With a fresh, new year, everyone is looking forward to the music that will come with it. After the Grammys in February, 2017 will prove if it’s a better or worse year in music. There are many rumors of albums to be released; some confirmed and some not. From the set release dates to the “good guesses” for artists who’ve been quiet for a few years, here are the Top 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017:
Note: This does not mean these are confirmed. Most are likely but haven’t been officially announced and/or the date is not set.
Top 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017
10. Big Sean│I Decided
My 4th album “I Decided.” drops 2.3.17.
Preorder + new music at midnite EST.
Can’t wait to share this story with yall. pic.twitter.com/zLdFdJ02eK
— Sean Don (@BigSean) December 23, 2016
Big Sean, though known for a handful of hits, really knocked the industry with the sentimental “One Man Can Change the World” featuring Kanye West and John Legend that took a very emotional, vulnerable twist to the rapper’s music. It demonstrated that different, no matter the type, can be crucial to the progression of one’s career. This song is one of fifteen tracks on Dark Sky Paradise, Big Sean’s 2015 album. Dark Sky Paradise is his third album. Then, nothing. Big Sean was off the map in 2016, and the enormous wave of talent swept away the memory of Dark Sky. Big who?
And that’s not exactly fair. Yes, Kendrick Lamar released a literally untitled mixtape, and Chance the Rapper made the industry rethink the typical path to success. However, Big Sean is certainly a talent, and I’m really hoping he proves it again. Artists like Drake and J. Cole (who both released music in 2016) show their emotional side in their music, and it’s become a strength in their work.
However, Big Sean’s mistake was waiting a year to comeback. Hip-hop rapidity is intense because the collaboration and production is so high; artists sometimes release music multiple times a year. I Decided, dropping February 3rd, is a fascinating title. He led I Decided with the single “Bounce Back” that found a spot on the Billboard Top 40 chart. Other singles include “Living Single,” “No More Interviews,” and “Moves.” Hopefully, Big Sean has decided a future path for his artistry. We were getting impatient.
Kehlani is a force to be reckoned with. She has released four singles off her new album SweetSexySavage that drops January 27th. “Distraction,” “Undercover,” “Advice,” and “CRZY” all demonstrate that this R&B singer is as sweet as she is savage. “CRZY” is the original, most popular single off the new album, dropping last July. It hit the Billboard Top 100. There is a self-aware confidence to her that is hard to find at her age. She went from a group act in America’s Got Talent to a solo artist dropping some of R&B’s most refined music.
Her past is not smooth. After years with the group PopLyfe, Nick Cannon helped her get on her feet as a solo artist. Her first mixtape dropped in 2014 (Cloud 9). In the mixtape Cloud 9, reviewers perked their ears at her up-and-coming talent. Furthermore, her second mixtape You Should Be Here fared even better, and artists like Chance the Rapper featured on her tracks. Everyone’s eyes were on her, and with a deal with Atlantic records, SweetSexySavage was born. She also is a songwriter for other artists. The list includes Zayn in addition to many more big stars.
However, the success didn’t mean that Kehlani would never again experience hardship. A social media misunderstanding caused people to attack Kehlani presuming she was cheating on her boyfriend NBA player Kyrie Irving. Though he attempted to clarify, the social media abuse escalated. She attempted suicide. Therefore, fans expect her music to tap into her emotion and life, such as those vulnerable events, since 2015’s mixtape. Her talent includes an intense songwriting focus. Kehlani doesn’t even co-write with others on her own music; only a producer assists. This artistry is what pushes her music, and SweetSexySavage will hopefully hone in on exactly who she is: those three words and the candid lyrics behind her music. Kehlani is touring from February to May on the “SweetSexySavage” World Tour to support her album.
im exhausted to tears n leaving the studio at 5 am these days but im a tornado of anger and productivity. this is not the album ur expecting
— h (@halsey) November 27, 2016
and that’s that.
