Sounds of the summer 2022: Who’s going to dominate the airwaves?

·8-min read
(clockwise from top left) Olivia Rodrigo, HAAi, Yung Singh and Kendrick Lamar  (Getty Images/Sach Dhanjal)
(clockwise from top left) Olivia Rodrigo, HAAi, Yung Singh and Kendrick Lamar (Getty Images/Sach Dhanjal)

Every year, as the festival tents get unpacked and the floral shirts are pulled from the wardrobe, debates begin to emerge: which songs will we hear endlessly blaring out of car speakers? Which albums will soundtrack our trips abroad? Which gigs will prove themselves as ones of the ages? And which DJs will dominate the dancefloors?

Here are the main players for 2022’s sound of the summer.

Sam Fender

 (Charlotte Patmore)
(Charlotte Patmore)

You don’t have to look too far to find evidence of Sam Fender’s recently acquired guitar hero status. He’s a BRIT Award winner as of February; he smashed two sold-out shows in front of a fervent crowd at Wembley Arena earlier this year; and this July he’ll play to 40,000 devotees, crammed into Finsbury Park for what’s set to be his biggest headline gig to date. It’s quite the ascent from the 27-year-old, who only released his debut album in 2019. But with a lovably down-to-earth persona (his hungover appearance on BBC Breakfast last year was a highlight) and a Springsteenian force of feeling in his music, he’s won over the nation. Expect to hear him reverberating through the summer.

Adele

 (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
(Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Songs about divorce might not scream “summer fun times”, but hear us out: if your hot weather romance turns out to be about as lukewarm as the can of cider you find at the back of your festival tent, then you can nurse the heartache when Adele comes to London in July. Tottenham’s finest proved she can still dominate the charts last year — her album 30 was the biggest selling record of 2021 — and with her two sold-out gigs in Hyde Park on July 1 and 2, she’ll reaffirm herself as a supermassive live act too. If you were lucky enough to nab tickets before they all sold out, be sure to bring your tissues: it’s gonna get emosh.

Kendrick Lamar

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

More or less every single Friday, up until very recently, Kendrick Lamar had begun to trend on Twitter, not because he’d released music, or said something newsworthy, or even been spotted out doing the weekly shop — but because legions of fans would lament another week passed without news of a new album from the California rap king. Thankfully, that’s all changed now, with his feverishly anticipated fifth album, Mr Morale and the Big Steppers, due out on May 13. We haven’t a clue what it’ll sound like, but it’ll no doubt make a tsunami-level splash when it lands — and ramp up the excitement for what could be a legendary headline slot at Glastonbury in June.

HAAi

 (Imogene)
(Imogene)

If you’ve spent time bouncing around London clubs in the past five or six years, there’s a decent chance you will have been electrified by a HAAi DJ set. The Aussie-born musician turned heads and moved feet with a raucously received residency at Brixton club Phonox in 2016, a showcase of her thrilling, anything-goes DJing ethos, and has remained a popular regular around town since. Her debut album, Baby, We’re Ascending, will arrive on May 27, and should help propel her through a summer stuffed full of festival dates; she’ll be a must-see in the Silver Hayes area of Glastonbury, as well as Victoria Park’s Field Day on August 20.

Billie Eilish

 (Getty Images for Coachella)
(Getty Images for Coachella)

The last time Billie Eilish played a headline gig over here, back in 2019, it was at Pryzm nightclub in Kingston. No disrespect to the late-night haunts of south-west London, but this time round, she’s taking things up about a hundred notches: six gigs at London’s biggest arena, The O2, from June 10-26. The wait wasn’t of her own doing — two world tours were scuppered by the ‘rona — but it does mean this megastar-affirming run of gigs will be more hyped than ever. And as if that wasn’t enough, the 20-year-old will be doing her thing on the Pyramid Stage as the Friday headliner at Glasto.

