Long mooted records from Solange, Rihanna, Childish Gambino, and Sky Ferreira will hopefully see the light of day this year
2019 is looking to be a year for high profile releases, with long-gestating albums by the likes of Grimes and Rihanna hopefully set to see a release, and artists like SOPHIE and Cardi B promising rapid follow-ups to their albums from last year. We’ve rounded up some of the albums we’re most excited about this year below – but before we begin, a few rules.
Firstly, some of these entries appeared on last year’s list, but due to the unpredictable nature of the record industry, the albums in question never materialised. This means it’s entirely possible that some of the albums on this list won’t end up making it out until 2020, either.
Secondly, we’re only including artists who seem like they’re actually close to putting something out. It’s one thing for Abba or The Cure or Janet Jackson or Sade or Rina Sawayama or My Bloody Valentine to say they’ve been working on new material, another for them to have actually recorded a full album, mixed it, set a release date with their label, organised a promotional campaign, booked tour dates, etc. There’s an element of guesswork involved here, of course, but to narrow the list down, we tried to make sure that the artist has either made repeated references to a new album in interviews or on social media, or that more than one source has confirmed they have new music incoming.
And finally, we’re not including albums that already have been announced and have official release dates set. That means that forthcoming records from the likes of Toro y Moi, Angel-Ho, Dawn, Sneaks, Panda Bear, and more, are not in the list, but worth keeping an ear out for in future.
Although it feels like only yesterday that Ariana Grande released sweetener, but work is already well underway on that album’s follow-up, having already released two singles from it, “imagine” and “thank u, next” – the latter of which will give the fifth album its title. It’s her post-Pete Davidson record: “No drags, no shade, just love, gratitude, acceptance, honesty, forgiveness… and growth,” Grande has said of the music. Of its sound, Grande’s producer and co-writer Savana Kotecha called it the “best album” she’s made and “an example of a once-in-a-generation talent at the peak of her powers both as a vocalist and a writer”. You know, no pressure or anything.
Fantasea II, the new album from Azealia Banks, was meant to come out in February last year. Besides one song, a collaboration with Grimes, the album was otherwise finished, and she even released a few tracks, including its lead single, “Anna Wintour”, which was one of our favourite songs of 2018. But Banks eventually decided to cancel the album, and then spent more time in the headlines for, well, that whole Grimes/Elon Musk thing, that feud with Lana Del Rey, that GoFundMe to sue Russell Crowe, etc. She’s since had a change of heart, telling Rolling Stone that Fantasea II will, in fact, come out, and that “the promo I’ve had for this album – even all the controversy – is some of the most iconic album promo ever”.
Between giving birth to a child, enduring a very public break-up, and releasing a truly excellent debut album, 2018 was a busy year for Cardi B – but the rapper hasn’t stopped working. In October, she put out a new tune, “Money”, and more recently told fans that she hoped her second album would be ready for April, to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Invasion of Privacy’s release. We’re excited to hear what’s next, but it’s worth asking whether Cardi actually needs to release a new album this year – the tunes from Invasion of Privacy are still doing the job for us, and pop stars honestly need to take a break sometimes.
CARLY RAE JEPSEN
We included Carly Rae Jepsen’s follow-up to 2015 album E•MO•TION in last year’s round-up, noting that she had written some 80 songs for it, was drawing from “understated disco” as well as newer artists like Ariel Pink and Big Thief, and had been working with Patrik Berger, co-writer of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own”. Since then, she said that she’d written even more songs (the tally was now up to 120) and needed to narrow her ideas down. In November, she released the new single “Party For One”, which Jepsen described as a song about self-love, but which was generally read to be about masturbation more specifically.
Donald Glover has said that the next Childish Gambino album will be his last, so he has to make it count. Viral smash “This is America” is likely to be on the record, as well as the singles “Feels Like Summer” and “Summertime Magic”, and he’s been performing the songs “Saturday”, “All Night”, “Algorhythm”, and an untitled cut during live shows. He’ll probably want to play this new material at his Coachella headline set in April, too, but will the new album be out in time for that?