— h (@halsey) December 4, 2016
Halsey’s Twitter screams “I’m dropping a new album soon.” Two years ago, the eclectic, ballsy female singer dropped Badlands, and Halsey was officially on the mainstream map. “New Americana” became an anthem, yet its tone is so much different than the typical party song. That’s the thing about the Kehlanis and Halseys of the world: even when everyone ‘gets’ them, nobody really does. That’s part of the fascination; the unraveling of the imperfections and layers that make up strong artists like Halsey. In addition, her Rolling Stone cover story interview is arguably one of the most candid interviews on their site. There was no glossing over a bad break up or over-explaining a meet-and-greet gone wrong like other pop divas. Nope, there was Halsey, explaining the time she had a miscarriage before performing Badlands. It makes you read with your mouth half hung open.
With caution, I’m going to step out on a limb here and say some would call her a trainwreck. Her past is not pleasant, and many of her issues stemmed from her own rebellious tendencies. Yet, what some might judge as messy, fans judge as honest. I’m on the side of the fans. Some people, I swear, are born to be artists. Their life stories are potential Hollywood blockbusters, and it’s because of those stories that their music shines.
Badlands was immensely successful because Halsey dove into aspects of relationships, drug abuse, and herself that people in pop are afraid to talk about. And there is a fan base out there ready to hear something that’s not about how a boy broke your break, but more like: “You’re a ‘Rolling Stone’ boy / ‘Never sleep alone’ boy / ‘Got a million numbers and they’re filling up your phone,’ boy. / I’m off the deep end, sleeping / All night through the weekend / Saying that I love him but I know I’m gonna leave him.” Much, much more complicated.
Since it’s only Halsey’s second full length album, and her tweets indicate a different artistic approach, the anticipation builds.
7. Ed Sheeran│÷
Ed Sheeran hinted at new music the day the New Year began. Then he tweeted short clips that revealed a division sign symbol because his last two albums were titled + (2011) and X (2014). Sheeran has been quiet the past few years. Since X dropped in 2014 and a world tour followed, Sheeran took time off of social media and the spotlight.
However, 2017 sees Sheeran active again, and it’s about time. Three years is a long time for the current music industry, and fans are excited to finally hear some new music. His every-three-years streak continues. One thing’s for sure: it’s not slowing his career down one bit. Instead of the entire album, he dropped two singles off ÷ on Friday. “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill” are the first two peeks into his new album that is dropping 2017, but the exact date is TBD. The two singles somehow perfectly highlight + and X, as each represents the vibe behind one his past albums.
+ is candid, man-and-his-guitar, reflective, serious. “Castle on the Hill” embodies that. It’s about the appreciation of home and the people who helped you grow. He openly discusses the imperfections of his childhood friends and family, but he also very clearly argues that these issues don’t take away from how valuable they are to him. It’s a track everyone can relate to. With the struggles that make people human, this song can be compared to anyone who appreciates the people who helped them grow into who they are today.
On the other hand, “Shape of You” leans towards X. X includes more synthetic, sensual music that still touches on his emotion but gives more spice and less guitar ballad. “Shape of You” is about starting another relationship and the heat of it. It coincides with X’s first singles, “Sing” and “Don’t” that are about starting and ending passionate relationships. This is more suave Ed than I-have-a-lot-of-feelings Ed. Only the full album will show which previous work he falls more in line with if any. All I can say: we’re all excited to find out.
6. Katy Perry│(TBD)
— Katy Perry | FOTP (@FOTPKatyPerry) December 17, 2016
Katy Perry has not released a new album since 2013 (Prism). She has slowly hinted at the new album, as she released Twitter videos and Snapchat videos of her in the recording studio. 2016 was a big year for Perry because her single “Rise” was Hillary Clinton’s campaign song. She performed it live at the Democratic National Convention. With her dedication to Clinton’s campaign and at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics (“Rise”), Perry had a busy year but only with one song.
Now, it is time for her to release a full album. She tweeted “2017’s going to be tight af,” so we know she’s gearing up for a big release. In addition, other tweets lead fans to believe that she is gearing up for a tour following the album. This is no surprise, but it’s exciting news for fans who haven’t seen her on tour since “The Prismatic World Tour” in 2014-2015. No word on when exactly the album will drop. 2017 apparently is the year of unset release dates… don’t people know once Beyoncé pulls that stunt, it’s not worth repeating? Either way, we will have to patiently wait to see what four years have done to Perry’s artistry.
