Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos Getty Images
2022 was a banner year in music. A stacked field of A-list artists — Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, Rosalía, the Weeknd — dropped strong releases that bent genres and challenged expectations; we got impressive debuts from Ethel Cain, Wet Leg, and Omar Apollo; and, to cap it off, SZA managed to end the long five-year wait for her sophomore album, SOS. Meanwhile — and despite the best efforts of Ticketmaster — artists set out on tour again, as festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Primavera Sound resumed operations. All in all, the year felt like a return to everything we had missed in the uncertainty and isolation of lockdown. As we look ahead to 2023, it seems like the hits will keep coming. Paramore is set to end their six-year hiatus with This Is Why in February, Blink-182’s reunion album is on the horizon, and Cardi B has promised the highly anticipated follow-up to 2018’s Invasion of Privacy. There are also the wild cards: Now that Taylor Swift has shaken off her copyright lawsuit, could 2023 be when we get 1989 (Taylor’s Version)? And what about Beyoncé? She may have taken the Renaissance visuals hostage, but will she release Acts II and III? Here’s a full rundown of what we’re looking forward to.
Iggy Pop isn’t interested in being anyone but himself. His 19th solo album, Every Loser, isn’t an attempt at reinvention but a return to the irreverent, erratic chaos that made him the godfather of punk. The record will be the first released under the recent partnership between Atlantic Records and producer Andrew Watt’s Gold Tooth Records. “This album was created to be played as loud as your stereo will go,” said Watt in a statement. “Turn it up and hold on.” On his lead single, “Frenzy,” Pop is already fired up.
Pittsburgh punk rockers Anti-Flag have spent the last 30 years railing against the system, putting out an impressive catalogue that tackles inequality, fascism, and political corruption. Their 2020 album, 20/20 Vision, was a direct callout against President Trump that received positive acclaim, but the pandemic forced the band to scrap their accompanying world tour. With more time than they’d had in decades to come together and work on an album, the group landed on a concept built around the lies that have led us to where we are today. In a statement, the band shared their excitement for the project: “There’s no other way to put it: Lies They Tell Our Children is the best f*cking version of Anti-Flag we have ever been.”
That Margo Price’s third album is a shroom-fueled journey across the Southern California coast is fitting, if not completely full circle. As she shared in her recent memoir, Maybe We’ll Make It, the psychedelic-country singer was only 19 when a mushroom trip inspired her to quit college and pursue music full time. The ensuing years weren’t quite easy, and her recent period of self-reflection prompted her to stop drinking. The end result is an album she calls “a resilient proclamation of freedom.”
It’s been a bit of an unlikely road to international stardom for Måneskin. After winning the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, the four-piece Italian rock band had become one of a handful of success stories to emerge from the competition. Their sleazy rock-star personas, coupled with the virality of their gritty cover of the Four Seasons’ “Beggin’” and the infectious “I Wanna Be Your Slave,” quickly won them a dedicated online fan base as they embarked on a massive string of touring and festival dates. Their third album will head in a new direction, taking inspiration from Radiohead and exploring a more experimental, ballad-driven side of the band, as seen in their single “The Loneliest.”
After taking over TikTok and topping the Billboard Hot 100 with their song “Unholy,” featuring Kim Petras, Sam Smith has fans eagerly anticipating Gloria. For their fourth studio album, the singer wanted to get more personal and more involved than before; this marks their first time taking part in the producing and arranging of a record. Gloria isn’t the heartbreak music Smith is known for but a celebration of queer joy. “It feels like emotional, sexual, and spiritual liberation,” they said in a statement. “It was beautiful, with this album, to sing freely again. Oddly, it feels like my first-ever record.”
