Summer Music Album Preview 2014: 30 Must-Hear LPs
As hot as the season, these are the albums set to scorch this summer.
As the weather warms and the debate over the "song of the summer" starts to rage, the new season is already jam-packed with great albums on the horizon. There are the returns of J. Lo and Mariah, highly anticipated sophomore sets from Jack White and Lana Del Rey, new party starters from Deadmau5 and Steve Aoki, sure-fire country hits from Miranda Lambert and Brad Paisley, a number of debuts, Kanye-assisted LPs from rappers old (Busta Rhymes) and young (Chief Keef), and much more. Stay ahead of the curve to the upcoming buzzed-about releases with Billboard's picks of 31 albums worth waiting for this summer.
Robyn and Royksopp Release Date: May 26
After Robyn ended her exhaustive tour behind her critically acclaimed "Body Talk" project, she and Norwegian production duo Royksopp began messing around with new songs in the studio, eventually concluding that the tracks did not fit in either of their respective catalogues. Thus, the five-song "mini-album" "Do It Again," featuring the energetic title track and two tracks that stretch toward the 10-minute mark, was born. Robyn and Royksopp will be supporting the project with a joint tour this summer, which will feature their new collaborations as well as past efforts "The Girl and the Robot" and "None of Dem."
Austin Mahone, "The Secret" Release Date: May 27
The 18-year-old pop star finally releases his first stateside EP, which features the Pitbull-assisted single "Mmm Yeah" and the recently released slow jam "All I Ever Need." Hitmaker RedOne produced and co-wrote four of the album's six tracks, so expect a broad, diverse sound from the mature-beyond-his-years singer.
Cher Lloyd, "Sorry I'm Late" Release Date: May 27
The English starlet and former "X Factor" contestant returns with her second LP, the follow-up to 2011's "Sticks + Stones." The album was originally intended to come out last year, and as Lloyd told Billboard back in October, that delay partially inspired its title. "It's been a long time, and here it is, and I'm really sorry that it's a little late," she said. "Sorry I'm Late" features the singles "Sirens" and "I Wish," which includes a guest spot by T.I.
Mariah Carey, "Me. I Am… Mariah. The Elusive Chanteuse." Release Date: May 27
In the works since 2010, the diva is back with album number 14, the title of which comes in part from a self-portrait she drew as a 3-year-old. She promises some hip-hop and R&B songs, as well as more serious fare, after having listened to a 1000-song playlist of her previous work. Jermaine Dupri, Rodney Jerkins, Hit-Boy, and Mike Will Made It contribute on the producing end, while Nas, Miguel, Wale, Fabolous, and her twins, Monroe and Morrocan, offer guest vocals.
Fucked Up, "Glass Boys" Release Date: June 3
With 10 songs, the Toronto hardcore outfit's fourth LP seems puny compared to its monolithic 2011 rock opera "David Comes to Life." But Damian Abraham and company's latest doesn't pale in comparison, with no let-up in the aggressive, melodic punk. This time, Fucked Up's inspiration is about what it's like to get older while still loving – and playing – the music that shaped their youth. As is usually the case with this sextet, it seems that the answer to life's problems is to turn up the volume and scream.
Lucy Hale, "Road Between" Release Date: June 3
The "Pretty Little Liars" star previewed her first album with the single "That's What I Call Crazy," which was co-written by breakout country star Kacey Musgraves. Though she acknowledges that it doesn't sound like it, Hale told Billboard that her LP was inspired by Shania Twain's "Come on Over." "I remember how fun it was and how happy it made me feel when I listened to it," she said. "I hope that's how my first album is – it will make people want to go back and listen to it. A lot of the songs are really fun, and there's a lot of energy to it."
Miranda Lambert, "Platinum" Release Date: June 3
The country star's ambitiously titled fifth album is poised for success, with its lead single "Automatic" having reached no. 6 on the Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts. As for the LP's other 15 tracks, "Smokin' and Drinkin'" features Little Big Town, "All That's Left" includes the Time Jumpers, and "Somethin' Bad" is a rollicking duet with Carrie Underwood that they just premiered at the Billboard Music Awards. Expect to hear that plenty this summer.
Jack White, "Lazaretto" Release Date: June 10
The former White Stripe hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with his first solo album, 2012's "Blunderbuss," and the first songs from his second LP indicate that "Lazaretto" will be just as good, or better. Always one to push the envelope when it comes to format, White will release an "Ultra" version of the record on vinyl with hidden tracks, a hologram, a track that plays differently depending on where the needle hits the groove, and many more one-of-a-kind tricks.
