With Memorial Day Weekend in the rearview and one rapidly approaching turn of the calendar page separating us from the summer months, it's time to look ahead to the music that will be defining the warmest days of 2017. We've talked plenty about the Songs of the Summer already -- even Spotify is opining about those these days -- but what about the biggest albums? Here's Billboard's take on the 25 LPs you'll need to have on your radar for your next three months of vacations, road trips and beach excursions -- or for sitting in your office or classroom wishing you were doing those other things.
Bleachers, 'Gone Now' (June 2)
Jack Antonoff has gone from being that guy from Fun. to that guy who wrote for all those pop stars, but the vague ID that he most craves to be recognized as -- that guy in Bleachers -- has mostly eluded his resume topline. New album Gone Now might mark his best chance yet; the advance tracks have been explosive, gut-wrenching and surprisingly identifiable, establishing Antonoff as an artist with a voice as an emerging voice as defined and recognizable as any of those he's supported from the wings over the years.
Halsey, 'hopeless fountain kingdom' (June 2)
"I am more than capable of writing radio music," rising alt-pop superstar Halsey told Rolling Stone in March, "and hopefully I'll put my money where my mouth is on this album." So far, so good: Stakes-claiming lead single "Now or Never" is no. 30 and rapidly climbing on Billboard's Radio Songs chart, her biggest (non-Chainsmokers-assisted) hit on the listing to date -- and the alluring Lauren Jauregui collaboration "Strangers" seems likely to start nipping at its heels soon enough.
Roger Waters, 'Is This the Life We Really Want?' (June 2)
Fair question, and one few but the Pink Floyd frontman have the ambition to take on in album form. Regardless of whether he actually has the answers, there's a number of reasons to be excited for Roger Waters' first solo album of new material in a quarter-century; including it being produced by Nigel Godrich, the man partly responsible for the interstellar overdrive of many of Radiohead's best, and it preceding a typically gigantic world tour, whose rehearsals Billboard described earlier this month as "politically provocative and musically magical."
Katy Perry, 'Witness' (June 9)
It's hard to get much of a read on what Katy Perry's fourth (post-Hudson) full length will sound like from its three advance tracks: "Chained to the Rhythm" looked to kick off the purposeful pop era, but "Bon Appetit" was a return to "Birthday"-like pop-corn, and "Swish Swish".... well, we're still trying to wrap our heads around "Swish Swish." Clarity will (hopefully) come on June 9, when we'll get to hear if Witness coheres as an art-pop triumph or gets lost in a fog of unrealized ambition; her ANTi or her Artpop.
Lady Antebellum, 'Heart Break' (June 9)
"We wanted to get back that feeling we felt back in 2006 when we started," Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum told Billboard of the communal Heart Break recording process. The group would probably settle for the early-'10s feeling of being one of the biggest country bands on the planet, and though hits and sales have lagged somewhat for Lady A in the years since, the brassy swagger of lead single "You Look Good" shows the group hasn't lost any of their mojo in the interim.
Though neither are likely to get invited on stage with Harry Styles anytime soon, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie combined for writing an astounding number of Fleetwood Mac's best and most iconic hits -- and on their upcoming duet album, they'll look to prove their magic isn't dependent on Stevie Nicks' sorcery. Gotta hope the duo put more effort into the album than they did posing for its strangely antagonistic cover art, though.
Phoenix, 'Ti Amo' (June 9)
On the list of 21st century alt-rock bands who are the least likely to ever release a bad album, Phoenix is right up there with Spoon in terms of unceasing reliability. Spoon's Hot Thoughts album from earlier this year was awesome, and from the two glittering promo tracks from Ti Amo ("J-Boy" and the title track), it seems all but certain that Phoenix will be keeping pace -- sexy, synthy, enigmatic discotheque pace -- with their upcoming sixth album.
Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Governors Ball
Big Boi, 'Boomiverse' (June 16)
Amazing that it's been a half-decade since the last proper Big Boi solo album -- though the rapper did pop back up in '15 with the well-received Phantogram mini-LP collab Big Grams -- but indeed, Boomiverse will see the rapper born Antwan Patton's long-overdue attempt to bounce back from the lukewarm reception to 2012's Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumours. If you hoped he'd be less sprawling with the cross-genre guests this time, the Adam Levine-featuring lead single "Mic Jack" probably wasn't the best sign, but the song is electro-funky enough that you also might not care that much.
