The Week In Pop: The 18 Most Anticipated Pop Albums Of The Fall
We’ve been waiting all year for new albums from some of pop music’s biggest names, and it’s looking like many of them will finally arrive this fall. Probably. Maybe? Whether or not Q4 turns out to be Yeezy Season, it should definitely be blockbuster season for the music industry if all goes according to plan. Let’s run through some of the most anticipated records of October through December. (Note: Because we’re skipping past September, this list does not include the likes of Lana Del Rey, Disclosure, and Fetty Wap, all of whom have potential #1 albums due out this month.)
Adele – 25 (XL)
We’ve been hearing about 25 since May 2014, when Adele turned 26. Phil Collins reminded us to look out for the album last fall, but come January there was still no word. Now Adele’s promotional machine seems to be arousing from slumber, and we’re finally going to hear how she follows up 21, one of the most successful albums of this generation.
Will it actually come out this year? As of last month we finally got official confirmation that 25 would be out this November.
Will it be any good? We know that Danger Mouse is involved, which could go either way. Damon Albarn thinks the whole thing will be “very middle of the road,” but that’s to be expected — 21 was very middle of the road, too, and that turned out just fine.
How anticipated is it? 5/5 microphone emojis
Rihanna – R8 (Def Jam)
Rihanna’s eighth album seemed imminent last November, but we’re still waiting with no release date in sight. In the interim we’ve heard “FourFiveSeconds,” “Bitch Better Have My Money,” “American Oxygen” plus other random snippets such as “Higher” and “James Joint,” seen accompanying videos for all three singles, and got wind of a joint tour with Kanye West that has also yet to materialize. We know Kanye is executive producing the project and Mike Will Made It contributed a track, but R8 remains largely shrouded in mystery. UPDATE: According to Rihanna’s latest interview, the album isn’t done and won’t be at least until next month when she and Kanye reconvene in the studio to sort through her massive pile of material.
Will it actually come out this year? Probably? Def Jam will probably force her to release it in time for the holidays, right? Right?
Will it be any good? The material Rihanna has released so far has varied in quality from fantastic (“FourFiveSeconds”) to pretty good (“Bitch Better Have My Money”) to mediocre (“American Oxygen”), but Rihanna has never really been an albums artist, so as long as this thing contains a couple more bangers, the interminable wait will be forgiven.
How anticipated is it? 5/5 manicure emojis
Coldplay – A Head Full Of Dreams (Parlophone)
Chris Martin famously compared A Head Full Of Dreams to Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, leading to speculation that this will be Coldplay’s final album. The band shot a paint-splattered music video for the title track in India, which is rumored for release next month.
Will it actually come out this year? A recent Rolling Stone cover listed Coldplay among its anticipated fall albums, so chances are the machinery is in motion for a 2015 release.
Will it be any good? Coldplay are a great band, but their discography is wildly inconsistent, so who even knows how this will turn out.
How anticipated is it? 2.5/5 moon emojis
Justin Bieber – Title TBA (Island)
Bieber has allegedly worked with Skrillex plus the Kanye West/Rick Rubin braintrust on his comeback project.
Will it actually come out this year? Yep! Billboard has reported an 11/13 release date.
Will it be any good? Bieber’s last couple singles have been surprisingly great, so although there’s still plenty of room for bullshit, we’re cautiously optimistic.
How anticipated is it? 3/5 angel baby emojis
Drake – Views From The 6 (Republic/Young Money)
Drake first announced that he was working on an album called Views From The 6 way back in June 2014, so when he promised on last summer’s breakout hit “0 To 100 / The Catch Up” that “we already got spring 2015 poppin’,” a release around Drizzy’s headlining Coachella set seemed like a safe bet. But then his “mixtape” If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late arrived in February with more than enough brooding bangers to last through spring. As of April, when Ernest Baker’s nú-gonzo Drake profile emerged, Drake only had two songs finished for Views From The 6. One of them is a Beyoncé collaboration — presumably “Can I,” which leaked in unfinished form in May — and the other is allegedly very weird. We also heard part of a song called “Views From The 6” last summer, but who knows if that will be part of the project whenever it finally drops. Drake has shared a bunch of new material on his Beats 1 radio show, too, though he is known to let one-off hits be one-off hits (see: “Trophies,” “0 To 100,” “How Bout Now”), so even though “Hotline Bling” is blowing up right now, even that song might not be included on the album.
