Entertainment

Upcoming Albums We're Excited to Hear

Here's all the great music coming your way this summer and beyond.

lady gaga
Lady Gaga | Theo Wargo/Getty Images for AT&T
Lady Gaga | Theo Wargo/Getty Images for AT&T

2020 is a weird year for many reasons, and like the film industry, that weirdness has carried over to the music world. On top of live music being put on hold, many artists' ability to get to the recording studio or roll out an album as intended have been affected, leading to release date pushback after pushback and putting a big question mark on the state of the industry in the long-term.

But that doesn't mean there's nothing to look forward to on the horizon. There's always great new music to discover, and we can rely on guys like Bob Dylan to put out yet another album (his 39th is out this June). Maybe the new Dylan is what your dad will be blaring from his speakers all summer, but here's what you should look out for if you're looking for something from new, up-and-coming bands and trending pop and rap acts. Here are the albums to look out for this summer and beyond. 

The 1975, Notes on a Conditional Form

Release date: May 22
On The 1975's incredible last album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, the band reasoned that we have to look into the future with optimism, despite the world going to shit. But instead of standing idly by, Matty Healy and co. seem ready for a revolution on their follow-up, Notes on a Conditional Form. Last year the British group shared the intro to the album, a spoken-word call-to-action by climate activist Greta Thunberg, and their lead single "People" is a punk-rock riot fest. While they've gravitated towards '80s synth-pop on their last couple albums, the singles, from "Frail State of Mind" to "Me and You Together Song," jump all across the sound board. The album was originally scheduled to come out less than a year after A Brief Inquiry, which was an ambitious plan to begin with, so considering the extra time spent, you can figure that The 1975 has never sounded more massive and boundless than they do here. -- Sadie Bell

Lady Gaga, Chromatica

Release date: May 29
It's no surprise that Lady Gaga's album is just about the most highly anticipated of the entire year. It's been nearly four years since she released Joanne, which she followed up by becoming an Oscar-winner with her movie-star-making moment in 2018's A Star Is Born. She took a rootsy turn with her last album, and stuck with it for much of ASIB's original music, but Chromatica's cyberpunk, vaguely anime, aesthetic and electropop joyride of the lead singles, "Stupid Love" and "Rain on Me," imply her faithful Little Monsters are in store for some canon, dance Gaga. By default, will this be one of the biggest albums of the year -- especially considering it was pushed back from its earlier spring release date -- but it'll be explosive in how its brand of pop sounds. You can sense the spirited wackiness from her early days in there. -- SB 

Hinds, The Prettiest Curse

Release date: June 5
Hinds are fun as fuck. The Spanish four-piece garage band is one of the most free-spirited acts today, making kicked-back music that sounds like they're jamming in somebody's basement without a care in the world. There's a lot more to them than partying and colorful indie rock songs, though. Their musicianship constantly proves garage rock can be complex, and with their last album, I Don't Run, they moved into a filthily honest place about personal and relationship shortcomings. On their third album that they started work on last fall, Hinds seem to be keeping up with this brutal place, with a hint of art rock. Their dichotomous lead single "Riding Solo" sounds euphoric even as it touches on the universal pain of loneliness, so expect the Hinds girls to give us some more tunes to thrash around to this summer. -- SB

Run the Jewels, RTJ4

Release date: June 5
Killer Mike and El-P are back at it. What was supposed to be a one-off collaboration between the rapper/producer duo back in 2013 has persevered, and thankfully, they're now onto their fourth album. Their tracks, featuring anthemic, party beats and aggressive raps, just go too damn hard. As usual, they rounded up a handful of exciting features for the record, including frequent collaborator Zack de La Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Mavis Staples, Pharrell, and 2 Chainz. "Oo la la," which includes an assist from early hip-hop legends Greg Nice and DJ Premier, and "Yankee and The Brave (ep. 4)" are out already, and the two tracks are ruthless, cold bangers that draw from the old-school rap the two grew up on. -- SB

