It’s the most wonderful time of the year: A time when the promise of next year’s music still shines bright like a diamond, free of the crippling reality of weak lead singles, terrible cover art and devastating chart positions.
(Remember how excited we all were for The Spirit Indestructible this time last year? Eesh.)
There’s plenty of major albums coming our way in 2013 by both up-and-comers and veterans alike, so as I do yearly, I’ve put together a guide to some of the most titillating releases just on the horizon. This is the first installment–watch for the next round-up tomorrow.
I’ll be anticipating…
Well, it’s official: The Veronicas are back in a completely non-disappointing way.
It’s been a minute (FOUR YEARS OF MINUTES, TO BE EXACT) since we last heard from the stunning Aussie synth-pop heartbreakers. Tomorrow, the girls will premiere their Toby Gad-produced comeback, “Lolita”–and it’s massive.
How is it, generally speaking? It’s a very natural progression from the solid, forward-thinking dark electro-pop of their 2007 record Hook Me Up. It’s like a dark Ke$ha stormer–sans vomit and glitter, plus violently obsessive tendencies.
The Beginning: It sounds exactly like Ellie Goulding‘s “Lights,” until someone takes a razor-sharp synth line and shreds the sparkly electronica verses into a punchy, rave-pop anthem.
The Chorus: …It’s fucking M-A-J-O-R. Big stuff. “I’m your Lolita/La Femme Nikita/When we’re together, you’ll love me forever!” In true Veronicas tradition, it’s a yelp-at-the-top-of-your-lungs, cling-to-whatever’s-close-to-you sort of affair. They clearly haven’t lost their ability to carve a killer hook.
The Post-Chorus: Nothing better underscores the fact that it’s truly The Year of 2012 like a big, fat synth-y beat breakdown following a chorus! It’s a little ‘of-the-moment,’ but it doesn’t really feel like the Veronicas are pulling out their “Starships”-shaped cookie cutters either. It just feels like an extension of their first forays into synth-pop.
Fashionable Dubstep Breakdown: Yes, there is one of those.
Choice line: “You’re making a comeback, I’m taking your crown.” How very apropos.
“Lolita” will be released on July 27. (iTunes)
Oh, you want MOAH? Well, I’ll give you more!
On Friday, I posted the first batch of MuuMuse’s Most Anticipated releases of 2012–round-up of what we already know, what we’ve already heard, what we want to hear in the next year. Naturally, one post just isn’t enough–so here’s round two!
Girls Aloud, TBA (Sixth Studio Album)
What it is: The epic return of the Almighty Aloud.
Expected shelf date: Late 2012.
Confirmed tracks: TBA
Production by: Xenomania (?)
What we know: It’s been two painful years since Girls Aloud announced their temporary hiatus in 2009. (Don’t remind me!) Earlier this year however, manager Hilary Shaw confirmed to MTV UK that the girls would return in 2012 to perform a few live shows. Now, there’s whispers of new music altogether: Nadine Coyle told me personally that she assumes new music’s in the works. Kimberley Walsh said “we’re doing something next year – we never intended to stop for good.” Queen Nicola vaguely told RWD Magazine that she would “hope there was something from us.” And, if you trust him, Perez Hilton says an album’s coming in December 2012.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Anything. We are not worthy.
Christina Aguilera, TBA (Seventh Studio Album)
What it is: Floptina’s chance to rise from the ashes.
Expected shelf date: Spring/Summer 2012.
Confirmed tracks: TBA
Production by: Dr. Luke (?)
What we know: Aguilera’s last album–2010′s severely misguided Bionic–redefined the concept of commercial failure. The album performed poorly on the charts, worse in the press, and earned the notoriously egotistical diva a new moniker: Floptina. Now, a diva needs her comeback. Christina herself told Croatia’s RTL earlier in 2011 that the upcoming record would be “very heartfelt, deep-rooted and introspective.” According to Hot 99.5, RCA’s Joe Riccitelli says she’s been recording everything from “uptempo dance” to ballads, and Dr. Luke may be working with the fallen-from-grace princess. Recent rumors suggest the first single may come as soon as January.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Stripped part deux, and the triumphant return to form of Legendtina.
