Coming off a year in which album sales somehow went up even when music became much easier to get for free online, the industry would love to see the climb turn into a trend. Luckily there is a nice blend of superstars and up-and-comers set to release albums in 2012, and we’ve got a look at a dozen of the best.
Keep in mind that many of these scheduled releases are tentative at best; as a matter of fact, a few of these artists made this list last year and never got around to releasing their planned opus. Still, this is a list that should have fans looking forward to the year ahead.
Lana Del Rey, Born To Die
Despite a disastrous Saturday Night Live performance, the buzz on this Brooklyn singer-songwriter has been deafening ever since her captivating single, “Video Games,” swept through the blogosphere last fall. It will be hard to sustain that kind of delicate magic over the course of a full album, of course, but it will certainly be interesting to hear her try.
Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas
Some of 2010’s best music was released by cagey veterans, and Cohen continued that trend right off the bat in January. It’s the first album of new material in eight years for the veteran of “Hallelujah” fame. The first single, “Show Me The Place,” is a stunner, with Cohen’s fathoms-deep voice and poetic lyrics in fine form.
Paul McCartney, Kisses On the Bottom
The new album is a combination of new material and covers of some of Macca’s favorite standards. Let’s hope that he avoids Rod Stewart slickness and finds the soul of those old songs. First single “My Valentine,” featuring Eric Clapton on acoustic guitar, is a typically gorgeous McCartney melody tinged with haunting sadness.
Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
The first two leaked singles to Minaj’s sophomore album (scheduled for release in April) didn’t do a whole lot on the radio, but the "Stupid Hoe" video has gotten plenty of interest online. Let’s hope she can recapture the magic that made “Super Bass” such a transcendent song. The album title refers to Roman Zolanski, one of Nicki’s many alter egos who is apparently featured on the new disc.
Sleigh Bells, Reign Of Terror
You say you haven’t heard of Sleigh Bells. Well, if you’ve watched TV in the past two years, you’ve likely heard one of their noisy, riffy, insanely catchy compositions on some random commercial or another. Expect more of the same from the duo of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss based on raucous new song “Born To Lose.”
The Beach Boys
Apparently, there’s been a détente in the long-simmering feud between Brian Wilson and the other surviving members of the group. While there’s no sure thing here yet, the good feeling engendered by the recent release of the sessions for lost classic The Smile Sessions, along with Wilson’s prolific songwriting output, lead me to believe we just might be having some fun, fun, fun with the Boys in 2012.
No, this is not a collaboration, but I thought I’d give you two for the price of one here. The two bands, while featuring dissimilar styles, both have been out of the game for a while after prolific runs, and both feature unique female leads in Gwen Stefani and Shirley Manson. It would be interesting to see what these groups have in store if they do release this year.
Mumford & Sons
They defied all odds and expectations with their debut album, Sigh No More, which grew slowly to become a huge seller and found airplay despite its antiquated style. They even stole the show from Bob Dylan at last year’s Grammys. Now Marcus Mumford and the boys have the difficult task of overcoming the dreaded sophomore slump.
Their style of bombastic rock may not be to everyone’s taste. I, for one, thought that 2009’s The Resistance was a silly affair and a step back from 2006’s Black Holes And Revelations. Needless to say, I was in the minority on that account, and the band’s following grew enormously in the process. Their new album should provide a barometer on whether or not they can sustain their success.
Well, maybe they had the last laugh after all, now that the much-maligned Spiderman musical, with songs by Bono and The Edge, has become a box office smash. Their most recent tour also shattered attendance and earnings records. Could the long-awaited follow-up to the underwhelming No Line On The Horizon be the next step in their reclaiming their throne among rock royalty?
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
The announcement by The Boss of a new album and tour in the new year was a tad bittersweet. We all knew that Bruce would soldier on, but it’s hard to picture the E Street Band now having lost two of its core members (Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons.) Still, it should be fascinating to see the next direction in Springsteen’s amazing career.
The Rolling Stones
This one is mere speculation. It’s been seven years since their last album, and it was eight years before that one, so they’re due. Granted, Keith ripped Mick a new one in his autobiography, and Mick took part in a bizarre side project this year (SuperHeavy.) But it’s hard to imagine the boys letting the 50th anniversary of the band’s formation go by without something new to celebrate it.