Phoebe Bridgers, Punisher

Release date: June 19
Where things stand right now, it seems like this season's going to be full of summertime sadness. What better singer-songwriter to get you through it than the extremely tender, folky Phoebe Bridgers? The artist made waves in the indie scene with her beautiful 2017 debut Stranger in the Alps, but since then hasn't been working solo for some time -- instead collaborating with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker on the acclaimed supergroup boygenius, Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame on Better Oblivion Community Center, and The National's Matt Berninger on a song for the Between Two Ferns movie. Her sound is getting even livelier, heard by crisp, bouncy single "Kyoto," but her gentle words that pull on the heartstrings are still front and center, as heard by lead single "Garden Song." Bridgers sung about "emotional motion sickness" on her first record, so this next one should be a blunt, yet comforting companion throughout the rest of this lonely year. -- SB

Arca, KiCK i 

Release date: June 26
You might not be able to hit the club this summer, but at least Venezuelan electronic auteur Arca will give you something to move to at home. The innovator fuses house music with reggaeton to make indulgent, vibey sounds, and has worked with the likes of Kanye, Björk, and FKA Twigs throughout her career. For her latest work, she's back at it with Björk, and seeing help from recent trending names like Rosalía and Sophie. The record is said to chronicle her journey as a Latinx trans woman, and considering her first single "Time" and the announced features, KiCK i should be a sparkling, global soundscape. -- SB

HAIM, Women in Music Pt. III 

Release date: June 26
Last year in the daze of late July, HAIM dropped "Summer Girl." Not only was it a quintessential summer tune, it diverged from their typical shimmery funk. It was subdued, relaxed, and jazzy. In the months since then, they've slowly shared more singles, including the '60s-ish ballad "Hallelujah" that feels cut from the same cloth as "Summer Girl," and the electro-pop "Now I'm In It." On the upcoming Women in Music Pt. III, it sounds like the Haim sisters are gearing up for a more stripped back era. These songs and others like the recent "I Know Alone" have been some of their mostpersonalyet -- so as they declare "You walk beside me, not behind me" on "Summer Girl," it should be powerful to join the Alana, Danielle, and Este on their latest effort. -- SB

The Beths, Jump Rope Gazers

Release date: July 10
New Zealanders The Beths make anxiety sound delightful. The band, led by Elizabeth Stokes, tends to pair agitated, self-deprecating lyrics with power-pop full of energized hooks. It makes for stellar indie rock to lose yourself to, and their great singles "Dying to Believe" and "I'm Not Getting Excited" are ample proof that their upcoming sophomore album will be a joyous record to blast as you try to drown out your own feelings. -- SB

Dehd, Flower of Devotion

Release date: July 17
Dehd are a band you need to know. For one, the three-piece is one of the best coming out of Chicago's lively indie scene, and their surf rock-inspired music sounds as good as a popsicle tastes in the summer months. It's no run-of-the-mill surf rock, though; they dip into post-punk and alt-country with their hint of twang and vocalist Emily Kempf's reaching, at times cartoonish, yodel-like voice. It may seem like a hodgepodge of sound, but give yourself a listen, and you'll find they aim to be sunny and easy-going even in the face of melancholy. -- SB

Adele, 30

Release date: TBA
The stretch of time between 25 and the eagerly anticipated 30 will be the longest wait between Adele albums since she made her debut with the age-referencing 19 back in 2008. In an Instagram post celebrating her 31st birthday, the chart-topping English singer wrote, "I've changed drastically in the last couple years and I'm still changing and that's okay." Some of that change, which includes a divorce from her husband Simon Konecki, will likely be reflected in her new music, which she's joked will be a "drum n bass record." Whatever it ends up sounding like, expect to have tissues nearby on first listen. -- Dan Jackson

Alanis Morissette
Ernesto Ruscio/Redferns

Alanis Morissette, Such Pretty Forks in the Road

Release date: TBA
After a long hiatus, the queen of alt-rock is taking a seat back on her throne. The jukebox musical Jagged Little Pill based on her iconic record of the same name debuted on Broadway last year, and she's setting out on an anniversary tour in honor of it -- but nostalgia can only go so far, so thankfully she's gotten back in the studio to record some new tracks too. She sounds confessional as ever on the lead single "Reasons I Drink," and that voice remains enough of a powerhouse to help pull you through. You oughta get ready to embrace the angst. -- SB

