2011 Rock & Roll User's Guide: Everything You'll Need to Hear in The New Year

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and Coldplay are all among the artists planning on releasing new music in 2011.

2011 is shaping up to be a blockbuster year. Several bands are returning from prolonged hibernations with what they say is their best material yet. Two of the biggest names in hip-hop are planning a joint LP that could be out as soon as next week while two of the biggest names in pop are releasing records months apart from each other. And Amy Winehouse might even get herself together enough to give us the follow-up to Back To Black we’ve been wanting for nearly half a decade now. And that’s to say nothing about the game-changing albums by bands none of us have even heard of yet.

Jay-Z and Kanye West

Watch the Throne, due January

What they’re saying: Kanye West isn’t that big of a douchebag. The rapper offered 15 songs for free on his website during the second half of 2010. Some of those songs landed on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and others are rumored to be on an upcoming release with Jay-Z. Originally planned as an EP, it has grown to a full blown album. “We’re putting out a whole album now,” said West to Entertainment Weekly. “We did like five [songs] so far, and then a few of them kind of were out there, and I put them on my album. Sorry, Jay! [...] But we’ve got some more, and we’re going to the south of France at the end of this month just to record our ideas.”

Bright Eyes

The People’s Key, February 11

What they’re saying: Although singer and guitarist Conor Oberst hasn’t stopped making music, Bright Eyes hasn’t released a record since 2007′s Cassadaga. But for what Oberst says is their last album, the band is leaning toward more of a rock sound. “We’re over the Americana, rootsy, whatever that sound is,” he said. “People say country but I never thought we were very country at all. But whatever that element is or that aesthetic is, I guess it’s worn a little thin for me these days. So we very much wanted it to be rocking and, for lack of a better term, contemporary, or modern.”

Avril Lavigne

Goodbye Lullaby, due March 8

What they’re saying: Fergie introduced Avril Lavigne on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve by saying, “She grows and changes with every album she releases. Now she’s ready to take another bold step.” Not exactly. Lead single “What The Hell” is the same faux punk-rock style Lavigne has been singing since the teen pop bubble burst nearly a decade ago, but make no mistake, it will sell just as well as it did then.

Britney Spears

As yet untitled, due March

What they’re saying: Stakes are high for Spears as she prepares to release her first album in a post-Gaga world. “There’s a lot for us to live up to,” says songwriter and the album’s co-executive producer, Dr. Luke. “I want to get harder in some ways and maybe a little more deep into electronic and grimier.” Unfortunately, Luke’s recent material like “TiK ToK,” “Party In The U.S.A.,” and “California Gurls” [sic] doesn’t seem like the kind of music that can go up against Mother Monster and win. For Britney’s sake, let’s hope he’s got some tricks up his sleeve. Luke has been tweeting lyrics from the lead single, “Hold It Against Me,” and so far, all we know is “Hey, over there, please forgive me.” Sounds promising.

Lady Gaga

Born This Way, due May 23

What they’re saying: Anticipation has been building for Gaga’s next release ever since the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards when the singer announced its title, Born This Way, and sang a snippet from the title track. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, Gaga tweeted an image of her bearing her bare ass with the album’s release date. Elton John has been able to hear the album and said, “This is the new ‘I Will Survive.’ That was the gay anthem. This is the new gay anthem. Actually, it’s not a gay anthem — it can apply to anybody.” The first single is set to drop February 13, the day of the 2011 Grammy Awards. Coincidence? I think not.

Death Cab for Cutie

As yet untitled, due spring

What they’re saying: Despite the amazing music Death Cab has already put out, frontman Ben Gibbard says he’s more confident as a songwriter and musician than he ever has been. “I strangely feel closer to my bandmates than I ever have before,” said Gibbard. “We’ve all kind of landed in a place in our lives, personally and professionally, where we can all get together and enjoy each other’s company and enjoy making music.”

Coldplay

As yet untitled, unknown release date

What they’re saying: Lead singer Chris Martin says that the band’s next album, a concept album, is their “last big shot,” but he also describes it as more intimate as some of their previous material. “It’s from the point of view of two people who are a bit lost,” Martin said.  ”Two like-minded outsiders who meet in a very difficult environment and therefore have a journey together.”

No Doubt

As yet untitled, unknown release date

What they’re saying: No Doubt has hinted at new music for some time now. While Gwen Stefani was still promoting her second solo album, the band allegedly began working on a record of their own. It never saw the light of day, but guitarist Tom Dumont promises that 2011 will be different. “Holidays over. 2010 done. 10 new songs written. No Doubt’s 2011 New Years resolution: to record our new album…beginning TODAY!” tweeted Dumont.

Radiohead

As yet untitled, unknown release date

What they’re saying: Considering the way the band surprised the world and released their last album, 2007′s In Rainbows, anything is possible for Radiohead this year. Word on the street is they’ve finished a new record and had a “wrap party” in LA after a three-week recording session. “It’s genuinely exciting. It’s very different from what we did last time,” said guitarist Ed O’Brian. “It’s really nice to be doing this. It’s so good to be making music with the band that you feel is still as good as it’s ever been.”

U2

Tentatively entitled Songs of Ascent, early 2011

What they’re saying: Originally, U2 had plans to release material from their No Line on the Horizon sessions that, for one reason or another, didn’t fit on the record. It’s unsure if that’s still the plan, but Gnarls Barkley producer Danger Mouse and Black Eyed Pea will.i.am have been confirmed as co-producers on the band’s next LP. “”I went to Bono’s house for lunch and George Clooney and Cindy Crawford were there,” said will.i.am.  ”I played some of the songs we’d been working on together and everyone was blown away. They all left the finger food to come and hear.”

Amy Winehouse

As yet untitled, unknown release date

What they’re saying: It’s been over four years since Amy Winehouse wowed the world with Back to Black, and considering the drug and legal issues she’s been facing, it’s not surprising that she hasn’t released any new music since then. Still, things are beginning to look more promising than ever as a cover of Leslie Gore’s “It’s My Party” surfaced and Winehouse completed her first performance in two years at a private party in Russia. The singer was paid 1.5 million pounds to sing for an unnamed Russian business man. “‘It was certainly a lot of money for such a short trip, but she is clearly glad to be back on stage. 2011 is going to be a big year for her,” a friend of hers told The Mail.

Beyonce

As yet untitled, unknown release date

What they’re saying: Beyonce’s third solo record should have something for everyone, according to the singer. “I’m mixing every type of genre that I love,” she said. “It’s not R&B. It’s not typically pop. It’s not rock. It’s just everything I love all mixed together in my own little gumbo of music.” Rumored to be on board for the next record is songwriter and producer The-Dream, the man behind “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).”

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