Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
From left: Soccer Mommy (Photo: Burak Cingi/Getty Images), Moses Sumney (Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images), Rihanna (Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images), and Hayley Williams (Photo: Douglas Mason/Getty Images)

The 24 albums we can’t wait to hear in 2020

From left: Soccer Mommy (Photo: Burak Cingi/Getty Images), Moses Sumney (Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images), Rihanna (Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images), and Hayley Williams (Photo: Douglas Mason/Getty Images)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

Part of what’s exciting about the start of a new year in music is how little we know of what’s to come. Will we begin the 2020s with fresh material from Rihanna and Frank Ocean? We hope so. Ditto that for rumored efforts by Fiona Apple, Kendrick Lamar, Rosalía, and Tierra Whack. As for the confirmed and highly likely releases, we look forward to the returns of Caribou, Moses Sumney, Kvelertak, and Soccer Mommy, not to mention Cardi B’s continued reign. The Tame Impala album we hoped to get in 2019 will finally arrive this Valentine’s Day, followed one week later by Grimes’ fifth studio album, which we’ve been anticipating since at least 2018. Some big albums we’ve previewed in the past have been omitted from the list below in hopes of highlighting even more releases, from Kesha’s hard-earned return to the debut LP from Chicago favorites Beach Bunny. Below are 24 records we can’t wait to hear in 2020. Maybe there’s something here you’ll like, too.

BTS, Map Of The Soul: 7 (Feb. 21)

Map Of The Soul: Persona hinted toward an evolution in K-pop juggernaut BTS’s sound: Previously somewhat beholden to a solidly hip-hop tone, the group’s sixth EP bounced from electro-pop to sultry R&B. Follow-up 7, which was recently announced by surprise, will be an opportunity to further explore the band’s known range. While BTS’s work over the past year has radiated waves of color and positivity, recent teases of what’s to come already speak of a group that is ready to delve a little deeper. [Shannon Miller]

Beach Bunny, Honeymoon (Feb. 14)

You might mutter a tender “Oh, honey” after listening to Beach Bunny, but only because the Chicago four-piece’s fizzy, heartsick pop-rock is so utterly relatable. Obsessed with the crushes and insecurities of teenhood, the band came of age with bouncy earworms like “Prom Queen” and “Boys,” and Honeymoon is no different. “I’ll be under your window in the moonlight,” Lili Trifilio belts on lead single “Dream Boy,” her rich, penetrating vocals the audial manifestation of the heart eyes emoji. [Randall Colburn]

Big Freedia, TBD

Big Freedia always has been, and always will be, primarily a live act. But although her touring schedule for the New Year is relentless as always, even the Queen Diva can’t be everywhere at once. Enter her as-yet-untitled new album, which has yet to receive an official release date but has already been preceded by a single, “Louder,” featuring Icona Pop. The song sees Big Freedia continuing to polish her melodies while still remaining true to her signature speaker-shaking bass and rhythmic chant-along choruses, ensuring booties will continue to shake nationwide in 2020 and beyond. [Katie Rife]

Cardi B, TBD

Though Cardi B’s Grammy-winning barn burner Invasion Of Privacy dropped almost two years ago, fans haven’t exactly been left in the lurch. “Press,” “Please Me,” and “Money,” among others, have done their part to remind the public that the explosive rapper is still swimming in hits. Cardi’s path to stardom has always been paved with delightful overshares and unfiltered honesty, but there’s still plenty to mine creatively: motherhood, a relationship that has been tested, famed rivalries, and repeatedly exceeding expectations. More than anything, the focus with this next album will likely remain on what she’s saying over how she’s saying it. [Shannon Miller]

Caribou, Suddenly (Feb. 28)

Dan Snaith tells us what to expect from his fifth LP as Caribou right there in its title. Suddenly is an emotive, playful album whose songs shift without warning, as Snaith reflects on “family and the changes we go through as those relationships evolve.” Lead single “Home” is characteristically overflowing with ideas: Snaith builds an R&B groove around samples of ’70s horns and Gloria Barnes’ soulful rasp, then warps it with harp, acoustic guitar, and his own tender falsetto. [Kelsey J. Waite]

CocoRosie, Put The Shine On (March 6)

Like the melody of a haunted music box on a perfumed breeze, offbeat sister duo CocoRosie has been elusive these past few years. That changes with Put The Shine On, their seventh studio album, which follows a guest appearance for CocoRosie on Chance The Rapper’s 2019 studio debut, The Big Day. Lead single “Smash My Head” channels fellow ’00s breakouts Fever Ray and St. Vincent with stinging electronic beats and dynamic bolts of electric guitar, underlaid with the unnervingly childlike vocals that have been CocoRosie’s signature since La Maison De Mon Rêve. [Katie Rife]

Beatrice Dillon, Workaround (Feb. 7)