5. Bruce Springsteen│(TBD)
Bruce Springsteen is an American icon. There aren’t many things more patriotic than “BORN IN THE USA!” shouted from a packed stadium on a summer night. The release of his first solo album since 2012 has fans rising to their feet. 2017 will reveal the original solo work of Springsteen that lacked the past couple of years. There’s only so many times fans can hear a live or compilation album until they get antsy for genuinely new music. In 2016, he released Chapter and Verse that included five unreleased tracks (two from The Castiles) and thirteen other songs that “trace his musical history from its earliest days and tell a story that parallels the one in the book” (official Bruce Springsteen website). It’s an addition to Springsteen’s autobiography Born to Run, and the album includes a song titled “Born to Run,” as well.
However, Chapter and Verse was not completely original solo work. His last album to produce totally fresh content was 2012’s Wrecking Ball. Therefore, 2017 is so exciting because it will hopefully bring listeners refreshing content from Springsteen’s iconic rock musicality. Springsteen did not have a quiet 2016 between his memoir, compilation album, and outspoken support for Hillary Clinton. Yet The Boss never seems to slow down, and his career is in need of some rejuvenation with new music. In his 2016 Vanity Fair cover story, he noted, “It’s a solo record, more of a singer-songwriter kind of record… Pop records with a lot of strings and instrumentation. So the record is somewhat in that vein.” He also mentioned that the album is basically done and ready, so look out for the quick drop from this rock legend.
Beck was supposed to follow his 2014 Grammy Album of the Year Morning Phase with an album in 2016. However, that didn’t happen, and fans are anxious for new Beck. He hinted that the new album includes songs that will elevate the performance level. Therefore, everyone is curious what form Beck will take in 2017. The new album is coming, we just don’t know when.
However, Beck has mentioned that he wishes it dropped during summer 2016. Therefore, don’t be surprised if he holds off until this summer to drop it. The other side of that argument is he told interviewers it’s coming “very soon,” so maybe he will screw the summer ideal and drop it in the dead of winter. I’m hoping for “Girl”-like pop sounds that make you cheery and smiley through the whole record. It’ll brighten the sun or melt the snow no matter the season.
“Wow” is one of the first singles leading into the delayed album that dropped in 2016. If it’s any indication, Beck’s new music will surely bring the vibrancy and fun out of the album and onto the stage. “Up All Night” further reinforced this as his second single. This was all a lead up to the album’s original release date that was again postponed.
A NOTE FROM THE DESK OF A NEWBORN ADULTTomorrow I turn 20, and it’s all I’ve been able to think about for days. I walk…
Lorde is another huge singer who has been off the radar for a few years. And this Facebook note above that she published right when she turned 20… this is why the world loves Lorde. The post itself could be a song for an album. If you weren’t excited about the album before, you are now. Her artistry translates into regular writing like poetry. Some musicians’ autobiographies that sound like the writing could be set to a beat. Somehow, Lorde’s Facebook post, so perfectly produced right as she transforms to a twentysomething, seem like the album’s intro instead of social media marketing. It was a Cinderella moment, but her dress is actually black, and no jewels or makeup glitter her face.
Lorde made a smashing name for herself with 2013’s Pure Heroine. “Royals,” “Team,” and so many more outlined the epitome of teenage glory and angst. Pure Heroine eschewed pop culture instead of stacking another bouncy tune about partying and #YOLO. She did so in a way nobody had before, demonstrating someone twice her age, like she was already 30 at 16.
Now, this Facebook post shows even further growth in the star. 2016 was a huge year for her. Lorde explains she went through heartbreak, a big move, friendship changes, and realizations regarding how people are. In her post, she states, “Writing Pure Heroine was my way of enshrining our teenage glory, putting it up in lights forever so that part of me never dies, and this record – well, this one is about what comes next.”
