Anticipated Albums of 2021

Jacob Welsko, Former Culture Editor

With 2020 in the rearview and some albums released still in rotation, music fans await for several records from various artists to see the light of day in 2021. 

Adele: TBA. It’s been nearly six years since Adele has dropped an album and once again provided the music world with multiple hits that rule the radio stations for months on end. Fans have speculated a project was looming when the artist hosted SNL in late October. However, her fourth studio album is still nowhere to be found. Whenever it eventually releases, it will be great to have Adele back again. 

Rihanna: R9. Roughly five years is when Rihanna delivered her best project to date with 2016’s ANTI. The sonic cornucopia proved Ri Ri could croon and float over subtle, aggressive, pop and soul-like instrumentals. It’s easily her most mature venture but still doesn’t lack the classic Rihanna sassy fun appeal. Even if there’s something for everyone on ANTI, her ninth studio release has still been heavily anticipated for years and people won’t be satisfied until it finally drops. 

Bruno Mars: TBA. 2016 was the last time fans have heard from Bruno Mars on full length LP. 24K Magic saw Mars on perhaps the most glossy and rich production of his three albums. With the exception of a few singles (“Please Me,” “Finesse,” “Wake Up in the Sky”), the pop star has remained fairly quiet within the latter half of the decade. No one knows if he is planning to release anything soon, but with close to five years since 24K Magic, it seems a new project can be present itself whenever.

Janelle Monáe: TBA. While her Grammy nominated 2018 Dirty Computer is still pretty fresh, a new Janelle Monáe album is always welcomed. Especially if she returns to the Cyndi Mayweather narrative arc of her first two projects. Nonetheless, the fans will have to wait patiently for whenever Monáe strikes back with her following grand scale venture. Luckily, the wait will be worth it.

Sade at the Nassau Coliseum - Review - The New York Times
Sade performing at the Nassau Coliseum. Photo courtesy of NY Times.

Sade: TBA. It’s been confirmed that Sade were working on their next album during the lockdown. The seventh album will be the first since 2010’s Soldier of Love, possibly the weakest, albeit solid, installment of the Sade saga and still has no set date for release as of now. 

Chris Brown: TBA. Although he put forth enough material on 2017’s 45 song Heartbreak On a Full Moon and 2019’s 32 track Indigo (not to mention each album’s extended version) to hold fans over for plenty of time, a new C Breezy record is still sought after. Conceivably, however, this next feat should be less bloated and more focused than that of its predecessor(s).

Lorde: TBA. Lorde’s Grammy nominated Melodrama is easily one of the best albums from the last decade, and about four years have passed since the New Zealand singer/songwriter blessed the music world with her majestically open and somber record. Interestingly enough, Melodrama arrived four years following her debut album, Pure Heroine, so there seems to be a high chance for new Lorde material on the horizon. 

SZA: TBA. SZA took the music world by storm nearly four years ago when she put out her honest and elegant Ctrl. Floating and crooning over bubbly and sensual instrumentals, Ctrl was an instant hit. Despite still not following up her debut, SZA has arguably only gained more popularity in the years since. She shined on “All The Stars” with fellow label member Kendrick Lamar, appeared on Cardi B’s Grammy winning debut album, and worked with Justin Timberlake to name a few. Her recent singles “Hit Different” and “Good Days” not only prove her vocal talent, but also fuels the fire of fans longing for whatever is coming next. In a recent interview with Cosmopolitan, SZA describes her upcoming album as one that made her “feel something in my [gut and heart]” and is making different types of music “every day from different places in my spirit.”  

Stevie Wonder Releases First New Music in 15 Years - Rolling Stone
Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone.

Stevie Wonder: TBA. Stevie Wonder ended the 15 year drought of music late last year with two singles “Where Is Our Love Song” and “Can’t Put It In The Hands Of Fate,”–a socially conscious collaborative effort with Busta Rhymes, Rapsody, Cordae and CHIKA. Stevie Wonder’s musicality and voice sound as great as ever, and his ability to work alongside different generations is seamless. According to a Rolling Stone article, Wonder states these songs could be found on a new EP or album. Whichever it may be, it’ll be amazing to hear more new material from quite possibly the greatest musical artist ever.

Foo Fighters: Medicine at Midnight. 2017’s Concrete and Gold was a solid effort from Foo and showed they can still rock this deep into their career. Their latest single, “Waiting On A War” is a promising and uplifting ode that reaches a rollicking climax in it’s coda. The track is enough to hold fans over until their nine-song tenth studio release, Medicine at Midnight arrives on Feb. 4. 

Daft Punk: TBA. It’s been close to eight years since Daft Punk put out their acclaimed Random Access Memories, which of course spawned the mega hit “Get Lucky,” among other fantastic songs. With nearly a decade of absence, hopefully the duo will return soon with a new project chalk full of sonically hypnotic and vibrant tracks.

Frank Ocean: TBA. The ever reclusive Frank Ocean hasn’t delivered a full length studio effort since 2016’s critically acclaimed Blond (along with cult-classic Endless that dropped as a visual album). He occasionally is spotted on loose singles like “Chanel,” “In My Room,” and “Dear April.” However, his singles are merely appetizers that can somewhat hold over fans until Ocean returns with his next feat, which, much like the man himself, is still unknown. Ocean is one of the few artists of today who can wait x amount of years to make new music and still maintain a strong fanbase and sense of anticipation. No one should be pestering him to drop, he’s proved to know what he’s doing and the more time, the better the product. 

Several other acts are speculated and anticipated to provide listeners with new music in the new year such as Beyoncé, Post Malone, Ed Sheeran, Jorja Smith, Ari Lennox, Rosalía, Lana Del Rey, St. Vincent and more.