Album Watch: Great Expectations of 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's that time of the year again...

Time to gauge what 2012 will bring in terms of the ever-eternal groove. Looking back at last year's expectations, I have to say that for the most part, things panned out to what I'd hope, not to mention a few surprises and close-calls. Some might find that those expected to make an appearance last year will be cropping back on this list---and I hope that these little "predictions" and "rumors" will become realities.

Remember album titles, release dates, and artist's minds are subject to change, so this list is just something to pique your interest at what will be making your hard drive beg for mercy in the new year. So de-clutter your music library, gather your pennies, nickels, and dimes, because these albums will (or maybe will) be on their way and you'll want to be prepared for when they do!

The Confirmed Brigade

Janelle Monae - TBA
Everyone's favorite funk space cadet is landing into the new year with not one, but two albums---or as she has promised.  Thanks to the excellent ArchAndroid and Monae's track record at being an artist that doesn't mind coloring outside of the lines, I have vat loads of confidence that Monae will once again excel at bringing material that is unexpected, fresh, and down-right above and beyond anyone's imagination.

Esperanza Spalding - Radio Music Society
After releasing the baroque and classically minded Chamber Music Society, Spalding is proving her Grammy-win is valid as she will be blessing us with CMS' accompaniment. Don't be fooled with the title of Radio Music Society and Spalding's claim that this will be a "poppier" affair as she's going to be punching up her penchant for Jazz, but sticking to what she does best---adding in a modern twist. From the snippets that I've heard, she's making her most accessible album yet, but a highly great one that is quite a genre gumbo. Lalah Hathaway and Q-Tip are just two names that will be tuning in to this frequency as guests. Can't wait.

Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio
The guest list is enough to make me want to just dance jigs all over everyone and give me flashbacks of the crafty cornucopia of artists that Quincy Jones would lay on his albums. Now with "Afro Blue" (featuring Erykah Badu) and "Move Love" (featuring KING) invading my ears, I'm convinced this album is already on it's way on my top 30 list. February 28th is the target date, and it can't come soon enough.

Marina & The Diamonds - TBA
She let "Fear and Loathing" and the fabulous "Radioactive" out of the bag, so now it's time for Marina to make sure that Family Jewels was no fluke--that she can make smart pop with an idiosyncratic twist. Nobody bought the whole "America is the cess pool of wacked-out counter-culture" that is the driving concept behind the album because Americans themselves already know that and could give a rat's ass. Just release the album, Marina, stop yapping about the weak concept.

Sy Smith - The Fast & The Curious
Now here is someone who I was wondering about...She's got Mark de Clive Lowe and Rahsaan Patterson for production support on this, plus I've heard a few snippets of the material---so expect something Syberrific (*groan at my own bad pun*). This is already confirmed for a Valentine's Day release.

Monica - New Life
You know something, Monica surprised me with Still Standing. It was solid, simplistic yet lovely R&B, and made me feel good about supporting Monica all these years. Though she put a rush order on New Life for it's release last year, this is one push-back I'm glad about, as rumor has it Monica was in the studio with none other than Brandy. Watch my 90's childhood come back with a vengeance in '12.

Emeli Sande - Our Version Of Events
So we've got "Heaven", "Daddy" and "Next To Me" adding to the boiling water of Emeli Sande's career. The album sampler has me a tad worried that this will a froth fest of ballads...but let's not jump the gun.

Q-Tip - The Last Zulu
2008's The Renaissance was oh so underrated, and Kaamal/The Abstract was just a re-release of lost material, so Q-Tip has already named his upcoming set and promised that it's going to be "the hardest shit I've ever did." Erm, take some Ex-Lax or Activia for that, Q---but you're talking about music, right? I hope.

The Ting-Tings - Sounds From Nowheresville
With two singles already on deck ("Hands" and "Hang It Up"), and an album title change, Sounds will be proving that this UK duo aren't one-trick-ponies. The album cover is tragic, but never judge an album by it's cover I always say...

SWV - I Missed Us
After "Co-Sign" Sisters With Voices is poised for a comeback. R&B heads have been knowing that this trio has often been associated with the news of a new album, so it's just a matter of time. Something tells me that they can rejoin the R&B ranks this year and school some others in the process. Page En Vogue while you're at it, SWV.