This is so relatable, as many go through their teenage years finding themselves, and by early twenties, settle into a new version of themselves past the innocence of younger years. Lorde continues to drop hints since that post including tweets that mention the record and studio. This could easily transform to the most exciting anticipated album due to Lorde’s inner transformation that we all experience, more or less, when wobbling into adulthood from the bright, naive teens. What I can say is Jack Antonoff (fun., Bleachers), Taylor Swift’s producer, is going to have a mind-blowing 2017.
2. U2│Songs of Experience
U2 will not die. They have rocked stages since the 70’s, and each time, they seem to come back with a determination. Bono announced the confirmation of an exciting 2017 through the Christmas YouTube video above. This includes Songs of Experience and a special tour. Unfortunately, Songs of Innocence did not go over as planned. U2 force-downloaded Songs of Innocence on iPhones through Apple Music. Needless to say, people were livid. Thanks for the free music but no thanks? It sadly overshadowed the album itself that included some solid new tracks from the band. Ironically, the new album is its follow-up titled Songs of Experience. U2 certainly learned their lesson the first time around, so it’ll definitely be interesting to see what ‘experience’ and developments the band has made since.
The band also wants to nod to the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree, so the incorporation or ode to that album will certainly be a factor in their upcoming tour. They just announced their 30th anniversary celebration of The Joshua Tree with stadium performances of their 1987 album across American and Europe. This will be U2’s upcoming tour aside from their new album.
In addition, part of the love for U2 stems from their social activism and charity work. The band members, together or as individuals, consistently address social injustice, disease, poverty, and more. Specifically, AIDS is a problematic, widespread disease the led Bono to co-found Product Red that raises money for the Global Fund. This is just one of countless examples when the band and Bono have actively assisted with social issues.
It is this ‘good heart’ at the band’s core that pumps U2 through the ages. Their rock music is legendary, but they also carry a purpose that propels them forward. I find that musicians who lack direction and purpose fall to the wayside much quicker than those who look forward in their artistry. Even if it’s self discovery and not social justice, music is expression. Of emotions, situations, other people, life lessons, and so much more. Therefore, the casual approach normally does not get singers far.
1. Taylor Swift│(TBD)
Taylor. Swift. What does the now-pop singer have in store for us. And is she still pop?
Swift’s classic approach to a biannual album release stopped in 2016, and we’re left wondering why. In addition, her potential collaborations with rap sharks like Drake have fans now wondering… is Swift… turning…. hip-hop? Note: Swift has the epitome of white girl dance moves. Does she somehow have swagger?
Most likely, Swift has not gone full hip-hop on us. But as she delves more into the pop scene, it is likely that she leans on creative vibes from other genres surrounding pop. Much like each transition from previous albums, the coolest thing about TSwift is listeners hear the progression and evolution between her last album to her new one, artistically and personally. She truly envelopes whatever place her music is in, and one can even see it through her outward appearance, as well. Vogue’s fall cover shoot with Swift’s shorter, almost white-bleached hair was an indicator that she was back in the studio.
2016: I Knew You Were Trouble…
It was the year of Swift drama without the music. Her and Calvin Harris split, she dated Tom Hiddleston closely afterwards, Kanye dropped “Famous,” Swift fought against his lyrics regarding her, Kim Kardashian exposed Snapchat videos that show Swift agreeing to some of the lyrics. Hmm. That’s just a brief, run-on sentence summary. Swift did sign a deal with AT&T and DirecTV for Taylor Swift NOW 13-episode series that documents behind-the-stage footage from 1989, the tour, and so on. She is also headlining the DirecTV Super Saturday Night concert in Houston on the eve of Super Bowl LI. For Fifty Shades Darker, she collaborated with Zayn on “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.”
There is a lot of explanation that Swift owes her fans regarding her chaotic past year. There are hints that she is working on the next great work, but not a peep from Swift herself. Friends Lorde and Gigi Hadid have mentioned her studio time in passing, but even with the turn to 2017, Swift still did not acknowledge the gap. The ironic part is that she forewarned us. After the mega “1989 World Tour,” Swift promised that she was taking a long break (no biannual album release). Nobody seemed to be convinced that it would actually happen. 2017 is upon us, and no album. We can only hope that whatever the blonde superstar has up her sleeve, it will be revealed this year. She hasn’t disappointed yet.