The Veronicas, TBA (Third Studio Album)
What it is: A power-pop Aussie sister act’s long-awaited third act.
Expected shelf date: TBA
Confirmed tracks: “Cold,” “Let Me Out,” “Dead Cool”
Production by: Nellee Hooper
What we know: After almost five years since their 2007 studio album Hook Me Up, the Aussie electro-pop/rock sister duo are finally returning to the scene with a studio album in 2012. The girls recently confirmed working with Nellee Hooper, describing their new music as “a really new sound” that includes some rock influences, as well as “trip-hop and drum and bass.” In August, the duo previewed several promising new tracks during a showcase at L.A.’s Viper Room, including “Cold” and “Let Me Out.”
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Even more infectious hooks, jagged electro-pop/rock and darker, angst-ridden lyricism.
No Doubt, TBA (Sixth Studio Album)
What it is: The ten year reunion of a legendary pop-rock outfit.
Expected shelf date: TBA
Confirmed tracks: “Push and Shove,” “One More Summer,” “Settle Down,” “Undercover”
Production by: Spike Stent, Diplo, Anthony Gorry
What we know: The band’s been writing and recording this upcoming LP since 2008 (their first in over a decade since 2001′s Rock Steady). In June, Rolling Stone described some of the tracks off the upcoming record during a preview at producer Spike Stent‘s studio, including the “party-ready reggae” of “Settle Down” and the “pounding dance beats” of “One More Summer.” More spoilers have come by the way of Twitter, including a Major Lazer (Diplo) collaboration back in July, as well as a tweet from Brixton Angels‘ Anthony Gorry from inside the studio.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Ska-pop for the 22nd century and beyond.
JoJo, Jumping Trains (Third Studio Album)
What it is: One of pop’s most talented vocalists finally breaking free.
Expected shelf date: Early 2012
Confirmed tracks: “Disaster,” “Jumping Trains,” “Lie To Me”
Production by: Mario Marchetti, Darkchild, Danja, The Interns, The Messengers
What we know: Shady dealings at her former label kept JoJo’s third record under lock and key for over four years. Now that she’s signed to Interscope Records, the talented chanteuse is finally ready to go. Earlier this year, JoJo told MuuMuse that the upcoming album would feature production by Darkchild, Danja and The Messengers and that the music will sound more aggressive–or as she described it, “pop with an anger management problem.” Apart from her current lead single “Disaster,” JoJo’s been performing new tracks from the record, including “Jumping Trains” at Girls Who Rock 2011 and the punchy “Lie To Me” while on tour with Joe Jonas and Jay Sean.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: The pop equivalent of a T.K.O.
Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (Second Studio Album)
What it is: The pink-haired princess of rap-pop returns–as a boy.
Expected shelf date: February 14, 2012
Confirmed tracks: “Roman in Moscow”
Production by: StreetRunner, Sarom
What we know: To record the follow-up to her 2010 debut Pink Friday, the Young Money rapstress has enlisted one of her alter-egos: Roman Zolanski, a mischievous gay boy. Weeks ago, the singer unleashed the first taste of the upcoming record called “Roman in Moscow,” a rapid-fire attack of ferocious lyricism and hilarious accents on top of a hectic beat, suggesting a return to the spitfire Minaj of her early mixtapes. Recent rumors suggest the first single will be called “Va Va Voom.”
MuuMuse hopes to hear: Pre-fame Nicki: All fire-hot hooks, no singing please.
Adam Lambert, Trespassing (Second Studio Album)
What it is: Pop’s reigning bad boy coming back stronger than ever.