Despite the massive success of dance-pop hits like “Sweet But Psycho” and “Kings & Queens,” Ava Max has struggled to carve out space for herself in the hypercompetitive pop-diva landscape. She was dealt a rough set of cards this year when her sophomore album, originally set for release in October, had to be pushed to 2023 after it was leaked online. Earlier this year, the singer shed her signature asymmetrical haircut to usher in a new era, telling Zane Lowe her upcoming record would be like “heartbreak on the dance floor.” On “Million Dollar Baby,” Max pulls from early 2000s influences, sampling the LeAnn Rimes classic “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” in an anthemic chorus. Whatever the future holds, Max’s pop prowess is undeniable.
In 1997, Shania Twain’s third album, Come on Over, catapulted the singer to a new level of success, breaking records as the best-selling studio album by a female artist and cementing her status as a crossover country-pop queen. Twenty-five years later, it’s clear Twain has staying power. After making a surprise appearance alongside Harry Styles at Coachella, releasing her Netflix documentary, Shania Twain: Not Just A Girl, and wrapping up her second Las Vegas residency, Twain kept the momentum going by announcing her first album in five years, Queen of Me. Between lead singles “Waking Up Dreaming” and “Last Day of Summer,” the singer’s style is just as varied as ever.
Ellie Goulding has been a mainstay of the U.K. pop charts since her debut Lights in 2010. Now gearing up for her fifth album, the singer has recruited an impressive roster of collaborators including producers Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia, Beck) and Koz (Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Dua Lipa) as well as songwriter Jesse Shatkin (Kelly Clarkson, Lizzo, Charli XCX). Her latest single, “Let It Die,” finds euphoria in surrender as she sings, “Tell me why when there’s not more tears to cry / And you’re holdin’ onto love for life / I think it’s time to let it die.”
One of the most highly anticipated releases of the coming year, Paramore’s This Is Why will be the band’s first album in almost six years. After a brief hiatus following the release of their last record, After Laughter, front woman Hayley Williams pivoted toward solo material, releasing two albums in 2020 and 2021. Around the same time, the band began working on new music, returning in full force with their first single, “This Is Why,” a defiant track driven by Williams’s attitude and impressive vocals.
Even after 40 years together, Yo La Tengo are still finding ways to chart new territory. Their 17th studio album, This Stupid World, is the first to be mixed and produced entirely by the band members themselves. Lead single “Fallout” feels warm and familiar — a sincere plea to stop the clock, as Ira Kaplan sings: “I want to fall out of time / Turn back unwind / Before the whole thing stops / Before the hammer drops.”
Kelela broke ground with her 2017 debut, Take Me Apart, diving into her futuristic vision of R&B by incorporating garage, electronic, jazz, and dance influences to critical acclaim. Then, she vanished. After taking a hiatus to rethink her approach to her music and the industry at large, the Ethiopian American singer came to Raven with a renewed sense of confidence, catharsis, and freedom. “Raven is my first breath taken in the dark,” she said in a statement. “An affirmation of Black femme perspective in the midst of systemic erasure and the sound of our vulnerability turned to power.”
The world is Caroline Polachek’s freaky little island, and we’re just living in it. In her latest video, “Welcome to My Island,” the singer-songwriter lures you in with an addictively off-kilter hook (which she briefly delivers as a manticore in her music video) before an anthemic chorus washes over you. There’s nothing traditional about Polachek’s approach to pop stardom (though it hasn’t stopped her from going viral), and with singles like “Bunny Is a Rider” and “Sunset,” you can assume Desire will make for an unexpected, intoxicating Valentine’s Day listen.
After delivering two decades’ worth of chart-topping singles and jaw-dropping live performances, Pink has cemented her status as a pop icon. This February will mark the release of her ninth studio album, Trustfall, and her lead single, “Never Gonna Not Dance Again,” is a bright, nostalgic celebration of life. Following her father’s death in 2021 and a difficult bout with COVID, the singer told Good Morning America that the album is about living fearlessly. “I’m not gonna live in my head, I’m gonna live in my heart and my body because I’m not gonna be here forever.”
A constant exercise in testing the limits of pop music, Damon Albarn’s virtual band, Gorillaz, has maintained its relevance over the course of its nearly 25-year history. Setting up fans for their eighth album, the group teased a collaboration with Bad Bunny called “Tormenta,” later performing then-unreleased singles “Cracker Island” with Thundercat and “New Gold,” featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown, at live shows earlier this year.