Will it actually come out this year? Drake hasn’t specifically confirmed that Views From The 6 is coming out this year, so it could very well slide all the way to 2016, especially if that rumored Drake x Future mixtape materializes this month.
Will it be any good? This is coming from a guy who made a mix of all of Drake’s 2014 loosies for the car, but yeah, chances are it’s going to be really good.
How anticipated is it? 5/5 Canadian flag emojis
Janet Jackson – Unbreakable (Rhythm Nation)
Jackson went away long enough for Unbreakable to be received as a comeback. The tracklist includes the J. Cole version of “No Sleeep,” “The Great Forever,” and an as-yet-unheard Missy Elliott collaboration called “Burnitup!”
Will it actually come out this year? Yep! It’s out 10/2.
Will it be any good? Judging from the early singles, Jackson may be going for an understated, grown-and-sexy sound, which worked well last year for Babyface and Toni Braxton. It’s not likely to bowl you over with monster hit singles, but it seems likely to boast subtler charms.
How anticipated is it? 3.5/5 woman-getting-massage emojis
Frank Ocean – Boys Don’t Cry (Def Jam)
Ocean skipped Coachella 2014 so he could finish his album — no album. A year later, in April 2015, he teased an album release in July — but July came and went with no album. The first week of August, a bungled website launch indicated that Boys Don’t Cry was imminent — and still, more than a month later, there is no album. Ocean even cancelled his headlining set at FYF Fest last month, which suggests that the album still isn’t ready. Along the way he’s covered Aaliyah/The Isley Brothers, hit the studio with Lil B, and teased a new original called “Memrise,” but there’s still little sense of what Boys Don’t Cry might sound like or when it will arrive.
Will it actually come out this year? It could come out before I finish writing this article, or it could come out in time for Christmas 2018, or Ocean could bury all evidence of the album in a cave and retire to the South Pacific.
Will it be any good? There’s not a doubt in my mind that it will be awesome.
How anticipated is it? 5/5 crying face emojis
Ellie Goulding – Delirium (Polydor)
Goulding scored massive success with “Love Me Like You Do,” and she’s looking to cement her position as an A-lister by working with all the biggest names in pop songwriting and production. Per a press release today, “Goulding worked with Max Martin, Greg Kurstin, One Republic’s Ryan Tedder, Klas Ahlund and Disclosure’s Guy Lawrence as well as long-time writing partner Jim Eliot in crafting the defining album of her career, a jubilant and euphoric pop statement.” So despite her hipster-pop roots, it seems she’s making a go of plain old pop this time out.
Will it actually come out this year? An 11/6 release date was announced today.
Will it be any good? Goulding’s comments that Delirium is her attempt at a big pop album could be construed as a red flag, but judging from lead single “On My Mind” (see below), Delirium will likely continue her tradition of excellence.
How anticipated is it? 2.5/5 blonde woman emojis
Charlie Puth – Nine Track Mind (Artist Partner Group)
Puth is a fucking plague, but he’s a fucking plague who dominated the summer with a record-tying #1 single, so his album is officially one of the most notable pop events of the fall. Anticipate can also mean “fear.”
Will it actually come out this year? Unfortunately, yes, it’s guaranteed to come out on 11/6.
Will it be any good? Nope!
How anticipated is it? 1/5 poop emojis
Ariana Grande – Moonlight (Republic)
Grande’s new single “Focus” — fka “Focus On Me” — is expected any day now, and judging by the former title, I’m hoping it’s a killer Big Sean diss track. Grande also worked on a song called “Moonlight” with Victoria Monet, and she shared some lyrics from the intro track on Twitter. Other than that, we don’t know much about this project yet.
Will it actually come out this year? A release in time for the holidays or an early 2016 onslaught seem equally likely.
