Fall Music Preview 2016
Green Day’s raucous return, Tove Lo’s bold pop breakout, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s adventurous Hamilton experiment, and more: EW has exclusive scoops on the 42 records that matter most this season.
M.I.A., AIM, Sept. 9
After releasing four records of anarchic, geopolitically charged hip-hop, the world’s most vital female MC is feeling the love on AIM. “It’s just too easy to hate,” says the London-based Sri Lankan. “If you can get over it, that’s inspiring. And that’s kind of the message of the album.” She means it: M.I.A. made amends with ex-boyfriend and producer Diplo to collaborate on a remix of “Bird Song.” She’s also called on new pals: Former One Direction member Zayn Malik contributes stunning vocals to the uplifting “Freedun,” which echoes the hands-in-the-air vibe of her smash “Paper Planes.” M.I.A., who split from fiancé Benjamin Bronfman in 2012, admits that being single “kind of got me into music again, where I could sit down in one go and just stay in the music.” The result is her best album since 2007’s game-changing Kala. M.I.A., however, remains charmingly modest: “It sounds all right.” — Kevin O’Donnell
Head and the Heart, Signs of Light, Sept. 9
The Seattle folkies had a rough start to 2016: Founding member Josiah Johnson announced in March that he was taking a hiatus to go to rehab, leaving the band without a singer for a summer tour. But the Head and the Heart haven’t completely lost their heads. For Signs of Light, they signed to a major label and went to Nashville to work with rock producer Jay Joyce (Cage the Elephant). The collection is their most electric and uplifting set yet. “Instead of ‘Life’s a bummer,’ I wanted to be like, ‘Life’s hard, but remember the good things that have happened,'” says Jonathan Russell, the group’s primary lyricist and newly appointed frontman. “I wanted to make that f—ing record.” — Madison Vain
For more on Signs of Light, see EW’s in-depth interview.
KT Tunstall, KIN, Sept. 9
A few years ago KT Tunstall nearly gave up on her recording career. “My dad had died, I got divorced, I felt very lost at sea,” she says. “I didn’t know what I wanted.” So she moved from London to Los Angeles and started working as a film composer. But it wasn’t long before sunset drives through the canyons inspired the Scottish singer to write pop-rock anthems again. Though it’s her fifth LP, Tunstall calls KIN the spiritual follow-up to her 2004 debut, Eye to the Telescope. “This [album] was more like who I was then,” she says. “Carefree, unselfconscious, and writing music because I enjoyed it.” — Nolan Feeney
For more on KIN, see EW’s in-depth interview with Tunstall.
Meat Loaf, Braver Than We Are, Sept. 16
Meat Loaf’s upcoming album is his most anticipated in years, largely because it’s his first collaboration with Bat Out of Hell songwriter Jim Steinman since the early ’90s. On his latest, Meat Loaf fully inhabits characters with conviction, like the sex-obsessed old man in the operatic “Who Needs the Young.” “There’s not a single moment that is Meat Loaf,” says the singer, who chalks up his June on-stage collapse to feeling “worn out.” “I’ve always done characters, but this particular character is more alive…than any other character I’ve ever done.” —
Wilco, Schmilco, Sept. 9
Jeff Tweedy has called his band’s largely acoustic LP “joyously negative.”
Jack White, Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016, Sept. 9
The 26-song set spans both old and new material.
Against Me!, Shape Shift With me, Sept. 16
In one of the most contentious election years ever, a punk band known for its radical politics is about to release an album of…love songs? “There is an irony to it that I recognize,” says Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace. But after coming out as transgender in 2012 and drawing on her transition for 2014’s acclaimed Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Grace—who also has a memoir due in November—says writing about dating and relationships feels just as necessary now. “I don’t want this conversation to just be, ‘Hey, we’d like to use this bathroom,'” she says. “Trans people should be able to fall in love and sing love songs too.” — Nolan Feeney
Usher, Hard II Love, Sept. 16
He dropped two singles this summer, including the swaggering “No Limit.”