Liam Gallagher

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Pop on your bucket hats and get ready to party like it’s 1996 — Liam Gallagher is going back to Knebworth. The former Oasis frontman is returning to the hallowed, pint-soaked ground of one of the UK’s most legendary Nineties gigs for two more shows, on June 3 and 4. It’s a celebration of his fantastically named new album, C’MON YOU KNOW, which will be released the week before, but for the most part it’ll be a big old nostalgia fest. Brother Noel is also heading out on tour, coming to Kenwood House on June 19, and although his shows these days aren’t quite as balls-out-Britpop as his sibling’s, he still plays Oasis stuff. It’s all a reminder of just how popular the Mancunians remain — and how all those well-worn tunes can still stake a claim for summer dominance.

Wet Leg

 (Hollie Fernando)
(Hollie Fernando)

If you’re planning to head along to any of the stages that Wet Leg will be gracing at festivals across the UK and Europe this summer, take our advice and get down there early. Hype follows this Isle of Wight duo around like a shadow, and the next few months will be the time in which they’ll have the chance to truly live up to their Next Big Thing tag. They sold out Camden’s Electric Ballroom last week, and their 2022 festival dates are outside of the M25 — but it’ll be worth the journey to hear their ridiculously catchy indie rock music in person.

Olivia Rodrigo

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Truth be told, teenage sensation Olivia Rodrigo should probably have been the sound of the summer last year — her debut album Sour was a global smash — but seeing as we were all still grappling with lockdowns back then, we’ll give her a fair crack at conquering 2022 instead. She’s one of the biggest names on the Glasto line-up, and she’ll come to the Hammersmith Apollo for two sold-out gigs on July 6 and 7. Next time she comes to the capital, she’ll almost certainly be playing somewhere much bigger.

Elton John

 (Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
(Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

Elton John has been saying goodbye to us (and the yellow brick road) for quite some time now. His farewell tour, billed as his final ever run of live shows, kicked off way back in the beforetimes of 2018, and will stretch into the middle of next year. He’s squeezing in a series of UK gigs this summer, and will headline Hyde Park on June 24 as part of the BST concerts. If that doesn’t make the 75-year-old sound of this summer, he’s a shoo-in for sound of the spring next year, with no less than nine O2 gigs lined up in April.

Harry Styles

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

When Harry Styles released his last album, Fine Line, in the depths of December 2019, it felt as if the 1D alum had got his timings out by roughly six months; the sultry soul and funk that infused his pop creations felt far more suited to Aperol spritzes than mulled wines. He’s a bit closer to the mark this time round, with his new record, Harry’s House, arriving on May 20. The lead single, As It Was, has already surpassed a quarter of a billion streams on Spotify, and you know there’ll be more hits to follow — all of which should get a triumphant airing at Wembley Stadium on June 18 and 19.

Tems

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Tems has priors when it comes to crafting summer-slaying tracks — she lent her voice to Essence, the Wizkid song that was heard wafting over the airwaves all summer last year, from London to their homeland of Nigeria — and in 2022, we’ll get to see her up and close and personal in the capital. She’s got two sold out gigs at the revamped KOKO on June 17 and 22, and an open-air concert set for Somerset House on July 7. Get ready to be beguiled by a lustrous voice.

Yung Singh

 (Sach Dhanjal)
(Sach Dhanjal)

Spearheading a fresh wave of dance music artists in the UK and at the forefront of a new chapter in the South Asian underground scene, Yung Singh set things alight once clubs started reopening after lockdown — his explosive DJ set for Boiler Room last August was the source of an almighty internet buzz, and earlier this month, he led a fiery night down at Brixton’s Phonox. All of which is to say: if you get the chance to hear his heady blend of Punjabi classics, garage, jungle, dubstep and more this summer, do it. He was at the Queen’s Yard Summer Party in Hackney Wick last weekend, but you’ll find him at Glastonbury in June, as well as London festivals Maiden Voyage (August 28) and Waterworks (September 17).

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