Daft Punk. Jay Z. Kanye West. Katy Perry. Lady Gaga. Britney Spears. Drake. Arcade Fire. Beyonce (out of nowhere). Justin Timberlake (twice!). It feels like every mega-artist in the music industry released a record in 2013. How could 2014 follow that list? Here's a look at the albums, some confirmed and some rumored, that will try:
'After the Disco'
The hipster marriage of James Mercer (The Shins) and Danger Mouse (Gnarles Barkley) returns with the sequel to 2010's well-regarded eponymous debut. The timing of the release almost guarantees that the duo will be big players in the 2014 summer music festival circuit.
More of an "odds and ends" collection rather than new album, 'High Hopes' features reworkings of previously released songs (the title track, 'The Ghost of Tom Joad'), songs from previous recording sessions and a few covers. Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello joins the E Street Band in the studio for the new recordings.
After spending the past 18 months working and touring with David Byrne, St. Vincent returns to solo work with her fourth full-length album. If the first track, "Birth in Reverse," is any indication, expect a return to the buzzy guitarwork found on "Strange Mercy."
The Los Angeles-based troubadour has put together much of the band that recorded his 2002 effort, "Sea Change." That album received a five-star review from Rolling Stone and was 17th in the magazine's list of the 100 best albums of the 2000s.
The Broadway-turned-television star is set to release her debut album of pop music, which includes collaborations with producers like Stargate (Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music" and Beyonce's "Irreplaceable") and co-writers like Sia Furler (who has helped Katy Perry, Beyonce, Eminem and Britney Spears ? in 2013 alone).
Reports are that Danger Mouse did the heavy lifting on the production end for the band, while Billboard has the Irish foursome trying to find a brand to partner with for a Super Bowl commercial/album announcement. Free advice: Get the Darth Vader kid from that Volkswagen spot.
The Young Money emcee recently told MTV that her next full-length release would allow her more freedom, saying that her guest appearances don't let her "delve into no deep ." Presumably, we'll finally get hip-hop's answer to Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative. Or, more likely, more rhymes about how much money she has.
'The Art of Letting Go'
Mimi has gone the Guns 'N' Roses route with her 14th album: At different points, it was to be released in 2012, then at different points throughout 2013, now just generally in 2014. The singles released thus far, including the unfortunately-hashtagged "#Beautiful," have been warmly received.
The Neptunes ringleader told Complex magazine that his 2014 album will feature no rapping, which might not be a surprise considering his biggest appearances of 2013 were Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines."
How does a singer follow up an album that sold 10 million copies in the U.S. alone and almost single-handedly revitalized the recording industry? We should find out in 2014, if press reports from this past year are any indication. Buy stock in Kleenex.