Our Most Anticipated Albums Of 2020
From Lady Gaga to Gang of Youths to Mallrat to Frank Ocean.
We enter every year with a clean slate and a renewed hope that our favourite artists will soon be releasing albums.
This year is looking particularly positive for a string of hyped albums that, at times, looked like they may never arrive.
Whether we’re using logic or simply manifesting, we’ve pieced together the clues surrounding what could be your favourite albums of this year. From Rihanna’s painfully overdue ninth album to Lady Gaga’s rumoured return to outlandish pop, here are the most anticipated albums that we think might actually see the light of day in 2020.
Gang Of Youths
It’s understandable that Gang Of Youths are taking their time with the follow-up to 2017’s Go Farther In Lightness. The record nabbed the ARIA for Album Of The Year, had three songs in the triple j Hottest 100 top 10 and took them to some of their largest stages ever.
We gave them time to recover, but last year during a stop in LA frontman Dave Le’aupepe awoke fans by telling the audience that they would return with a new album in 2020. In 2018, Le’aupepe told Zane Lowe that he’s got everything “conceptually” for the album including a name. Le’aupepe’s father passed away in 2018 from cancer, and that looks to have inspired the album’s lyrical content.
“This record’s gonna be about my father and how he died, and how he lived, and everything I found out about him,” he told Reuters. He expanded on that early this year on the Carry The Fire podcast revealing that he would be heading to New Zealand in February to spend time with his Dad’s family. The band also won’t be touring much this year as they’ll be working on “this fucking monstrosity” — that is, the album.
The journey towards Rihanna’s ninth album has been long, frustrating and filled with makeup. Her last album ANTI dropped four years ago and since then she’s built an empire through makeup, lingerie and luxury clothing. Rihanna told fans that new music would arrive in 2019, but that didn’t happen. So now we set our sites on 2020.
#R9 is being described as “really fun” by the maker herself. She explained to Interview last year that she’s not going to rush it even though she’s, “really happy with a lot of the material.” As for the sound of the album, it’s being classified as, “reggae-inspired or reggae-infused.”
“It’s not gonna be typical of what you know as reggae. But you’re going to feel the elements in all of the tracks,” she told Vogue at the tail-end of last year.
There’s also a chance that we may be looking at two new albums in quick succession with Rihanna revealing there are “two different pieces of art.” One is inspired by the music she grew up listening to and the other looks towards the future. Nobody is sure when we’re going to get either but Rihanna is taking the time to troll her eager fanbase.
Waiting is a large part of the Frank Ocean experience. The road to his last records Endless and Blonde was long. The updates were few and far between and once he eventually did decide to drop it, he made everyone watch him do woodwork on a livestream for days. This time around, he’s made it a little easier teasing us with excellent standalone drops from ‘Chanel’ to a cover of ‘Moon River’.
Last year, he launched a New York club night ‘Prep+’ and accompanied it with official releases ‘DHL’ and ‘In My Room’. During the club nights, he aired electronic mixes of ‘Little Demon’, ‘Cavendo’ and ‘Dear April’. He told W that his new material is inspired by, “Detroit, Chicago, techno, house, French electronic,” which is inline with who he has been collaborating with from Sango to Justice.
No release date has been set and it’s likely we won’t know until the album is in our hands. There are a few pieces of information that suggest it’s close though. He’s just signed a publishing deal with Warner Chappell and he’ll headline Coachella in April.
Baker Boy actually pencilled in his debut album for August last year, but the month came and went and no album arrived. Instead, the Indigenous rapper released a slew of excellent singles, ending on the JessB-featuring ‘Meditjin’. He told triple j that the album had been delayed so that he could settle on the final few songs for the record.
“It won’t be happening anytime soon, so that means we’re going to cook up some more,” he said in June of last year.
At this point, it’s expected to arrive this year but Baker Boy hasn’t been overly forthcoming with updates.
It’s now been seven years since Sky Ferreira released her acclaimed debut album Night Time, My Time. It’s also been five years since she announced the title of her forthcoming record Masochism. She promised we’d hear the first single that year and then apologised saying we’d hear it in 2016.
Since then, she’s starred in Baby Driver and Twin Peaks as well as talked about issues with the team surrounding her music, something she says has now been sorted.
Last year, we heard the first single ‘Downhill Lullaby’ and she talked to Pitchfork about the record at length. She revealed it will be a mix of “more poppy” stuff with some “abstract” moments too. “It’s very big, but also very violent,” she noted, later telling fans on New Year’s Eve that she’s going to start the 2020s off right by, “by putting out another piece of myself.” That sounds promising.
Compared to other artists on this list, the wait for new SZA music hasn’t been as long. It’s been three years since we received her debut album CTRL and she’s kept her fans well fed in between through collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Post Malone and DJ Khaled. The anticipation for new music is high though, helped along by SZA dropping clues left, right, and centre.
While she was performing in Australia last year she said that there would be a “little project” released before the album. In August 2019, she then promised that new music would be arriving, “soon as fuck,” while also teasing Jack Antonoff, Post Malone, Justin Timberlake and BROCKHAMPTON as potential collaborators.
She began this year by telling fans that the album will drop in 2020. She also added that she’s finished a collaboration with Sam Smith although it’s yet to be confirmed if that will be for her project or his.
Kendrick Lamar’s last solo project DAMN. was arguably his most successful to date. It claimed four Grammys and also landed him his first number one single in the US with ‘HUMBLE.’. He did follow it up with the Black Panther soundtrack but since then he’s been largely silent apart from a few features on records by Beyoncé, 2 Chainz, J. Cole and Lil Wayne.
Lamar has become one of the most mysterious creators in the game — we’re never quite sure what direction he’s going in until the project drops, and this time is no different. All we have is word from Billboard columnist Bill Werde who says sources tell him recording on the album is finished and Lamar is, “pulling in more rock sounds.”
