Come every January, the promise and excitement of new music releases for the new year lies tantalizingly close upon the horizon. Though dozens of fabulous albums will be released this year, I thought Iâ€™d compile a list of some of my most heart-pumping, bar-raising anticipated releases for 2009. And just so weâ€™re clear, the answer is yes: In my world, Kelly Clarkson fits that definition.
As far as Pop Injustices go, it is well known within the industry that Nordic electro-chanteuse Annie truly took the cake in 2008 when her second major album, Donâ€™t Stop, ironically stalled in production only weeks before its release. Annieâ€™s endeavors were cast aside for more lucrative projects after a major corporate shake-up within the starâ€™s former label, Island Records, leading to her eventual drop from the label.
Luckily, she hasnâ€™t given up on the album just yet. In fact, According to a new interview with Exclaim, Annie still owns the original masters of the tracks, and sheâ€™s more than willing to give them a proper home at another label. With some time to kill and some new tracks slipped under her Casio keyboard, sheâ€™s now aiming to make an album twice as nice as before. With a pending release under Richard Xâ€™s record label, â€œAnthonio,â€ as well as Donâ€™t Stop favorite, â€œMy Love Is Betterâ€ lined up for the first quarter of â€™09, perhaps Donâ€™t Stop can finally start revving itself up again.
Why It Could Be So Right: Donâ€™t Stop: The First Time Around
Where It Could All Go Wrong: The Second Great Depression.
Pet Shop Boys
Letâ€™s hear it for the Boys: After a three year waiting period since their last effort, Fundamental, the iconic electronic duo is gearing up for a new studio album due out March 23, entitled Yes. Anticipation for the albumâ€™s release surged when it was announced that Xenomania, the purveyors of glam-pop perfection, would be taking the helm of the production for this new album. With the album already deemed by PopJustice! as â€œquite goodâ€ and the lead single â€œLove Etc.â€ described as nothing weâ€™ve ever heard before (in a good way!), the new album may just be the Boysâ€™ punchiest yet.
Why It Could Be So Right: Xenomania; Thinly veiled references to homosexuality
Where It Could All Go Wrong: Country twang and barn sounds.
TorbjÃ¸rn Brundtland and Svein Berge are only moving up: The two began with 2001’s Melody A.M., an aural accomplishment of trip-hop infused ambient noise and slow sizzling beats. With their follow-up The Understanding in 2004, the two headed into a more mainstream pop direction, enlisting the help of The Knife‘s Karin Dreijer, as well as ethereal crooner, Kate Havnevik. The pairing resulted in some of the most essential tracks on the album (“Only This Moment,” “What Else Is There?”), exercises in high-brow pop innovation and brooding electronica.
Following the announcement of the band’s 10th year anniversary came the announcement of Junior, their third major album due March 23. The electro-duo seem to have benefited from a newfound spring in their step, as evidenced in their buoyant, bouncy new single, “Happy Up Here.” Most exciting of all, RÃ¶yksopp are not only once again working with Karin Dreijer, but have also enlisted the help of indie darlings Lykke Li and Robyn for their newest release. The latest promotional shots have all featured the boys grinning from ear to ear, so who knows? Perhaps there’s a reason they’re smiling so much.
Why It Could Be So Right: Nordic Pop Perfection, Guest vocals
Where It Could All Go Wrong: Guitars.
Youâ€™ve no doubt heard this sweet songstress somewhere before: Teaming up with Guy Sigsworth as part of side-project Frou Frou, lining the soundtracks of your favorite FOX drama, or perhaps even performing live on Indie 103. Well, Imogenâ€™s stepping back into the spotlight, having been busying herself in preparation for the follow-up to 2005â€™s spectacular solo album, Speak For Yourself.
Following a move back into her British childhood home, the singer-songwriter decided to build an in-house studio. During the noisy process, the singer had an epiphany: To implement the clicks, clacks, and squeaky sounds of her home directly into her songs, adding what should prove to be an intriguing, organic element to her new music. Recent teasers played in Immi’s weekly video blogs seem to suggest brilliance as usual…Look for this one to hit stores around late-April or May.
Why It Could Be So Right: Concept albums.
Where It Could All Go Wrong: Probably canâ€™tâ€¦Itâ€™s Imogen Heap.
Remember that widely reported and entirely overblown altercation between Kelly Clarkson and Clive Davis? Well, say what you will about the matter, but Davis had it rightâ€”Clarkson simply wasnâ€™t ready to write her own rock.