AlunaGeorge, I Remember, Sept. 16
For their second album, the British duo of Aluna Francis (vocals) and George Reid (production) hoped to make more of the downtempo electronic music they showcased on 2013’s Body Music. Instead, they ended up churning out empowering club bangers like the dancehall-esque “I’m in Control” and “Mean What I Mean,” which tackles consent. “We always experiment and are just inspired by the day,” Francis says of their process. “In the end, [those songs] happened to be the strongest.” — Nolan Feeney
For more on I Remember, see EW’s in-depth interview with AlunaGeorge.
Bruce Springsteen, Chapter and Verse, Sept. 23
The companion album to his autobiography will include five unreleased tracks.
Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, Sept. 23
Multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij has been working primarily as a producer since splitting from indie rockers Vampire Weekend, with credits on albums by Frank Ocean and Carly Rae Jepsen. For this project, he’s returning to his indie roots by teaming with former Walkmen singer Hamilton Leithauser. “It was definitely a dream collaboration for me,” says Batmanglij. The album is a stylish hybrid of jangly guitar riffs, piano balladry, and ’50s-style doo-wop—the perfect blend of VW’s and Walkmen’s sounds. Says Leithauser: “We really sort of fell in together, and that just never happens.” — Eric Renner Brown
Shawn Mendes, Illuminate, Sept. 23
To record his second album, Toronto’s teen heartthrob escaped to the picturesque woods of upstate New York. “I just wanted to be with my favorite writers and producers and be very consistent from the first song we did to the last,” Mendes says. The end product establishes his songwriting bona fides with mature R&B-inflected songs like “Ruin” and blues-pop numbers he describes as “so John Mayer.” “I’m still learning my voice and my style,” Mendes says. “From [age] 15 to 18, your whole view on life changes.” — Nolan Feeney
Wyclef Jean, J'ouvert, Sept. 30
Wyclef Jean hasn’t released an official studio project since 2010, the same year he ran unsuccessfully for president of Haiti. “I’ve been having my John Lennon moment,” the ex-Fugee says of his political extracurriculars. “You know, where he leaves the Beatles and [tries to] change the world?” Now Jean’s back to music with J’ouvert, an EP of Caribbean-style party music, with production from retro-pop duo the Knocks and Walk the Moon’s Nicholas Petricca. (A full-length is due next summer.) Working with new talent helped him feel invigorated: “I got my mojo back.” — Nolan Feeney
Bon Iver, 22, A Million, Sept. 30
The latest from Justin Vernon & Co. features eccentric titles like “8 (circle).”
Danny Brown, Atrocity Exhibition, Sept. 30
Hip-hop’s most lovable eccentric, 35, explains the far-out influences, from Björk to The Hateful Eight, behind his third album.
What have you been up to since your last album, 2013’s Old?
I bought a house. I learned how to drive, got a car.
You had never driven before?
No. I used to be scared of it. That was a fear I had to overcome.
So now you’re more mobile than ever.
I wouldn’t say that, because I still like to drink and smoke a lot. I’m not the safest driver in the world, so I don’t drive that much.
How have you evolved since your last album?
I can pretty much rap over everything. I’m a pretty good rapper. [Laughs] With this one, it was all about finding my sound—this feels, to me, like the first Danny Brown album. I didn’t care about what was happening with music today.
The new cut “Really Doe” features Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt. How’d that happen?
When I was making [2011’s] XXX, my top three rappers—the three guys that I was like, “Damn, I think they might rap better than me”—were Ab-Soul, Kendrick, and Earl. The guys I looked at as competition are now my friends. We’re like the Four Horsemen.
What influenced you during the sessions?
I was listening to a lot of Björk, System of a Down, Korn’s Jonathan Davis, and Raekwon. I always watch a lot of Quentin Tarantino movies; the way he sequences his scenes and stuff, I try to do that with my songs. I’ve watched Hateful Eight, like, 50 times already. I can just repeat lines verbatim. People don’t want to watch it with me because I’m sitting there saying the whole movie!