Will it be any good? If the upward trajectory of My Everything holds true, it could be one of the finest pop albums of the year.
How anticipated is it? 3.5/5 cat face emojis
Grimes – Title TBA
Here’s what we know: Grimes scrapped an album, but not because of negative reactions to “Go,” the pop song she and Blood Diamonds originally wrote for Rihanna. Instead she made this album, which allegedly contains many guitars, diss tracks, and a Taiwanese rapper.
Will it actually come out this year? The album will reportedly drop on iTunes this October with one day’s notice.
Will it be any good? Grimes says it’s her best work to date, but she also hates all her previous singles. Unless she truly psyched herself out, it should be good, and no matter what, it will be interesting.
How anticipated is it? 4.5/5 alien emojis
Cee Lo Green – Heart Blanche (Elektra/Warner)
After his atrocious rape comments torpedoed his career last year, Cee Lo attempted to mount a comeback with the craven “Robin Williams.” It didn’t work. His new album will also include “Sign Of The Times.”
Will it actually come out this year? Yes, on 11/13.
Will it be any good? So much of post-rap Cee Lo’s appeal hinged on him being a likable guy. Now that we know he’s a creep, and more importantly a vaguely unrepentant creep, all the fun has been sucked out of his music. So no, this will not be good, but at least he didn’t call it Girl Power.
How anticipated is it? 1/5 devil face emojis
Selena Gomez – Revival (Interscope/Polydor)
The A$AP Rocky collab “Good For You” and the Charli XCX-penned “Same Old Love” will appear on Revival, but “I Want You To Know,” the Zedd song that featured Gomez, will not. Other contributors include Hit-Boy, Max Martin, Stargate, and Benny Blanco.
Will it actually come out this year? Revival is set for a 10/9 release.
Will it be any good? Everything Gomez has released this year has been solid, and her cast of collaborators is strong, which all bodes well for this to be a B or B+ quality release.
How anticipated is it? 2.5/5 brunette woman emojis
Demi Lovato – Confident (Island)
The pure Katy Perry rip “Cool For The Summer” and the significantly stronger “Confident” are earmarked for Lovato’s latest, which features writing and production from all the usual suspects — Max Martin, Ryan Tedder, Ilya, Savan Kotecha — plus a guest verse from Iggy Azalea.
Will it actually come out this year? On 10/16 as scheduled.
Will it be any good? Neither of Lovato’s new songs are as catchy as “Heart Attack” or “Really Don’t Care,” but the legacy of those songs has me at least curious about what other radio bait she has stored up here.
How anticipated is it? 1.5/5 girl-kissing-girl emojis
One Direction – Title TBA (Columbia)
Our first preview of One Direction’s first album without Zayn Malik — and last before a planned hiatus in March 2016 — was the catchy but unfortunately Maroon 5-reminiscent “Drag Me Down.” We don’t know anything else for now.
Will it actually come out this year? We know 1D are going on hiatus in March, so it has to be out before then, but not necessarily before New Year’s Eve.
Will it be any good? The unconscionably white-and-corny “Drag Me Down” does not suggest One Direction will maintain the quality of their last couple albums without Malik around. But these guys have surprised us before.
How anticipated is it? 2/5 blowing-a-kiss emojis
5 Seconds Of Summer – Sounds Good Feels Good (Capitol)
5SOS followed last year’s shockingly respectable debut with “She’s Kinda Hot,” a single as shitty as we’d always imagined. “Jet Black Heart” bore less of a late-period Offspring influence, but it wasn’t much better. The credits for this one include Joel and Benji Madden from Good Charlotte and the Monsters & Strangerz, a production team who has worked with everyone from Pitbull and Maroon 5 to Kanye West and Carly Rae Jepsen.
Will it actually come out this year? It will, on 10/16.
Will it be any good? Unless they’re hiding another “She Looks So Perfect” among the deep cuts, nah.