Chief Keef, "Bang 3" Release Date: June 10
The controversial Chicago rapper originally intended this release to be a mixtape, but somewhere along the line it became an album. In fact, the 18-year-old went on to release the EP "Bang 4" in advance. Following his appearance on "Hold My Liquor," Keef's Windy City pal Kanye will reportedly return the favor with at least one guest spot on this album.
Jennifer Lopez, "A.K.A." Release Date: June 17
J Lo's eighth album is partially inspired by her divorce from Marc Anthony and her first-ever world tour she went on in its wake. "When I got back I realized, 'Wow I survived all of that and I'm okay. I'm actually better and stronger than I thought I was. I need to get back in the studio,'" she recently told Billboard. "Everything that I learned about myself and [about] love is what this album became." The recipient of 2014's Billboard Icon Award also enlisted T.I., Rick Ross, French Montana, Iggy Azalea and Pitbull, with whom she recorded the World Cup anthem "We Are One (Ole Ola)."
Sam Smith, "In The Lonely Hour" Release Date: June 17
With a terrific "Saturday Night Live" appearance under his belt, the British crooner debuts his first album. The singles "Lay Me Down," "Money on My Mind," and "Stay With Me" prove that the 21-year-old is has a lot to say about romance. "I've never been in a relationship before and I really wanted to make an album that was about love," Smith told Billboard back in January. "But in different forms of love -- so unrequited love and loneliness. I've been brutally honest in the album."
Tiesto, "A Town Called Paradise" Release Date: June 17
The Dutch master DJ had No. 1 Heatseeker with "Red Lights," and looks to dominate summer dance charts with his fifth album. Hardwell, Sultan & Ned Shepard, and Firebeatz collaborate on production duties, with Icona Pop, Matthew Koma, Krewella, and Ladyhawke singing on a few of the record's 14 tracks.
Lana Del Rey, "Ultraviolence" Release Date: June 17
Tons of hype, quick fame, and a lack of onstage experience led to a lot of criticism of Del Rey's debut album "Born to Die," so the 27-year-old took a bit of time away from the spotlight to work on her second full-length. After some false starts and a cover of "Once Upon a Dream" for the movie "Maleficent," Del Rey announced she was working on "Ultraviolence" with Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach, who's also recently collaborated with Grace Potter, Dr. John, and Ray LaMontagne, among many others.
Ed Sheeran, "x" Release Date: June 23
FYI, you'll have to call the Brit singer's second album "Multiply," not the letter X. While "Don't" sparked rumors that he wrote the song about his friends Taylor Swift or Ellie Goulding, what we do know is that Ed collaborated with Rick Rubin, Pharrell Williams, and Benny Blanco on a few of the tracks for this follow-up to 2011's "+."
Deadmau5, "While (1<2)" Release Date: June 24
Want to sound smart? Tell people that this album title is actually programming code for "to loop indefinitely." Though it's his seventh proper release, the DJ also known as Joel Zimmerman calls "While (1<2)" his first proper album. Tweeting about the 25-track record, He said, "its just that its the first album ive ever done that i would even call an album... it's put together like an album. not a compilation."
Phish, "Fuego" Release Date: June 24
The jam band legends keep on grooving with their second album since their 2009 reformation. This time, the quartet worked out most of the songs in their Vermont haven the Barn before decamping to Nashville to finish their twelfth studio LP. "Waiting All Night" is the first taste of the album, which was produced by Bob Ezrin (Lou Reed's "Berlin," Pink Floyd's "The Wall").
Trey Songz, "Trigga" Release Date: June 30
Details about Trey's sixth album remain mostly under wraps, though singles "Na Na" and "Smart Phones" suggest it'll be a solid follow-up to 2012's "Chapter V." That record went to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of hits like "Heart Attack" and "2 Reasons," as well as guest verses from Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, T.I., and more.
Seether, "Isolate and Medicate" Release Date: July 1
South Africa's premier alt-metal band were named Billboard's Active Rock Artist of the Year back in 2011 on the strength of their fifth full-length, "Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray," which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart. First single "Words as Weapons" was originally intended for last year's two-disc best-of compilation, but the trio decided to use it as a launching point for their new album. So far, it seems like a solid choice to help Seether continue their success.
Robin Thicke (title TBA) Release Date: July 1
Less than a year after scoring his first No. 1 album ever with "Blurred Lines," Robin Thicke will release a new album through Star Trak/Interscope Records that features the already released the single "Get Her Back." The track, which he debuted live at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, is believed to be a plea to Thicke's estranged wife, Paula Patton.
