The new year promises a lot of enticing milestones for our favorite artists: Britney Spears’ third wedding, Justin Bieber becoming a legal adult, the arrival of Boof Boof 4 Knowles-Carter and so on. But of course, the pop happenings we’re most anticipating are the ones that happen in the studio — namely, a roster of new albums chock full of great new music. What with 2011′s onslaught of juggernaut album releases from superstars like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Jay-Z and Kanye West, Adele, Rihanna and plenty more, we’re left to ponder: Can 2012 possibly match it? Head below to find out.
1. Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Due February 14
Don’t let the disc’s title fool you: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is Nicki Minaj’s sophomore effort, not merely a re-release of 2010’s smashing Pink Friday. Two promotional singles have already dropped — “Roman In Moscow” and “Stupid Hoe”, both with videos on the way. But the first official single will be “Va Va Voom” — a promising title, and one Minaj certainly lives up to. We’re curious to see whether Roman Reloaded will unleash another pop single even half as infectious as “Super Bass.” If anyone can do it, Nicki (and Roman, and her other alter egos) can.
2. Madonna, Album Title TBA
Due in spring
It would take an unfathomable event for us to not look forward to a whole album of new music from the Queen of Pop, even though Madonna let us down with 2008’s Hard Candy (arguably her worst album to date, with only a small handful of tunes we’ve cared to listen to again since). Still, we’re on board with Billboard readers who voted Her Madgesty’s upcoming LP their most-anticipated album of 2012 — the first offering from her new deal with Interscope and which will feature the W.E. ballad “Masterpiece” and lead single “Gimme All Your Luvin” with M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj. The Material Girl has re-teamed with Ray Of Light producer William Orbit as well as “Hello” maestro Martin Solveig (but not Sia). And our most eagerly awaited performance of the year has got to be “Gimme All Your Luvin” at the Super Bowl. Bring it!
3. Lana Del Rey, Born To Die
Due January 30
If you haven’t heard of her yet, you will soon enough. Lana Del Rey burst onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere late last year, and now she’s on everybody’s radar thanks to her somber sound and smoldering retro looks. Without a doubt, she’s 2012’s indie It Girl, making the bloody good Q cover girl’s first studio album, Born To Die, one of the year’s most anticipated debuts. Released through Interscope later this month, it will feature the singles “Video Games” and “Born To Die” along with “Blue Jeans,” “Off To The Races,” and more we haven’t yet heard.
4. Adam Lambert, Trespassing
Due March 20
It was drunken fighting, not trespassing, that got Adam Lambert in trouble with Helsinki police last month, but hopefully Adam will stay out of trouble this year, seeing as he’s got his second album to promote. We’ve heard lead single “Better Than I Know Myself”, a power ballad we’ll likely hear other American Idol hopefuls sing someday. Trespassing will feature an impressive and diverse roster of collaborators, including Dr. Luke, Bruno Mars, Nikka Costa, Sam Sparro and Pharrell Williams. Executive produced by the man himself, Lambert called the album “an exciting journey through the past two years of my life. It’s been a transformative period and I really wanted to make music from what I’ve experienced. All these songs honestly explore the ups and downs of my reality.” That’s a journey we’re dying to take.
5. Skylar Grey, Invinsible
Due in January
When Skylar Grey wrote “Love The Way You Lie”, she wasn’t well known enough to actually sing it and famously passed along those duties to Rihanna and Eminem. But a lot can change in a little over a year, and her second studio album, following 2006’s Like Blood Like Honey, is now one of the most looked-forward-to releases of 2012. The first release from producer Alex da Kid’s new KIDinaKORNER label, Invinsible has already spawned an eponymous single and will also feature tracks “Tower”, “Weirdo”, “Dance Without You” and “Can’t Haunt Me” (featuring Marilyn Manson).
