Pictured: Win Butler of Arcade Fire; A$AP Rocky; Este Haim of HAIM; Nicki Minaj; Brandon Flowers of The Killers; SZA; Taylor Swift, courtesy Getty Images
Last year, with all its ups and downs, was an incredible one for music. This year, however, is already showing a lot of promise, with a number of stadium acts, indie favorites and rising stars set to release new full-lengths in 2017.
It's worth noting, it's only January, so plans will change. Albums will come out of nowhere. And there are already some clear wildcards, such as Kanye West, who promised two albums last year but only released one, or Chance the Rapper, who has said recently he's working on his proper debut album, although he's left the timeline up in the air.
The following 50 acts have given us more tangible reasons—and perhaps even titles and release dates—to expect a new record this year.
More than three years after 2013’s Reflektor, it seems the Montreal band is preparing for a busy 2017. They played a few shows last year and have already been announced as headliners for some upcoming festivals, which is a positive sign for those hoping for new music. But most promisingly, they have been back and forth in the studio for the past couple of years, with the band’s Will Butler suggesting last year they were aiming for a spring 2017 album drop.
The band is coming off a very successful run with 2013’s AM, but they were reportedly hard at work on their new record earlier in 2016 and then again over the holidays in December. Frontman Alex Turner had previously said the band wasn’t in a rush to release a new album, but it’s possible the new project could still be finished in time for a 2017 release.
Outside of some collaborations, the rapper laid relatively low this past year. But it was because he was hard at work. Back in September, producer Jim Jonsin shared a number of photos of Rocky in the studio in Los Angeles. Then in December, the emcee himself took to Twitter to remind critics he has released an album “every [two] years” since 2011, with 2017 being no exception.
Following his big Grammy win for 2014’s Morning Phase, Sony in early 2016 proudly teased a new album was coming later in the year. After releasing his Song of Summer contender “Wow,” it seemed the album wouldn’t be far behind. But his team quietly scrapped the October release date, pushing it into 2017. Last word was the album was finished (or mostly complete), so surely it will see the light of the day this year.
Big Sean (I Decided.)
Much like A$AP Rocky, Big Sean has released a new album every other year since 2011—and 2017 will maintain the tradition, with I Decided. out on Feb. 3. But that means Sean has been putting in some serious hours over the past year, considering he also released his debut collaborative album with Jhené Aiko. So far, the first two tracks released from the album are promising and show why Big Sean remains one of hip-hop’s most underrated.
It’s been five years since The Boss’ last album of new material, Wrecking Ball, and not much is known about the contents of his upcoming project, but he said during an appearance on SiriusXM’s E Street Radio that the album would be “more of a solo project,” sans the E Street Band.
While she ended up taking up longer than expected to craft her new record, she’s candidly said she set out to make the “best pop album of 2017.” With help from producers such as Sophie and Stargate, the British pop starlet is clearly aiming for further mainstream success. And although a late-spring release seems to be the plan, she also said she hopes to put out a mixtape early this year, to serve as an appetizer.
Depeche Mode (Spirit)
The band has been giving fans months to prepare for their return, having announced back in October they’ll be touring throughout 2017, with their new album coming in the spring. Although an official release has yet to be confirmed, the band has suggested there’s a new energy on the record, which was produced by Arctic Monkeys producer James Ford.
Drake (More Life)
The superstar rapper was planning to release this project (aka “playlist”) at the end of 2016, but it’s now been pushed back to early 2017. It’s unclear what kind of material it will consist of, but Drizzy’s been spending plenty of time in the studio. And whatever the final result is, it’s likely he’ll be bringing guests.
Dua Lipa (Dua Lipa)
The British songstress (and her label, of course) played it strategically by building tons of buzz last year with irresistible pop gems, and withholding her self-titled debut album until 2017. While fans may be anxious about it, the wait may prove to be a smart move. Regardless, Dua Lipa seems destined for a massive, stadium-sized career. And Feb. 9 will serve as her proper introduction.
The singer-turned-superstar pretty much disappeared for most of 2016, but as expected, he was in the studio working on a new album. There aren’t many details known so far, but after months of going dark on social media, he changed his profile pictures and cover photos in December to a cryptic light blue image. Additionally, he’s expected to release his first new single on Jan. 6.
