guitarist tragically died at 48 of natural causes stemming from a coronary illness.
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
Grimes's Second Baby
The relationship between the musician and Elon Musk got even weirder when the musician accidentally revealed they had a second child, who cried in the background during an interview.
Will Butler Quits Arcade Fire
Foreshadowing what was going to be a bad year for the group, longtime member Will Butler (the brother of singer Win) left after 18 years with the band.
R.I.P. Taylor Hawkins
Beloved drummer Taylor Hawkins died at age 50. Foo Fighters subsequently cancelled all their shows and staged enormous tribute concerts.
Photo: Kamara Morozuk
Jack White's Onstage Wedding
The same day he released his first of two 2022 albums, Jack White proposed to longtime girlfriend Olivia Jean on stage, and then married her just a few minutes later.
"There's No Radiohead at the Moment"
With Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood spending 2022 focused on their new band, the Smile, guitarist Ed O'Brien cast doubt on Radiohead's future, saying that they would "probably" reunite — but might not.
A$AP Rocky Arrested
The rapper was arrested in connection with a 2021 shooting and was later formally charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
Dave "Brownsound" Baksh Beats Cancer
Sum 41's Dave Baksh was diagnosed with cancer in March, underwent surgery two weeks later, and was cancer-free by May.
Dolly Parton Inducted into the Rock Hall
When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominated Dolly Parton, she initially refused, saying that she wasn't a rock artist. She eventually changed her mind, got inducted, and is planning a rock album.
Apple Discontinues the iPod
Less than a year after celebrating its 20th anniversary, the industry-changing music player rode off into the sunset, still full of mislabeled MP3s downloaded from Limewire in 2003.
Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina Escapes
Amidst a year of horrifying news from Russia, punk provocateur Maria Alyokhina was due to be sent to a penal colony, but she escaped the country disguised as a food courier.
R.I.P. Sidhu Moose Wala
The Brampton-based Punjabi rapper-singer was shot dead at the age of 28 in India. Drake paid tribute with a T-shirt.
Jacob Hoggard Found Guilty
The Hedley frontman was found guilty of sexual assault and subsequently sentenced to five years in prison. As of this writing, he has been released on bail pending an appeal.
The Weeknd vs. Rogers Outage
A network outage ground many Canadian workplaces to a halt, and forced Abel Tesfaye to delay his long-anticipated hometown show at the Rogers Centre.
Zach de la Rocha's Injury
Rage Against the Machine's triumphant comeback tour hit a setback when the vocalist tore his Achilles tendon and had to perform seated. RATM cancelled their 2023 North American tour as a result.
Photo: Ming Wu
Kate Bush Reaches No. 1
Thanks to a prominent placement in Stranger Things, "Running Up That Hill" topped the charts in the UK 37 years since its initial release.
Celebrity Flights Under Scrutiny
Drake and Taylor Swift came under fire after flight logs revealed the enormous carbon imprints of their private jets.
Joni Mitchell Returns to the Stage
The legendary songwriter made her first full-length performance since 2000. She has since announced plans to release it as a live album.
Mick Jagger Flashes Flasher
The Rolling Stones brought new meaning to "Jumpin' Jack Flash" when the 79-year-old spotted a topless woman in the crowd and flashed his own nipples in response.
Weezer Cancel Broadway Residency
Frontman Rivers Cuomo cited "low ticket sales and unbelievably high expenses" when cancelling plans to play their SZNZ EPs in New York.
Michelle Branch and Patrick Carney's Marital Issues
The year's most turbulent relationship drama involved accusations of cheating, Michelle Branch getting arrested for slapping the Black Keys' Patrick Carney, and a surprising reconciliation.
Win Butler Accused of Misconduct
Four people came forward to accuse the Arcade Fire frontman of sexual misconduct. He apologized to those he had hurt, but denied nonconsensual behaviour. A fifth person later spoke out.
John Lydon Mourns the Queen
The former members of the Sex Pistols sparred all year — but perhaps the strangest moment was when the famously anti-monarchical singer posted a sincere tribute to the late Queen.
Laura Jane Grace Wants to Move to Winnipeg
Against Me! fans started dropping to one knee when the songwriter tweeted "Can a Canadian please marry me before this tour is over?" after a show in the Manitoba capital.
Santigold Calls Out the "Unsustainable" Music Industry
Amidst a rash of cancelled tours, the artist called off a North American trek and called attention to the harsh realities of touring in an open letter.
The "Gangsta's Paradise" rapper died at the age of 59, due to what appears to be a cardiac arrest.
Alice Glass vs. Grimes
Alice Glass shared messages between her and Grimes, accusing the star of "intimidation" and seemingly suggesting she stole the idea for "Kill V. Maim."
Kanye West Goes Off the Deep End
Ye's actions have been reprehensible for a few years now, but he finally alienated fans (and corporate partners) for good by spouting antisemitic conspiracy theories.
R.I.P. Loretta Lynn
Country music lost a legend when Loretta Lynn died at the age of 90. Large-scale tribute events followed.
Tom DeLonge Rejoins Blink-182
After much speculation, the pop-punk trio's classic lineup are back. An album and tour are planned for 2023.
Cadence Weapon Predicts the Death of Touring
Following a rash of cancelled tours (due to health and financial concerns), Cadence Weapon tweeted, "Small to mid-sized 'get in the van' music tours will become a thing of the past soon."
Photo: Jennifer Hyc
CBC Radio 3 Axed from SiriusXM
Many artists lost a key revenue stream when CBCR3 lost its home on satellite radio. SiriusXM has since launched proprietary channels focusing on Canadian music.
The Migos rapper was killed at the age of 28. He was in a bowling alley with bandmate/uncle Quavo and was said to be a bystander of a shooting.
Everything but the Girl Return
We had long given up on new material from the husband-and-wife sophisti-pop duo of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt, but they announced their return and the impending release of their first album since 1999.
Taylor Swift Smashes Sales Records
Midnights set a new benchmark for vinyl sales. Its 575,000 copies in the US was the most since Luminate (f.k.a. Nielsen SoundScan) began tracking data in 1991, destroying the prior record set by Harry Styles of 182,000.
R.I.P. Low's Mimi Parker
Following a battle with cancer, the singer-drummer of the iconic band died at the age of 55.
Frustration over service fees and resellers reached a boiling point when Ticketmaster crashed during Taylor Swift's tour presale. Reports soon emerged suggesting that the Justice Department is investigating parent company Live Nation Entertainment.
The rap collective made their exit by releasing two albums on consecutive days — a characteristically productive farewell.
Elton John's Final North American Show
The Rocket Man's seemingly endless farewell tour finally brought him to his last-ever North American show in Los Angeles. He will move on to Australia and Europe in 2023.
Photo: Stephen McGill
R.I.P. Christine McVie
The co-singer and keyboardist of Fleetwood Mac died at 79 following a short illness, and Stevie Nicks posted an emotional tribute.
Sunset Rubdown Reunite
Spencer Krug's beloved '00s band haven't played together since 2009, but they have now reunited and will tour North America in 2023.