How anticipated is it? 1.5/5 guy wearing sunglasses emojis
Ty Dolla $ign – Free TC (Atlantic/Taylor Gang)
When Ty$ released his Sign Language mixtape in August 2014, his official full-length debut was allegedly right around the corner. He’s released so many songs and guest features since than that it’s impossible to keep track, but still no album. Yet just when it seemed like we should add Free TC to the long list of eternally delayed rap and R&B full-lengths, it got an official release date. The album is set to include star-studded collabs “Only Right,” “Blasé,” and “When I See Ya.” It’s unclear whether his great Diplo collab “Stand For,” initially billed as the lead single, made the final cut. Hopefully “Drop That Kitty” did not.
Will it actually come out this year? At long last, on 11/13, Free TC will be released.
Will it be any good? Good? Yes. Great? Maybe if we were getting a version of the album without label meddling.
How anticipated is it? 3/5 dollar sign emojis
Kanye West – SWISH (Def Jam)
The grandaddy of them all! Given how many twists and turns this thing has been through, it’s reasonable to wonder if we’re dealing with an entirely different album than the one he was allegedly finishing when he postponed his Australian tour in April 2014. Will “Only One” and “All Day” even be on here? Will it be an album-length version of “Awesome“? What ever happened to “Wolves“? Is the “Piss On Your Grave” on Travi$ Scott’s album the same one that was supposed to be on SWISH? Is there anything you can write about this album that doesn’t end with a question mark?
Will it actually come out this year? You have as good an idea as I do. You probably have as good an idea as Kanye does.
Will it be any good? Like Pitchfork’s Jayson Greene, at this point I am not optimistic. But it’s Kanye, so he gets the benefit of the doubt until we actually hear the thing.
How anticipated is it? 6/5 prayer hands emojis — or is that .5/5? What is reality?
As Billboard’s recent cover story headline so cleverly put it, everything’s working for the Weeknd. Abel Tesfaye wins the Hot 100 singles chart and the Billboard 200 albums chart this week, and with the recent advent of Billboard’s Artist 100 chart — essentially a weekly musician power rankings — Tesfaye becomes the first ever male artist to simultaneously top all three. (I’m sure you can guess which female artist has already achieved that feat — she recently welcomed Tesfaye to the stage.) The #1 song in question is “Can’t Feel My Face,” which climbs back on top for a third nonconsecutive week. What’s more, “The Hills” rises to #2, making the Weeknd one of 10 artists in history to hold the #1 and #2 singles simultaneously. (Others include the Beatles, OutKast, Mariah Carey, and most recently, Iggy Azalea.) So yeah, at this point the Weeknd is a certifiable pop superstar, but are we really going to let him be this generation’s Michael Jackson?
Beneath the Weeknd’s two tracks atop the Hot 100 is Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean,” which debuted at #1 last week and now sits at #3. Silento’s “Watch Me” and OMI’s “Cheerleader” follow at #4 and #5. Up next are four straight collaborations: Major Lazer, DJ Snake, and MØ’s “Lean On” (#6), Selena Gomez and A$AP Rocky’s “Good For You” (#7), Fetty Wap and Remy Boyz’ “679” (#8), and R. City and Adam Levine’s “Locked Away” (#9). Then Ed Sheeran enters the top 10 with “Photograph” at #10. That follows “Thinking Out Loud” and “Don’t” as his third top-10 hit. (Mercifully, “Sing” did not make it into the top 10.)
Over on the albums chart, Beauty Behind The Madness rules for a second straight week, though as we explained yesterday, it wasn’t the bestselling album of the week. That’d be Five Finger Death Punch’s Got Your Six, which sold 114,000, well above the Weeknd’s 77,000. But because of Billboard’s recent rules change, digital track sales and streaming data boosted the Weeknd all the way up to 145,000 equivalent units, whereas FFDP only bumped up to 119,000. That makes Got Your Six the metal band’s third straight #2 debut.