–Eric Renner Brown
BANKS, The Altar, Sept. 30
Since releasing her 2014 debut, Goddess, the Los Angeles R&B singer-songwriter scored a slot opening up for the Weeknd, where she learned how to handle the rigors of fame. “There’s a new confidence I have that I think I got from touring and learning how to be a boss,” she says. It also influenced her art. The Altar, featuring the single “F— With Myself,” is far more experimental and assured. “I was less afraid,” she says of working on this album. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be f—ing confrontational and authoritative and sassy.'” — Jessica Goodman
Regina Spektor, Remember Us to Life, Sept. 30
The Russian-born piano prodigy finished her latest album ages ago. Sort of. “I had so many songs waiting in the wings, and I mixed and matched to get them out of the purgatory of being sketches,” she says of Remember Us to Life, which includes everything from sophisticated piano-powered pop to R&B chants to orchestral arrangements from producer-guitarist Leo Abrahams. “[But] all of these songs are new, even to me…. I feel like I’ve been working on it forever, but I’m ready for it to be in somebody’s ears, like I’m singing to them.” — Joey Nolfi
For more on Remember Us to Life, see EW’s in-depth interview with Spektor.
Rick Astley, 50, Oct. 7
Twenty-three years after his last U.S. release—and nearly a decade after “Rickrolling” became an internet phenomenon—the “Never Gonna Give You Up” singer returns with an LP of blue-eyed soul, which hit No. 1 when it was released in his native U.K. in June. “I think it’s been good for me,” says Rick Astley of the notoriety brought on by his meme. As for the music, he wrote all the songs, including “Angels on My Side,” about the love and help he got from friends and relatives. “I don’t have a religion,” he says. “It sounds corny, but my faith is in human beings.” — Clark Collis
Green Day, Revolution Radio, Oct. 7
Back in the fall of 2012, Green Day had an ambitious plan to release three albums in the span of three months. But while promoting the first installment, ¡Uno!, that September, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong had a public meltdown on stage and subsequently sought treatment for substance abuse. Now, after four years—and a successful stint in rehab—Armstrong, 44, drummer Tré Cool, 43, and bassist Mike Dirnt, 44, are pumped for their return with Revolution Radio. “All those health issues are behind us,” says Cool. “We just really do enjoy the s— out of being in a rock & roll band with our best friends.” For their 12th studio album, the guys “went down and dirty,” says Cool. They built a new studio in Oakland, their hometown, and worked without a producer for the first time since 1992’s Kerplunk. The sessions were top secret. “We didn’t tell anybody that we were recording, except our wives,” says Cool. “[That] took the pressure off.” The resulting record echoes themes of 2004’s watershed American Idiot: It brims with stadium-size statements like “Bang Bang,” which addresses America’s mass-shooting epidemic, and the hyperpolitical “Say Goodbye.” Cool says Armstrong wrote many of the lyrics prior to this year’s cartoonish presidential election. “I wish we could take credit for being supergeniuses and having crystal balls,” he jokes. “But our balls are normal, like everyone else’s.” — Eric Renner Brown
Phantogram, Three, Oct. 7
The indie-pop duo worked with producer Ricky Reed (Meghan Trainor, Icona Pop).
Norah Jones, Day Breaks, Oct. 7
At home in Brooklyn, Norah Jones keeps her piano in an unusual place: her kitchen, where she’ll sometimes go and practice late at night. “It’s fun to sit down real quick and just play,” she says. In recent years, the 37-year-old hasn’t always been as excited to do so, but her sixth solo album, Day Breaks, marks a return to the piano after years of favoring the guitar. On her last solo record, 2012’s Little Broken Hearts, she teamed up with Gnarls Barkley cofounder Danger Mouse and experimented with country-fried riffs and swirling synths. Yet a series of solo piano shows last year steered the nine-time Grammy winner back toward the cozy, more traditional jazz sounds of her landmark 2002 debut, Come Away With Me. “Rather than thinking, ‘It’s time to get back to my roots,’ I definitely was just inspired to do this music,” she says. “I just had so much fun playing piano.”
