With 2016 coming to a close, we've already recapped the best and worst of the year in just about every way we could think of. All that remains now is to look forward to the year to come, and with the release calendar already starting to fill up for the first few months of 2017, it seems like a good time to get excited for what's on the horizon. So let's take a look at 40 of the albums we're most anticipating for 2017 -- some with set titles and dates, some still whispers in the wind without official confirmation, but all reasons that 2017 should be just as big as 2016. Won't be long until we're reminiscing fondly about some of these albums, too.
The xx, 'I See You' (Jan. 13)
Reforming for their first album since producer Jamie xx became a solo star in his own right, the xx's third LP seems likely to be their most pop yet, eschewing the sometimes-ghostly minimalism of their first two albums for a much more full-bodied sound. So far, so good: Blood-pumping (and Hall and Oates-sampling) lead single "On Hold" was one of our 30 favorite pop songs of 2016.
AFI, 'AFI (The Blood Album)' (Jan. 20)
One of punk's biggest and best crossover acts of the '00s has been little heard from in the '10s, with 2013's Gil Norton-produced Burials marking their only full-length of the '10s. The band will come roaring back this year, however, with AFI (The Blood Album), whose title would seem to portend a return to form -- a prediction corroborated by advance track "Snow Cats," which closely echoes the classic power ballads of the group's past.
Japandroids, 'Near to the Wild Heart of Life' (Jan. 27)
Every time rock true-believers Japandroids release an album, it seems likely to be their last -- which makes the experience of receiving a new eight song-set of theirs so precious and exhilarating. Not like the duo really needs narrative help in that department; their blistering and bloody stadium-punk anthems are already of rare urgency and beauty, as evidenced by third LP Near the Wild Heart of Life's cathartic origin-story title track.
Bell Biv DeVoe, 'Three Stripes'
After a decade-and-a-half-long absence, '90s R&B paragons Bell Biv Devoe returned in 2016 with the Herb Alpert-via-Notorious B.I.G.-sampling "Run," proving the group's aptitude for hip-hop-edged soul hadn't dulled over the years. In 2017, Ricky, Mike and Ronnie will make a full comeback with January's Three Stripes, whose swing is sure to bring together New Jacks and Old Jacks alike.
Brantley Gilbert, 'The Devil Don't Sleep' (Jan. 27)
After emerging as one of country's breakout stars with 2011's Halfway to Heaven, 2014 sophomore effort Just As I Am solidified Brantley Gilbert as one of country's premier singer-songwriters. Third effort The Devil Don't Sleep wil mark Gilbert's first LP since marrying schoolteacher Amber Cochran in 2015, and the Big Machine star says the set will mark where he's at now as a person: "Anyone who knows me knows that every album is another chapter of my life," he explained via press release.
Kehlani, 'SweetSexySavage' (Feb. 3)
Oakland underground R&B fixture Kehlani has been percolating just underneath the mainstream for some time now, even missing the Top 40 by just one spot with her sexy Suicide Squad ballad "Gangsta." After a couple acclaimed mixtapes, Kehlani seems poised to make the jump to stardom with her upcoming proper full-length debut SweetSexySavage, and the personality and creativity of addictive advance singles "CRZY" and "Distraction" show just how high her ceiling is.
Sampha, 'Process' (Feb. 3)
It's been a long road to Sampha's debut album, with the British electro-soul singer/songwriter/producer building buzz over the course of the decade with a pair of EPs, and a series of guest appearances on works by hip-hop and R&B stars like Drake, Kanye West and Solange. Finally, the multi-threat's singular voice will lead his own full-length album with February's Process, whose early returns (especially the chilling "Blood on Me") suggest he's certainly ready for the spotlight.