His last album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, turns four years old this year. But we know a new one is fast approaching. As far back as November 2015, the rapper said on his own SiriusXM channel Shade 45 he was “recording and seeing what comes next.” Then back in October, he released a random track called “Campaign Speech” and assured fans he was indeed “working on a new album.”
Erik Hassle (Innocence Lost)
The Swedish singer’s new record has been a long time coming. Marking his debut on RCA Records, it’s also the start of a new chapter for the artist, who seems overdue for an international takeover. Previously released tracks such as “No Words” and “Pathetic” are already standouts, as are collaborations with Vic Mensa and Tinashe, making the full album a must-hear when it arrives on Jan. 27.
In addition to her contribution to D.R.A.M.’s debut album last year, Erykah Badu has been in the studio working on a collaborative EP with the breakout rapper as well as a full-length project of her own. While there’s no clear timeline for her record, Badu said in a November interview with Entertainment Weekly she was “enjoying the process of re-creation,” saying: “The universe is re-creating me right now.”
Fleet Foxes (Ylajali)
After confirming a handful of 2017 live dates, frontman Robin Pecknold on Christmas Day apparently jumped the gun and shared an image of the band’s discography in iTunes, including a new album titled Ylajali. While he quickly deleted the Instagram post and there has yet to be a formal announcement, we know the band had been working on a new record, their first in six years, which is expected to veer away from their past sound.
Damon Albarn, the mastermind behind Gorillaz, said back in early 2014 he had been writing a number of new songs for the animated band. He also previously said he expected to the new album to be very upbeat, maintaining a minimum of 125 beats per minute. As of last summer, the likes of Massive Attack and Vic Mensa had also been in the studio with the group. The band has since updated their online profiles and began sharing stories for each of the Gorillaz characters’ fictional lives, all ahead of an anticipated 2017 album.
The sibling trio had been pushing heavily for a 2016 album release, scheduling a number of shows and festival dates and then postponing until the fall. But in the final months of last year, it seems they hit a stride and eventually finished the record, which will now arrive this summer. According to the sisters, they kept the personnel list rather light, with the only confirmed non-Haim contributions coming from producer Ariel Rechtshaid and Rostam Batmanglij, formerly of Vampire Weekend.
Shawn Carter didn’t personally release any music last year, but thanks to wife Beyoncé’s blockbuster Lemonade, he was a big part of the musical narrative. Despite some reports that four-year-old Magna Carta… Holy Grail may have truly been his last album, his friend Jermaine Dupri recently claimed Jay had a new full-length ready to go. Meanwhile, Roc Nation rapper Vic Mensa said he’s heard some of the new material and called it “fresh as fuck.” Whether to tell his side of the Lemonade story or to get one more LP out before turning 50, it’s possible 2017 may see the return of JAY Z.
Japandroids (Near to the Wild Heart of Life)
Following a three-year hiatus leaving fans to believe the band may be done, the Vancouver duo stoked speculation last summer with news of international shows later in 2016, accompanied by promo images suggesting they had been in the studio. They’ve since confirmed they’re now signed to a new label, ANTI-, and the album is out on Jan. 27.
The singer-actor has been logging a lot of studio time over the past year. He’s also previously said he’s not following any particular timetable for the followup to 2013’s The 20/20 Experience. He seems to have made significant progress on the album, saying back in November it “punches you between the eyes. According to one of the album’s producers, Pharrell, they had at least six songs finished at the end of last year. Pharrell also claimed the new record may be Timberlake’s most honest.
The pop superstar has made no secret about spending a lot of time in the studio last year, with plans to release her new record in 2017. “Rise,” the uplifting anthem she contributed to NBC’s coverage of the Rio Olympics, could signal a new depth in her upcoming material. She proved to have such passion during the presidential campaign in support of Hillary Clinton, later saying the former Secretary of State had “lit [a] voice inside of me.” At 32 with so many platinum singles and millions of records sold, it could actually be very refreshing to hear her ditch the pop formula she’s built a career on and stray into new territory.
She’s built up tons of buzz with two mixtapes (one of which was the Grammy-nominated You Should Be Here) and collaborations with the likes of Chance the Rapper and BJ the Chicago Kid, drawing attention from critics and fans, but that’s all been leading to her proper debut full-length, which marks her first project on Atlantic Records and is expected to arrive on Jan. 27.
After James Murphy reunited the band for a series of shows and festival stops last year, he said a new album was also in the works. Originally thought to be arriving months ago, it seems there were some unexpected delays. Back in November, the band canceled a string of overseas dates, apparently because of scheduling conflicts related to finishing the new record. Seven years after 2010’s This Is Happening, it seems 2017 will finally be the year.