When it came to her lyrics, however, Jones drew from a not-so-fun source: the news. “There’s a lot going on—race relations, terrorism, people going nuts and shooting each other,” she says. “If you watch the news, you’re basically going to stay up all night worrying.” Jones channels her anxieties about the state of the world into songs like the frenetic “Flipside,” which references gun violence, and a hopeful cover of “Peace,” Horace Silver’s 1959 jazz standard. “It’s true that you get inspired by darkness,” she says. “Even when I’m in a good place, I could have one dark day and get a good song out of it.” — Nolan Feeney
Daya, Sit Still, Look Pretty, Oct. 7
The singer-songwriter has dominated airwaves this year with a breakout pop single, “Hide Away.” (That’d be the earworm that goes, “Where do the Good! Boys! Go! To! Hide! Away! Hide awaaaaay?!”) But Daya is taking a laid-back approach to her anticipated full-length debut. Sit Still, Look Pretty blends reggae grooves, EDM beats, and her gorgeous, fluttery vocals. “There’s less in-your-face pop, less driving beats,” she explains. “It’s more chill.” While the sonic vibe is easygoing, her lyrics still aim to empower. “I write about growing up, youth, and development,” she says. “I write about what I know.” — Jessica Goodman
Pitbull, Climate Change, Oct. 7
He’s one of the planet’s most reliable suppliers of party-starters, but Pitbull himself doesn’t spend much time in the clubs these days. “With social media, it’s not the smartest thing,” he says. “Anything can go south quick, and it can be documented.” So the club comes to him on his star-studded 10th album, which touches on everything from rock (“Bad Man,” with Travis Barker, Joe Perry, and Robin Thicke) to deep house (“Sexy Body,” featuring Jennifer Lopez). No genre is off-limits for Mr. Worldwide: “I’m always challenging myself and never getting comfortable. Complacency is the cousin of death.” — Nolan Feeney
For more on Climate Change, see EW’s in-depth interview with Pitbull.
OneRepublic, Oh My My, Oct. 7
OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder has crafted hits for Adele, Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, and dozens of other superstars. Yet he’s still on an endless quest to find new sounds and ideas. So for the follow-up to 2013’s platinum Native, OneRepublic touched on inspirations as diverse as gospel, stadium rock, and ’80s synth-pop; they also scored collabs with Peter Gabriel and Pharrell Williams. One highlight from the album is “Kids,” the band’s most anthemic song yet. “If you’re not poking or needling or pushing the envelope, you’re not doing it right,” says Tedder. “Whatever our sound is—and I don’t think we have a dyed-in-the-wool sound—this album is by far our most evolved.” — Kevin O’Donnell
JoJo, Mad Love, Oct. 14
Following a messy 10-year dispute with her former label, JoJo has a new record deal—plus a fresh batch of pop tunes and heartbreaking ballads. “Nothing was off-limits,” says the “Get Out” singer of her first album since 2006’s The High Road. So she’s calling out phony girls (“Fake Ass Bitches”), dissing shady exes, even opening up about her personal life (one song eulogizes her father, who died in 2015). “I’d written and recorded hundreds of songs, but this year I knew people were really going to hear them,” she says. “It set a different intention.” — Jessica Goodman
Kings of Leon, Walls Oct. 14
After overcoming band tensions and releasing 2013’s Mechanical Bull, frontman Caleb Followill, 34, reveals how the Southern-rock gods found renewed purpose for their boldest record yet.
For your seventh album, you’ve parted ways with longtime producer Angelo Petralgia and teamed with Arcade Fire producer Markus Dravs. Was the change good?
We didn’t know what it was going to be like to welcome an outsider, but once we got in there we started clicking. We did what you’re supposed to do in the studio: We fought each other and loved each other.
There have been rifts between band members over the years, and you went on hiatus in 2011. How are you all getting along now?
We’re in the best place we’ve ever been. We’re enjoying what we’re doing, and we have a great relationship outside of making music. A lot of bands don’t make it this long, especially family bands. Right now we’re more excited than we’ve ever been to work.
Any challenges with recording?
Seven albums deep, you run into times where you’re like, “Where do we go?” I’d think, “I can write about this, but should I?” My wife [model Lily Aldridge] and the guys would say, “Don’t let fear get in the way of what the future holds.”
What goals did you guys have in making this album?
We’re trying to change people’s perception of [us]. We have more depth on this album and more situations where we dipped our toe in before but never committed. Now we’re wanting to dive in. I know this is a pop-driven world and what we do isn’t necessarily at the top of the heap of music that people are listening to, but I feel like once people discover this album, it’s going to change them.