Cardi B, TBA

Release date: TBA
Cardi B's 2018 record Invasion of Privacy, which made her the first woman to win Best Rap Album at the Grammys as a solo artist, is the type of career-making statement album that can be challenging to follow up. How do you continue to innovate while staying true to what made you a star? But the Bronx native, who also served as a judge on Netflix's hip-hop competition show Rhythm + Flow last year, doesn't seem too stressed about chasing trends or meeting audience expectations. "I cannot just go with what's hot," she told Billboard in an interview last year. "I still gotta go with what I want to do." -- DJ

Frank Ocean, TBA 

Release date: TBA
Frank Ocean is one of the most prolific artists today, and never one to follow traditional release cycles. His momentous Blonde came virtually out of nowhere without any promotion, aside from the tease of a visual album and pop-up shops that opened just before it dropped. Whatever's coming next will likely be the same -- because for Frank, it's all about that gorgeous, sprawling R&B music. He's scheduled to headline Coachella this year, which was rescheduled from April to October because of the pandemic. But let's be real: The festival is unlikely to happen this year, but it's suspected that Ocean has a bounty of new material since he was meant to fill out a long set that has been given to to high-caliber artists like Beyoncé and Ariana Grande in recent years. It's fair to assume what he's been working on, whether we'll hear it from the 'chella stage or the comfort of our homes, might be moving towards livelier, experimental rap. His 2019 surprise singles definitely fit that bill, and he said recently he's been interested in how club music takes different forms. A rap album from Frank with house beats, probably about when nightlife turns melancholic? We'd like to hear it. -- SB

J. Cole, The Fall Off

Release date: TBA
The last track on J. Cole's 2018 record KOD is titled "1985 (Intro to The Fall Off)" and on it he looks back on his life, celebrating his accomplishments and longevity, while also taking a few not-so-thinly veiled shots at what he perceives as the problem with younger rappers today. "I'm hoping for your sake that you ain't dumb as you look," he says towards the end of the track, addressing an unnamed artist. Expect to find similar takes on contemporary hip-hop on The Fall Off, which J. Cole has apparently been working on since 2016. -- DJ

Kendrick Lamar, TBA

Release date: TBA
Does winning a Pulitzer Prize make it harder to write new songs? We'll find out if the prestige that comes with the award had any effect on Kendrick Lamar's music when his eagerly anticipated follow-up to DAMN drops later this year. No stranger to acclaim and praise, he'll probably stay true to his voice while continuing to experiment and work with the producers who've helped shape his career. The new record is rumored to include more "rock sounds," which could honestly mean anything at this point. Even if he's working on his version of Lil Wayne's Rebirth, we'll give it a shot. -- DJ

lana del rey
Lana Del Rey | Joseph Okpako/Getty Images

Lana Del Rey, White Hot Forever

Release date: September 5
Just last year Lana Del Rey released Norman Fucking Rockwell!, her most acclaimed album to date, and work where she really solidified her chops as one of the most iconic songwriters today. While you might think that the LA singer would want to coast on that release a little longer, she already announced that a follow-up is well-underway. She told the Times of London, "It's called White Hot Forever" and will likely be a surprise release sometime within the year. WHF is not to be confused with her upcoming spoken-word album Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass and accompanying poetry book, though. That's due out sometime this year too. Regardless, she's clearly on a creative streak, and considering Violet Bent Backwards… is said to be a bit grittier, WHF could call back the unbridled raciness of her debut. -- SB