Dua Lipa, "Dua Lipa" (Feb. 9)
London-born "dark pop" purveyor Dua Lipa gifted fans one of the most effervescent underground hits of 2016 with "Blow Your Mind (Mwah)," which even bubbled over into a brief cameo on the Hot 100. Lipa looks to make an even longer-lasting impression with her self-titled full-length debut this February, which will include "Blow" as well as previously released singles "Hotter Than Hell" and "Be the One," both of which have racked up over 60 million plays on Spotify.
Ryan Adams, 'Prisoner' (Feb. 17)
Not like veteran rock troubadour Ryan Adams has ever had difficulties wearing his heart on his sleeve, but after a divorce from singer-actress Mandy Moore and a period Adams has since described as "total f--king darkness," expect an even more emotional effort than usual with his upcoming 16th studio album Prisoner. "This album matters to me more than any record I ever made," said Adams of the set, which he's already shared a pair of heart-crumblingcuts from. "It saved my life."
Little Big Town, 'The Breaker' (Feb. 24)
Not many acts can say they've collaborated with both Pharrell and Taylor Swift within the past year, but Little Big Town is proven enough at this point to command the creative talents of both megastars, respectively resulting in 2016's fun and frisky Wanderlust EP and the devastating breakup ballad "Better Man." The latter will be found on the group's 2017 full-length The Breaker, which will no doubt pack further surprises for fans: "We're always pushing to be progressive," LBT member Phillip Sweet told Rolling Stone in November.
Brad Paisley, 'Love and War' (Mar. 3)
Few fixtures in popular music tend to keep things as interesting as Brad Paisley -- Love and War advance single "Without a Fight" features pop star Demi Lovato, while other tracks on the country star's latest include such disparate high-profile guests as John Fogerty, Timbaland and even Mick Jagger. Paisley doesn't need the juice from such big names to make an impression, though, as evidenced by latest hit "Today," an instantly classic-sounding love song performed entirely on his lonesome.
The Jesus and Mary Chain, 'Damage and Joy' (Mar. 25)
Creation Records co-founder Alan McGee has been known to drift towards exaggeration, so take it with a grain of salt when he describes the upcoming first album in 18 years by proto-shoegaze greats The Jesus and Mary Chain as "unbelievable" and "enormous." Nonetheless, McGee's old dreampop chums My Bloody Valentine did release one of the most acclaimed comeback albums of the decade, so you can't rule out the possibility of him accurately preaching the gospel on this one, too.
Nelly Furtado, 'The Ride' (Mar. 31)
Though it failed to produce a hit anywhere near the magnitude of "Promiscuous" or "Say It Right," Nelly Furtado's The Spirit Indestructible was one of the finest pop albums of 2012, with scorching bangers like "Parking Lot" and sparkling ballads like "The Most Beautiful Thing." March of 2017 will bring The Ride, Nelly's first album since Spirit a half-decade earlier, and though pulsing lead single "Islands of Me" hasn't served to return the former crossover star to the charts, it crackles with the kind of off-kilter verve that keeps longtime fans invested in her regardless.
Drake, 'More Life' (Early 2017)
Promised as the exclamation mark to end Drake's almost unprecedentedly successful 2016, the OVO head's label comp More Life has since been delayed until early 2017. No matter: With the cluster of new tracks Drake released in advance of the set in November (particularly Hot 100 top 10 hit "Fake Love") still picking up steam and commanding conversation, it's clear the public will still be ready for more More Life whenever it's delivered.
Depeche Mode, 'Spirit' (Spring)
Over 35 years into their illustrious career, it's still an event when nocturnal synth-rock icons Depeche Mode release a new album, as they will this spring with 14th studio effort Spirit. The new album, which the band released a teaser video for in October, will be produced by James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco, who frontman Dave Gahan says "helped us to make what we feel is a very incredible sounding record... He was able to really guide us."