Depeche Mode settled on the name for their 15th album before they knew how poetic it would be. Latin for “Remember you must die,” Memento Mori seemed like a fitting theme to explore when the group first sat down to write amid the pandemic, but after the sudden and tragic passing of founding member and keyboardist Andy Fletcher in May 2022, the title took on new meaning. “All the songs were already written before Fletch passed,” front man Dave Gahan told Rolling Stone. “But when something happens, an event like this in your life, songs change: They take on different forms and have different meanings when you sing them.”
Some artists take years to fine-tune an album, releasing one or two each decade. Others, like Lana del Rey, brave leaks, thieves, and waves of controversy to deliver three in the span of two years. In what feels like an attempt to out-Lana herself, the singer-songwriter announced her longest album title yet: Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd (no question mark). The record marks the return of every pop girlie’s favorite producer, Jack Antonoff, with features from Antonoff’s group, Bleachers, 2022 Grammy Album of the Year winner Jon Batiste, Father John Misty, Tommy Genesis, SYML, and, most interestingly, her Hillsong Church pastor, Judah Smith.
Duo Laura Les and Dylan Brady’s 2019 debut, 1000 Gecs, solidified the group’s irreverent, experimental approach to music-making, putting them at the forefront of the hyperpop movement with a genre-defying style that grabbed from emo, trap, hip-hop, ska, and dubstep. Last year, the two told Pitchfork they’d completely scrapped their tracks for the upcoming album and started again from scratch, hoping to show their listeners a solid evolution.
One of the only metal groups to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for three consecutive decades, Metallica knows something about staying power. Clocking in at over 77 minutes, 72 Seasons will be the band’s first album in seven years. The project is a return to their beginnings, with the title itself referencing the first 18 years of our lives, which “form our true or false selves,” the band said in a statement. “Much of our adult experience is a reenactment or reaction to these childhood experiences.” Lead single “Lux Æterna” is an energized blast of ’80s New Wave and British heavy metal nostalgia.
Lewis Capaldi, Scotland’s best chance at taking down Ed Sheeran, is returning with his sophomore album, Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent. After his impressive breakthrough in 2019 with “Someone You Loved,” the singer-songwriter sold out his first arena before even releasing his debut album. In 2021, Capaldi put his tour on hold to focus on his sophomore effort and has since been back on the road, promoting his lead singles, “Forget Me” and “Pointless,” two vulnerable tracks that prove he has a talent for turning his heartache into anthemic hooks. While Capaldi’s songs can be tearjerkers, his attempts to promote them on TikTok are nothing short of hilarious chaos.
Front man Tom DeLonge is back in the fold after leaving the group in 2015. (More recently, drummer Travis Barker has collaborated with a number of artists, including Avril Lavigne and Willow, and spent at least half of last year making out with his wife, Kourtney Kardashian, while bassist and vocalist Mark Hoppus has been working on a book about the band and his recent battle with cancer.) And though a massive world tour is on the horizon, we still don’t know much else about the newly-reunited trio’s ninth album other than what DeLonge has teased as the “most progressive and elevated music” they’ve ever written.
Would we have liked it sooner? Definitely. But Cardi has kept us fed with the kind of massive, multiplatinum singles that most artists would kill for, from “Please Me” with Bruno Mars to the unforgettable “WAP” with Megan Thee Stallion. Plus, with a string of spotlight-stealing features on “Taki Taki,” “Rumors,” and, most recently, GloRilla’s “Tomorrow 2,” Cardi has made sure her name is always on our lips. Still, it’s been five whole years since the release of her massively successful debut, Invasion of Privacy. Thankfully, the rapper has assured us that her sophomore album will finally arrive in 2023. “I have no choice,” she said on The Breakfast Club. “I need to just make up my mind and put it out. I’m too much in my head about it.”