Lorde, TBA

Release date: TBA
Does Lorde happen to release an album when you enter a new phase of life, or do you enter a new phase of life because Lorde releases an album? It's a long-running joke among the New Zealand pop artist's fans that she knows exactly when to drop new music. And what better a time to hear from the pristine pop innovator with lyrics so potent they make you cry when the world is ravaged by a pandemic? She revealed to fans in a May newsletter that, while in isolation, she and Melodrama collaborator Jack Antonoff have been working on music they started recording back in December of last year, and she's "truly jazzed" for fans to hear it. While she stressed it'll be awhile until her "perfect pop morsels" to be out in the world, she wrote that it's "so fucking good." We believe it. -- SB

Normani, TBA

Release date: TBA
There's a laser-like precision to "Motivation," the joyful and horn-filled single from former Fifth Harmony member Normani. The 23-year-old R&B singer used the buoyant, exuberant track to further establish her identity as a solo artist who can skillfully evoke past eras -- check out the 106 & Park-referencing video for "Motivation" -- but still keeps her songs firmly rooted in pop's present. ("Motivation" was co-written with Ariana Grande and Max Martin.) While she's scored hits with high-profile collaborations in recent years, like "Love Lies" with Khalid and "Dancing with a Stranger" with Sam Smith, her debut solo album should give her more opportunities to stand (or dance) alone. -- DJ

Pallbearer, TBA 

Release date: TBA
Last summer, the thunderous doom-metal band Pallbearer dropped "Atlantis," an excellent track released as part of Sub Pop's Single Series, and they also announced they'd signed to the label Nuclear Blast. By the end of the year, they posted a tweet indicating that they're finished with their new record, the follow-up to 2017's boundary-pushing Heartless. These guys don't waste time. -- DJ

Rihanna, TBA

Release date: TBA
Much to the chagrin of her dedicated fans, Rhianna's next album didn't arrive as a last-minute surprise at the end of 2019 like some observers thought it might. Understandably, the pop singer has been busy expanding her Fenty Beauty empire and starring in projects like last year's Amazon-released Guava Island with Donald Glover. Like 2016's stellar Anti, which was delayed and rumored to drop multiple times, the record will arrive when it's ready. Let Rihanna finish her record in peace. -- DJ

Sky Ferreira, Masochism 

Release date: TBA
Last year, Sky Ferreira released "Downhill Lullaby," her first solo single since her excellent 2013 full-length debut Night Time, My Time. It was a moody and brilliant alt rock ballad, and felt like for the first time in years that the long-awaited release of her sophomore album Masochism was finally on the way. Unfortunately, that didn't turn out to be the case and fans of the alternative pop singer are still waiting for that new album. Don't let your faith in the songwriter waiver, though: She's been vocal that the hold up is out of her control and rather at the hands of "insane obstacles" due to old record label deals. 2020 should be the year it's out, and it seems like it's going to move her new wave-y sound to inventive goth rock. No matter what it sounds like, it'll probably be an alluring achievement from the artist, and freeing for it to be out in the ether. -- SB

SZA, TBA

Release date: TBA 
In August 2019, R&B singer SZA said her new album was coming out "soon as fuck." "Soon" is pretty debatable at this point since it's been months and no new album, but her Grammy-nominated record Ctrl dropped nearly three years ago so consider a new release imminent. More recently, she officially confirmed a 2020 release date -- so get ready to finally be served a healthy helping of somber jams. The recording artist could be pumping a bit of "leave him on read" energy into her new tracks, though, as videos surfaced online of her in the studio with two of the most confident hip-hop stars today, Lizzo and Megan Thee Stallion. Whether she makes us cry or preaches a lesson on self-worth, the genre-blurring songstress always delivers.  -- SB

Weezer, Van Weezer

Release date: TBA
The punny title might make some Weezer die-hards groan, but that's just part of continuing to follow Weezer in 2020. If you're still on board, you're used to things like this. Is it going to be an all Van Halen record of covers in the same vein as 2019's all-covers Teal Album? Nope, according to the band's frontman Rivers Cumo, it just signals a return to "big guitars," so prepare for lots of "Beverly Hills" style riffs to nod along to. -- DJ

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She's on Twitter at @mssadiebell.
Dan Jackson is a senior staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. He's on Twitter @danielvjackson.