To be fair, My December hardly profited from any more gritty â€˜tude than her previous album, Breakaway. Yet unlike the groundbreaking album that catapulted Clarkson from the likes of talent show hack to bhona fide belter overnight, My December suffered an aggravating amassing of angst-fueled lyricism that failed to translate into sales, stalling the albumâ€™s performance on the carts and failing to propel the deeply unappreciated single â€œSoberâ€ to its deserved potential.
Nevertheless, the true Idol original has seemingly sucked it up and teamed up with mega-pop titans, including Ryan Tedder (â€œApologize,â€ â€œBleeding Loveâ€) and Dr. Luke, responsible for her post-â€œSince U Been Goneâ€ stormer, â€œMy Life Would Suck Without You.â€ Judging by the track, Clarksonâ€™s sound hasnâ€™t changed one bit–Sheâ€™s just added a few, catchy new hooks into the mix.
Why It Could Be So Right: Effortless vocals.
Where It Could All Go Wrong: A renewed desire to fight the man.
After over four years, the J-Pop megastar is finally planning to return to our side of the shore with the follow-up to her 2004 major label English debut, Exodus. Though the album never took off in sales, it remains one of the finest moments of synth eccentricity and smart-pop ingenuity within her entire back catalog.
After the premiere of the albumâ€™s R&B-tinged, hook-heavy lead single, â€œCome Back To Me,â€ it seems Hikkiâ€™s seeking a radio hit with this new album. As a result, I’m willing to bet we’ll see some star-studded production by blockbuster hip-hop hit-makers, including Timbaland and Rodney â€œDarkchildâ€ Jerkinsâ€”longtime collaborators and friends. Look for Utadaâ€™s upcoming album to drop on March 24 in the States.
Why It Could Be So Right: Alanis-inspired divorce angst.
Where It Could All Go Wrong: Kuma-Chanâ€¦â€˜Nuff said.
For those still unaware, Frankmusik is the Most Exciting Man in Pop. It is no surprise then that his upcoming debut is set to be the Most Exciting Debut in Pop for â€˜09. With a sound as frenetic and jittery as the nauseating background images on his MySpace, Mr. Vincent Frank is paving the way for the new generation of DIY-electro online artists. Leading off with a new single for the new year (â€œBetter Off As Twoâ€), it’s only a matter of time before the public catches the buzz. Look for Complete Me to hit stores around June.
Why It Could Be So Right: Access to studio equipment, continued perfection
Where It Could All Go Wrong: Lucrative photoshoot offers from gay magazines.
Little Boots is going to be the next big thing in 2009. But donâ€™t take my word for itâ€”ask the British! The BBC recently knighted the DIY-electro superstar as the official â€œSound of 2009,â€ meaning that sheâ€™s probably about to have some nice things happen. Like fellow MySpacer Frankmusikm Little Boots has been teasing her fan base with an ever-cycling array of tracks on her MySpace, as well as an adorable selection of weekly pop covers on YouTube. The grainy videos feature the little star hammering away at her Casio, wailing away toward the sky. Each week, Ms. Boots attacks her track of choice with the same intensity and sincerity, whether sheâ€™s covering Hot Chip or Miley Cyrus. Give it up, Lady Gaga, thereâ€™s a true disco diva coming to save pop. Stay tuned for her electro-fied debut sometime in the second half of the year.
Why It Could Be So Right: Known Kylie Minogue fan.
Where It Could All Go Wrong: Marriage proposal by Frankmusik, resulting in flight off into the countryside
British potty-mouth and original MySpace ce-webrity Lily Allen has managed to stay within the musical spotlight for over three years now with only one album under her brightly-colored summer dress, 2006â€™s genre-mashing Alright, Still. With some new friends behind the mixing table (Greg Kurstin) and some new funds to work with, Allenâ€™s sound has already transformed into a much more polished production for 2009â€™s Itâ€™s Not Me, Itâ€™s You, due February 9. Fear not, Allen admirersâ€”sheâ€™s still the same olâ€™ brat. Just listen to the lead single, â€œThe Fear,â€ the tongue-in-cheek, world-weary woe song of a socialite. Itâ€™s better than anything from Alright, Still, a probable sign of the new albumâ€™s quality.
Why It Could Be So Right: Stupid girls still thrive in society.
Where It Could All Go Wrong: MySpace shuts down.
Judging from the list, it seems this may be the year of the MySpace starâ€¦Or the Norwegians. Anyway, this is but merely the beginning! Look out for more amazing releases from the likes of dozens more, including: Patrick Wolf, The Noisettes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kate Havnevik, Depeche Mode, Janelle Monae, and Sia.