Several music stars set to shine this year with new tunes

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Photo courtesy coveralia.com

Last year was one of the more memorable years in music history. We saw hit albums like Adele’s “21,” Radiohead’s “King of Limbs,” the Foo Fighters’ “Wasting Light,” Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Jay-Z and Kanye West’s  “Watch The Throne,” the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “I’m With You,” Coldplay’s “Mylo Xyloto” and The Roots’ “undun.” And with new releases from rappers Wiz Khalifa, Lupe Fiasco, Wale and Drake and the debuts of J. Cole, Mac Miller and Childish Gambino, we might be witnessing the revival of album sales. But with nearly all of these artists planning worldwide tours for 2012, the buzz could really just be a sign of even better things to come from the music industry this year. Here are some of the albums and tours to look out for in 2012.

Rock

In case you’re still not done with your childhood classic rock phase – when you listened to your dad’s favorite rock ‘n’ roll albums (read: I’m not done) – 2012 sees the revival of many classic bands from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Producers say Aerosmith’s follow-up to 2002’s “Just Push Play” should be released in May. Guns N’ Roses’ Axyl Rose claims he has “three albums’ worth” of song material, while Van Halen is scheduled to release “A Different Kind of Truth,” the band’s first album with frontman David Lee Roth in 27 years, in early February.

If rock from 30 years ago doesn’t quite do it for you, a few current bands are coming out with new music this year. Green Day has a “tonne of new songs” ready to record, and The Killers’ “Battle Born” is expected to be out this summer, which should be exciting considering the success of 2008’s “Day & Age.” Matchbox 20 will also reappear for the first time since 2002 with a new album; however, details have not been released.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead and the Foo Fighters are all touring this year, which should inject some excitement into the struggling rock industry.

Also, look out for new albums from Wolfmother, The Strokes, Smashing Pumpkins, Rush, Queen, Muse, Metallica and Linkin Park.

Pop

Like most musicians, pop stars’ tours usually keep them from recording new music and the stars themselves aren’t as prolific as rappers. However, there are new releases that you should be aware of, like Gaga’s follow-up to “Born This Way” (no, I’m not as excited as you are). Although it is untitled and does not have a release date yet, Christina Aguilera claims that her upcoming album is “heartfelt.” Adam Lambert and will.i.am will hopefully show improvement on their new albums on March 20 and Feb. 14, respectively, if that’s your thing. But the future champion of the 2012 pop class is Freddy Mercury and Michael Jackson’s planned album. Yes, you read that right: Queen’s former frontman and the King of Pop himself, both gone too soon. Queen guitarist and physicist Brian May received permission to release a set of duets that the King performed with Queen back in the ‘80s; it’s expected to be released sometime this year. Drool.

Rap

And here’s the real reason I write this article: rap in 2012. You might be wondering how you could surpass 2011’s “Rolling Papers,” “Take Care,” “Watch the Throne,” “Lasers,” “Blue Slide Park,” “Ambition,” “Cole World” and “Camp.” On the other hand, if the following MCs put out what they promise, 2012 could be legendary for rappers.

You remember “Watch the Throne,” right? That album that has sold 1.2 million copies, put two of the greatest stars of our time together and led to the launch of one of the biggest tours in music history. How about “The Blueprint 3,” the Jay-Z album that led to singles like “Run This Town” and “Empire State of Mind?” Don’t forget “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Family,” Kanye West’s critical darling considered by many as one of the greatest rap records of all time.

Yes, that is one resume for just two of the industry’s stars. But just consider what Jay-Z said last year: “You might see a Jay, then Kanye and a Throne album next year.” Gah.

For those keeping tabs, since Jay-Z’s follow-up to “The Blueprint 3” was supposed to be out last year, it seems like that could be a possibility for 2012. West has also announced a G.O.O.D. Music compilation album due out this spring.

In slightly less exciting rap news, Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan promises a block album and a new album in 2012, giving Wu-Tang-ers a reason to cheer. Kid Cudi has also announced a fall 2012 release for “Man on the Moon III,” which sounds exciting since 2010’s “II” received favorable reviews.

It has been widely known for a while now that a new Outkast album would be released for the first time since 2003 (unfairly discounting “Idlewild”), following solo projects by Big Boi and Andre 3000. Well, Big Boi’s “Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty” was released in 2010 to dazzling critical and commercial success, but we’ve been waiting on Dre. But fear no longer! The newest Outkast album should be out in early 2012, according to a source close to the band.

As it usually goes with rappers, it’s a waiting game. However, it’s safe to say the world is getting albums from Big Boi, André 3K, Jay-Z and Kanye West in 2012. Also, look out for releases from Tech N9ne and B.o.B.

Aside from the cloudiness of release dates, 2012 looks to be shaping up quite nicely in the music industry. So listen up, enjoy and let me know how these records turn out. Oh, and if you were wondering … Kidz Bop is on its 21st edition, and NOW is on its 41st. No, I won’t give you those release dates.

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