We have written extensively on what an insane year 2016 was for music (also insane in general, but we digress). With new work from Kanye West, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Frank Ocean, Chance the Rapper and David Bowie, who could possibly be left to drop new music this year?
As it turns out, quite a few artists are will be blessing us with musical delights. And by quite a few, we mean some of the best musicians in the game sitting on some of the most highly-anticipated work around, including Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Gorillaz, Vampire Weekend, Nicki Minaj and countless more.
It’s early yet, but the forecast for 2017 in music is seriously bright. Here are 20 artists whose albums we’ll be waiting for, anxiously.
Ever since the dramatic split of Crystal Castles, we have been waiting patiently for volatile former frontwoman Alice Glass to deliver on the promise of her debut solo album. The only hint of things to come that we’ve been given is “Stillbirth,” a track that has all the fiery rage and wild abandon of her best work in Crystal Castles without any of the twinkling electronic production to counter it. Suffice to say, it’s heavy, but we’re ready for more.
The enigmatic producer Arca was very close to releasing three albums in three years, but the work flow behind his upcoming third full-length has been met with a series of delays (some of which being working on tracks for Frank Ocean). That said, the follow-up to 2015’s Mutant should be here very soon, if the mysterious open casting call he launched in London last month is anything to go by.
Arcade Fire have remained tight-lipped about the follow-up to their disco-synth blow-out Reflektor, but snippets of new material have begun to appear at a stint of recent live gigs. One of these even featured audience participation that they promised would appear on an upcoming track. And with festival appearances on the books for this summer, expect things to appear very soon.
After winning Grammy album of the year for Morning Phase, undoubtedly his gloomiest, saddest work since 2003’s Sea Change, Beck took a hard right turn back into the silly, sexy sounds that defined his late ’90s work. And boy was it sorely missed. Both “Dreams” and “Wow” are some of the giddiest, strangest singles of his career, and his next full-length seems like the injection of hilarity we’re all going to need once a certain president takes power this year.
Charli XCX is pop music’s most sugary princess working right now, but she alienated both fans and critics with her divisive, experimental Vroom Vroom EP that dropped last spring (though personally, we loved it). But she seems destined to top the charts once again with her upcoming third full-length, a move already in motion thanks to her infectiously bubbly new single with Lil Yachty.
It has now been five years since Chromatics released the expansive masterpiece Kill for Love, a project that received special attention after the band’s star-making appearance on the landmark soundtrack to Drive. Producer and main-maestro Johnny Jewel has unveiled multiple songs promised to appear on the upcoming Dear Tommy, but the finished product remains, tantalizingly, no where in sight. Here’s hoping this is the year it arrives.
David Longstreth has been ubiquitous in the music world this decade, with some of his recent, most high-profile work appearing on Solange’s A Seat at the Table, Joanna Newsom’s Divers and even the Rihanna/Kanye/McCartney smash “FourFiveSeconds.” But output from his band Dirty Projectors has been conspicuously absent. Until now, that is. Lead singles “Keep Your Name” and “Little Bubble” show a drastically different sonic direction for the band, one that seems inherently tied to their parting with longtime lead singer Amber Coffman.
The details around More Life are scarce at best. Drake has detailed that the upcoming project isn’t really an album or a mixtape, but it is certainly going to be something with new music. Expect to find the crop of singles he dropped at the end of last year to appear, including the excellent “Sneakin” with 21 Savage, but what else will be there is anyone’s guess.
There have been more tracks from Earl Sweatshirt this past year than we can possibly count, not to mention phenomenal feature spots like his star-turn in Danny Brown’s “Really Doe,” which all seem to indicate that a full-length shouldn’t be too far off. And in the time since 2015’s I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, his prowess has only continued to blossom into something akin to rap royalty.