Lorde, TBD (Spring)
In the four years since the release of 2013's Pure Heroine, Lorde's brand of intelligent, genre-bending and brilliantly layered pop music has become something of a guiding light for ascendant young pop talents like Daya and Alessia Cara. But still, no one will be able to properly fill the void except Ella Yelich-O'Connor herself, and spring seems likely to be when she'll make her return -- she even tweeted a picture in November of her headphone earbuds, saying, "listen to the record on these every day. wanna hear it exactly how you will."
Tinashe, 'Joyride' (TBD)
Tinashe's follow-up to her acclaimed 2014 debut Aquarius has long been promised, but has thus far been a casualty of label discord and mismanagement, with the limitless young talent instead buying herself time with the excellent Nightride mixtape. Hopefully 2017 will be the year she officially invites fans to come join the Joyride, and if she wanted to include the superlative freestyle'n'b of 2016 single "Superlove" on it, even better.
Charli XCX, TBD (May)
After last year's inspired collaboration with PC Music meta-pop auteur SOPHIE on her Vroom Vroom EP, Charli XCX wants to keep the party going with her next LP, which will include production from Stargate and Bloodpop as well as further work with SOPHIE. "Most of the songs on the album are about partying or about falling in love with someone after partying,” Charli told Billboard in October. "I came from warehouse parties when I was 16, so I always wanted to make an album like that."
Spoon, TBD (March)
After re-signing to Matador -- which had released the group's debut album Telefone two decades earlier -- indie-rock standard-bearers Spoon announced the release of a ninth full-length for 2017, the follow-up to 2014's exemplary They Want My Soul. No music from the album has been officially released from the project yet, but given that Spoon's almost unparalleled consistency as an albums artist is the reason we're still talking about the band 20 years later, they don't need to prove much for us to get excited for LP9.
Kelly Clarkson, TBD (June)
Kelly Clarkson never spends too long outside of the mainstream -- even in 2016, as her Piece by Piece album seemed to be dying down, she managed a surprise top 10 hit with the title track after a headline-capturing performance of the track on the American Idol stage she once owned. Clarkson promises her next album will be a return to the classic soul she most frequently paid homage to on that show: "I sang all these Aretha things, I love Tina, I love Mariah, I love Whitney," she told People in November. "I love all my stuff that I’ve done but this is the record that has been in me since junior high."
Haim, TBD (Summer)
Haim's much-buzzed-about 2013 debut LP Days Are Gone had the sister trio opening for Taylor Swift and appearing to be on the verge of stardom, but a follow-up has yet to materialize. What we already know about the upcoming sophomore record -- due to arrive next summer -- certainly suggests it'll be worth the wait; the brilliant production team of Ariel Rechtshaid and Rostam Batmanglij never disappoints, and early live performances of new song "Give Me Just a Little of Your Love" make it sound like an updated version of peak Wilson Phillips.
Girlpool, 'Powerplant' (TBD)
It's been a steady crescendo of word-of-mouth for friends Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, who together make up the drum-less indie-pop duo Girlpool, since their arrival in 2014. Debut album Before the World Was Big drew raves for its lyrical precision and heart-piercing delivery, and follow-up Powerplant -- which the duo recently revealed in a Fader cover story was planned to be recorded with Jeff Tweedy of alt-rock legends Wilco, and was ultimately laid down with a full band -- should further cross them over from the DIY world to mainstream acclaim.
Sean Paul, TBD (TBD)
Not like Sean Paul was ever completely out of the public eye -- he appeared on one of the decade's biggest international hits in Enrique Iglesias' "Bailando" in 2014 -- but the dancehall superstar was re-established at the center of U.S. top 40 by his appearance on Sia's "Cheap Thrills," which helped send the song to the top of the Hot 100 in the summer of 2016. Now, with a new album expected shortly (Paul's first since 2014's Full Frequency), we can only hope that Dutty days will be here again in 2017.