6. Christina Aguilera, TBA
Due in spring/summer
Way back in 2010, Bionic had one or two bright spots, but mainly felt like a slapdash mishmash of styles. But thanks to her stint on The Voice and a feature on Maroon 5’s mega hit “Moves Like Jagger”, demand for a new album is as high as ever. Christina has said her next one will be more “heartfelt” and “introspective” than Bionic (it better be!), but that’s really all we know for now.
7. No Doubt, TBA
Can you believe we haven’t had a new album from No Doubt in over a decade? That officially makes the Anaheim foursome’s long-awaited sixth LP a “comeback.” Originally slated for a 2011 release, No Doubt chose instead to delay the new record to ensure quality. Rock Steady producer Mark “Spike” Stent has returned for the as-yet-untitled disc, which also features a big-name guest artist and collaboration with Major Lazer. Known song titles include the supposed prom song “Dreaming the Same Dream”, “Easy”, “One More Summer” and “Settle Down.”
8. La Roux, TBA
Due in spring
After a Grammy win for Best Electronic/Dance Album last year, all eyes (and ears) are on La Roux’s sophomore effort to see if it can launch a single as wonderful and dancefloor-friendly as “Bulletproof”. The English duo (comprised of Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid) have so far described the record as having a “classic disco” vibe, Jackson going so far as to tell Out back in March of last year: “I’d like a more sexual feel to the record, but not in a sex-in-the-club kinda way — the way sexy was before it got made dirty.”
9. Ke$ha, TBA
Due in May
Following 2010’s Animal and the EP Cannibal, Ke$ha’s second is slated for this spring, according to tweets from Dr. Luke. What’s with the holdup? “I want to take enough time to make sure it’s the reinvention of pop music,” K-Dollar-Sign-ha told the Calgary Herald back in September. Well, it’s good to know she’s not raising the bar too high. While we’re not sure if recent leaks “U Better Know” and “Only Wanna Dance With You” will make appearances here, this album will reportedly be more heavily influenced by rock ‘n’ roll performers like Janis Joplin, Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper. Consider yourself warned.
10. Mika, The Origin Of Love
Due in March
Hey, remember Mika? All has been relatively quiet on the Mika front since 2009, when his sophomore disc The Boy Who Knew Too Much underperformed. For his third LP, the Beirut-born pop star is reportedly following Madonna’s footsteps and working with Martin Solveig and William Orbit, and has pledged to deliver a more simplistic record with influences from Daft Punk to Fleetwood Mac, including a number of songs sung in French (like the already-released “Elle Me Dit”). If you need a dose of pop whimsy in your 2012 — and really, who isn’t? — here’s where to find your jam.
11. Justin Bieber, Believe
Due in summer
When My World 2.0 was released back in spring 2010, Justin Bieber appealed mainly to tween girls and their moms. Will 2012 be the year that changes? We just got Biebs’ holiday offering Under The Mistletoe, but he’s got another on the way this summer. The good-doer announced back in October that both Drake and Kanye West have been tapped to collaborate on Believe, giving the 17-year-old’s newest LP a heaping help of street cred.
12. Jay-Z & Kanye West, TBA
Kanye West has slated a G.O.O.D. album release for this spring, while Jay-Z mentioned the likelihood of a solo project to follow up 2009’s The Blueprint 3. Hova also told MTV News that another Throne collaboration was imminent: “We – I say ‘we’ because I’m in Throne mode – we’re in a great place creatively… We really found our zone.” Beyond that, we don’t know much. Keep in mind, though, that we knew next to nothing ahead of Watch The Throne and look how that turned out.
In addition to the above, 2012 also promises new releases from Pink, Kelis, Willow Smith, Scissor Sisters,, Sky Ferreira, Avril Lavigne, Fiona Apple, Garbage and T.I., plus two new albums from Janelle Monae. Which is your most-anticipated release? Tell us in the comments below, or on Twitter and Facebook.
—Reporting by X. Alexander (follow @HardintheCity on Twitter).