Ed Sheeran hasn’t run out of math symbols yet, and while the 31-year-old singer has yet to confirm it, we can safely assume his next record will probably be “-” given that it’s the only one listed in his impossible-to-pronounce North American + – = ÷ x tour (officially it’s the “Mathematics Tour”). Between his tour dates, Sheeran has been hard at work thrashing in the sea for one of ten “epic” videos that will accompany his next release.
In case you needed a refresher, 2022 has been a wild year for Grimes: We found out about her breakup with Elon Musk, the existence of her second child, and her relationship with Chelsea Manning all in the span of 48 hours. She also allegedly got “elf ear” surgery. With 20 potential tracks for her next album, the singer teased the idea of a Book 1 and Book 2, both of which would be part of a “space opera” about an AI being and her lesbian lover.
Since rekindling her relationship with Dunkin Donuts enthusiast Ben Affleck, J.Lo has gotten a bit … sentimental. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that the newlywed is coming full circle to her 2002 album This Is Me … Then (famously dedicated to Affleck) by releasing a sequel in 2023’s This Is Me … Now. The 13-track album also has Lopez singing a follow-up to her 2002 song “Dear Ben.” “This album is a philosophy, a reflection, a Zeitgeist moment. It’s about hope, faith, and true love never dying,” she said in a statement. Let’s hope it also gives us another “Jenny From the Block.”
After giving us the Kellyoke album we had all been begging for, Kelly Clarkson is returning to original material on her tenth studio release. Technically, Clarkson has been sitting on these songs for the past two years, with the bulk of them written in the aftermath of her divorce. In between keeping up with her hosting and coaching gigs on The Voice, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and American Song Contest, the powerhouse vocalist made it a priority to find time for therapy. “I told my label, ‘I can’t talk about this until I’ve gone through it,’ and it’s just taken some time to do that,” she told Variety. “I’m working on this in therapy: I have a hard time vocalizing what I’m feeling sometimes, so music is helpful for me. It’s just been really healing.”
Their third album in the last four years, the Killers’ upcoming release remains a bit of a mystery. So far, our only clue about the record’s direction is the lead single, “Boy,” a track that front man Brandon Flowers described as the impetus for writing their last project, Pressure Machine (though it obviously didn’t make the final cut). “It didn’t make it onto the record — but its absence is not a reflection of the quality of the song,” he told NME. “It was an aesthetic decision to keep it off.” The wistful New Wave track feels both reminiscent of “Humans”-era Killers and fresh. As Flowers sings, “Don’t overthink it, boy.”
Australia’s undisputed queen of pop is set to reinvent herself again on her 16th studio album. Her 2020 smash hit, Disco, was met with widespread acclaim and made Minogue the first female artist to have a No. 1 album in the U.K. across five consecutive decades. The new record is expected to be released in the first half of 2023.
On top of making his debut as a coach on the 23rd season of The Voice, Niall Horan is also planning on releasing his third album, the follow-up to 2020’s Heartbreak Weather. In a video posted to Twitter, Horan addressed his fans, saying, “It’s been a while, which I know you’re very aware of … I’ve got new music coming in the new year that I’m really, really proud of, and I appreciate you being so patient with me while I’ve done it.”
Fans have come to expect the unexpected from Bey, who’s made surprise music drops, visual albums, and accompanying behind-the-scenes documentaries practically the industry standard for today’s pop stars. So when the singer announced that Renaissance was just the first installment in a trilogy, it wasn’t a matter of how Beyoncé would follow up her first act, but when. Since dropping Act I in July, Bey has gone silent, leaving us to wonder what exactly she has in store for the new year. Some fans have combed through Ivy Park footage for clues, while others have leaned into the idea that Act II might be a return to Beyoncé’s Houston roots. Whatever she has in store for us, let’s hope Bey pulls back the curtain soon.