The rapper’s growing live schedule also suggests something is brewing. He has eight live slots booked for next year with the first at Sweden’s Lollapalooza in June.
It’s been four very long years since the last Violent Soho record WACO. Last year, they returned with singles ‘A-OK’ and ‘Vacation Forever’ reassuring fans that they hadn’t fallen off the face of the planet. The latter was the first official single off their forthcoming fifth album which doesn’t have a release date yet although they pencilled in 2020 with triple j.
As for the sound of it, frontman Luke Boerdam has described it as their most “confident and comfortable” record to date. He also teased a more relaxed approach to making music which has translated into the album.
“It’s always been pissed off and aggressive because we were. We still are a little bit but we’re more happy to express that in a different way. More happy to chill the guitars,” he said.
In March of last year, Lady Gaga told fans on Twitter that she was “pregnant” with her next album. Nine months later, people actually thought that she was going to drop the album, but it never arrived.
Despite that, 2019 was a busy year for Gaga. She completed promo for A Star Is Born and took on a Las Vegas residency for much of the year. Still, it’s clear that she’s been hard at work on the album as she’s been sharing pictures from the studio.
While 2016’s ‘Joanne’ was a country-tinged project, rumours suggest that she’ll be heading back to pop for this one. Producer Bloodpop has hinted that he’s working with her while SOPHIE also told fans that she had completed sessions too.
As for the release date, it’s still anyone’s guess but Oliver Nusse, the French CEO of her label UMG, reportedly told a conference to expect it in early 2020.
Here’s one that’s definitely happening this year. In a teaser that dropped late last year, Justin Bieber confirmed his first album since 2015’s Purpose. Lead-single ‘Yummy’ was one of the first major pop drops this year and while its release has been shrouded in chart success desperation, there’s obvious hype for the new album.
Bieber has described it as “R&Bieber” with fans expecting a return to the urban sound of his 2013 mixtape Journals. Last week, he teased a song featuring Quavo and production by Murda Beatz while he’s also confirmed that songwriter Poo Bear, who penned ‘What Do U Mean’, will be involved.
Meanwhile, TMZ is reporting that the LP is set for a May release and will feature Travis Scott, Post Malone and Kehlani.
We all know that Adele albums are few and far between — perhaps because they’re emotionally taxing and we need the time to rebuild. It’s been five years since 25 though, her longest gap in between albums ever, and now we’re ready for the next round.
Industry rumours suggested the album was going to drop around Christmas 2019 but that date came and went without a whisper. Instead, we were gifted pictures of Adele living her best life on a beach with Harry Styles.
Naturally, we’ve now set our sites on 2020 but we know next to nothing about the record. She told a crowd in a bar in New York last year that she was “working” in the city and then joked that “30 will be a drum ‘n’ bass record”. What we do know is it’s likely to be an emotional suckerpunch: during her last tour, she suffered severe vocal damage, forcing her to cancel the last few dates, and last year she announced that she had split with her husband.
Mallrat has dropped three EPs in the space of three years but we’re still patiently waiting on that full-length. Thankfully, after last year’s Driving Music it seems she has set her sights on the album. We wouldn’t put our money on it arriving in the first half of the year, as it seems she’s taking her time.
Just last week she offered an update that it’s taking longer than expected because she keeps forgetting to bring her charger to the studio. A few weeks before that she pondered whether she just “hired this studio to listen to Clairo in an air conditioned room.”
The album is coming though. She told NME last year, “I’m not even really an album person but I signed up to make one so it’s time for that now.” She continued that it’s probably going to be a “short album” of about 10 songs. Whatever the length is, we’ll take it.
Lil Uzi Vert
2019 was a confusing year for Lil Uzi Vert fans. In 2018, The rapper introduced Eternal Atake, the follow-up to Luv Is Rage 2, saying it was finished. He then went silent.
He began last year announcing he was “done with music”, before backflipping on that with the release of ‘Free Uzi’ – a freestyle that responded to growing issues with his label Generation Now. After numerous leaks surfaced, he revealed that the record was finally due for release in June. When that passed, he said he “didn’t know” when it was being released.
Uzi fans enter 2020 in a better place. Viral dance track ‘Futsal Shuffle’ is a good sign the album release is nearing. He’s cleared his Instagram too, uploading four pictures of women in purple dresses, seemingly referencing the Heaven’s Gate cult he’s been making visual nods to throughout the album campaign. If we had to place a bet on what album on this list will be arriving first, we’d be putting our money on Uzi.
Haim were generous in 2019, returning with a string of new singles. Working with frequent collaborators Rostam and Ariel Rechsthaid, they teased their third record with ‘Summer Girl’, ‘Now I’m In It’ and ‘Hallelujah’. Still, the sisters have remained largely tight-lipped on their first album in three years, sharing just a few bits of information with NME.
“The whole mantra of this record is about being fearless and not holding yourself back,” Alana Haim said. They also revealed that they had finished one other song for the record, a “wonky-pop” number called ‘The Steps’.
2020 marks three years since Lorde’s Grammy-nominated, sophomore album Melodrama. In true Lorde fashion, she’s been largely silent about the follow-up, heading back to her home country of New Zealand to reconnect with reality.
Late last year she asked fans for their patience revealing that her dog Pearl had died and her work on the album had been delayed. Before that happened, however, she announced that she had begun work on the record.
“Third one in the oven,” she wrote on Instagram, celebrating the second anniversary of Melodrama. Musically, the only hint we’ve had is from 2018, when she said she was in the brainstorming phase of the LP and was teaching herself to play the piano.
Sam Murphy is a music writer and Co-Editor of The Interns. Follow him on Twitter.