How does that feel?
It’s f—ing scary! You’re saying, “We’re not going to record in our studio. We’re not going to use the same producer. We’re going to fight and work hard and do s— that we’ve never done.” But right now we’re rehearsing in our small studio space and it feels like, “This is good.”
Kenny Chesney, Cosmic Hallelujah, Oct. 28
What could the President of No Shoes Nation possibly have left to prove after selling more than 30 million albums worldwide and scoring 24 No. 1 country singles? Plenty. Chesney says he wants to challenge his fans with tunes that are “fun but not dumb.” So the Nashville superstar is mixing socially conscious fare like his previously released single “Noise” with bluegrassy jams like “Trip Around the Sun.” He’s also teamed up with Pink on the heart-tugger “Setting the World on Fire.” (Chesney moved the LP’s release date from summer to fall so he could finish up the duet.) “It felt like a cosmic hallelujah,” he says of how he arrived at the spiritual-sounding album title, “that the connection that I have with my audience was somehow written in the stars.” — Madison Vain
CRX, New Skin, Oct. 28
In October, Nick Valensi will become the final Strokes member to launch a side project. “I never really had the urge to front a band, but something hit me hard and I wanted to get on stage,” says Valensi, who formed CRX after the Strokes decided not to tour behind 2013’s Comedown Machine. Produced by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, New Skin‘s 11 tracks flip between power pop—Valensi says he was influenced by the Cars, Cheap Trick, and Elvis Costello—and what the guitarist calls “hipster-diet heavy metal.” And for eager Strokes fans wondering if Julian Casablancas & Co. will release a follow-up to 2016’s EP Future Present Past, Valensi says, “Hopefully, next year.” — Eric Renner Brown
Tove Lo, Lady Wood, Oct. 28
Tove Lo knows how to make a first impression. On her 2013 breakout single, “Habits (Stay High)”—the first of three top 20 hits for the Swedish singer—she battled heartbreak by getting lit and ogling “freaky people” at sex clubs. The 28-year-old hasn’t reined in the drug metaphors (or her libido) on her tellingly titled second album, Lady Wood, whose edgy beats and potent pop hooks will appeal to tweens and art freaks alike. “I realized I spend my life chasing rushes, whether it’s love or being on stage or drugs,” she says. “[The album is] like every different stage of that rush.”
Lady Wood once again finds Lo working with producing partners the Struts to craft steely, minimalist dance pop inspired by “amazing raves all over the world.” (“We speak the same language,” she says. “‘Make that sound like a big blue whale coming in and looking for its partner!'”) Lyrically, however, the album explores the strain of relationships in the spotlight and the wild-child reputation listeners glean from her lyrics. “My worry after the first record was that I wasn’t going to be able to be as personal and open because I was scared because of all the reactions,” she says. Instead she decided to open up even further, filming a Lemonade-style mini-movie. She hopes the project will kick-start her acting career. As for the characters she’d potentially like to play, she says, “Anything that lets the dark side of my brain run free.” — Nolan Feeney
Empire of the Sun, Two Vines, Oct. 28
The Australian psych-pop weirdos had a spiritual awakening before making their third record. “Buddha was revealed to me,” says multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Littlemore. “And the theme really rushed through me: I wanted to write about plants and love and the planet.” To achieve this vision, Littlemore and bandmate Luke Steele recruited Fleetwood Mac frontman Lindsey Buckingham, Prince’s onetime protegée Wendy Melvoin, and David Bowie collaborators Henry Hey and Tim Lefebvre. The result is more akin to the interstellar psychedelia of Empire’s 2008 debut than 2013’s more Top 40-radio-baiting Ice on the Dune. But to hear Littlemore explain the album’s scope, he says cryptically, “We had the idea of an image where the future of the world would be any of these great cities, but completely covered in vines.” — Madison Vain
For more on Two Vines, see EW’s in-depth interview with Empire of the Sun.