2 Chainz, 'Pretty Girls Like Trap Music' (June 16)
While his chart impact has dimmed somewhat in recent years, 2 Chainz' rapping has only gotten sharper, and his emerging status as hip-hop's preeminent punchline deliverer has made him a consistently welcome presence in hip-hop. Aside from having a gushing Drake co-sign in its trailer and the possible album title of the year, Tauheed Epps' latest also boasts Nicki Minaj, Pharrell and Gucci Mane cameos, and one of the most under-buzzed singles of the spring in "Good Drank."
Lorde, 'Melodrama' (June 16)
One of the year's most highly anticipated LPs from one of the pop's most promising, still-very-young artists, and also one of the most intriguing for chartwatchers -- the critics adored "Green Light" from the jump, but radio was significantly cooler, and the song has already disappeared from the Hot 100. Melodrama will almost undoubtedly be one of the year's smartest, most inventive and hardest-hitting pop releases of the year, but whether it makes Lorde the next unassailable pop superstar still remains to be seen.
Nickelback, 'Feed the Machine' (June 16)
Two of the best-selling rock bands of the 21st century have returned in 2017's first half, and they sound more like one another than ever; Linkin Park and Nickelback both giving way to '10s trends that favor pop production and melodic heft over aluminum-weighty riffs and chest-beating choruses. Nickelback's "Song of Fire" isn't quite as captivating as Linkin Park's "Heavy" (and hasn't proven as chart-successful yet), but its reinvention is a good first step towards finding a place for the band in a mainstream space in which they're viewed less as heavy hitters than as punching bags at this point.
Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection
Prince, 'Purple Rain Deluxe' (June 23)
June will bring with it a number of highly anticipated deluxe reissues, including a four-disc box set revivisiting U2's The Joshua Tree and OKNOTOK, a rarity-bursting two-disc resurrection of Radiohead's OK Computer. But the daddy of 'em all has to be Purple Rain Deluxe, blowing out Prince's most iconic album with a three-disc, one-DVD reissue featuring b-sides, remixes, unreleased tracks and an entire '85 Revolution live concert -- everything you could want from the Purple Rain era besides a bottle of Lake Minnetonka hairspray.
Imagine Dragons, 'Evolve' (June 23)
After the brief commercial downturn of 2015's Smoke + Mirrors, quaking top 20 Hot 100 hit "Believer" has proven rumors of Imagine Dragons' demise as a crossover artist to be highly premature. Whether they can capitalize on their second wind with an album as massive (in sound and public response) as Night Visions was a half-decade ago remains uncertain, but in a mainstream increasingly unkind to artists with "rock" anywhere in their job description, the fact that they still get to play in the big leagues at all is a major accomplishment.
Roger Kisby/Getty Images
SZA, 'CTRL' (June 9)
Titling your debut album like a web-updated Janet Jackson is a pretty bold move, but SZA is a young R&B artist with the talent and the intrigue to not be totally out of her depth in such a comparison. "Drew Barrymore" was seductive and inscrutable enough to get a wink of approval from its titular inspiration, and Travis Scott collab "Love Galore" sounds like Radiohead attempting a trap ballad -- the pleasure principle is gonna be in effect on this album, for sure.
Vince Staples, 'The Big Fish Theory' (June 23)
Should Vince Staples be bigger? In a world where Kendrick Lamar sells 600k-plus first week, it's not that hard to imagine a West Coast rapper as acerbic and vicious as Vince actually ascending to the A-list; provided he has the right album to do it with, at least. First tastes "BagBak" and "Big Fish" were enticing but not exactly overwhelming -- he'll need to do better to prove himself as a headliner, though anyone who's followed him since his mixtape days knows he has the potential to rise to any stage he's put on.
Calvin Harris' recent run of star-studded, impossibly winning singles make Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 seem like it could be the superstar DJ's own Random Access Memories: A throwback to an era in disco and funk history that may never have totally existed, which is probably its so goddamn fun. Deadmau5 may gripe about the number of guests, and he may have a point -- but if Frank Ocean was putting out singles on his own that were instant pop classics, or if Ariana Grande sounded so carefree and breezy on her own album, he'd have a better one.
Coldplay, 'Kaleidoscope' EP (June 30)
Following in the footsteps of their most recent collaborators, Coldplay have temporarily foresaken the full-length album cycle in order to crank out a five-song EP to serve as a companion to 2015's A Head Full of Dreams, which many believed (incorrectly, it would seem) to be the group's swansong. "Something Just Like This" will be on there -- and if you've managed to keep up your resistance to the radio-conquering single, you're made of stronger stuff than we -- but don't expect the whole thing to be so big-tent; "Hypnotised" is much dreamier and more precious, while "A L I E N S" sees a co-write from go-to oblique strategist Brian Eno.