Finally, we’re getting a full-length dose of solo Beatrice Dillon, the U.K. DJ and producer who has quietly been making a name for herself with globally inspired, hyper-rhythmic productions over the last six years. Her debut album, Workaround, will host a range of exciting collaborators, from Laurel Halo, to U.K. Bhangra pioneer Kuljit Bhamra on tabla, to Jonny Lam (Sinkane, Pharaoh Sanders) on pedal steel. Lam features brilliantly on first single “Workaround 2,” whose strength alone suggests Workaround will be one of the year’s earliest highlights in experimental dance music. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Greg Dulli, Random Desire (Feb. 21)

Following Afghan Whigs’ fine return to form on 2017’s In Spades (and the subsequent tragic death of the band’s guitarist, Dave Rosser), singer Greg Dulli decided it was time to make one of those DIY solo albums, writing and performing nearly every instrument and part on the record. The result, Random Desire, looks to be the best snapshot yet of the musician’s dark, soulful style, filled with minor-key grooves and stirring torch-song anthems driven by his whiskey-on-honey voice. [Alex McLevy]

Gladie, Safe Sins (Feb. 28)

An indie “supergroup” of sorts, Gladie is fronted by Cayetana’s Augusta Koch and rounded out with alums of Three Man Cannon and Modern Baseball. Together, the Philly outfit makes stormy, incisive pop-rock riddled with sharp daggers of guitar, and Koch’s emotional, self-reflective lyrics are the kind you can’t help but shout back at the speakers. Safe Sins “reckons with isolation, loss, and the dismantling of shame and grief,” per a press release, but it’s Koch’s optimism that resonates in the album’s wake. Well, that and some truly absorbing choruses. [Randall Colburn]

Grimes, Miss Anthropocene (Feb. 21)

Yes, Grimes is pregnant with Elon Musk’s child and posting NSFW tweets about it. So what. If Miss Anthropocene’s lead singles are any indication, this LP—labored over for years—is going to rule. Her vocals pulsing beneath avalanches of Inception bass, songs like “My Name Is Dark” and “4ÆM” are immersive and atmospheric, perfectly melding the artist’s blend of mystical pop, club beats, and shadowy ambience. [Randall Colburn]

Kesha, High Road (Jan. 31)

“Raising Hell,” Kesha’s Southern gospel-laced bounce track with Big Freedia, was like a rebirth. The perpetual partier is back after enduring unimaginable adversity, only now she is determined to create and nurture her sound on her own terms. High Road promises to be a redemptive journey that still buzzes with familiar electro-pop and dance notes, but is bolstered by an artist who has had to seriously grow and reclaim her narrative. [Shannon Miller]

Kvelertak, Splid (Feb. 14)

Kvelertak threw a party in the pit with its self-titled debut, a genuinely fun speedball of punk, metal, and cock rock. Ten years later, these genre mixologists are still bringing goofy ’80s excess to extreme music (or maybe vice versa), and winning over news fans like Dave Grohl in the process. Splid (that’s Norwegian for “discord”) is the band’s first album since parting ways with co-founding member Erlend Hjelvik, who’s passed frontman duties to one-time guest vocalist Ivar Nikolaisen. But the spirit of the enterprise hasn’t changed: It’s all pleasure all the time, just with somehow even bigger riffs and even a few songs in English, including “Crack Of Doom,” featuring Mastodon’s Troy Sanders. [A.A. Dowd]

Frank Ocean, TBD

The last time Frank Ocean teased a new album, he pushed his fans to the brink. Will he change his ways in the new decade? Considering the ecstatic reaction to Blonde when it finally did come out in August 2016, probably not. So expect to wait longer than you’d like for Ocean’s still-untitled third album, which he described back in September as a tribute to nightlife—specifically, the dance music of France, Detroit, and Chicago—in all its hedonistic incarnations. He also told W magazine that he plans to “lie” more on the upcoming album, so maybe just enjoy the four new songs he’s released since September, a veritable tidal wave of music from the enigmatic Ocean. [Katie Rife]

Angel Olsen, TBD

While Angel Olsen’s sound has grown fuller and richer with each album, last year’s All Mirrors still felt like something of a departure for the singer-songwriter. Olsen wove her voice among a curtain of synths and a 14-piece orchestra, playing out dramatic stories on an unpredictably grand scale. The album was originally conceived as a solo acoustic affair, and this year Olsen will release part two of the project (probably sometime in autumn), the stripped-down sketches that would become the album’s surprising full-blown arrangements. [Laura Adamczyk]

Ratboys, Printer’s Devil (Feb. 28)

Anyone who last checked in with Ratboys on GN, their 2017 sophomore full-length, may be surprised by their evolution on follow-up Printer’s Devil: The Chicago group’s rootsy Americana has grown into anthemic rock ’n’ roll—still grounded in its alt-country beginnings, but now fiercely populist in its arena-ready pounding, alternating freely with gentler numbers. Printer’s Devil should document this shift with bracing immediacy. [Alex McLevy]