Expected shelf date: March 20, 2012
Confirmed tracks: “Outlaws of Love,” “Trespassing,” “Better Than I Know Myself”
Production by: Dr. Luke, Bruno Mars, Pharrell Williams, Benny Blanco, Nile Rodgers, Claude Kelly
What we know: It’s a big one: MTV confirms that the singer worked with an staggering array of top pop producers, including Dr. Luke, Bruno Mars and Pharrell (who co-wrote the title track). Earlier in November, Lambert told The Advocate that he was crafting his “dream album,” promising a “more personal” record mixed with “singer-songwriter tracks, electrofunk” and “Nine Inch Nails meets George Michael” synth-pop. The album’s lead single, “Better Than I Know Myself,” just dropped this week–which we quite like.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: An unexpected pop masterpiece that propels Lambert from pop star to music royalty.
Neon Hitch, Beg, Borrow & Steal (Debut Album)
What it is: The UK gypsy-pop princess’ grand entrance to the music scene.
Expected shelf date: TBA
Confirmed tracks: “Get Over U,” “Silly Girl,” Bad Dog,” “Fuck U Betta”
Production by: Benny Blanco
What we know: Hitch has been banging out smash Benny Blanco-produced hits from her debut record for well over the year now–from “Get Over U” to “Silly Girl” to “Bad Dog”–as well as performing new songs live, including “Fuck U Betta.” As soon as the singer comes off of her high as a feature on Gym Class Heroes‘ new single “Ass Back Home” which is currently building at radio, the new album should be ready to go.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: More kick-ass power pop that’ll give Neon the credit she so dearly deserves.
Nelly Furtado, TBA (Fifth Studio Album)
What it is: Furtado’s first English record in over five years.
Expected shelf date: TBA
Confirmed tracks: “The Edge,” “Mystery”
Production by: Timbaland, Salaam Remi, Ryan Tedder, Mike Angelakos
What we know: After Furtado’s stellar collaboration with Timbaland on Loose in 2006, the multilingual singer-songwriter returned to the studio with the acclaimed producer for another go. But that’s not all–since then, she’s been working with Salaam Remi, Ryan Tedder and Passion Pit‘s Mike Angelakos. Last year, she told the New York Post that the new record shares the “organic and raw feel” of her debut Whoa, Nelly! and described it as a “refreshing, clean pop sound.” In February, Furtado tweeted about an upcoming song feauring rapper Nas, which has yet to be released.
MuuMuse hopes to hear: An updated Loose, with folk and dance elements.
This week marked the release of Kelly Clarkson’s fifth album, Stronger. But then again, you already know all about that thanks to my good friend Bradley’s stellar review.
Fans who pre-ordered the album from Kelly’s official website were also given the option to treat themselves to her debut EP, The Smoakstack Sessions. Recorded at the Smoakstack Studios in Nashville, the 6-track EP is made up of alternate versions of select tracks from Stronger, a reworking of “If I Can’t Have You” and a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”
Interestingly, the EP does not include Stronger’s lead single, “Mr. Know It All” or confirmed second single, the anthemic “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger).” And while I was disappointed to not see “Honestly” or “Dark Side” (which I reviewed upon its initial leak in July) make the tracklisting, I’m also appreciative that the EP is shedding a spotlight on some of Kelly’s lesser buzzed about tracks.
I have to admit that as a whole, I actually prefer the EP recordings of these songs to the versions included on Kelly’s albums. Allow me to guide you through each track to explain why.
This past Thursday, the West Coast was given a gift of epic proportions. The Veronicas, Australia’s superstar female twin pop duo, performed a one-night only exclusive event at The Viper Room in Los Angeles to showcase songs from their eagerly anticipated upcoming album.
Best known in the United States for their singles “Untouched” and “4Ever,” The Veronicas played to a sold out crowd of fans dying for a taste of the girls’ new material.
While I was unable to attend the show (due to a rude case of “I live in New York and can’t afford airfare”), watching fan videos posted online after the concert got me hyped for the new record in borderline unhealthy ways.