By Greg Cochrane – at the BBC
In the world of music, 2016 will almost certainly be remembered for the artists we lost rather than the new music the year produced. That’s understandable, but there were album releases from a plethora of huge names, including Beyoncé, Kanye, Metallica, Gaga and, of course, Bowie.
And yet the most recent update from the Official Charts Company suggests we’re still listening to a lot of albums from 2015, particularly Coldplay‘s A Head Full of Dreams, 25 by Adele and Justin Bieber‘s Purpose.
How will 2017 fare? James Blunt has just thrown his hat into the ring with a typically pithy tweet…
…Ed Sheeran has been dropping clues on social media too, after a year away, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Here are five others who will definitely be back with albums next year, along with five who could be.
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THOSE WHO WILL BE BACK
Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor’s performance alongside David Bowie’s former bandmates at February’s Brit Awards was one of the more emotional and tasteful tributes to the late rock icon. Apart from that, Lorde‘s kept a low profile this year. It was only in November that the New Zealander said farewell to her teenage years (her 20th birthday party was organised by Taylor Swift) and decided to provide an update on the follow-up to her 2013 debut Pure Heroin. “The big day is not tomorrow, or even next month realistically,” she wrote on Facebook, “but soon…”
2. The xx
The xx haven’t leapt, but stealthily crept their way up the ladder to become one of Britain’s biggest bands. When the trio recently announced a UK tour for March, it promptly sold out in minutes, including a record-breaking seven nights at London’s 5,000-capacity Brixton Academy. Their third album I See You arrives on 13 January. In the gap since 2012’s Coexist, Jamie xx bagged a Mercury Prize nomination and filled arenas on his own with his solo LP In Colour. If anything, the band’s Hall & Oates-sampling first single Hold On suggests his recent taste for a more vibrant feel has bled into the band’s previously monochrome sound. Singer Romy has already described the new songs as “some of the more joyous and upbeat moments we’ve ever made”.
3. Liam Gallagher
This year, the highly entertaining documentary Supersonic came and went without igniting an Oasis reunion. Had it been on the cards, 2016 would have been the perfect opportunity. But Noel was absent from the promotional campaign for the film, seemingly content with his High Flying Birds. Liam‘s Beady Eye, on the other hand, capsized two years ago and now the 44 year old has signed a deal with Warner Records, who will release his debut solo album in 2017. “Looking forward to making some super-sweet sounds,” he said in August, before returning to calling his brother a “potato” on Twitter.
4. Arcade Fire
Festival headline announcements are always a dead giveaway, aren’t they? Only a band’s sudden flurry of social media activity says, “We’ve got a new album coming out,” more. Arcade Fire are revving up the tour bus engine after they confirmed they’ll play a host of shows next summer, including the Isle of Wight festival. The band’s Tim Kingsbury told CBC Music that new music will be out “sometime next year”.
If you’re involved in a musical project with Damon Albarn, you have to wait your turn to get a piece of his time. It’s been six years since Noodle, Murdoc, Russel Hobbs and 2D released Plastic Beach and stepped in to headline Glastonbury after Bono’s bad back forced U2 to pull out. Shortly after there was The Fall, a Gorillaz album made by Albarn completely on his iPad. In the meantime, Damon’s been typically busy with a Rocket Juice & The Moon LP, a Blur album, his solo debut and a theatre soundtrack, but 2017 looks set to be all Gorillaz. In July, he told 6 Music, “It [the new album] should be ready fairly soon.”
1. Fleetwood Mac
Anyone who has followed the story of Fleetwood Mac knows that with rock’s greatest soap opera nothing is ever easy, not least getting them together to make a new album. It’s been 13 years since Say You Will, although there was an EP in 2013.
After years of will-she-won’t-she Christine McVie rejoined the band in 2014. There’s been plenty of talk about fresh material, but Stevie Nicks probably sums up the prospect best when she told Billboard this year, “Do you want to take a chance of going in and setting up in a room for like a year [to record an album] and having a bunch of arguing people?”
Yes, it’s a fragile reunion, but Fleetwood Mac may want to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2017 with something special.
2. The Stone Roses
The appetite for new music from Stone Roses fans was satisfied in some way this year when the band shared two new songs, All for One and Beautiful Thing. It’d been more than two decades since they’d released anything. In 2017, their reunion will be moving into its sixth year, with June shows already confirmed already in Belfast, London, Leeds and Glasgow. Glastonbury fans, we know what you’re thinking, but Emily Eavis has already ruled out a headline slot. More gigs surely means more music, though. Right?
Jamiroquai‘s success back in the 90s was monstrous – quite literally, when at their peak they ended up on the soundtrack of blockbuster movie Godzilla with Deeper Underground. Every album they released in that decade went platinum and made it to either No.1 or 2, but we’ve not heard a peep out the funk/acid jazz group since 2010’s Rock Dust Light Star.
Last month a “music insider” reportedly told The Sun that Jamiroquai are plotting a return. But if Jay Kay is planning something, he’s keeping it firmly under one of his famously flamboyant hats. For now.
4. Harry Styles
We do know that Harry has a part in Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming movie Dunkirk alongside Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance – not a bad first move into films. But he’s been keeping appearances and interviews to a minimum, other than when he spoke to Sir Paul McCartney for Another Man in September. One of his most pertinent questions to the former Beatle: “How did you find going from touring with so many people around you, to going out doing songs you’d written every word of?”
Harry’s solo bow can’t be far away.
5. The Smiths
More than a couple of eyebrows were raised at Johnny Marr‘s revelation in his recent Set the Boy Free book that he and Morrissey met up in 2008 and discussed the possibility of getting The Smiths back together. “For four days it was a very real prospect,” he wrote. “I went to Mexico with The Cribs, and then suddenly there was radio silence. Our communication ended, and things went back to how they were and how I expect they always will be.”
While Johnny’s dashed those faint embers with cold water again, for many Smithsfans the fact that it was even (briefly) on the table gives them hope. File this one under: Never gonna happen (until it happens).
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