2016 Music Preview

Steve Angello, ‘Wild Youth’ (Jan. 22)

The solo debut from this former Swedish House Mafia member isn’t your typical EDM album. “It’s dance music and it has vocals, but they aren’t pop vocals and it’s not formulaic,” Angello told Billboard. Indeed, early singles “Remember” and “Children of the Wild” are smart, anthemic thumpers perfect for the club and beyond.

Lady Gaga, TBD (TBD)

In November, Lily Allen let it slip that Gaga is working with Mark Ronson on the follow-up to 2013’s ARTPOP — an album some saw as a disappointment, even though it debuted at No. 1. Gaga’s fifth LP also follows Cheek to Cheek, her duets disc with Tony Bennett, so the trick here will be re-hoisting her freak flag and reaffirming her relevance in a constantly changing pop landscape.

Drake, ‘Views From the 6’ (TBD)

Rumored to be arriving on Jan. 6, Drake’s fourth proper studio LP follows his Future collabo What a Time to Be Alive and the mixtape If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, both of which topped the Billboard 200 in 2015. This time out, the meme-generating Canadian rapper is repping for his home city of Toronto and once again working with longtime producer Noah “40” Shebib. Odds are this most emo of MCs will once again break our hearts — and the Internet.

Panic! at the Disco, ‘Death of a Bachelor’ (Jan. 15)

And then there was one. With the departure last April of founding drummer Spencer Smith, PATD singer and multi-instrumentalist Brendan Urie found himself all alone at the helm of this long-running Vegas emo-pop outfit. “In the past I was writing most of everything, but this time it was actually all me and I got to record every instrument on this album, except for the horns, which was a huge deal for me,” Urie told Billboard about Death of a Bachelor. “I did drums, background vocals and the background vocals I was playing different characters, I was doing operatic Queen stuff for songs like ‘Victorious’ and ‘Emperor’s New Clothes.’ That was just a lot of fun.”

Sia, ‘This Is Acting’ (Jan. 29)

Believe it or not, major artists interested in landing songs on top 40 radio actually turn down Sia songs. On her seventh album, the in-demand Aussie songwriter (and reluctant pop star in her own right) resurrects some of these rejects, putting her own spin on tunes originally intended for biggies like Rihanna and Adele. It’s a chance for the enigmatic hitmaker to show her versatility and consistency — and make a few superstars question their song-selection criteria.

Elton John, ‘Wonderful Crazy Night’ (Feb. 5)

Recorded in just 17 days with producer T Bone Burnett, the latest from Elton John is no holiday album, Motown revue, or spin through the American songbook. It’s 10 songs co-penned by John’s longtime lyricist, Bernie Taupin, and recorded in the studio with little preparation. “I wanted to do something joyous because I was so happy with my children and my husband,” John told the BBC. “Happy with everything.”

Major Lazer, ‘Music Is the Weapon’ (TBD)

After scoring big with their third album Peace Is the Mission, featuring the international hit “Lean On,” the trio of Diplo, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire are rocketing back with another long-playing set of reggae-inflected electro-bangers. “It’ll have a few more club songs, a few more festival songs,” Fire told inthemix, “but it’ll be in the same spectrum, just super-well-written songs with really great production that the entire world can understand.”

Puff Daddy, ‘No Way Out 2’ (TBD)

Sean Combs rebooted the Puff Daddy name and returned earlier this year with MMM, a free mixtape prefacing the proper studio album he says will be his last. Whether the hip-hop mogul makes good on that promise, he’ll enjoy plenty of goodwill from nostalgic ‘90s kids and younger fans curious to see whether the superstar producer (and passable rapper) can still bring the goods.

Guns N’ Roses, TBD (TBD)

It’s all speculation at this point, but Slash and Axl have apparently made nice and dealt with all the legal issues preventing them from joining forces once again. Given the amount of money to be made, it’s hard to believe there won’t at least be a reunion tour, and that could lead to a new record — the first from the classic lineup in more than two decades. With talk of a new LP comes hope that Slash and the gang will knock Axl out of his synth-drunk stupor and get GNR back to its sleazeball hard-rocking roots.

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