Beck, TBD (TBD)
Since winning Album of the Year for Morning Phase at the 2015 Grammys, Beck has released a handful of wildly disparate singles -- led by 2015's alt-rock smash "Dreams," and 2016's unexpected electro-hop oddity "Wow" -- that appeared to point the way to a new album. That LP has been delayed on multiple occasions as the wizard of stage and studio figures out its proper musical direction, but the full-length should finally materialize in 2017 -- which may be influenced by the Strokes and Talking Heads, or by The Beatles and Prince, or by all four, or none.
Chic, 'It's About Time' (TBD)
Chic's first new album since 1992 was initially expected for 2015, but ironically for its title, it was delayed for another two years. Now, the soon-to-be-inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Nile Rodgers announces that his pioneering disco outfit will release It's About Time in 2017, the 40th anniversary of Studio 54. “In 2017, we will pay homage to the club that put us on the international map by doing a series of concerts, afterparties, VIP Packages, films and singles,” Rodgers wrote in a statement. “Then drop the full album along with a BIG SURPRISE!”
Gorillaz, TBD (TBD)
Damon Albarn and his animated crew have always taken their time in between studio albums, but this latest layover -- soon to be seven years since both third album Plastic Beach and its free-download follow-up The Fall in 2010 -- is their longest yet. As is often the case with Gorillaz, details about the upcoming effort are scarce, but it has been teased for 2017, and artist Jamie Hewlett has promised that the work will be "really f--kin' special" -- which is also often the case with Gorillaz.
Camila Cabello, TBD (TBD)
The rumor mill was churning about Camila Cabello's potential solo career even before she had her own Hot 100 top 10 hit apart from Fifth Harmony with the Machine Gun Kelly collab "Bad Things," and before she and 5H had one of the more explosive splits of any group in recent Top 40 memory. Now, her album will undoubtedly be one of the most anticipated pop releases of whatever year it's released -- which, if you believe the whispers, will be 2017 -- and may set up Cabello as a solo star to be contended with for quite some time.
TLC, TBD (TBD)
2017 will mark 15 years since the release of iconic girl group TLC's fourth album, 3D, the group's only effort recorded after the death of co-founder Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in 2001. In 2015, the now-duo announced a new album was on the horizon, and in December, singer T-Boz explained "The album is being mixed, y’all... the album for the most part is done, and new year's drawing near, when we said it would be out in the first quarter." We'll certainly be ready whenever the LP is.
Phoenix, TBD (TBD)
With their last two albums, 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and 2013's Bankrupt!, Phoenix turned from a cult-favorite alt-pop band to a legitimate stadium headliner, becoming a much-appreciated fixture on radio and the festival circuit in the process. With nearly four years having passed since their last release, it would appear time for Phoenix to make its next landing, and with an ambiguous, album-cover-like image recently posted on the group's social media accounts, fans are anticipating their return coming sooner rather than later.
Sky Ferreira, 'Masochism' (TBD)
After a premature attempt at a mainstream pop career left Sky Ferreira frustrated and disillusioned, she opted to go through the underground instead, culminating in 2013's grungy alt-pop breakthrough Night Time, My Time. She doesn't appear any more interested in a crossover with her upcoming effort -- currently titled Masochism, which she introduced in an October Playboy spread that she directed herself -- but may end up becoming a star just the same for her impeccable songwriting, inspired choice of collaborators, and preternatural sense of cool.
Zack de la Rocha, TBD (TBD)
While the rest of Rage Against the Machine reunited with Public Enemy this year for the Prophets of Rage supergroup, Zack de la Rocha released the seething solo single "digging for windows" and out-Raged them all. Between "windows" and his pair of fire-breathing guest contributions to the last two Run the Jewels albums, the upcoming solo debut from the former RATM frontman looks to be just the riposte to the modern-day Evil Empire that fans of rebel rock need in 2017.
LCD Soundsystem, TBD (TBD)
The much-hyped comeback of LCD Soundsystem in 2016 came and went with a number of high-profile festival appearances, but no new album. That may have to wait for 2017, but given the strength of the discopunk group's original run of albums -- culminating in their 2010 masterpiece This Is Happening -- and the righteous energy apparently motivating Murphy to make this upcoming effort worthy of its lineage, it'll no doubt have a huge impact whenever it does drop.
