Most Anticipated Albums of 2021

The way we consumed music changed drastically over the course of the pandemic. We no longer went to bars, house parties, and other functions to celebrate new releases or socialized over what was a hit and what was a flop.


Now that the country is slowly beginning to open up, excitement over upcoming releases is even more visceral. Not only are some of the biggest artists in music poised to drop, but there’s a chance we might be able to blast them out of car speakers with friends, dance to them at our favorite clubs, and maybe even shout along to them at karaoke clubs.


With that in mind, we compiled some of the albums we’re most excited to hear during the second half of 2021:


SZA - Title TBA



There was a time when we weren’t sure if we were ever going to get a follow-up to CTRL, the critically-acclaimed, Grammy-nominated, 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” honoree from TDE songstress, SZA. In the years following the album’s release, she has bluntly spoken about how paralyzing the depression, anxiety, and physical strain that comes with being a performer have been, suggesting she may be ready to call it quits. Fans were sympathetic but devastated by the idea that they might not get to experience more of the genre-bending emotionality she brought to the mainstream.


Then, in September of 2020, over 3 years after CTRL came out, we got our first taste of new SZA music with “Hit Different” (featuring Ty Dolla $ign and produced by the legendary Neptunes), a song that exemplifies how cool SZA can make desperation look. Later that year, we were gifted with “Good Days”, a song with the spirit and pace of meditative breathing, one that became SZA’s first solo to hit the Billboard Hot 100.



We don’t know when SZA plans to release her sophomore project, but we know it’s sometime this year, and it’s gearing up to be one of the best albums of 2021.

 

Kendrick - Title TBA



Speaking of TDE, there has been much speculation about future music from the label’s most influential artist, Kendrick Lamar. It’s been over four years since one of hip-hop’s most notorious perfectionists released DAMN., a decade-defining hip-hop album that won him critical acclaim, Grammy awards, and even a Pulitzer Prize. Since then, Kendrick has remained quiet about his next project, but given how busy TDE has been with new music from SZA, Isaiah Rashad, and Baby Keem, it’s hard not to speculate.



Hints have emerged that K-Dot’s been back in the studio. This includes a recent tweet from a Billboard editorial director stating that Kendrick’s been making rock-inspired music, as well as some recently-emerged clips and images, which people think were taken on the set of a music video.

This is all just speculation, as Kendrick himself has not given any clues on what's around the corner or when. However, that's never stopped his fans from working themselves into a frenzy before. Should whatever Kendrick Lamar's working on surface sometime this year, it won't be a moment too soon.

 

Lorde - Solar Power



If it feels like a long time since Lorde released her sophomore opus, Melodrama, you're not alone. In 2017, Lorde squashed any speculation that she might be a one-hit-wonder by delivering one of the most critically-acclaimed pop albums of the 2010s, an emotionally cathartic collection of artpop with soaring instrumentation and sturdy songwriting. The Album of the Year-nominated album was good enough to make the past four years feel like an eternity for Lorde fans.


Then, on June 10th, she announced Solar Power, which would be the name of her new album - due August 20th as well as its lead single. “Solar Power” is a much more chilled song than one would expect from someone who named their last album Melodrama, but it still serves as a vehicle for Lorde’s vivid lyricism and infectious melodies. It’s an apt Summer anthem for a Summer that felt like it would never come.



Lorde has called her upcoming album "a celebration of the natural world, an attempt at immortalizing the deep, transcendent feelings I have when I’m outdoors.” It's safe to say that Solar Power will be the soundtrack to many people's first venture outdoors in a long time.

 


Lil Nas X - MONTERO



Speaking of one-hit wonders, Lil Nas X seems hungry to prove that his role in the cultural conversation extends beyond 2019's earth-shattering song "Old Town Road." Yes you read that right, "2019". Does that not feel like it was just a couple of months ago?


The viral sensation announced in 2020 that his debut album would drop sometime this year, and many were wondering if he can turn things around after his anti-climactic EP Seven.


Then, towards the end of March, he released the song "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)," a thumping song about same-sex seduction. The song became a sensation not just because of its hypnotic melody and catchy lyrics but also because of its salacious music video, which depicts - amongst other things - the rapper/singer giving Satan a lap dance before snapping his neck and stealing his horns. The video created a feedback loop of "righteous" indignation and defiant support that made Lil Nas X a viral phenomenon... again.



Later, he released the single "Sun Goes Down," a touching emo-pop tribute to his younger self, urging him to fight through depression. While the song didn't have as much of an impact on social media as "Montero" did, it solidified Lil Nas X as a versatile pop artist capable of doing more than just garnering attention.



Lil Nas X has confirmed that the title of the new album will be MONTERO and that we can expect it sometime this Summer. Based on his short but impressive track record, it's not unreasonable to think that this album will be a conversation starter all over the world

 

Drake - Certified Lover Boy



Just recently, we celebrated the 11th anniversary of Drake’s debut album “Thank Me Later." If the celebration felt a little disproportionate, it’s because Drizzy fans are desperately trying to hold themselves over until he finally releases his sixth studio album, Certified Lover Boy. The album was originally slated to come out in January until Drake suffered an injury that forced him to postpone to an undisclosed date later in the year.


Never one to let his fans down, in March, Drake released Scary Hours 2, a three-track EP Featuring tracks like “What’s Next” and “Lemon Pepper Freestyle."



There’s still no word on when CLB will finally come out, but Drake has confirmed we can expect it sometime this Summer. If it’s anything like Scorpion, then we can expect a full summer takeover from the Artist of The Decade.

 

Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever



At breakneck speed, Billie Eilish has become the definitive pop star of her generation. Her 2019 debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, was a success on every level, winning 5 Grammy awards and earning a spot on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time. Her place in the pop pantheon is well past solidified, so since then, it had just been a question of where she goes from here. Then, in April of 2021, she took to Instagram to announce the title for her sophomore album: Happier Than Ever, which is due July 30th.



She then released the song “Your Power” - an acoustic reprimand aimed at men who would lord their power and influence over her - as well as the taunting and slinky “Lost Cause." These singles have properly done the job of getting fans excited for what is sure to be one of, if not the most noteworthy pop release of 2021.