‘Lemonade’ — Beyonce
This surprise release took the music world by storm with hints at Jay-Z’s infidelity and an outstanding vocal performance by Queen B. Released alongside an hour-long short film, “Lemonade” serves as a soundtrack of pain, regret, confusion and, most of all, triumph. Venturing from soul to rap to blues, the album experiments with its sounds but presents a cohesive final product easily enjoyed even by those who don’t consider themselves longtime Beyoncé fans.
‘Views’ — Drake
Originally intended as a tribute to Drake’s hometown of Toronto, the album formerly known as “Views From the 6” acknowledges its Canadian roots while seeking a global audience with inspiration from Caribbean dancehall, British funky house, and Houston rap. Drake blurs the line between singing and rapping as only he can, experimenting with flows while staying true to his signature style.
‘Coloring Book’ — Chance the Rapper
The highly-anticipated follow up to the game-changing mixtape “Acid Rap” shows maturation and polish on what is sure to be one of this summer’s most popular releases. With guest appearances from hip-hop’s elite and up-and-coming musicians alike, including Kanye West, Jeremih and Towkio, “Coloring Book” is a true group effort; but Chance shines through with his signature cadences and acrobatic wordplay.
‘99.9%’ — Kaytranada
Canadian DJ and producer Kaytranada assembled a talented team of featured artists for his debut album, combining dance, hip-hop and old-school sampling to make for an exciting release. Songs with longtime collaborator Vic Mensa and Dr. Dre’s latest protege Anderson Paak stand out, but the album maintains its momentum throughout and has the potential to attract new audiences.
‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ — Radiohead
The band’s ninth album is layered with masterful instrumentation and lead singer Thom Yorke’s smooth vocals. The mood remains somewhat somber but the album’s quality does not suffer; Radiohead’s reputation for quality is upheld with this release and longtime fans will not be disappointed as the group shows a new vulnerability.
‘The Colour in Anything’ — James Blake
Blake’s haunting falsetto graces a marriage of acoustic and electronic production on this summer’s best rainy day album. Bon Iver guests on “I Need a Forest Fire,” a powerful duet and the album’s only feature. The album is sure to please devoted James Blake fans and new listeners alike with its somber mood and textured production.
‘If I’m Honest’ — Blake Shelton (May 20)
Country music is best listened to during the summer, and resident country judge of TV show “The Voice” is poised to release his latest project just in time. With singles “Straight Outta Cold Beer” and “Go Ahead and Break My Heart,” a duet with girlfriend Gwen Stefani, “If I’m Honest” will be best accompanied by rolled-down windows or an ice-cold Miller Lite.
‘Dangerous Woman’ — Ariana Grande (May 20)
Many are quick to crown Taylor Swift the reigning princess of pop, but Grande is capable of giving her a run for her money with her third album. With a string of solid singles and impressive vocal talent to back them up, “Dangerous Woman” could be the summer’s biggest pop release.
‘7/27’ — Fifth Harmony (May 20)
If lead single with Ty Dolla $ign “Work From Home” is any indication of how Fifth Harmony’s second studio album will sound, “7/27” will be a solid follow up to “Reflection.” After a third-place finish on “The X Factor USA” and a debut album with critical acclaim, the group hopes to solidify their presence in the pop scene with solid production and catchy hooks.
‘Last Year Was Complicated’ — Nick Jonas (June 10)
With this project, the youngest Jo-Bro hopes to capitalize on the success of the album’s bonus track “Jealous,” and solidify his legacy separate from that of his brothers. Jonas’ strong falsetto will likely carry the album with the help of guest features from Big Sean, Tove Lo and Ty Dolla $ign.
‘Sremm Life 2’ — Rae Sremmurd (June 24)
If anything like its predecessor, this dynamic duo’s sophomore release will make up much of your summer “darty” playlist. Singles “Look Alive” and “By Chance” showcase the brothers’ infectious hooks and rowdy persona. Swae Lee and Slim Jimmi have established a reputation as rap music’s go-to group for fun party music, and rightfully so.
‘Boys Don’t Cry’ — Frank Ocean (TBA)
A perennial example of wishful thinking, the follow up to “Channel Orange” is a project music listeners have anticipated for what feels like forever. No one is really sure where Frank Ocean is, whether his album is still called “Boys Don’t Cry,” or when the album is set to drop; but all we can do is hope it’s coming soon and that it lives up to the monumental expectations.
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