Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, and Cardi B are all rumoured to be releasing new records this year – and we might even get to hear Rihanna’s elusive R9
There are already loads of high profile albums scheduled to come out in 2020. On February 21 alone, we’re getting Grimes’s Miss Anthropocene, The 1975’s Notes on a Conditional Form, and BTS’s Map of the Soul: 7. There are also new albums from Kesha, La Roux, and Tame Impala due over the next couple of months, as well as a posthumous Mac Miller release. That’s not to mention the albums that have already come out, like Selena Gomez’s Rare and Georgia’s Seeking Thrills, which both dropped last Friday.
It’s a lot, basically, and that’s before going into our round-up of 2020’s most anticipated new records. For the purposes of this list, we’re ignoring all of the albums mentioned above – as well as any other album that’s already been officially announced and has a release date pencilled in. It’s just a bit more exciting to think about what might come along and surprise you, rather than what you’re already expecting.
To formulate this list, we looked at the public statements given by the artists and their collaborators about their new projects, as well as any summer festival slots that might suggest they have new music to promote. We’ve tried to limit it to things that we realistically believe are far enough along in the recording process to actually see a release this year, rather than next. Here are our 20 most anticipated albums of 2020.
Cardi B started working on her second album immediately after Invasion of Privacy dropped back in 2018. Although she’s shared standalone singles like “Money” and “Press”, and made her film debut in Hustlers, she’s primarily been working on the new record. “My album is on my mind 24/7,” she told Billboard in November. It’s practically all I’m focusing on.” Speaking on Instagram Live in October, she revealed that the album might be called Tiger Woods, “because remember when everybody was talking shit on Tiger Woods... and then he fucking came and won that green jacket? That’s what I’m gonna name my album.” Though there’s no timetable for the record, she is slated to play London’s Wireless Festival this summer, so there may be new material to share by then.
Charli XCX confirmed that she’d already begun writing new material shortly after the release of Charli in September, telling fans that she wouldn’t be releasing a deluxe edition of her latest album because she’d already started the next one. A month later, she said that she wanted to release two albums in 2020, telling her Twitter followers, “I feel very inspired at the moment.” She’s already got a raft of tour dates lined up this year, including festivals in New Zealand, Australia, Colombia, Finland, Spain, and the UK, not to mention a Coachella slot. Perhaps she’ll be mixing in some new material alongside cuts from Charli during her performances.
i think i want to release 2 albums next year... or at least MAKE 2 albums next year and then if one has to come out early 2021 that’s ok too. i feel very inspired at the moment.— Charli (@charli_xcx) November 24, 2019
OK, we know that Donald Glover’s fourth studio album has been in the pipeline for a while now, but there’s every reason to believe we’ll finally get to hear it in 2020. Fans have been eagerly anticipating the follow-up to Awaken, My Love ever since the monumental “This is America” dropped back in May 2018, and the hazy heatwave hits “Summertime Magic” and “Feels like Summer” that followed soon after only added to this enthusiasm. You can forgive him for taking his time – Glover has said that the next Childish Gambino album will also be his last, so he probably wants to get it just right. We know that Glover has a lot of tunes in the bag, having debuted a raft of new tracks like “All Night” and “Algorhythm” in his live shows over the past 18 months, but he’ll have to find time to release them in between working on a new season of Atlanta and, er, the Andrew Yang stuff.
After headlining Glastonbury and becoming the most Googled British band of 2019, The Cure looked all set to release their first album since 2008. Robert Smith, the iconic goth-rock band’s lead singer, revealed that the group actually have three albums in the works, two of which are “more advanced”, and even said that the first one was likely to land before Christmas – and though he might have missed that deadline, the timeframe suggests that The Cure’s latest is almost good to go.
In a rare interview, Fiona Apple revealed to Vulture that she hopes to release a new album in “early 2020”, and that it was “supposed to be done a million years ago”. It’ll be just her fifth album since she debuted in 1996 with Tidal, but comes off renewed interest in the artist after Jennifer Lopez danced to her classic track “Criminal” in Hustlers. Speaking about the sound of the record, Apple said: “It’s probably its own thing. But I don’t know how to articulate that. It’s like, if you’ve been working out every day for a month and then nobody sees you, they see the difference, but if you’ve been doing it all the time, you don’t really see the difference. I can’t really know the growth or the evolution or anything like that in what I do, because I’m in the middle of it.” Fiona Apple isn’t the only woman who championed the 90s alt-rock sound to be releasing new material this year: Alanis Morissette and Liz Phair are both set to drop albums in 2020.