More new entries follow Five Finger Death Punch: Travi$ Scott’s Rodeo, which got eviscerated in a recent Status Ain’t Hood column, tallied 85,000 units for a #3 debut. Iron Maiden, who we like a lot better than Travi$ Scott, logged 75,000 units of The Book Of Souls for a #4 debut. Billboard notes that The Book Of Souls is the sixth straight Maiden album to sell better than its predecessor. Troye Sivan’s WILD EP is our final top 10 debut, racking up 50,000 units to start at #5. Then comes Luke Bryan’s Kill The Lights (#6, 45,000), Taylor Swift’s 1989 (#7, 43,000), Halsey’s Badlands (#8, 35,000), Ed Sheeran’s x (#9, 27,000), and Future’s DS2 (#10, 25,000).
Ellie Goulding – “On My Mind”
Goulding is one of our best current pop stars, boasting good taste and a unique voice. The Max Martin-produced “On My Mind” is the total jam I hoped it would be; it’s also the latest modern pop single to borrow heavily from the Police, joining such good company as Nico & Vinz’s “Am I Wrong,” Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven,” and Gotye and Kimbra’s “Somebody That I Used To Know.”
Chris Brown – “Zero”
Unfortunately, not a Smashing Pumpkins cover. I have occasionally enjoyed a Chris Brown track in my day, but this is truly one of the worst songs I have ever heard.
5 Seconds Of Summer – “Money”
Here is the aforementioned 5SOS song co-penned by Good Charlotte. It’s pretty bad.
DNCE – “Cake By The Ocean”
DNCE is Joe Jonas’ new band, and… I think I’ll go back to listening to Nick now.
Lowell – “Ride” (Feat. Icona Pop)
“Ride” maintains the spirit of Icona Pop’s raucous debut album much better than the new Icona Pop singles do.
Sean Kingston – “Wait Up”
Best Sean Kingston song in recent memory. Did they just slow down the beat from “Trap Queen” and add some video game twinkles? Whatever they did, it’s working for me.
LunchMoney Lewis – “Whip It!” (Feat. Chloe Angelides)
This is 100 percent corn, but as corn goes, it’s on the tastier side — kind of like Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” but with rap verses.
NEWS IN BRIEF
- Ariana Grande showed off some killer impressions on Fallon. [YouTube]
- She also apologized yet again for the donut-licking incident. [ABC]
- Sorry, Taylor Swift: Calvin Harris went to a Thai massage parlor famous for its happy endings. [Gawker]
- On the plus side, at least Swift is nominated for some more awards. [TaylorSwift.com]
- T.I. is no longer working with Iggy Azalea. [Miss Info]
- That’s news to Azalea, though. [Spin]
- Justin Timberlake is starring alongside Anna Kendrick in an animated movie about trolls, as in the toys with the big hair. [Reuters]
- Miley Cyrus is not headlining Glastonbury… [Mirror]
- …but you can preview a new song by Miley in this movie trailer. [Time]
- Madonna spanked Amy Schumer on stage at Madison Square Garden. [The Daily Mail]
- Mariah Carey’s appearance in the Game Of War commercial only last two seconds. [TMZ]
- The conflict about Katy Perry trying to rent a convent rolls on. [ABC]
- So does the Rick Ross/Redfoo lawsuit over the phrase “Every day I’m shufflin’.” [BET]
- Perry reworked some of her hits for a Harper’s Bazaar party. [YouTube]
- Halsey mashed up Justin Bieber and the Weeknd. [MTV]
- A documentary about Sia is in the works. [Deadline]
- Bryan Adams performed with Justin Bieber. [Mashable]
- Robin Thicke stopped by James Corden’s show to deliver terrible pickup lines. [YouTube]
- Neil Patrick Harris pranked the judges of The Voice on his new reality show. [YouTube]
- Katharine McPhee’s new album Hysteria is streaming. [Billboard]
- Lastly, stop the presses! Demi Lovato has unfollowed Selena Gomez on Twitter. [Billboard]
HOLD ON, WE’RE GOING HOME
Well, this is embarrassing. Bless. pic.twitter.com/eYtplLX2fq
— ?????? (@callmedollar) September 11, 2015
HOLD ON, WE’RE STILL GOING HOME
Justin Bieber: "Who's Shawn Mendes?" pic.twitter.com/6YRpb0dJL5
— Shady Music Facts (@musicnews_shade) September 15, 2015