Madonna - MDNA
Madge has done a number of things outside of the music frame that makes me feel she might be rusty (or rested for fresh ideas). She's been a film director (W.E.), cultivated her own fashion line with her fashion forward daughter, Lourdes, and adopted brown babies from Africa. Now she's back on her pop throne as she's prepping an album that's to feature production by William Orbit and Martin Solveig where ballads and sweat-your-perm out moments will co-exist. With a Superbowl performance that has been a long-time coming, and a recent snag of a Golden Globe for the wonderful "Masterpiece", Madonna seems to be back on her pop queen throne. Let's hope she remembers that she's in her 50's---I'd hate to see her Benjamin Button herself like she did on Hard Candy.

Elle Varner - Perfectly Imperfect
The "Only Wanna Give It To You" singer is scheduled to drop her debut, adding to the fact that 2012 might be The Year Where R&B Gets Off Of Life Support.

Jose James - No Beginning, No End
If he can top '10's Blackmagic, I'd like to hear it. Jose James accepts that challenge as he's releasing No Beginning, No End sometime this February. He's got Hindi Zahra (of "Beautiful Tango" fame), Emily King, Robert Glasper, Taylor McFerrin, and more as guests and it's sounds like it's going to be another album that I'll have on heavy rotation this year.

Santigold - Master Of My Make-Believe 
Hopefully, this album won't be 'make-believe'....Santigold discussed the origins of the album's title and went (once again) on and on about the deeper context about how society is fake, how's she has detached herself from it, yadda yadda. I'm kind of tired of the talk---I want some action ("Big Mouth" is not the action I was hoping for...)

Nelly Furtado - T.S.I.
No word on what the hell 'T.S.I.' means (let the guessing games begin), but Nelly is working on it, and she's got Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Saalam Remi, and Di Genius as producers for it. Excited.

Ladyhawke - Anxiety
After a three year gap, Ladyhawke has got 'anxiety' and well, I've had anxiety just waiting for her to follow-up her fantastical 2008 debut. "Black White & Blue" is the official first single and put in motion that the project will be unveiled this Spring.

VV Brown - Lollipops & Politics 
I've discussed my glee over VV's return because I'm ready for her wackiness and unique style to invade . While most people will be focused on Janelle Monae's return, I'm also scoping VV Brown to shake up the pot on the idea that yes, Black folk can do other things beside R&B music.

Delilah - From The Roots Up
After turning Rufus and Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody" on it's head, Delilah had my undivided attention. Expect her to have that same boldness, as her Go EP and tracks, "Love You So" and "Never Be Another"

Melanie Fiona - The MF Life
Another unfortunate name for an album title, and with pretty lackluster single in tow ("4AM"). Let's see if Miss Fiona can get over the success of "It Kills Me" and "Give It To Me Right", the latter one of the sharpest things to come out of 2009.

The 'It's Coming In 2011 Or So I Think' Club

I think every year I put D on this list, and I hope that this will be the last time, because brother has been making his fans twist up in knots to the point where we're hallucinating between decade old demos and new material. D recently came out of dormancy when he emerged on a Stockholm, Sweden stage to debut new songs and get everyone's blood pressure raised for the sheer possibility of a return. Since we got Sade and Maxwell out of their bunkers in recent years, maybe 2012 will be the year D emerges from his.

Speaking of Maxwell....Oh so silent he has been about the sequel for BlackSummersNight, but I have a strong feeling that he might slip on into 2012 with an opening single for this project. I mean, he does know if he keeps us waiting for another eight years, that there will be a pitchfork carrying mob awaiting him? Just a little heads up, Maxy.

La Roux
Talk of an "classic disco Diana Ross" sound has been whispered among the blogs, but since Kanye West has been utilizing lead vocalist Elly Jackson for guest spots (see Watch The Throne and My Dark Twisted Fantasy), something tells me that the vibe for the Grammy-winning British duo's pending album might be a tad richer.

He's released the mixtape. Cultivated some hype. Now it's time for UK's best kept secret to show what he can do beyond Those Who Wait. Somehow I'm just championing him to be the next George Michael, but I need to calm my ass down about that and just let it ride.