Die Antwoord have billed their forthcoming album, 27, as their final full-length. True to its name, the album will be 27 tracks long, and will see Ninja and Yolandi collaborate with their “favourite artists in the world”, many of them relatively unknown South African acts. The duo also promised that it will be “released unusually over the next year or so” (including 7” singles “hidden in various places”) before being given a more conventional release in the form of a condensed 10-track soundtrack to a new feature film.
Grimes was also included in our list last year, but a lot has changed over the past 12 months. This time last year, Claire Boucher had just played some new songs to her record label, 4AD, but she seems to have since fallen out with them, describing them as a “shit label” and talking about people “who took advantage of my youth/naïveté early in my career”. Then there was, of course, the whole Azealia Banks vs. Elon Musk saga (see above). Sticking to the music itself though, Grimes called the new album “highly collaborative”, and the first of its tracks, the HANA-featuring “We Appreciate Power”, was an industrial-pop earworm. Hopefully we’ll get to hear what the full record sounds like sooner rather than later.
James Blake introduced a technicolour streak to his music with his 2016 album The Colour in Anything. Having collaborated with the likes of Mount Kimbie, Kendrick Lamar, and Travis Scott since then, Blake seems to be readying new music of his own. The UK singer-songwriter and electronic producer teased the letters ‘XXIX’ on Instagram (that’s the Roman numerals for ‘2019’, obvs), he’s also set to tour North America in February, which is likely to coincide with a new release of some sort, and he recently aired a new André 3000 collaboration during a DJ gig in Brooklyn. Rumours suggest the album might be called Assume Form; either way, it’s fair to say that something is coming.
Kanye West’s long-mooted ninth studio album Yandhi was first announced with a September 29 release date, which then became November 23, before Kanye finally said that it’d be ready “once it’s done”. What we do know about the album is that Kanye recorded part of it in his home city, Chicago, before going out to Uganda to continue his work. When Kanye puts the time into an album, the results are often great: see My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy, or his top notch production on Kids See Ghosts and Pusha T’s Daytona. When he does things last minute, the results can be excruciating: see last year’s basically unlistenable ye, which was apparently produced just two weeks before its release date. A good Kanye album won’t undo all the obnoxious things the rapper has done recently – but jeez, it’d be nice to at least have some decent tunes out of this whole mess.
Lady Gaga has been playing it fairly straight recently, first with her back-to-basics album Joanne and her rootsy role in A Star is Born. We can’t predict what her next album will sound like, but the news that electronic producers SOPHIE and Boys Noize have been in the studio with her has left a lot of people excited for a return to her electro-pop sound. Still, given SOPHIE downplayed the likelihood of the collaboration actually seeing the light of day (“I’m working on a lot of different things. If it comes out, then that’s cool,” she said), at this stage it’s simply too early to tell what direction she’ll take things in.
LANA DEL REY
Lana Del Rey recently revealed that her new album Norman Fucking Rockwell is finished, and that she planned to put out a new song as early as next week. We’ve heard two singles from it so far, “Mariners Apartment Complex” and “Venice Bitch” (the latter being, hands down, one of 2018’s best songs), but we’ve not yet been given a release date. What we do know is that Del Rey produced it with pop super-producer Jack Antonoff, marking the first time they’ve worked together, and will feature a lot of electric guitar, as she recently told Zane Lowe in a Beats 1 interview.
Madonna’s last album, Rebel Heart, came out back in 2015, and last year she revealed to WWD that its follow-up – her 14th album total – would be out at some point this year. She debuted a new song, “Beautiful Game”, at the Met Gala, and revealed on Instagram that she’d been working on “final mixes” with both Mike Dean (Kanye West’s producer/engineer) and Mirwais (who previously worked with Madonna on Music, American Life, and Confessions on a Dance Floor). Fingers crossed the album will allow Madonna more creative freedom than her recent records have – last year, as she celebrated the 20th anniversary of Ray of Light, she remarked: “Remember when I made records with other artists from beginning to end and I was allowed to be a visionary and not have to go to songwriting camps where no one can sit still for more than 15 minutes?”