Busta Rhymes – E.L.E.2 (Extinction Level Event 2) Release Date: July 4
The veteran's 10th album serves as a sequel to 1998's Grammy-nominated "E.L.E.," and he's certainly bringing the firepower this time. Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Q-Tip, and Lil Wayne appear, with Tip and Pharrell producing tracks. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a big comeback from the once-dominant rapper.
Sia, “1000 Forms of Fear” Release Date: July 8
It's been a tough few years for the Australian singer. Her popularity skyrocketed with 2010's "We Are Born," but she also dealt with health issues and anxiety that led to substance abuse. While considering retirement, she then went on to write songs for Rhianna, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Beyonce, and Kylie Minogue, among many others. And now she's back with her sixth LP and its excellent lead single "Chandelier," as well as "Elastic Heart," a song from the "Catching Fire" soundtrack that also features The Weeknd and Diplo.
Lil Boosie, "Touchdown 2 Cause Hell" Release Date: July 15
While serving a few years in jail on drug charges, the Louisiana rapper dedicated much of his time to writing new songs. Though it hasn't been confirmed yet, he's said that 2 Chainz and T.I. will appear on his new release, and he's hopeful that Justin Bieber will also provide guest vocals. "Touchdown 2 Cause Hell" is slated as the first of two albums Boosie has planned for 2014.
Jason Mraz, "Yes!" Release Date: July 15
With an emphatic postitive title, Jason Mraz is back with "Yes!," his fifth studio album. And to kick off promotion for the album, the pop singer-songwriter recently debuted a 'Mraz Mondays' weekly release series with the debut of the album's first single, "Love Someone." The 14 songs of "Yes!" promise a "purely acoustic and more intimate sound," Mraz said.
5 Seconds of Summer, "5 Seconds of Summer" Release Date: July 22
The Australian pop-punk quartet are set to unleash their first album, an eponymous 12-song effort that follows their EP that had an astonishing run that peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. "We wanted to stay under the radar for as long as we could -- now is the time for us to really show the world what we're about," drummer Ashton Irwin said last month.
Steve Aoki, "Neon Future" Release Date: August 12
The star DJ and Dim Mak Records boss unveils the first half of his double-LP project this August. Guests include Fall Out Boy, Empire of the Sun, Waka Flocka Flame, and Will.i.am, while the second part is slated for sometime in 2015.
Porter Robinson, "Worlds" Release Date: August 12
The 21-year-old DJ and producer announced his debut album with a 10-hour YouTube video that featured a bit of orchestral music followed by a hypnotic distorted repetition of the title. "One thing that I still find really compelling about dance music is that the way that it's willing to be really loud at times," Robinson told Billboard, hinting at the vibe of "Worlds." "One way to really drive the emotion home is with a big bold section of the song."
Brad Paisley “Moonshine in the Trunk” Release Date: August 26
Fresh off his controversy-starting "Accidental Racist," country superstar Paisley decided to take a straightforward, back-to-basics approach on his 10th album. "At certain times, your career should be a party," Paisley told Billboard. "It was a lot of fun this time. We built a bar in our studio house, and it was kind of a 'if you build it, the band will come' approach."
Ariana Grande, (Title TBA) Release Date: Late August
Grande will turn 21 this June, just a couple months before her as-yet-untitled second album is due to drop. Her debut "Yours Truly" debuted at No. 1 in 2013 and her latest single, the Iggy Azalea-assisted "Problem," hit No. 3 in April after selling 438,000 digital copies in its first week, the highest total of 2014 so far.
Big K.R.I.T. - "Cadillactica" Release Date: TBD
The Mississippi MC got fans buzzing about his second LP with the lead single "Mt. Olympus," in which he responds to Kendrick Lamar's challenging "Control" verse. K.R.I.T. revealed that he spent some time in the studio with Lil Boosie, but it's unclear whether or not that collaboration will be on this album.
Diddy & Guy Gerber "11:11" Release Date: TBD
Thanks to a chance collaboration, the hip-hop mogul and Israeli DJ/producer hooked up to make this dance album. "I am always looking for DJ/producers without a set format, who aren’t afraid to clear the dance floor, who are fearless," Diddy said in April. "I thought it would be cool to work with Guy.” Don't expect some pop EDM, though, as the duo says the album is geared more for underground dance fans, and could even be made available for free.