At the beginning of the summer we were blessed with “Champions,” a track that featured the mammoth crew of Kanye West, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, Desiigner, Gucci Mane, Big Sean and Quavo. It was our first taste of the long-gestating sequel to G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer, titled Cruel Winter obvi. Now, over six months later, we still have yet to hear anything more. But considering winter has only just begun, we haven’t lost hope yet.
It has been a long, long time since we’ve heard from Gorillaz. The band’s last album proper, 2010’s excellent Plastic Beach (let’s pretend 2011’s epilogue/oddity The Fall never happened), was a masterwork in every sense of the word. So anticipation is high for the animated group’s upcoming work, one that they have been teasing for months now. Lead singer and keyboardist 2D even spoke to us exclusively about his time leading up to the recording, but not a note of new music has appeared in the time since.
Given the rough end to his 2016, it is wise to take anything Kanye West says with a grain of salt. Which means that his promised Turbo Grafx 16 may go through as many title changes and edits as The Life of Pablo, or may never see the light of day at all. But the fact that he is indeed working on new music is promising.
The world rejoiced when LCD Soundsystem quite unexpectedly announced their resurrection from a self-imposed retirement, but so far that has only resulted in a year of festival appearances playing the same setlist without end. Aside from a very out-of-character slow Christmas ballad, the band has yet to reveal anything from the new album that was promised. But considering more tour appearances are scheduled this year, we’re hoping this next round will surely offer something new.
Lorde’s world-conquering 2013 effort Pure Heroine was the rare pop album that never outstayed its welcome. Don’t even try to pretend that you’re tired of “Royals” and “Team.” You’re not. And in a note posted to her Facebook, she has promised that her latest record will be her biggest yet, tackling her burgeoning growth into adulthood. Because that’s what the rest of us were doing at age 20, right?
Any year without a Nicki Minaj album is a dark one, countered only by her frequent features in other rappers’ tracks. But last year proved particularly dark, as there was a distinct lack of Miss Minaj anywhere. And at this point we are desperate; Rae Sremmurd freestyles are just not enough. Thank the Great Barbie in the Sky that she has promised a full-length this year, otherwise we might not make it through.
Sampha has been floating around from artist to artist for years now, going all the way back to Drake’s Nothing Was the Same and even Jessie Ware’s 2011 slow-burner Devotion. But amazingly, the smoky-voiced chanteur has yet to release his own album. Until now. Process is set to drop before spring, and if the rest of the songs are even half as good as lead single “Blood on Me” then we are in for a long overdue treat.
It should come as no surprise that Sky Ferreira’s sophomore effort Masochism has seen nothing but delays for the past two years. This is, after all, an artist who wrote her debut album and proceeded to trash it because she wasn’t satisfied with it. But when Night Time, My Time did finally arrive, it proved to be one of the most singularly perfect pieces of indie-pop of the decade. So while it would be nice to have her new one soon, she can take all the time she needs.
St. Vincent’s Annie Clark has let slip in a recent interview that her upcoming album will be “the deepest, boldest work I’ve ever done.” Considering that her 2014 self-titled album was one of the most confident, innovative and downright heavy pieces of art-rock in recent memory, it certainly makes our already-high expectations near insatiable. But knowing Clark, she won’t fail to amaze no matter what she comes up with.
In a shocking move, founding member of Vampire Weekend (and one half of the core songwriting duo) Rostam Batmanglij decided to exit the band last year, leaving their future sonics totally up in the air. The remaining members have not only soldiered on, but hinted that their next record will be here shortly. Considering that all three of their albums are among the best indie rock of our generation we’re cautiously optimistic, but what comes next will be a true mystery.
Despite only having two albums under their belt, The xx have earned a place of honor as one of our generation’s definitive indie bands. And the new single “On Hold” shows that the forthcoming I See You will only continue to build on that legacy. Lead singers Oliver Sims and Romy Madley Croft are at peak vocal capacity, and mastermind producer Jamie xx has grown leaps and bounds since dropping his solo debut In Colour. Greatness seems all but inevitable.
Be sure to check out our list of the best albums of 2016 right here.