Rihanna, TBD

Anti was nothing short of a revelation, a showcase of Rihanna’s range and growth as a burgeoning icon. Since its 2016 release, the pop mainstay has forged her own empire, co-starred in movies, co-chaired the Met Gala, and essentially done whatever the hell she’s wanted. What she hasn’t done is rush greatness, and any follow-up to one of the best albums of the past decade will require some serious finesse. So she didn’t release the album in 2019. That’s all right. If her next effort comes close to breaking as much personal ground, then we’ll wait. [Shannon Miller]

Caroline Rose, Superstar (March 6)

Alt-country songwriter-turned-offbeat pop purveyor Caroline Rose describes her new album as tracking a person’s doomed pursuit of fame after receiving an accidental phone call from LA’s Chateau Marmont. There’s humor to the premise and all kinds of color in lead single “Feel The Way I Want,” which pulses with 16-bit synths and a vibrant, funky rhythm. As on her last LP, Loner, Rose’s energy is infectious. [Randall Colburn]

Sløtface, Sorry For The Late Reply (Jan. 31)

Norwegian pop-punks Sløtface seem to have developed a harder edge to their music, both sonically and lyrically, in the time since their joyously ebullient debut, Try Not To Freak Out. While the group has always placed political concerns at the forefront, Sorry For The Late Reply looks to be angrier and more explosive than its predecessor, judging by the ferocity of single “S.U.C.C.E.S.S.” But the band still has a knack for addictive hooks, and earworm tracks like “Telepathetic” promise more to come. [Alex McLevy]

Soccer Mommy, Color Theory (Feb. 28)

Sophie Allison, a.k.a. Soccer Mommy, may not have cornered the market on downbeat rock that moves from languid to explosive with ethereal grace, but she makes a good case for being the primary shareholder. Color Theory finds her delving even deeper into the possibilities of understated and funereal rhythms and melodies, while exploring more cathartic moments of noise and release in the admixture, always delivering those cutting lyrics with her lovely, plainspoken drawl. [Alex McLvey]

Moses Sumney, grae (Feb./May 15)

Moses Sumney follows up 2017’s Aromanticism and 2018 EP Black In Deep Red, 2014, with the sprawling double LP grae. The album will expand on those earlier efforts’ themes while strongly resisting easy categorization, both emotionally and sonically. In an inspired, high-drama pairing, standout third single “Me In 20 Years” features Daniel Lopatin, a.k.a. Oneohtrix Point Never, as co-producer. Grae’s first half will be released sometime in February, with the second to follow May 15. [Kelsey J. Waite]

U.S. Girls, Heavy Light (March 6)

With its driving dance beat, jumpy guitar, and blistering saxophone solo, “Overtime,” off of U.S. Girls’ upcoming Heavy Light, is musically of a piece with the political disco pop of the group’s widely praised In A Poem Unlimited. Thematically, both the new single and album see Meg Remy getting more personal (publicity materials call her thirteenth LP a “deeply introspective about-face”), but whatever mode they’re in, Remy and her collaborators always put forth works of art that are at once pointed and intoxicating. [Laura Adamczyk]

Rufus Wainwright, TBD

Rufus Wainwright hasn’t released a pop album since 2012’s Out Of The Game in 2012, focusing instead on projects like the opera-themed Prima Donna (2015) or the literary-minded Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets (2016). But Wainwright promises on his website that his 2020 release will return to more familiar form, a “bookend” to his 1998 self-titled debut. Stirring first single “Trouble In Paradise” is very promising, Wainwright’s never-wavering vocal taking a journey out to the country, backed by a soulful sax, mournful guitar, and an enveloping angelic chorus. [Gwen Ihnat]

Hayley Williams, Petals For Armor (TBD)

There are few industry shake-ups more exciting than watching the frontperson of a hugely popular band venture out on their own for a while. Hayley Williams has appeared on a few collaborative tracks without pop-rock outfit Paramore over the years, but Petals For Armor will be her long-awaited, long teased solo project. It’s hard to guess what fans are in for—and what exactly is being teased for January 22—but as an artist who has offered nothing less than unrestrained soul, Petals For Armor is poised to be her most honest, reflective work yet. [Shannon Miller]

Wolf Parade, Thin Mind (Jan. 24)

Wolf Parade reunited in 2017 with Cry Cry Cry, reviving the muscular, synth-veined rock Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug previously set aside in favor of side projects like Operators and Moonface. New LP Thin Mind is, per a press release, a chronicle of the brain-rotting anxieties of technology in the modern age. “It’s opening one more page, scrolling one more thing, and the weird, sort-of hollow automaton feeling that you get from it,” says Boeckner. Depressing, yes, but “Forest Green” is a riot of a song, with the lead duo’s indelible vocals giving way to a vivid instrumental break burbling with rushing synths. [Randall Colburn]