Things to Look Forward To in 2016

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We’re in that weird point before we wrap up the year, but after all the labels and artists decide not to make too many waves. Most people, with some exception, are holding back until 2016 to drop new music or announcements. Knowing this, there’s a lot to look forward to! 2015 was particularly stacked, and it seems doubtful next year will surpass it, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be devoid of high profile, game changing releases like that generally average 2014.

The National

A tremendous Stereogum feature portrayed the band’s off-album cycle as the necessary shedding of indie rock superstardom muck. Side projects and other musical concerns refresh the mind and soul, and now it’s time to work on the tentpole. Most excitingly, the band feels ready to work on a new volume and forward sound. What that’s going to sound like is up in the air, and that is perhaps one of the most exciting things.

Pusha T

Back when everyone was debating about Drake writing his own lyrics, and whether that mattered or not, I kept thinking about Pusha T and his place as one of the purest, strongest lyricists today, and how he should be up there with the rest of the genre kings. “My Name is My Name” is an album I still spin in 2015, and I’m definitely looking forward to Darkest Before Dawn, due out on the 18th of this very month. But reports suggest that this is just a prequel to the main event. What about 2016’s King Push necessitates an appetizer is unknown, put it’s a hype power move that’s working.

SWISH

I swore the next chapter in the Kanye West story would come out in, like, April, but in retrospect I’m glad it didn’t. There were just too many big ticket releases this year and it was hard to dedicate all the time I wanted to to them. Plus, the competition was fierce. Maybe we needed a year break to really appreciate Kanye’s absence.

Some people are speculating the delays are a bad sign, but I’m not convinced. “Piss On Your Grave,” which ended up on Travis Scott’s album, may not be the most searing track, but it still felt like an interesting sonic move on his part, and I’d be happy to hear how he fortifies the album in 2016.

Ghosts of Pop Stars Past

Everyone from middle school is coming back, maybe. Various reports are putting returns from former genre kings like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani and Lady Gaga on the docket for next year. How successful will they be? Will they acclimate to the cutting edge pop landscape that left them behind? Will this be the third or fourth comeback from Spears that really clicks?

On some level the return of pop icons has a fantasy sports pleasure to it. For a certain kind of music nerd, we’re not only anticipating the actual music, but the statistics and what they say about the game today. We watch album sales, billboard placements, late night talk show appearances, and more. It is almost political intrigue to see how veterans perform today, and only the truly stirring music will transcend that narrative.

AlunaGeorge

How good was 2013’s Body Music? Pretty good, right? The second album is the make or break moment for ascendant artists, and even though AlunaGeorge took their time getting their next move together, it will still play off the momentum and good will created by their debut. If they capitalize on the intrigue and acclaim of the first one, they will be set for the next few album cycles to come. If it just doesn’t inspire the same feelings among the critics and fans, well, they might fall out of the spotlight and really deliver a haymaker on LP3.

All we know: it’s not going to sound like Disclosure. That’s fine. “White Noise” was a cameo, riding on someone else’s style, it would be weird and needy to pivot to that just because it landed on the Billboard chart. Good on them.

M83

Anthony Gonzalez has been away for a while. I almost forgot how great his music was in 2011, and for a while it seemed like he was going to be everywhere. What I find most interesting about M83’s music is that he discovered his niche with a nice experiment: Saturdays = Youth seemed like he was just trying out 80s style imaginary movie soundtrack music for fun, a way to stretch his legs, and then it turned out he was the best at it. He continued down that path to even more critical acclaim, but now what? Are there enough wheels on that wagon to keep riding, or has he shifted to something else in 2016?

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