Christina Aguilera, TBD (TBD)
While Christina Aguilera has kept in the spotlight with her work on The Voice and hit collaborations with A Great Big World and Nile Rodgers, she hasn't released a full-length album since 2012's Lotus. A new album, rumored to be titled Blonde, is likely due for 2017, and Christina told Ryan Seacrest that "the whole record is dedicated to my fighters, my fans out there. The whole message that I always have been about is to give the message of hope for everybody out there who needs that message of hope and love.” Never a bad time for that.
Puff Daddy, 'No Way Out 2'
This July will mark the 20-year anniversary of Sean Combs' game-changing 1997 album No Way Out, and what better way to mark the LP's special anniversary than with the release of its long-awaited sequel? No Way Out 2 has been promised for some time as the rapper currently known as Puff Daddy's farewell LP, and though the music mogul is not the commercial force as a lead artist as he once was, he still has peerless pop instincts, a rolodex of very impressive potential collaborators and a virtually-unlimited bankroll to help bring hip-hop back to the days of wine and jigginess.
Amber Coffman, 'City of No Reply'
Though Coffman's voice has graced major underground hits by The Dirty Projectors and Major Lazer over the last decade, she's only recently begun her solo career in earnest. While the Dirty Projectors are due for a new album shortly themselves, Coffman outdid her group's 2016 contribution with her own solo single, the intriguing electro-pop waltz "All to Myself," and her soon-to-arrive City of No Reply LP should provide further knotty thrills.
TIP, 'The Dime Trap'
After his solo career began to stall somewhat in momentum, veteran rapper T.I. found himself revitalized in 2016 by turning to more politically conscious subject matter, reassuming his old TIP name in the process. While he showcased this new side of himself on the 2016 EP Us or Else (and its surprise full-length sequel project Us or Else: Letter to the System) he's had his upcoming proper LP The Dime Trap in the works since much earlier in the year, saying in July that "when you do those mainstream kind of ‘Blurred Lines’-ish kind of records, you don’t go and try to top ‘Blurred Lines'... you just come to a whole new element, bring it back down and build the process back over again."
Nine Inch Nails, TBD (TBD)
Trent Reznor's legendary industrial-rock outfit broke a three-year spell without original music in late December 2016 with the Not the Actual Events EP, a promising return to form that shows Nine Inch Nails still at peak powers nearly three decades into their existence. That was good news for NIN fans, but even better was Reznor's revelation that following the EP would be two "major works" to be released under his group's name — though as usual, he kept the specifics shadowy, as he had previously explained to Rolling Stone, "I don't want to spoil it. If I'm interested in a film, I prefer not to watch the trailer."
Trey Songz, 'Tremaine' (TBD)
The normally unavoidably prolific Trey Songz has had a quiet last few years (not counting recent legal difficulty) since the release of 2014's Trigga, not releasing any music of his own in 2016 and only making a handful of choice featured appearances. Undoubtedly, the creative energy was being reserved for his own Tremaine, which will see release from the R&B balladeer in 2017: "I got a very much distinctive vision for how I want it to be taken in," he explained in a December radio interview. "Everybody takes everything in so fast and then they’re on to the next thing, so I want to figure out how to hold people’s attention.”
Taylor Swift, TBD (TBD)
We can't possibly go a third calendar year without a new Taylor Swift album, can we? While she understandably took a year off for the first time in a decade (apart from writing a couple of Billboard hits on the DL), Swift will probably coming roaring back to pop's forefront before long, and rumors have her doing so in 2017. Of course, rumors are just that, so don't believe anything as 100 percent true about Taylor LP6 until there's visual or aural proof sitting on your laptop.
Limp Bizkit, 'Stampede of the Disco Elephants' (TBD)