MARINA & THE DIAMONDS
UK singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis’s last album, Froot, was released back in 2015. Last year, she told Abbey Road Studios that she “took a break” after that record came out, but has since been writing more than ever, “which was unexpected, because I thought I was just not going to do this anymore”. In the years since, she’s only put her name to two tracks, “Disconnect” and “Baby”, both of which were collaborations with chartbusters Clean Bandit, but recently confirmed during a red carpet interview that new solo music would drop at some point this month. Interestingly, both tracks saw her credited simply as ‘Marina’ – this might be her first album without the ‘& the Diamonds’ suffix.
Moses Sumney’s debut album, Aromanticism, was one of 2017’s most stunning full-lengths, and we’re eagerly anticipating his next record. His last release, the EP Black in Deep Red, 2014, landed back in September, but wasn’t necessarily indicative of a new direction – the songs were all written five years earlier. Just before Christmas, Sumney confirmed that he’d release a new album in 2019, which he’s previously described as both a “gospel album” and, as he told Dazed recently, “a lot quicker” than his last.
“ARE YOU READY FOR NEW MYKKI BLANCO MUSIC????” Mykki Blanco tweeted a few days ago. Late last year, the rapper and past Dazed guest editor revealed that his new album would be titled Stay Close to Music, Stay Close to God, and shared an incredible list of featured artists, including Anohni, Kelsey Lu, MNEK, Saul Williams, Jamila Woods, Devendra Banhart, and many more. Are we ready? Why yes. Yes we are.
We were hoping that Rihanna’s as-yet-untitled new album would arrive in 2018, but the year came and went with no sign of R9. We haven’t got too much more to add than what we wrote in last year’s list, other than that the album will be reggae-influenced, and that it’s almost certainly going to land at some point this year – Rihanna herself said as much in a low-key Instagram comment last month.
Back in October, we wrote that Solange’s new album, the follow-up to A Seat at the Table, was finished, and due later that year. This was all going off the word of the New York Times, America’s Paper of Record, and one with a world class fact-checking department – they couldn’t be wrong, surely? Well, yes, apparently, they could. But while the Times were off with the release date, they were probably right that the album is finished. Solange previously wrote about recording parts of the album in Jamaica in a personal essay for Dazed, and later told the Times that there is a “lot of jazz at the core” of the album, but with the drums and bass of hip hop and electronic music, “because I want it to bang and make your trunk rattle”.
Last year, Sky Ferreira was more visible as an actor than a musician, appearing in the Norwegian black metal film Lords of Chaos, but she did release a cover of ‘Til Tuesday’s 1985 song “Voices Carry”. The cover was posted on Soundcloud after the singer said that she’d had access to her account taken away by her record label, alluding to the behind-the-scenes disputes that have delayed her new album Masochism, the long-mooted follow-up to 2013’s Night Time, My Time. Ferreira previously said that she was “waiting for the official official official beyond the point of no return release date” before announcing new material, but that the album was finally happening. “My silence should not be confused for negligence. I deeply care and put everything I have into my music. Including all of my earnings,” she wrote. “Don’t let the suckers drag you down.”
Vampire Weekend fans have been waiting for the band’s fourth album (possibly titled Mitsubishi Macchiato, but also probably not) for absolutely ages. The follow-up to 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City is the band’s first album for a major label, and is, according to frontman Ezra Koenig, complete. It will be the first Vampire Weekend album since the group’s Rostam Batmanglij left to pursue a career as a solo artist and pop songwriter, although he will contribute to the album in some capacity, and Ariel Rechtshaid, who worked on the group’s last record, is back on board. There’s no release date, but the band did debut a few new songs at a Lollapalooza aftershow. In the meantime, there’s always Neo Yokio.
The 1975’s third album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, came out in late November, but Matty Healy has been talking up its sequel, Notes on a Conditional Form, for a while now. As he told Dazed recently, the album is due out before August, and it includes “one of my best lyrics ever” (yes, even better than “Rest in peace Lil Peep / The poetry is in the streets”). Healy said it’s “definitely going to have a relationship” with A Brief Inquiry, but “that was never my intention; I’m just making records. I’ve gotta always want to be making my masterpiece. Otherwise, what’s the point?”