With only two and a half months left of 2016, music critics, reviewers and opinion-throwers are all trying to gather together the year’s best albums for ‘End of Year’ lists and highlight playlists. While they all prepare for what has already passed, Radiohead’s brain melting “A Moon Shaped Pool”, Rihanna’s disappointing “Anti”, Frank Ocean’s long-awaited “Blond” and even DJ Khaled’s surprisingly entertaining “Major Key”, there’s always the sense that there is one more left – one more album to define the year, one last hurrah for 2016. Throughout the Twittersphere there are always rumors of people recording in secret, with albums about to drop, and right here we gather all that information into one place to see what will be the last great album of 2016.
Lady Gaga is set to release fifth album, Joanne, in the coming days, but she is becoming as irrelevant to everyday people as Pokémon Go, so that’s worth very little interest to anyone bar her “Little Monsters”. The biggest story at the moment is the possible release of a new Taylor Swift album. Theorists have deducted, using pretty convincing techniques, that Swift will release her new album on the 23rd of October. Swift’s previous five albums have been released in October, and it has been 2 years since 1989. She plays her only concert of the year at the Formula One Grand Prix on the 22nd and people seem convinced that she’s not just there to perform a greatest hits show. On October 24th she celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the release of her debut album. All the signs point to the album being released as a surprise on Apple Music, as the likelihood of Swift doing press is highly unlikely given the inevitable questions about Calvin Harris, Tom Hiddleston and the Kanye West. Sources close to the singer have said she is in the studio and is recording new songs every day. Is Taylor swift about to drop the album of the year? Who knows, but enough has happened in the last 12 months to inspire her.
Another album rumored to be on the way is Ed Sheeran’s third album. Undoubtedly one of the biggest acts in the world at the moment, and at the peak of his powers, Sheeran has been on hiatus since the start of the year. In the letter he posted on Instagram announcing his break from technology, he mentioned that “The 3rd album is on its way and it’s the best thing I have made thus far” and that he would “See you all next Autumn.” The hints keep coming for a new release, as Sheeran’s previous producer Benny Blanco recently posted a picture of him and Ed striking the ‘Titanic pose’ on a cruise ship, where they are rumored to be writing and recording new music. Sheeran has appeared in public only once in the last 10 months, and that was at the Latitude Festival in July, close to his family home in Suffolk, where he made a guest appearance for Foy Vance (who is playing in Cork very soon). His album will likely not be a surprise release, but could very well have a surprise single & video dropping, with an album then being announced, similar to what Adele did to release ‘27’. Maximum publicity, minimum effort.
Ever since the release of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” people have been calling out to hear Jay-Z’s side of the story, and that wish may very well come true. Until recently, Jay-Z was the retired rapper who had spun into other realms of clothes, sports franchises and music streaming. However, recently he has begun to feature in other artists’ albums on guest verses. So far, he has appeared on an unreleased version of Drake’s ‘Pop Style’ along with Kanye West; a Pusha T single ‘Drug Dealers Anonymous’; and on the DJ Khaled album alongside Future. People have been waiting for a new Jay-Z album since the failed Samsung launch of ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ in 2013. Various sources have reported to have heard the album and have hyped up the excitement for its release. Rapper Vic Mensa has called the new material “fresh as fuck” and Jermaine Dupri was quoted as saying “I know the name of Hov’s new album, it might be done.” It will obviously be a Tidal exclusive, to make his family at least another $100 Million on top of the reported $3.37 million they were making every 24 hours after Lemonade’s release. Releasing Jay-Z’s album just before the new year makes sense, as it would leave Tidal in the spotlight as 2017 begins, and make Tidal’s two major releases eligible for two separate awards seasons, extending its attention into 2018.
The final album that, following the recent release of a new single, seems inevitable is Bruno Mars’s third album. It was due to be released in March, but it was delayed in order to prepare for his Super-bowl Halftime Show appearance. It has now been given a release date of November 18th. He premiered his new music in a video posted on YouTube on the 7th of October, and rumblings of a new album began to emerge. Its November release seems to fit, thus allowing for Grammy eligibility. Skrillex has already confirmed his involvement in the project and the popularity of “Uptown Funk” makes it likely that Mark Ronson will have a part to play. What will it sound like? Well, it’s going to be upbeat and celebration- orientated. Bruno’s sound engineer was quoted as describing the studio atmosphere as “about having fun. It’s about everyone coming together and having a good time.”