We spent so much of late 2019 remembering the year and decade that was that it was easy to lose sight of the new year around the corner. But rather than easing us back into the release schedule, 2020 has taken no prisoners: One major pop star already released an album in the year’s opening weeks, with another couple more on the way this Friday.
Clearly, this is not going to be a year to be trifled with. So rather than waste any more time looking back, today Billboard looks forward to the 30 albums we’re most excited about coming in the next few months — rising rappers, returning rock legends and indie darlings, and yet more looming pop stars. Look at ’em now.
Blueface, Find the Beat (Jan. 17)
After bursting onto the scene in late 2018, Blueface rode the tidal wave of his infectious “Thotiana” anthem, which would go on to crack the Hot 100’s top 10, to mainstream notoriety. With the noise around him quieting down, the West Coast rapper has the chance to prove his naysayers wrong and put the “one-hit wonder” talk to rest with Find the Beat, a play on words from his noted offbeat rhyming ways. Look for features from an array of rising stars in Lil Baby, DaBaby, and Gunna to help power his debut album. — MICHAEL SAPONARA
Halsey, Manic (Jan. 17)
For over a year, Halsey has been building towards a massive third album. Last January, her melancholy ballad “Without Me” topped the Hot 100, marking her first solo No. 1. It sparked a slew of enticing follow-ups including the electro-pop jam “Graveyard” and “You Should Be Sad,” the pop star’s convincingly good first stab at an acoustic country tear-jerker. All three are set to appear on Manic, alongside guest appearances BTS’ Suga, Alanis Morissette, and Dominic Fike. The new album’s sound? “Hip-hop, rock, country, f-cking everything — because it’s so manic,” Halsey told Rolling Stone. “It’s literally just, like, whatever the f–k I felt like making; there was no reason I couldn’t make it.” — CHRIS PAYNE
Little Big Town, Nightfall (Jan. 17)
Little Big Town return this week with their much-anticipated ninth studio album, Nightfall. The self-produced project includes the poignant Grammy-nominated “The Daughters,” heartbreaking story song “Sugar Coat” and lead single “Over Drinking.” These songs, as well as the previously released title track, all highlight the quartet’s spellbinding harmonies, and are just a hint of what’s to come from the album’s 13 tracks — nine of which were co-written by the band’s Karen Fairchild, alongside acclaimed songwriters like Lori McKenna, Ashley Gorley, Liz Rose and Hillary Lindsey. — ANNIE REUTER
Mac Miller, Circles (Jan. 17)
“Just like a circle, I go back where I’m from,” Mac Miller concludes on the final verse of “So It Goes,” the final track on Swimming, the last album Miller released in his lifetime. At the time, the line served as a haunting end to a track that some fans have speculated nods to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. Now, 16 months after the Pittsburgh native’s tragic death, it also appears that he included the line as a teaser to Circles, his intended companion album for Swimming. The posthumous release is produced entirely by Jon Brion (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Fiona Apple, Kanye West’s Late Registration), and if it’s anything like the gently plucking, lyrically somber lead single “Good News,” fans are in both for a gift and an emotional journey from the beloved artist — who was only getting better with time. — JOSH GLICKSMAN
Mura Masa, R.Y.C (Jan. 17)
On his sophomore album R.Y.C, Alex Crossan — the 23-year-old British producer known as Mura Masa — pays homage to the musical influences of his childhood spent on a remote island in the English Channel. Short for Raw Youth College, the LP thus incorporates fleks of new wave, punk, folk and 90s rave while exploring themes of nostalgia as a natural adaptation for young people coming of age in an uncertain world. It’s heavy stuff to be sure, but you can dance to it, too, with singles “No Hope Generation” and the Clairo-featuring “I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again” mixing a punk POV with high BPMs altogether at home far outside of clubland. R.Y.C is out via Geffen this week, with Mura Masa launching an extensive spring tour in late February. — KATIE BAIN
Pet Shop Boys, Hotspot (Jan. 24)
Long-running synth-pop greats Pet Shop Boys return with Hotspot, their 14th album and first since 2016’s Super. It’s their third album with fellow U.K. dance-pop maven Stuart Price, a legend in his own right who’s clearly adept at bringing retro dance stylings into the 21st century (he also helmed Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor). Preview track “Monkey Business” sees staccato, endearingly mechanical synths rubbing elbows with disco flourishes and “Dreamland” finds Neil Tennant’s affecting, vulnerable croon sharing space with the voice of Olly Alexander of Years & Years, bringing two generations of queer club music together for three minutes of buoyant bliss. — JOE LYNCH
Kesha, High Road (Jan. 31)