Frank Ocean has been releasing a steady drip of standalone singles since releasing Blonde in 2016, but we’re expecting a new full-length from the recent Dazed cover star this year. Why? Well, for starters, he’s been talking his new material up enough in interviews, citing dance music scenes from Detroit and Chicago to Paris as influences, then there’s the fact that he signed a publishing deal with Warner Chappell in December, which usually suggests that something big is on its way. But the biggest giveaway is the fact that he’s headlining Coachella in April, and with such a prestigious slot, he’ll probably want to have something new to play to his fans.
HAIM spent 2019 releasing singles like “Now I’m In It”, “Hallelujah”, and “Summer Girl”, telling Beats 1 that the latter track was released “a week before it came out – and we were just like, ‘Let’s put it out.’ That’s kinda how we’re feeling about our music now, we’re just writing it, getting in the studio and putting it out as it comes.” While we still think the pull of a third studio album proper will be hard to resist, don’t be surprised if the sisters also drop more loose singles in this casual manner throughout 2020.
Paramore singer Hayley Williams has confirmed that she has a solo project on the way this year, although it’s maybe a bit too soon to say whether this is a full album, or just a single or EP. What we can say is that we’ll get to hear the first hint of it soon. “I’m putting out some new music next year,” Hayley posted in a note on Twitter at the end of last year. “With the help of some of my closest friends, I made something I’m going to call my own. It’s a really special project and you’ll get a taste of it in January.” Given the recently reunited My Chemical Romance have also been touring recently, perhaps we’re in a full-blown mid-00s emo-pop revival.
The follow-up to Kali Uchis’s excellent 2018 debut Isolation will be predominantly sung in Spanish. “When I really want to say something that I feel I have to say in English, I will switch over because I’m not going to force it, but a lot of it will be in Spanish,” the singer told People. “I’m really going back to my roots, experimenting more with my music, not thinking so hard and not trying so hard – just free-flowing.” Since her last record, she’s worked with Snoop Dogg, Tyler, the Creator, Kaytranada, and the Free Nationals, but it’s December track “Solita”, her first bilingual single, that most closely hints at the direction of Uchis’s latest project.
After his Pulitzer Prize-winning DAMN. came out in 2017, Kendrick Lamar set to work on the award-winning Black Panther soundtrack and collaborated with artists like Beyoncé, 2 Chainz, J Cole, and SiR. A Los Angeles Times profile last year suggested that Lamar was “constantly working” on new material, while just this weekend former Billboard editorial director Bill Werde reported on rumours that Lamar had finished recording the album and that it would be “pulling in more rock sounds” than his last. With a string of festival headline appearances lined up in Europe this summer, expect to hear at least a bit of new material.
“Rumors I’m pregnant?” Lady Gaga tweeted in March. “Yeah, I’m pregnant with #LG6.” Gaga has been working on her sixth LP for a while, with rumoured collaborators including SOPHIE and Boys Noize, who’ve both spoken about working with the pop star in interviews. The album has a lot of expectation around it, not just from her most obsessive fans, but from the general public, too – “Shallow”, her song for A Star is Born, earned a Golden Globe, an Oscar, and two Grammys, and was Gaga’s most mainstream moment in years.
LANA DEL REY
Lana Del Rey is meant to be blessing us with not one, but two new albums this year. Following the release of career high Norman Fucking Rockwell! last year, LDR revealed to The Times that she’d already begun working on a new record, possibly called White Hot Forever, and that she’d give it “a surprise release sometime within the next 12 or 13 months”. (It’s not much of a surprise if you’ve told us this already, but OK.) She added that one song was called “Let Me Love You Like A Woman”. The other album, though, is a spoken word record that will spin off from her poetry book Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass; it was due to land earlier this month, but has been delayed “about a month” following the theft of her sister Chuck Grant’s art.