Ryan Adams, Title TBD, Nov. 4
How many songs did the troubadour write for his 16th album? “Quite literally 80,” he says. “Probably more!” He’s distilled this record—inspired, Adams says, by everyone from Bruce Springsteen to the Smiths to ’70s rockers Bachman-Turner Overdrive—down to a more manageable dozen or so tracks, and he credits legendary producer Don Was (Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt) for the studio guidance. “I didn’t know if I knew what I was doing,” says Adams. “So when you’re in a situation like that, you gotta get Gandalf—you gotta call Don Was!” — Kevin O’Donnell
For more on Ryan Adam’s new album, see EW’s in-depth interview.
Sting, 57th & 9th, Nov. 11
No lutes here: The music icon, 64, returns with his first pop-rock album in more than a decade.
You recorded this album in less than four months. Were you feeling extra motivated?
My manager said, “You have to have written these songs by a certain date, have them recorded by a certain date…” There was a spontaneous freedom about it and a fun element about it. I think you hear that.
On the tune “50,000,” you sing about the death of rock stars.
David Bowie went first and then Prince. It all seemed to topple on top of each other. It was a strange time because you think that these people are immortal, but then suddenly they’re like the rest of us, they die. It intrigues me that great success is this brilliant light, but also every brilliant light creates a dark shadow. I think wisdom only comes when you can navigate both. I’m getting philosophical. [Laughs] It’s because I’m in Elsinore [Denmark].
Another major theme is climate change, and on “One Fine Day” you take on global-warming skeptics.
I pray that climate skeptics are right. [Laughs] I’d like the scientists to be wrong! But I think it’s happening. This is my ironic take on that whole thing.
Whenever you return to rock music, fans draw comparisons to your work with the Police. Does that bum you out?
I was in a very successful rock band. I’m never going to feel anything but pride about that.
What motivates you to keep creating after so many decades?
Just to have fun. I don’t even admit to myself that I’m making a record. I walk to work every day, and if I’ve had fun at the end of the day, then the day is worth it.
Metallica, Hardwired...to Self-Destruct, Nov. 18
When the metal gods last released an album, 2008’s Death Magnetic, George W. Bush was president, the stock market hadn’t yet cratered, and Taylor Swift was just a squadless country singer from Pennsylvania. Lots has changed since then, but Metallica’s latest captures the band fans already know and love. Hardwired is a two-disc set packed with riff-fueled, high-octane thrash. Drummer Lars Ulrich says the LP is “a little leaner and tighter and slightly more urgent” than Death Magnetic. “On the last record, some of the stuff got overly progressive,” he says. “For the first 25 years [of the band], there was this peculiar paranoia about not repeating ourselves. Since then, we’ve been feeling more at ease with what’s in our DNA.” — Eric Renner Brown
Common, Black America Again, Fall TBD
The Grammy- and Oscar-winning artist had only three guiding principles for his 11th studio album. “God, love, and blackness,” he says. With those tenets in place, the rapper got a top roster of collaborators (Anderson .Paak, Stevie Wonder, and more) for an album that fuses jazz and soul arrangements with lyrics about the black experience in America. Sixteen years after releasing his groundbreaking sociopolitical album Like Water for Chocolate, Common is still hoping to spark dialogue: “When you have an opportunity to speak to the multitudes, why not plant the seeds of change and good vibrations?” — Madison Vain
DNCE, Title TBD, Fall TBD
Joe Jonas’ dance-pop band rode high on its massive summer single “Cake by the Ocean,” and now its debut full-length effort aims to continue the party. “There’s this beach vibe to the album,” Jonas says of the Max Martin-produced collection. “It’s not anything too emotional or heavy. The core is pretty loose.” But the album does include a few “very personal” ballads, Jonas admits. “Sometimes [we’re writing about] relationships, but other times it’s just who you are as a person.” — Jessica Goodman
For more on DNCE’s debut album, see EW’s in-depth interview with Jonas.
Beck, Title TBD, Oct. 21
When you take home an Album of the Year Grammy, the pressure to deliver on a follow-up record is surely intense. That wasn’t the case for Beck, who beat out favored nominee Beyoncé in 2015 with Morning Phase. In fact, the 46-year-old had much of his 13th studio album already in the can when he accepted his trophy. “We started this record probably midway through when I was making [Morning Phase],” says Beck, who collaborated with his pal and producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia). “There was a bit of crossover there…. Each record is its own beast. Some are a leisurely walk, some are like [climbing] a sheer rock face. This was a combination. But we did have the luxury of time to try and make everything better.”