“I have danced a lot while making this one and cried some tears,” Kesha told Billboard about High Road, which will seemingly split the difference between the singer-songwriter’s early electro-pop and the cathartic balladry of 2017’s Rainbow. “Resentment,” a collaboration with Brian Wilson, Sturgill Simpson and Wrabel, continues Kesha’s adventurous songwriting, while lead single “Raising Hell” (featuring Big Freedia) deserves to be counted among her most endearing uptempo tracks. — JASON LIPSHUTZ
Louis Tomlinson, Walls (Jan. 31)
Four years after One Direction began their hiatus, Directioners will have debut albums from all five members upon the arrival of Louis Tomlinson’s Walls. Though it’s been a long time coming — his first solo release came in 2016 with the Steve Aoki collab “Just Hold On” — Tomlinson has spent the past few years refining his sound for his first album, which he promises is “a bit more emotional” than his initial solo releases. He’s already teased a more vulnerable side with the LP’s lead single “Two Of Us,” about losing his mother; his latest song, “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart,” is a ballad that tries to inspire hope amid a breakup. “I’m just wearing my heart on my sleeve,” Tomlinson told Billboard in October. “Once fans have heard the album, they will see a slightly different side of me.” — TAYLOR WEATHERBY
Meghan Trainor, Treat Myself (Jan. 31)
It’s been over a half-decade since Meghan Trainor first burst onto the pop scene with her No. 1 hit “All About That Bass,” and popular music has changed a whole lot since then; as a result, the singer-songwriter changed too, resulting in an experimental third album that includes light forays into funk, gospel and coffee-shop jams. “I’ve heard weird opinions from everyone [about what the album should be],” Trainor says, “so I kept writing the best songs I could.” — J. Lipshutz
Russ, Shake the Snow Globe (Jan. 31)
Say what you want about Russ, but the New Jersey rapper continues to punish his haters with his indomitable work ethic. After sniffing his way to a top-five debut on the Billboard 200 with Zoo in 2018, Russ hopes to skate to a higher position come Jan. 31 when he releases his third album Shake the Snow Globe. After earning co-signs from Jay-Z and Rihanna for his hypnotic single “Best on Earth,” expect Russ to come with an avalanche of bangers for his forthcoming effort. — C.L.
Green Day, Father of All Motherf–kers (Feb. 7)
Green Day announced its 13th studio album with a bang, dropping the livewire lead single “Father of All…” — an eventual Mainstream Rock Songs No. 1 — and announcing a summer 2020 stadium tour alongside Fall Out Boy and Weezer. At ten songs in just over 26 minutes, it’s the shortest Green Day album to date. “I’ve had a short attention span my whole life, even though I’ve written s–t like f–king ‘Jesus of Suburbia,’” frontman Billie Joe Armstrong joked to Billboard last year. “It’s very high energy. We wanted to create a dance groove between the drums and vocals [inspired by] the way Kendrick Lamar does things or old-school Motown music.” — C.P.
La Roux, Supervision (Feb. 7)
“Bulletproof” hitmaker Elly Jackson returned in October 2019 with her first new music in five years, and it felt like welcoming an old friend home. “International Woman of Leisure” and follow-up “Gullible Fool” aren’t as in-your-face as that aforementioned 2010 breakout single, but they’re still groovy, and we’ve got high hopes for the English synth-pop act’s comeback. “It’s been a long time coming, I’m very pleased to be back,” Jackson admitted on Instagram. Same. — GAB GINSBERG
Justin Bieber, Changes (Feb. 14)
After months of hinting that something was coming by the end of 2020, Justin Bieber played Santa for Beliebers on Christmas Eve, when he announced a new single, massive North American tour and a YouTube docuseries — all part of what he dubbed “#Bieber2020.” He kicked off the year with the smooth single “Yummy,” his first solo release since 2015’s Billboard 200-topping Purpose, a seemingly appropriate setup to the “R&Bieber” the singer teased in October. The 90-second #Bieber2020 preview included snippets of four songs from the project, as well as some insight from Bieber himself. “This is different than the previous albums just because of where I’m at in my life,” he said. “It’s the music that I’ve loved the most out of anything I’ve done.” (Update: On Jan. 28, Bieber announced that the album is titled Changes and will be arriving Feb. 14.) — T.W.
Carly Pearce, Carly Pearce (Feb. 14)
Produced by the late busbee, Carly Pearce’s self-titled sophomore set boasts a pair of stirring duets, including lead track “I Hope You’re Happy Now” with Lee Brice, currently at No. 21 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, and “Finish Your Sentences” — penned by Kelsea Ballerini, Thomas Rhett, Jesse Frasure and Ashley Gorley and featuring husband Michael Ray. With the recent release of “Call Me,” which credits Little Big Town’s Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook as writers, the album promises plenty of sass and heart. — A.R.
