Major artists lining up some new work

We're all waiting for the big guns to release new music. Is this the year? asks Stevie G in his Downtown column
Major artists lining up some new work

M.I.A. is one of those amazing artists who can’t be pigeon-holed.

Is this the year that the big guns of the music industry release music?
I wrote recently about how the traditional models of the industry have been thrown upside down by the pandemic, as everything is usually built and structured around touring.

I suspect this is one of the reasons why so called big hitters have held back their music in 2020. The music world is patiently awaiting new material from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Frank Ocean and many more, but It wouldn’t suprise me if some big name artists are gonna hold tight for a little longer.

In the world of pop music I suspect things will carry on regardless. Last year the likes of Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Charli XCX, Lady Gaga and many more brought out albums, and this year it looks like another busy year for the blockbusters.

Drake is about to drop something any day now, and he’s the kind of artist who has remained pretty prolific on the hit front, blurring the lines between hip-hop, r&b and pop music. Certified Lover Boy will be much talked about and much streamed, as love him or hate him, Drake continues to be pretty box office in 2021.

I really expected a Kendrick Lamar album last year. One of the most eagerly awaited albums in rap history, his forthcoming long player will be his first proper album since Damn in 2017. He was scheduled to headline Longitude last summer, and we all know what happened next, and the date has been re-scheduled for this summer amid further uncertainty surrounding the virus. I suspect Kendrick is one artist who really would want to take his album out on the road once it’s done, and he is certainly not gonna be short on material either, with American racial tensions and the wild end to the Trump era dominating things. Kendrick is not an artist to surf a fashion wave but he’s always had something to say, and the hip-hop and wider world is patiently standing by readying ourselves for his next opus.

Frank Ocean kept us waiting before and I suspect he might keep us on hold for another while yet. He is one artist who won’t be particularly bothered about touring and he’s also private and reclusive enough to be potentially living a fairly untroubled lockdown life.

Blonde remains the best album of the last 20 years in my book and I’m gonna be expecting another classic next time round, but I’m certainly prepared to wait it out a bit longer. Great art takes time and Frank Ocean comes from the Sade school of taking things slow; he is not a conveyer-belt and he doesn’t care about the charts or streaming.

Rihanna was a one woman production line for many years, but her career changed in a big way after Anti, one of her bravest and most artistically defined albums. It’s exactly five years old now, and Rihanna is busy pursuing other endeavours too, but the way big name artists drop albums these days there’s always the hope of a surprise. This could happen with Beyonce, or indeed Frank or Kendrick too. Album rollouts have changed in the last 10 years, and the surprise album is a great way of ensuring huge promotion and publicity in the modern fast moving era.

Adele has taken a more traditional route and she is certainly gonna be one pop star who releases a blockbuster this year. Apart from those mentioned,

I expect albums from Travis Scott, Sza, Lorde, Lana Del Rey and maybe even M.I.A., who appeared on the recent Travis Scott release, and who teased her own forthcoming long player with a Patreon only release last year.

M.I.A. is one of those amazing artists who can’t be pigeon-holed, and who is often unfairly lambasted, but she remains relevant, innovative and pioneering, and she is a true original whose music I always anticipate greatly.

In Ireland, not too many of our artists are on the blockbusting international big stage yet, but 2020 really consolidated the careers of some of our next stars.

Denise Chaila and Tolu Makay are just two who have all the raw materials to do something amazing abroad, but it was important to conquer Ireland first, and they and many others have built an impressive base here.

More mainstream media is gravitating towards these acts, and things are looking good for 2021.

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