Where Morning Phase was built on sweeping strings and acoustic instrumentation, the shape-shifting pop savant is firing up the amps and revving the tempos here. If that sounds like the party-starting vibe of such beloved albums as 1996’s Odelay and 1999’s Midnite Vultures, the comparison is fitting. “We worked a lot at Greg’s studio [in Silver Lake, Calif.], which, for trivia’s sake, is two blocks from where we recorded [those albums],” says Beck. He also admits to feeling inspired by performing again: “You’re coming in from the energy of a live show, and I was bringing a lot of the shows back to the record.”
Highlights include the dazzling “7th Heaven,” the funky “No Distraction,” and “Up All Night,” a club-ready, string-laden romp that’s so disco-shagadelic, it should come with a leisure suit. (The previously released singles “Dreams” and “WOW” are also included.) “This record is much more celebratory and hopefully uplifting,” says Beck. “There’s a joy in Stevie Wonder, or early Beatles, or the Clash at their most rocking and experimental. I wanted to find some of that.” —Kevin O’Donnell
Bruno Mars, Title TBD, Fall TBD
Bruno Mars hasn’t released an album in four years, but you can’t really blame the guy: He’s kept busy contributing to Adele’s blockbuster 25, playing the Super Bowl not once but twice, and recording a little ditty you might have heard called “Uptown Funk!” He’s nearing completion on his third LP, but details are still scarce: Mars’ engineer cryptically told fans in February to expect a new sound from the star. Don’t believe him? Just watch—Mars has been working with dubstep superstar Skrillex for an unspecified project. — Nolan Feeney
Various Artists, The Hamilton Mixtape, Fall TBD
For Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Roots’ Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Questlove, putting together this compilation of covers and interpolations of the Broadway smash’s Grammy-winning score (with artists like Common, Busta Rhymes, Chance the Rapper, and Sia) proved to be an unprecedented challenge. “I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders the day I finally finished both verses for [a new version of] ‘My Shot,'” Trotter says. “It’s such an iconic song and it plays such an integral part in the Broadway production that I didn’t want to do it a disservice. It wasn’t broken, so it didn’t necessarily need fixing.” Mixtape includes demos, old songs from the show’s Off Broadway run, and reworkings by eager artists who put their own spin on Hamilton characters. “It’s a love letter from both sides,” Trotter explains. “One from Lin to the artists and MCs who inspired the songs that were part of the Broadway production, and then on the other side from the artists who were massively affected in a great way by [seeing] the play.” — Isabella Biedenharn
For more on The Hamilton Mixtape, see EW’s in-depth interview with Trotter.
Rebecca Black, Title TBD, Fall TBD
Rebecca Black—yup, that viral internet sensation who was obsessed with a certain day of the week—now wants you to get to know her on her own terms. Black’s new single, “The Great Divide (Crash Cove Remix),” a radio-ready EDM-lite anthem, shows off her voice and just how much she’s grown since “Friday.” “I realized that if I really want to make music that I love, it’s going to take me being confident in myself,” says Black, who’s hoping to release an EP or album independently this year. — Nolan Feeney
Lady Gaga, Title TBD, Fall TBD
Following 2013’s divisive ARTPOP and her jazz album with Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga might be leaving flashy dance pop behind for her fifth LP. Though the singer recorded eight songs with “Poker Face” producer RedOne, she more recently logged studio time with Mark Ronson (“Uptown Funk!”) and Kevin Parker (the mastermind of psych-rock outfit Tame Impala), both of whom worked on the album’s first single, “Perfect Illusion.” “[The world has] seen the massive pop singles, tours, and dance numbers,” Ronson told Charlie Rose in May, “so it’s really great to make this very honest, authentic analog kind of record with her.” — Nolan Feeney
Alicia Keys, Title TBD, Fall TBD
The R&B diva also joins The Voice this fall as a coach.
Miranda Lambert, Title TBD, Fall TBD
The country star gets personal on smoldering cuts like the single “Vice.”