Huey Lewis & The News, Weather (Feb. 14)
It’s back to the present for Huey Lewis & The News, Bay Area-bred hitmakers of the ’80s, who took most of the past decade off from recording, and the past few years from touring after their frontman was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease. Weather will be the group’s first album since 2010’s Soulsville, but based on the infectious groove and witty lyrics of their literally lovesick advance single “Her Love Is Killin’ Me,” the News’ supremely affable good-guy pop-rock hasn’t gotten any less headline-worthy in their absence. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER
Monsta X, All About Luv (Feb. 14)
Korean group Monsta X — now down to a sextet after the departure of original seventh member Wonho — will attempt to break further into the American pop mainstream this February with the release of All About Luv, their first-ever English language album, with tracks featuring stateside stars Pitbull and French Montana. From their album’s title and Valentine’s Day release date, they may be setting themselves up as the sticky-sweet boy band to take home to your parents, but advance single “Love U” cleverly masks slightly more R-rated intentions: “I really, really wanna love you/ But I can’t say the word I want to/ ‘Cause they won’t play it on the radio/ But I know you know what I mean…” — A.U.
Tame Impala, The Slow Rush (Feb. 14)
“It Might Be Time,” indeed: It’s been nearly a half-decade since the release of Tame Impala’s psych-soul masterpiece Currents in 2015, and while leader Kevin Parker has kept busy as a producer to the stars, fans have long been clamoring for a new Tame full-length. They’ll get it next month with the (also aptly titled) The Slow Rush, a head-spinning mix of laid back soft-rock smoothness with pulse-racing disco urgency — which sounds like it could just as easily be the proper follow-up to Supertramp’s Breakfast in America as their own prior LP. Not that we’re complaining. — A.U.
Allie X, Cape God (Feb. 21)
Pop cult favorite Allie X is changing it up once again with her forthcoming album Cape God. Fronted by deliciously somber electropop tracks like “Fresh Laundry,” “Regulars” and the Troye Sivan collab “Love Me Wrong,” as well as a series of dark concept photos, listeners can expect Allie to get more real and raw than ever. “It is very much an exploration of feelings I had as a teenager and young adult,” she explained of the set on Instagram. “The isolation I felt, the illness I dealt with and the detachment from my loved ones, body and emotions.” — G.G.
BTS, Map of the Soul: 7 (Feb. 21)
BTS’s 2019 release Map of the Soul: Persona was yet another record-setting achievement for the world-conquering collective, making them the first group since The Beatles to have three No. 1 albums in less than a year. Map of the Soul: 7 is still being kept under wraps from the group’s rabid fan base, but after its predecessor spawned BTS’s highest-charting Hot 100 single to date (“Boy With Luv,” featuring Halsey, peaked at No. 8), it’s worth wondering if the upcoming project could send one of their hits even higher. — J. Lipshutz
Grimes, Miss Anthropocene (Feb. 21)
Although indie auteur Grimes has more often made headlines for her personal life than for her music in recent years — she recently announced her pregnancy on Instagram, with boyfriend Elon Musk rumored to be the father — Miss Anthropocene will end the extended wait for a new full-length to follow 2015’s Art Angels, one of the most acclaimed pop projects of the 2010s. The new album promises to be a darker affair based upon pre-release tracks like “Violence” and “So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth”; meanwhile, “4ÆM” was unveiled as part of the upcoming video game Cyberpunk 2077, in which Grimes will voice the character Lizzy Wizzy. — J. Lipshutz
Ozzy Osbourne, Ordinary Man (Feb. 21)
Ozzy Osbourne is reclaiming his crown in a major way this year, with Ordinary Man marking his first solo album since 2010’s Scream. After reintroducing himself to the mainstream by guesting on Post Malone’s “Take What You Want” last September, Osbourne unleashed a trio of singles — “Straight to Hell,” “Ordinary Man” featuring Sir Elton John, and “Under the Graveyard” — that proved his wicked edge has gotten even sharper over the years. He also snagged a few career firsts along the way, posing the question of if 2020 may just be the year the Prince of Darkness takes back over. — BIANCA GRACIE
Royce da 5’9″, The Allegory (Feb. 21)
After shedding his armor for his reflective opus Book of Ryan in 2018, Royce Da 5’9″ looks to pounce on the rap game with more ferocity on his upcoming album, The Allegory. Last November, Royce stymied the competition along with T.I. and CyHi The Prince on his new track “Black Savage.” The Layers MC flashed no signs of rust, as his lyrical verve outweighed his team of wordsmiths on his return single. Fans are in for a treat on his latest endeavor, as for the first time in his career, Royce will try his hands at production and engineering. — CARL LAMARRE
Caribou, Suddenly (Feb. 28)
Six years after the release of his landmark Our Love LP, revered Canadian producer Dan Snaith returns to the electronic forefront with Suddenly, his seventh studio album as Caribou. The LPs’s dozen songs are a dually effervescent and dreamy affair, with pure dancefloor output like “Never Come Back” and “Ravi” serving as technicolor counterpoints to the moodier and more contemplative “Like I Love You” and “Cloud Song.” Tracks on both ends of the BPM spectrum explore the theme of familial relationships in all their depth, glory and complication, with Snaith writing from the perspective of various family members and naming the LP in homage to his young daughter, after she added “suddenly” to her vocabulary. Suddenly is out via Merge on February 28, with Caribou kicking off an expansive album tour in mid-March. — K.B.