Lana Del Rey
It seems over the past three years she has hardly been out of the studio, confirming not long after releasing her critically-acclaimed Honeymoon in September 2015 she was already working on a new album. She’s said she hopes the upcoming record will be more upbeat than some of her previous material. It’s also been rumored she may be aiming for more mainstream pop success. Perhaps after collaborating with The Weeknd on both of his last two albums, he shared some secrets?
The New Zealand songstress deliberately took some time off after her 2013 debut album. But as she celebrated her 20th birthday back in November, she updated fans with a note confirming her new record was nearly finished. She said it was largely inspired by her transition from a teen into adulthood. She’s also admitted to having picked an album titled and completed the artwork as well as held the new merchandise, all promising the record itself is coming very, very soon.
Major Lazer (Music Is the Weapon)
Diplo and Co. can essentially do no wrong at this point, and this new record is already shaping up to be a massive one. Expected guest appearances include Justin Bieber, MØ, Nicki Minaj, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Sia, The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Tove Lo and more. It’s unclear if a January 2017 release is still part of the plan, but as long as it’s here in time for the summer, we’ll be good.
The duo tweeted on Christmas 2015 they would “re-dominate your mind hole” in 2016, suggesting the followup to their 2013 self-titled album was on the way. However, they are now planning a 2017 release. We’re told the band has plenty of material finished and may be headlining some festivals this year. So it does seem like this will be the year.
Not long after releasing her 2015 album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, the singer was back in the studio working on new material. It’s unclear when the new record might arrive, but her high-profile coaching slot on NBC’s The Voice last fall seemed to be a great way to ready fans for the forthcoming music, especially considering she did a great job on the show, as she showcased her musical knowledge and versatility.
More than two years since the arrival of The Pinkprint, the rapper stirred up excitement back in October when she joked about surprise-releasing a new record. While that news wasn’t true and she made clear earlier last year she wasn’t rushing a new project, she’s definitely been in the studio. In addition to appearing on several collaborations last year, a number of songs directly attached to Minaj or mysteriously linked to her have been registered in recent months.
Nine Inch Nails
After announcing longtime collaborator Atticus Ross has officially joined the band and then releasing an EP of new music in December, mastermind Trent Reznor said the band is plotting two “major” projects for the new year. The band is also re-issuing their previous albums starting this year, so it appears 2017 will be a big one for Nine Inch Nails.
Guitarist Laurent Brancowitz told Variance back in October 2013 he didn’t think the band would need much time to finish their next album, but it appears he spoke too soon. Whatever happened since then, it seems the band is now ready for their next chapter. In November, they quietly updated all their social media photos to a television test pattern, as if to ask fans to stand by. Not long after that, they began adding live dates to their 2017 schedule, their first shows since 2014. It’s not a matter of if but when.
Pusha T (King Push)
He’s had fans waiting for this album since 2014 when he first announced it, but he switched things up in 2015 by releasing Darkest Before Dawn as a prelude. With last year’s standout tracks such as “Circles” and the JAY Z-assisted “Drug Dealers Anonymous,” Pusha T has already given us reason to expect only the best from this upcoming album, which he plans to release this year, although he has yet to confirm an arrival date.
Rick Ross (Rather You Than Me)
Rozay confirmed back in November his ninth studio album will arrive early this year. Although he didn’t offer much more information, the news was accompanied by a behind-the-scenes video of his album cover shoot, suggesting he’s definitely in promo mode and not just teasing.
Ryan Adams (Prisoner)
The followup to his 2014 self-titled album was originally expected to arrive last fall. Despite the slight delay, Adams has made up for it by releasing two tracks off the album and performing the record in full for fans at a show in Sydney. It will officially be released on Feb 17.
The genre-bending country crooner will celebrate three years since releasing his debut album Montevallo. And while he previously acknowledged feeling pressure to release new material, he has been back in the studio recently. As evidence, he started the new year with a brand new song “Drinkin’ Too Much,” which is an apology to his new financée Hannah Lee Fowler, the inspiration for his first album.
If it seems the British singer has been building up to his album for years, it’s because it’s true. After collaborating with the likes of Drake and Solange, his debut album will finally arrive on Feb. 3. And the timing actually seems just right.