It’s been a long, long seven years since Frank Ocean dropped Blonde. The singer’s critically acclaimed sophomore release cemented him as one of music’s most inventive and introspective artists, but as fans eagerly awaited a follow-up, the ensuing years have been marked by more than a few false starts and fakeouts. Past the handful of singles he’s put out over the years, there have been several recent reasons not to give up hope. We know thanks to Rosalía and Ocean’s Apple Music 1 show that he has been in the studio, and he was believed to be “shopping” an upcoming record with different record labels last year. But it’s his upcoming headlining performance at Coachella in April that has fans confident that a new project will finally be coming soon.
Over the past year, Doja has had fun keeping her fans guessing, first teasing a rap album, then a “’90s German rave” inspired album, then joking that it would be experimental jazz before tweeting that it would be a rock-emo album. You can never be 100 percent sure what Doja might serve up next, but in interviews over the last few months, she’s mentioned a new record that will be “quite consistent”
Dua Lipa’s disco-heavy 2020 album Future Nostalgia kept us dancing while the world shut down. Since jetting off on a nonstop world tour in 2022, she hasn’t looked back, single-handedly keeping the glittering-catsuit industry afloat and reminding everyone just how far her choreo skills have come. The singer has been slowly teasing out details of her upcoming third album, though she’s also told The Wall Street Journal that she’s “in no rush” to release anything. Thanks to some dedicated internet sleuths, some fans are now convinced that Dua will be headed in a psychedelic-pop direction after matching the banisters in a photo dump to ones at Kevin Parker of Tame Impala’s home studio.
2021 belonged to Olivia Rodrigo. Her debut album allowed her to pull off the often attempted, rarely landed jump from Disney star to serious artist with the release of Sour. It’s unclear whether Rodrigo will stay in the pop-punk lane that earned her 11 Billboard Top 30 hits, but in addition to revealing that she’s already titled the project, she also told Elle that she was excited to “explore more colors and textures and feelings” with her next record. The singer hasn’t officially confirmed a 2023 release date but did seem to hint at the possibility of new music in a video to her top fans on Spotify.
A quick recap of things that have come and gone since we first learned about Normani’s “upcoming” debut: six of Pete Davidson’s girlfriends, Aunt Becky’s Varsity Blues trial, Megxit, Tiger King, and the “Let’s Get Loud” heard round the world. With her sultry, acrobatic vocals and impressive choreography, Normani’s star power isn’t in doubt. Her singles, from “Motivation” in 2019 to “Fair” in 2022 have each showcased her versatility. But will this finally be the year she graces us with an album? Only time will tell.
It’s easy to forget that Saweetie has yet to officially make her debut. For two years in a row, the “My Type” rapper has pushed back the release of her first album, Pretty Bitch Music, to “reconstruct some songs.” Saweetie’s continued to build anticipation with strong singles like “Tap In,” her relentlessly catchy collaboration with Doja Cat, “Best Friend,” and her disco-infused bop “Closer,” featuring H.E.R.
Whether you’d completely given up on the idea or continued to hold out hope over the last seven years, the announcement that Rihanna would be headlining the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show seemed like a guaranteed reason to celebrate the singer’s elusive ninth album. Not so fast, though. “Super Bowl is one thing,” she told the Associated Press in November. “New music is another thing. Do you hear that, fans?” Between managing her billion-dollar empire and adjusting to motherhood, Rihanna did at least release “Lift Me Up,” a slow R&B ballad for the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack.
Among all the artists on this list, Sky Ferreira holds the record for the longest break between major releases. To be fair, it’s not entirely her fault. The singer’s issues with her label are infamous and date back to her 2013 debut, Night Time, My Time. Despite her struggles, Ferreira still released one of the strongest albums of the 2010s — one that rejected traditional pop sounds and opted for a grunge and New Wave–influenced landscape that was all her own. Last year’s “Don’t Forget,” her first single in three years and the latest hint at her sophomore album, Masochist, is big — an anthemic reminder that Ferreira can still write a song that hooks its way into you. “A lot of it’s is written,” the singer told Vulture in May about her album. “It took me a long time to get back here, but I’m back. I’m not gonna back down that easily. I’ve done all the groundwork, and it’s ready, and I’m ready.”