1. Justin Timberlake
“The 20/20 Experience”
Justin Timberlake stepped away from music after putting out 2006’s “Future Sex/Love Songs,” his second solo album. In January, Timberlake returned with the single “Suit and Tie,” featuring Jay-Z. The part R&B, part dance song was met with a collective “huh” from longtime fans who might have been hoping for something closer to “SexyBack.” But the song, which also is the first single from the upcoming “The 20/20 Experience,” may give some insight into what Timberlake’s first album in seven years may sound like. Longtime collaborator Timbaland once again will have his hands all over this album, so don’t expect this one to go too far outside the box.
Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am has put out three solo albums with little fanfare. Maybe a Twitter-friendly album with a hashtag in its title will get people to take notice. This album actually should have come out long before this. There was a chance for its release more than a year ago when will.i.am’s single “T.H.E. The Hardest Ever,” featuring Mick Jagger and Jennifer Lopez, hit radio. But that single received a somewhat tepid response. The singer/rapper/producer did a much better job making an impact on his recent club hit collaboration with Britney Spears, “Scream & Shout.” Both songs will be featured on this album, possibly with other rumored tracks with Kanye West, Chris Brown, Justin Beiber, Ne-Yo, Avril Lavigne and others.
3. Blake Shelton
“Based on a True Story …”
The new album from country artist and coach on “The Voice,” Blake Shelton comes out the same week as the premiere of the NBC show’s fourth season. A similar strategy was used when Shelton’s Christmas album was released near the season three premiere last year. Leading the way is the laidback first single, “Sure Be Cool If You Did.” The album is already available for preorder on Shelton’s website. The “collector’s edition” of the release will set you back $99.99, but also gets you a rather odd assortment of items including a T-shirt, a coffee mug, a beer growler and a Zippo lighter.
4. The Flaming Lips
According to The Flaming Lips’ website, “The Terror” “is comprised of nine original compositions that reflect a darker-hued spectrum than previous works, along with a more inward-looking lyrical perspective than one might expect — but then again, maybe not. It’s up to you, the listener, to decide what it means to you.” Confused yet? Of course that’s nothing new when it comes to The Flaming Lips, who have been churning out modern-day psychedelic rock for nearly 30 years. This album will not contain the song “Sun Blows Up Today,” which could be heard in a recent car commercial that also starred the band. The song, however, can be purchased as a digital-only bonus track when pre-ordering the album.
5. Various artists
“The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver”
Tribute albums rarely pay proper respect to an artist. Most of the time they instead leave you wishing you had rather just listened to the original act’s work. But there is just something about the list of the names announced for an upcoming John Denver tribute album that at least seems as though somebody put some thought into this project. Dave Matthews, My Morning Jacket, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Lucinda Williams and The Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando are among those who will be provided their versions of songs by the late singer, who died in a plane crash in 1997. How can you go wrong with Jim James of My Morning Jacket singing “Leaving On A Jet Plane?” A portion of the proceeds from album sales will be donated to the conservation organization The Wilderness Society.
6. Molly Ringwald
Yes, that Molly Ringwald. “The Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles” actress gives singing a spin on “Except Sometimes.” The album is a collection of jazz standards including “I’ll Take Romance” and “Sooner Or Later,” a song recorded by Madonna for the 1990 “Dick Tracy” movie. But before you completely write this one off as a bunch of ruckus, you should know Ringwald has some jazz roots. She is the daughter of blind jazz pianist Bob Ringwald. Then again, you also should know the album includes a cover of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”
French alt-rock band Phoenix grew its following in the U.S. thanks to the excellent 2009 album, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.” That release had them sounding a little more poppy, and closer to music from The Strokes or The Killers, than in the past. Their synth-heavy hit, “1901,” was a refreshing turn for the band. “Entertainment,” the first single from the new album, falls between Phoenix’s more recent bouncy sound and their more straight-forward earlier material. If the nine other songs on “Bankrupt!” follow this outline, Phoenix should have one of the better releases in the coming months.
8. Snoop Lion
The artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg makes his reggae/dancehall music debut with “Reincarnated.” Snoop is allegedly abondoning rap music for a sunny island sound. No, really. There is a slight chance this project could turn out to be more than a quick gimmicky money-grab. Diplo and the rest of the team behind the dancehall-happy Major Lazer albums have been brought in to help, so “Reincarnated” could at least have some choice beats. But if the first single, “Here Comes the King,” is any indication, probably now. Guests on the album include Drake, T.I., Busta Rhymes, Akon and Chris Brown. Oh, and there is a movie accompanying this project as well.
9. Fall Out Boy
“Save Rock and Roll”
So they never technically said they were never ever getting back together. Fall Out Boy returns with their first album since 2008’s commercially unsuccessful “Folie A Deux.” Fall Out Boy played a couple warm-up shows earlier this winter in anticipation of an upcoming tour. Unfortunately for those looking looking to get a taste of new Fall Out Boy songs, they didn’t play any new material other than the recently released “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up).” The song, also the album’s first single, strikes a nice balance between early and later Fall Out Boy. Maybe they’ll avoid any missteps they made with fans on their last album.
10. John Fogerty
“Wrote a Song For Everyone”
Maybe John Fogerty, the voice behind Creedence Clearwater Revival’s biggest hits, was inspired by his time spent working with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s Sound City Studios project. Grohl enlisted Fogerty and others to record songs for a recent album and documentary that celebrated the famed studio. Now it’s Fogerty who is getting a little help from his friends. “Wrote a Song For Everyone” features Fogerty working with several other acts to recreate some of CCR’s biggest hits that were written by him. The Foo Fighters lead off the album with their take on “Fortunate Son.” Kid Rock joins Fogerty to sing “Born On the Bayou.” Sure, some of the collaborations sound a little scary (“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” sung by Alan Jackson, anyone?), but this album should at least spark some curiosity. Jennifer Hudson belting out “Proud Mary” has to be worth a listen, right?
Other notable upcoming music releases:
March 26: Depeche Mode, “Delta Machine”; OneRepublic, “Native”; The Strokes, “Comedown Machine”; April 2: Alkaline Trio, “My Shame Is True”; Killswitch Engage, “Disarm the Descent”; New Kids on the Block, “10”; Telekinesis, “Dormarion”; April 9: Brad Paisley, “Wheelhouse”; Paramore, “Paramore”; LeAnn Rimes, “Spitfire”; Stone Sour, “House of Gold & Bones Pt. 2”; April 16: Willie Nelson and Family, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance”; Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Mosquito”; April 23: Michael Bublé, “To Be Loved”; Rob Zombie, “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor”; April 30: Kenny Chesney, “Life On a Rock”; Iggy and the Stooges, “Ready to Die”; LL Cool J, “Authentic”; May 7: Fitz and The Tantrums, “More Than Just a Dream”; Goo Goo Dolls, “Magnetic”; Lady Antebellum, “Golden”; 98 Degrees, “2.0”; She & Him, “Volume 3”; Vampire Weekend, “Modern Vampires of the City”.