While he just released his Grammy-nominated Blank Face LP last year, he’s already teasing new music, having announced in December he’ll release a new album in 2017. “Fuck a break,” he said on Instagram. “I’m already ready.”
Shy Girls (Salt)
After spending the past couple of years entrancing us with his mesmerizing vocals and hypnotic pop gems, Portland’s Dan Vidmar is finally releasing his debut album on Jan. 20. Previous offerings such as “I Am Only a Man” and “Why I Love” are proof of why this will be a must-hear album. And with the January release date, we expect this to be just the beginning of a busy year for Vidmar.
The Icelandic outfit has been back in the studio and alluding to new music for some time, having extended their live schedule deep into 2017. Now approaching four years since their 2013 album Kveikur, it seems the band is preparing for the followup.
Sky Ferreira (Masochism)
While she’s been working on her sophomore record since 2014, it’s unclear what remains from her earlier material. She’s said to have spent time in the studio with Ariel Rechsthaid, Mike Dean and others, but she’s also been focusing on her acting career, perhaps muddying the timeline for the album.
There’s little information about the new album, but frontman Britt Daniel has confirmed it will be released in March, perhaps an indication the Austin band’s record may be timed with SXSW. Daniel said in a recent interview he felt “like we are on to something,” adding that the band has been “covering some new ground” with the upcoming set.
Annie Clark has not revealed much about the upcoming record, but she said in a recent interview with Guitar World that getting out of her usual tour-record-tour schedule this past year allowed her to “step back and reflect,” calling the new material “the deepest, boldest work I’ve ever done.” It is expected to arrive this spring.
Top Dawg’s queen Solána Rowe has yet to release her full-length album, despite racking up three EPs and collaborations with such heavy hitters as Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper. While she’s faced a number of delays, her label has made clear SZA’s debut album is finally coming this year. Finally!
Now that some of the innocence and mystique of T. Swift has eroded, it will be interesting to see how it translates into her music. She may have broken her usual two-year cycle for album releases, but she’s definitely been in the studio, with a new record likely coming this year. She’s also said to have spent time in the studio with Drake, one of several signs she may be dabbling with more sultry R&B sounds this time around.
Frontman Brandon Flowers told Variance in 2015 he was floating ideas for the new Killers record, admitting the band seemed more excited this time around to be making new music. “I still want to write a masterpiece,” he told us, adding: “I feel really confident that our best is still in us. I really do have this new sense of hope for The Killers.” They spent the final weeks of 2016 back home in Las Vegas finishing the album, which they’ve seen confirmed will arrive this year.
Ringleader James Mercer said back in August the band’s new album had “basically” been recorded and mixed, revealing their record label was holding off on a release until 2017 to benefit from better promo options and festival performance slots. To satisfy fans’ anticipation, they’ve performed some new songs live toward the end of 2016.
The xx (I See You)
The British trio quietly spent most of last year finalizing this new record, which is out on Jan. 13. Since the arrival of lead single “On Hold,” the track has already been creeping up the radio charts and the band made their debut on Saturday Night Live back in November, all positive signs for a band expected to headline multiple festivals and likely have their biggest year yet.
Her sophomore has long been in the works and had been expected to arrive last year, coinciding with her Joyride Tour. There were reportedly some internal conflicts on the label side forcing the delay, but Tinashe proved she’s definitely been working, releasing a mixtape called Nightride to hold fans over until the album comes, hopefully sooner rather than later.
It appears the band’s new album may arrive just as their last record, Modern Vampires of the City, is celebrating its fourth anniversary. Rostam Batmanglij announced last January he was leaving the band, opening the door for frontman Ezra Koenig to confirm the band had been working on their new album. Back in November, reports surfaced suggesting Vampire Weekend was leaving their indie label XL Recordings for major Columbia Records, with a second or third-quarter release planned for this year.
Vancouver Sleep Clinic
If it feels like we’ve been waiting three years for this album, it’s because we have. But for Aussie Tim Bettinson and his bandmates, it seems the timing may have been just right, as they recently signed with Columbia Records to release their debut LP sometime this year. The three new tracks released so far are stunning, likely aided by producer Al Shux, whose production credits include songs for JAY Z, Alicia Keys and Lana Del Rey.
➲ For rising music artists to know this year, check out Variance's 2017 FutureSounds here.
Editor's Note: Lindsay Howard, Dustin Maher & Jonathan Robles contributed selections and commentary for this story.