The artists we really, really want new music from in 2021

Will the wait for a new Rihanna album finally be over?

While last year might have seen Taylor Swift give us not one but two new albums, there are still plenty of artists who are holding out on us. Some have been teasing new material for a while, others have been more secretive about their projects, but all have one thing in common – we’d really, really love to hear what they’ve been up to at some point in 2021. Go on, please?

Rihanna

Robyn Rihanna Fenty has been taken her sweet time with the follow-up to 2016’s ‘Anti’ and, while we appreciate her not rushing to release anything mediocre, the waiting game has become fun only for her. Every fan enquiry is met online with a sassy response, which makes us laugh and then do a really big sigh. Not even moving to London and partying in Brixton (pre-pandemic, obviously) has sped up the pace and pulled the focus back from her building her one-woman beauty and fashion empire. Please, Rihanna, take pity on us mortals and give us something – anything – in 2021.

They say: In one of her latest interviews, she said quarantine had helped her “creativity blossom” and that she wants to “take my music and my brands to a different level” in 2021. Yes please!

Lana Del Rey

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Before ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’ had even been released, Lana Del Rey was moving on to talk about her next album. Back then, she was calling it ‘White Hot Forever’ and it was going to arrive a year after ‘NFR!’. Now, it’s called ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ and it’s arriving… sometime? This album delay is a little out of Lana’s hands – she told her fans on Instagram last year there was a hold-up in manufacturing the vinyl. To tide everyone over, she shared ‘Let Me Love You Like A Woman’ and promised a covers album would drop in December. We’re still waiting on the latter, but more music from ‘Chemtrails…’ is just around the corner.

They say: “‘Chemtrails’, it’s done. I love it. It’s folky & beautiful — super different from ‘Norman’.”

Adele

It’s been five long years of making ‘25’ last as our go-to heart-wrencher and, after the 2020 the world just had, we could do with some fresh tearjerkers to blub to. Although Adele previously told a friend’s wedding party the follow-up would be out in September last year, she’s re-negated on that timeline. Many thought her SNL guest host appearance in October would bring at least an announcement, but her opening monologue saw her reveal the record wasn’t finished. Maybe in 2021, she will gift us more heart- (and record-) breaking ballads.

They say: “This is the last album after my age,” she said of ’25’ in 2016. “I believe in trilogies. The next one’s just going to be Adele.”

Lorde

In 2017, Lorde delivered the perfect second album in ‘Melodrama’, a concept record that rolled through one post-break-up night at a house party, packed with searing little details of the newly single life. She’s confirmed she’s been working on new material with ‘Melodrama’ producer Jack Antonoff since then, but we’ve yet to hear anything concrete from her. Of course, there’s been delays along the way, notably the death of her dog Pearl in 2019 who she said was “instrumental to the discovery that was taking place” for her next opus.

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They say: “I started going back to the studio again in December [2019], just for something to do, and to my surprise, good things came out. Happy, playful things. I felt my melodic muscles flexing and strengthening. A thing started to take shape. And then, of course, the world shut down. We’re still working away — Jack and I FaceTimed for over an hour this morning going over everything. But it’ll take a while longer.”

St Vincent

Since the release of ‘MASSEDUCTION’ nearly four years ago, St Vincent’s Annie Clark has been putting her focus elsewhere. She’s produced an album for Sleater-Kinney in 2019’s ‘The Center Won’t Hold’. She’s teamed up with Carrie Brownstein on a film called Nowhere Inn. She’s reworked ‘MASSEDUCTION’ into two albums – ‘MassEducation’ and ‘Nina Kraviz Presents Masseduction Rewired’. But finally, she’s coming back to new music, as she confirmed in a tweet in December. “The rumours are true,” she wrote. “New record ‘locked and loaded’ for 2021. Can’t wait for you to hear it.”

They say: Clark has described it as a “tectonic shift” and likened it to “the colour palette of the world in Taxi Driver” and “Gena Rowlands in a Cassavetes film”, whatever that means.

Cardi B

After the cultural phenomenon that was ‘WAP’, we’re more than ready for an album full of Cardi gems. It’s been three years since her blockbuster debut ‘Invasion Of Privacy’ and, while she hasn’t left us wanting since then, she’s the kind of artist you always want to hear more from. Luckily, a new release could be just around the corner – in an Instagram Live in October 2020, she told fans she was due to turn in her next project in seven days. Sounds like ‘CB2’ is on the horizon.

They say:This album is going to be really different. Of course, it’s going to have my ‘Lemonade’ moments, my personal relationship moments.”

Kendrick Lamar

When Kendrick Lamar was announced as one of Glastonbury 2020’s headliners, it seemed like the wait for new music after ‘Damn’ was about to come to an end. Then the coronavirus pandemic took over, laughed in the face of our festival dreams and sent some artists back into the shadows. Lamar’s already been confirmed for some festivals this summer so we could get a new record around those dates or, if summer is cancelled again, we might have to wait even longer. Let’s hope it’s not the latter.

They say: Of why it takes him so long to follow-up a project, Lamar has said: “I spend the whole year just thinking about how I’m gonna execute a new sound, I can’t do the same thing over and over. I need something to get me excited. I see you get frustrated sometimes because you want some new shit.”

Phoenix

Last summer, we got an unexpected treat from Phoenix in ‘Identical’, a groovy, synthy gem that reminded us what we’ve been missing since 2017’s ‘Ti Amo’. It featured on the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s On The Rocks, but also represented hope for the new record that the band have been working on arriving soon. According to frontman Thomas Mars, that track will make it on the album “somehow” and, if it’s any indication of what to expect, the full thing should be well worth the wait.

They say: “There’s no coherence and it’s a little bit like our first record, maybe; ‘United’, which had songs that would explore heavy metal and then country music. And then this is the same sort of weird Frankenstein of an album.”

Wolf Alice

In 2017, Wolf Alice levelled up from new band with promise to one of Britain’s finest and most exciting groups. Their second album ‘Visions Of A Life’ was an ambitious, eclectic masterpiece that won them critical acclaim and a big old Mercury Music Prize win in 2018 to boot. Since then, they’ve been pretty quiet, but Dirty Hit boss Jamie Oborne told NME at the start of last year work on a follow-up was underway. Hopefully we’ll get to hear the fruits of their labour sooner rather than later.

They say: Oborne told NME last year: “It’s going to be amazing. They’re an incredible band already but seem really inspired to make their best album.”

The Distillers

Ever since they reunited in 2018, punk legends The Distillers have been promising us a new album and teased us early on with two new songs in ‘Man Vs Magnet’ and ‘Blood In Gutters’. Since then, all’s been quiet on the releasing front, but it seems like something else could be arriving soon. Frontwoman Brody Dalle suggested last year the record would be released in time for their festival appointments in the summer, only for the pandemic to blow up those plans. However, in December, she commented that the band were “pretty much ready to make another record too”, hinting that reunion album one is done and dusted and ready to go. All we need now is a release date.

They say: “Time will tell, but it’s a masterpiece and I think people are going to love it.”

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