TLC, 'TLC' (June 30)
Still CrazySexyCool after all these years? We'll see; TLC has signed on for one final album (minus, of course, the "L," following the tragic 2002 death of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes) before putting the group to rest. "Haters" and the Snoop Dogg-featuring "Way Back" are hardly without their charms, and the R&B world has been so badly lacking in quality groups in TLC's absence, that it's far from unreasonable to hope they could capture the spotlight one more time before dimming out for good.
HAIM, 'Something to Tell You' (July 7)
The critical favorites and festival mainstays have the hype surrounding their sophomore album usually reserved for more veteran artists, a testament to the fan excitement they created with 2013's sparkling Days Are Gone debut LP. Top 40 may remain the last unimpressed audience, but the group is never more than a crossover hit away from near-total omnipresence: And if lead cuts "Want You Back" and "Right Now" are any indication, the sisters HAIM will get their chances with this album, to be certain.
Lana Del Rey, 'Lust for Life' (July 21)
Put simply, Lana Del Rey delivers: When you want sweeping, cinematic ballads that make you feel like you're living a love story from the top of the HOLLYWOOD sign -- with enough of a wry wink to keep you from dissolving in the melodrama -- LDR is forever on the case. Lust for Life should be right on time for this year's inevitable late-summer seasonal melancholy, and if you can make it one festival between now and then without making a "Woodstock in My Mind" joke, you might be too old (or too young?) for the fest in the first place.
Brett Eldredge, 'Brett Eldredge' (August 8)
Coming off last year's sadly overlooked (yes, really) holiday album Glow, Brett Eldredge is back and ready to resume his ascent to country's top tier, a run that's comprised four Country Airplay No. 1s in five tries (straggler "Drunk on Your Love" peaked at a piddling No. 2). New single "Somethin' I'm Good At" is off to a surprisingly slow start in re-establishing that trajectory -- the song is currently stalled at no. 27 on the same chart -- but the song, and Eldredge in general, is too irrepressible to be held down for long.
Loretta Lynn, 'Wouldn't It Be Great' (August 18)
When country legend Loretta Lynn released her Full Circle album in 2016, nearly everything about it pointed to it being her final statement; a collection of originals, covers and re-recordings that seemed to bring her career to the titular, closed-book point. Nope: turns out the album was just the first in a set of five, with the third being this August's Wouldn't It Be Great -- produced by her own daughter Patsy Lynn Russell and fellow country all-timer offspring John Carter Cash, and featuring redos of Loretta classics like "Don't Come Home a Drinkin" and signature anthem "Coal Miner's Daughter."
The National, 'Sleep Well Beast' (September 8)
If you're a big fan of critically acclaimed indie rock from the late '00s, this is shaping up to be quite the summer for you, with the first LPs in at least a half-decade due from Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear, and also the first set in four years from Cincinnati-via-Brooklyn heroes The National. The dour, stately quintet has steadily grown in popularity and renown over their 16 years of recording, and the upcoming Sleep Well Beast may mark their entrance into the world of terrestrial radio play, with new single "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness" marking their first song to rank on Billboard's Rock Airplay chart.
Fall Out Boy, 'M A N I A' (September 15)
Few opening gambits in recent rock have been as risky -- or ultimately as confusing -- as Fall Out Boy's M A N I A lead single, the violently brooding and drop-heavy "Young and Menace." If nothing else, though, the song proves the band's admirable unwillingness to settle for status quo, after 2014's American Beauty/American Psycho re-established the group as one of the country's biggest with its combustible brand of turbo-pop/rock: Even when they occasionally miss, it's always worth hearing the band take their degree-of-difficulty shots.
LCD Soundsytem, Untitled (Date TBD)
It's done, leader James Murphy promises: Dance-rock headliners LCD Soundsystem's first set since reuniting (after just a couple years gone) doesn't yet have a name or a release date, but it does have a guarantee of being on its way this summer. The two songs already out, both played on the group's recent SNL appearance, reminded of past glories without totally recapturing them, but the LP format is where Murphy & Co.'s disco ball has shined brightest, and whenever it drops, the band'sfollow-up to 2010's This Is Happening will be among the season's most exciting listens.