Soccer Mommy, Color Theory (Feb. 28)
Expectations are sky-high for Color Theory, the new album from indie darling singer-songwriter Soccer Mommy (real name: Sophie Allison) whose 2018 breakout LP Clean brought her to countless year-end critics lists and a national tour opening for grown pop-punk stars Paramore. Based on the early returns for Color Theory — including the ’90s acoustic-alt throwback “Circle the Drain” and the dramatic guitar rush of “Lucy” — Allison is more than rising to the challenge, displaying the confidence of a now-seasoned recording pro. “On the last record, I didn’t have any experience in a studio, so I didn’t know how to bring in any ideas,” she recently told the New York Times. “This time, I had basically learned how it works.” — A.U.
Lauv, How I’m Feeling (Mar. 6)
Despite releasing an 18-track playlist two years ago (2018’s I Met You When I was 18, which features his breakout megahit “I Like Me Better”), Lauv’s next full-length, How I’m Feeling, is the pop singer’s first official album. Perhaps that’s because How I’m Feeling is “the first time I’m embracing all the parts that make me who I am,” as he said in a statement. The album will feature 21 tracks that explore Lauv’s personality through different characters, from “existential Lauv” to “f–kboy Lauv” — all of whom appear on the album’s symbolic artwork in an array of monochromatic outfits. Lauv (whose birth name is Ari Leff) has released eight tracks so far, most of which focus on relationships, including the Troye Sivan team-up “I’m So Tired…” and the super honest “Feelings.” — T.W.
J Balvin (March)
J Balvin continues to change Latin music on his own terms, all while still staying true to his Colombian roots and reggaetón essence. Billboard can confirm that the Latin urban trailblazer will release a new album in March via Universal Music Latino. The untitled production follows the 2019 release of Oasis, his joint album with Bad Bunny, and Vibras, which earned Balvin his second No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums chart in June 2018. If his latest singles, “Blanco” — with its hypnotic bass beats — and the head-bopping reggaetón jam “Morado” are any indication of what’s to come, we can expect Balvin’s forthcoming album to be a conceptual masterpiece. — JESSICA ROIZ
Prince Royce, Alter Ego (TBD)
Alter Ego, announced in December, will be released sometime this quarter as Prince Royce’s sixth studio album, likely before Royce heads out on a North American tour in March. So far, the Dominican-American singer has released a few songs in advance of the project, such as “Morir Solo,” “Adicto” with Marc Anthony, and “Cúrame” with Manuel Turizo. “I’m playing a little bit with a duo alter ego concept which is different,” Royce told Billboard in December. “The idea is not to change who you are or change your sound, it is to bring your sound into that vision.” — SUZETTE FERNANDEZ
Migos, Culture III (TBD)
Now that each member — Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff — has released his own solo album since 2018’s Culture II, the Migos are focused on delivering the next installment in the album series that made them superstars. Culture brought the Hot 100 No. 1 smash “Bad and Boujee” and emerged one of 2017’s most critically-acclaimed LPs. Culture II followed with three more Hot 100 top 10 hits. Culture III has no official street date, but the Migos have been hyping a 2020 release for months; most recently, Offset said the album would “probably” include a Juice WRLD collab/tribute called “What’s Brackin,” recorded with the 21-year old rapper before his death last December. — C.P.
Lil Uzi Vert, Eternal Atake (TBD)
It’s a wonder that Lil Uzi Vert’s upcoming Eternal Atake will only mark his second album, as the Philly rapper has released a semi-steady amount of projects since his breakout in 2014. But there’s more hype surrounding this record (Uzi’s first in three years and his Roc Nation debut), thanks to last year’s hard-hitting teasers “That’s a Rack” and “Sanguine Paradise.” He kept the anticipation going — while simultaneously started his own dance craze — with the ’90s rave-inspired “Futsal Shuffle 2020,” whiuch could signal a new sonic direction for the rapper. — B.G.
Dua Lipa, Future Nostalgia (TBD)
If Dua Lipa is working on a PhD in retro-leaning 21st century dance-pop, second album Future Nostalgia may prove to be her doctoral thesis. The chorus of lead single “Don’t Start Now,” her seventh No. 1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Songs, chart, boasts a soulful, lush hook that swings in and out in the blink of an eye; it would leave you wanting more except with that elastic bassline and the careening disco strings carrying the verses, it’s impossible to determine which segment of the song soars the highest. Irresistible club catnip. — J. Lynch