2020 was many things, with few of them being positive. Despite this, it was actually pretty great for music — and I only expect 2021 to be better. From the titans of pop to more underground artists, many are planning to drop soon, leaving eager listeners on the edge of their seats.
Here are ten of the most exciting prospective albums of 2021. They’re ranked in order based on how long it’s been since the artist dropped a full-length solo project.
Honorable mentions include Rihanna (1,822 days), Frank Ocean (1,616 days) and Kendrick Lamar (1,378 days). Although it’s surely about time, I haven’t heard anything definite about them dropping albums this year, yet.
Last full solo project: Melodrama
Days since: 1,316 (June 16, 2017)
Lorde is soon set to release a photo book from her travels to Antarctica — the same experience inspiring new music from the pop star. It’s the third-most anticipated album from Rolling Stone, and it’s been far too long since we’ve heard her hauntingly beautiful prose. Although no date has been set for the album, hopefully it won’t fall too far after the photo book, Going South, which is already available for presale.
2. Foo Fighters
Album: Medicine at Midnight
Last full solo project: Concrete and Gold
Days Since: 1,225 (Sept. 15, 2017)
Easily one of the most prolific rock bands since their origin in 1994, legendary rockstar Dave Grohl and his crew are set to release their tenth studio album on Feb. 5. They’ve released three singles in anticipation of the album, accompanied by trippy looped visuals and a new music video for “Waiting On A War.” The band has been busy; playing a show on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and more importantly, a set for President Joe Biden’s inauguration celebration.
3. J. Cole
Album: The Fall Off
Last full solo project: KOD
Days since: 1,008 (April 20, 2018)
Welcome to The Fall Off era. With its release having been teased for months, conversations surrounding the sixth studio album from rapper J. Cole were brought to life once again after he posted a to-do list of sorts on Instagram. Since releasing dual singles on “Lewis Street” and the Dreamville compilation album, speculation has begun again on when exactly the album will drop. Whenever it is, it’s not soon enough.
4. Twenty One Pilots
Last full solo project: Trench
Days since: 840 (Oct. 5, 2018)
Twenty One Pilots recently made headlines by breaking the record for longest music video ever, from their 2020 single “Level Of Concern.” The video is just over 4,264 hours long. It’s been over 20,000 hours since we’ve had a new album from the duo — essentially an eternity. The band is known for their playful secrecy, and fans have all sorts of theories about the nature of the new project.
5. Billie Eilish
Last full solo project: WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
Days since: 665 (March 29, 2019)
Billie Eilish is undeniably one of the most popular and critically acclaimed artists of the last couple years. Since her 2019 LP, she has released four singles and the latest, “Therefore I Am,” peaked at #2 on the Billboard Global 200 chart. She also collaborated with Spanish popstar Rosalia in a new release, upping the expectations for the new record.
Last full solo project: Ginger
Days since: 518 (Aug. 23, 2019)
The self-proclaimed “world’s greatest boy band” sparked new album rumors at the start of the month after posting a mysterious video on Instagram. Their last drop, a collaboration with experimental rapper JPEGMAFIA called “chain on / hold me,” was part of a series of weekly singles steadily released and then quickly deleted. A concrete project to follow Ginger is hopefully on the horizon.[The ‘Ratatouille’ musical shows the power of the Broadway community]
7. Lana Del Rey
Album: Chemtrails Over the Country Club
Last full solo project: Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Days since: 511 (Aug. 30, 2019)
On Jan. 10, Lana Del Rey posted on Instagram the cover art and 11 song track list for her new album, set to drop March 19. It was originally supposed to arrive in September 2020, but despite delays, the wait is almost over. Three singles, including the title track and a new music video, have led up to this record so far. Despite controversy surrounding the singer herself, her fans will no doubt be pleased to hear her voice in the first half of 2021.
Album: Certified Lover Boy
Last full solo project: Dark Lane Demo Tapes
Days since: 266 (May 1, 2020)
Drake’s sixth studio album was supposed to drop this January, but the release date was pushed back due to the rapper’s knee injury. Besides the trailer, the record-breaking artist has been dropping social media hints about the album for months. He even got a heart shaved into his hair, supposedly to promote the album.
9. Playboi Carti
Album: Whole Lotta Red (Deluxe)
Last full solo project: Whole Lotta Red
Days since: 28 (Dec. 25, 2020)
Carti’s long-awaited second studio album arrived last Christmas and turned out to be a divisive entry to his discography among fans. The 24-song track list didn’t include many songs that fans expected to hear and that were teased even by Carti himself. Still, he promised a deluxe album, which means even more Carti with a longer runtime.
10. Arlo Parks
Album: Collapsed in Sunbeams
Last full solo project: N/A
Days since: N/A
This will be the debut album of British singer-songwriter Arlo Parks, who weaves daydream lyrics and memorable vocals over easy flowing instrumentals. She is an artist who’s clearly on the rise, and her new album will be one to catch this January. Ideal for coffee during golden hour, treasured walks outside, lazy mornings and other chill vibes, check out her recent singles “Green Eyes” and “Caroline” that are set to join the album on release.