The Killers
After Brandon Flowers blink-and-you-might-have-missed-it solo attempt,  the boys from Sin City have re-grouped and have been steadily working on new material, six songs have already been completed, one being a seven-minute-'epic'. Those who loathed every fiber of Day & Age's being might be pleased to know that the guys have promised their new set will have much more guitars than last. Flowers elaborated further by saying that this album's 'concept' will be "great stories told through real rock music". Um, okay.

Another act that I'm anxious to see in a full-length album setting. They just can't leave us with The Story EP and quit us.

Roisin Murphy
She's had her baby and has been dropping little musical hints, some hinting at a new musical direction (try House/Lounge) my 'Sherlock senses' are pegging 2012 to be the year to close that four year gap since Overpowered.

Fiona Apple
There are conflicting views about this. On one hand, musicians that Fiona has worked with claim she's got an album as well as Billboard, but her record label is acting like this is news to them. Still a new Fiona Apple album sounds mighty 'extraordinary' to me. Plus after the Lana Del Rey debacle---I want a real melancholy mistress back in her rightful place.

Marques Toliver
String n' bow man Marques has already dazzled the avant-garde minded with his Butterflies Are Not Free EP, now we're just awaiting to see what he does next on a full set and if he can convert others to his seamless merge of Classical and Soul.

Kylie Minogue 
There is some buzz that Kylie is coming out with a new set that is going to commerate her 25 years contribution to music. From a recent performance clip, it appears that is re-imaginging her hits in a more symphonic way. Hope she doesn't pull a Kate Bush because we all know how that turned out...

John Legend 
"Chasing Your Love" is the first inkling towards what Lege might have in store for us this year, and from it's sound, we might be seeing a revival of that Once Again sound.

Kelis was mum in 2011, but with 2012 she'll be back n' bold for a new set. Rumor is that she's regressing from the Ritalin rhythms of Fleshtone, and will retreat back to her kooky R&B roots. Am I the only one who wants her to do something with the Neptunes and/or Cee-Lo Green, and do a little bit of what was on Fleshtone AND the mis-begotten Wanderland? Okay, just me?

Hide Yourself EP has made 14th a twosome to watch. Like KING and Daley, I hope they can prove their muster past mini-sets and take their UK Garage sound to an larger audience.

Everyone and their mama was spazzing out about her reuniting with Monica, but Brandy is also on the come-up too this year. She gave slight warning with the subdued "Silent Night" and there is rumored to be more on the way. Let's hope she sticks with the singing, because this Bran' Nu alter-ego Hip-Hop tripe that she's trying to pass off is down-right embarrassing.

Who Should 2012 Themselves

No Doubt / Gwen Stefani
At this point, I'll take either a new No Doubt or Gwen Stefani album. Desperate times...
I was sort of duped into thinking that since they reunited two years ago while on a impressive tour run, that everybody's favorite band from Orange County would follow that up with a brand new set---but no such luck. There have been crackles of rumors of them pegging 2012 their return, but no real word yet.

Lauryn Hill
Chortle. The Hermit-tess of Music has come out of her hobbit hole in recent years, but once again, she's mum on if she's ever going to follow-up Mis-Education which is now pitching a puberty-riddled-surly-teenage 14-years-old. Wishful thinking aside, I'd really like to see what Lauryn could bring to the table in the 21st Century considering she influenced a bulk of who is right now on the Soul-Hip-Hop scene.

Janet Jackson
Stan for life, I am, and while I'm enjoying the health guru side of Miss Jackson and the fact that she was gracious enough to tour all around the world last year, it's time for Janet to get introspective off of that and release a brand-new album. There have been slight rumors of a summer release, but nothing at blog post time to show for it. Like Madonna, I hope for something a bit more well, maturing...

Sam Sparro
He proclaimed that "You's A Nasty" and proclaimed an album of 90's House influence goodness would be upon us, but was silent for the rest of 2011.Wonder if Return To Paradise is actually coming?