MEGAN THEE STALLION
Megan Thee Stallion hasn’t confirmed many details about her debut album, but has said that it’s likely to feature a collaboration with Kehlani. Otherwise, expect it to build on the ideas and personas she established in mixtapes like Fever. In an interview with NPR, she suggested she might adopt a new alter-ego for the project, and how past personas like Hot Girl Meg and Tina Snow helped her establish her new persona, called Suga: “My next project I will be introducing a new lady. Her name is Suga. She’s besties with Tina Snow.” She added, “I felt like my mixtapes were me flirting with my fans… I never wanted to do an album ’cause I was like, ‘Oh, that feels like marriage. That’s a commitment.’ But now, I’m ready to settle down with an album.”
Miley Cyrus’s seventh studio album is set to be titled She Is: Miley Cyrus, and made up of three six-song EPs. The first EP is already out, with the May-released She is Coming including “Mother’s Daughter” and “Unholy”, signalling the musician’s rootsy direction. A representative for the singer told Rolling Stone that “each drop is a different chapter to a trilogy”, while Cyrus herself wrote on Twitter that we should expect more drops from the album this year: “New hair. New year. NEW MUSIC”.
Noname’s new album, said to be titled Factory Baby, doesn’t yet have a release date, but is due to land at some point this year: “I’m dropping an album 2020 if anybody’s interested,” she tweeted in November. The album follows singles “Song 31” and “Song 32”, themselves loosies put put after her debut studio album Room 25 dropped in 2018, but there might not be a big run of live shows to support it – she announced earlier this year that she’d no longer tour, but asked fans to support her new book club instead.
Normani had a breakthrough moment last year with “Motivation” and its 90s R&B throwback video, and she seems to be capitalising on its success, promptly teaming up with Megan Thee Stallion for the Birds of Prey track “Diamonds”. Speaking to Billboard in December, the ex-Fifth Harmony member said that she was “producing from the ground up with such amazing people I’ve wanted to work with for such a long time and they’re teaching me. I’m writing on everything that I touch as well. I’ve been heavily involved and it’s been like, wow, self-discovery for me too because I’m like, ‘Oh, I can actually wear all of these hats and do them well.’”
The big one. We’ve included R9 in these round-ups for the past two years now, but 2020 might actually, genuinely, seriously, be the year that Rihanna drops her follow-up to 2016’s ANTI. The singer herself described the album as “reggae-inspired or reggae-infused” to Vogue last year, and there’s a constant drip-feed of information about it (just this weekend, Shaggy revealed he’d declined a request to collaborate), but no timeframe for it just yet. Still, we think the long-gestating release might finally land in 2020 – her label Def Jam teased something Rihanna-related recently, and by the law of social media teasers, this must mean that something is on its way, right?
Rina Sawayama told us about her as-yet-untitled debut album at the end of last year, revealing that she’d signed to Dirty Hit for its release and that she was channelling her teenage loves of nu-metal, Gwen Stefani, and more in its sound. Lead single “STFU!” was one of our favourite tracks of 2019, and Sawayama is teasing a new single, “Comme Des Garçons (Like the Boys)” for release later this week – expect one of the year’s more forward-thinking pop releases.
SZA recently answered a few questions on Twitter where she gave fans an update on her anticipated follow-up to 2017’s Ctrl. When asked if fans would be “getting anything this year”, she confirmed that “the short answer is yes”, but avoided giving specifics. It’s consistent with things she’s said in interviews in recent months, like her August comment that her her next album was coming “soon as fuck” and that she’d been in the studio with Justin Timberlake, Post Malone, Jack Antonoff, and BROCKHAMPTON. Comparing the new album to her last one, SZA said, “This next album is even more of me being less afraid.”
The xx have confirmed that new music is in the works for 2020, writing in an Instagram post on New Years’ Eve, “We’ve all been working on new music, can’t wait to share it with you! Hope you have the best new year!” The forthcoming album would be the band’s first since I See You in 2017. Since then, Jamie xx has continued his DJing and production career, while Romy Madley Croft also worked with a host of other artists, including co-writing Dua Lipa’s collaboration with Silk City, “Electricity”.