Alicia Keys
I know she's been blacklisted for a lot of people (and not necessarily for her music), but an odd thing happened last year as The Element Of Freedom actually grew on me. Nothing beats 2002's Diary, but if Alicia can pull stunners like, "Unthinkable (I'm Ready)" out of the bag again, I'm all ears.

We got her greatest hits last year as well as two stellar pop delights ("Raise Your Glass" and "F*ckin' Perfect") and P!nk just celebrated becoming a mother, so I'd expect her to get into the swing of things and release something brand new.

To say I've worn out their 2009/2010 debut is an understatement, but the Danish twosome of Coco and Robin Hannibal need to feed us with something new now because my tummy is a-rumblin' for some real food for music thought.

Surprise, surprise, but the Knowles sister who gets by with just having better music taste is one I would like to see come on strong this year. I sort of dig her Indie scene love that could make for some intriguing moments---all she needs is the right producers/collaborators and studio wizardry.

Missed something? Know a tidbit? Just wanna talk 2012 newness? Post your thoughts about what you hope to hear in 2012 in the comments!


  1. No Love for Missy or Azealia Banks?

  2. I'm looking forward to Sam Sparro if he actually comes back out as well as Kelis. I hope she does return to her R&B roots.

  3. Thanks for the much needed information--I'm looking forward to so many on the list (I know what you mean about Quadron, King and 14th - it is time). I'm looking forward to Nneka's latest getting a Stateside release as well as Lianne La Havas (someone who has been lighting up the blogosphere and getting some love for her EP's). There are I think rumours that Tawiah may have something coming out this year - and I really liked her EP In Jodi's bedroom. As for someone who should 2012 --I'd say Alice Smith is near the top of my list .

  4. Anon:
    Haven't heard a thing about Missy, though it'd be nice to hear her again. She's been talking about a new album since '08! Not big on Azealia Banks.

    Lamar: Somewhere I heard a new Kelis may have been an old demo or something, but Will.I.Am was on it. Not too happy about that direction if it is

    Gracie: Gah! I how could I 'forget' Lianne La Havas?!? Thanks. Her and Michael Kiwanuka are ones to really watch this year. I've been on Lianne since I heard the 'Live In LA' EP and "Forget" is a mighty fine song as well. I'm expecting big things from her as well :)

    I heard Nneka's 'Soul Heavy' last year...was quite disappointed. Don't know how it will do over here in the States if it is released...

    I'm trying to come to grips with the fact that Alice Smith and Esthero are taking guidelines from Sade and Mawell's "How To Go Into Hibernation & Make Fans Crazy After Making Amazing Albums" handbook. My hopes have been dashed for too long with them!

  5. Great article. Pretty much what I'm hoping for as well.

  6. Isn't the Esperanza Spalding already out? ops :-)

    Of your great list, I'm waiting for Jose James & Quadron (and Alice Smith) the most. Also La Roux intrigues me with her "sexy 80s" direction (her words).
    Not on your list: Chromatics (in February), you should definitely check them out (all the releases on Italians Do It Better records are so good, actually).
    (A propos of music, have you managed to watch Drive?)

  7. Philip Clark: I hope we get the 2012 we want :)

    Kit: Well, it ~leaked~...LOL. I keep seeing a March release date though. When I hear something about La Roux I'll be sure to post because I'm curious to see if they can build off of that impressive debut of theirs.

    Will do about the Chromatics. 'Drive' is also a 'will do' as it's still on my to-watch list..and that list is loooong!

  8. Can't wait for Sy, Monica, Melanie Fiona, Brandy, and Esperanza Spalding. Is Nneka's release not good? She was hitting some high notes on this one. Do wonder if she will do well here in the US.


  9. What i;m anticapating: Azealia Banks, No-Doubt-September 25th, Neon Hitch,Sabi, M.I.A., Jeffree Star,Kesha,Christina Aguilera,Chris Brown-July 3rd,Iggy Azaelea, Jessie And The Toy Boys,Anjulie,Kerli,Deadmau5,Afrojack,Paris Hilton,Kat Graham,Doxi Jones,Nire All Dai,Ryder,Nayer,Kelis,2ne1-us debut,Wonder Girls-Us Debut, Havana Brown,Eva Simons, Morrisette-August 28th,Porcelain Black,Fiona Apple-June 20 something.


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