Who to Look Forward to in 2015

Posted January 14, 2015 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Already in the New Year, HiFi reveals their favorite acts to anticipate very good new music from in 2015

LMFAO. PSY. Fantasia. Justin Bieber. Bon Jovi.

Yawn, yesterday’s news.

So who should we look forward to hearing in 2015?

We got a sneak peak at some greatness in the last weeks of 2014 when D’Angelo surprisingly dropped his first album in a decade on the ears of the nation. That album, Black Messiah, soared to number one on the Billboard 200. Terrific albums by Charli XCX and K. Michelle, released in December, wowed my ears that I had to include them in the line-up for HiFi’s Best Albums of 2014. And then there’s instances like this one: Madonna rushed to release a few tunes on iTunes after a number of demos from her forthcoming album, Rebel Heart, were leaked. The critical verdict is still out on that one. Some sounded good – a bit refreshing (“Living for Love”), while others sounds like knock-off tracks. But hey, we’ll give Madge some time before the album drops.

So who should we really be seeking to hear from in 2014?


2014 was a relatively quiet year for Ri. Her last big hit was in 2013, when “The Monster” from Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP 2, a No. 1 pop hit, dropped. A remix of “Jump,” a forgotten album track off of her Unapologetic album, was leaked to the Internet, pushing radio to plug it. It made a little action on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart, but was ignored on pop. For much of 2014, Rihanna hung below the radar, which allowed artists like Ariana Grande, Sia and Meghan Tainor to dominate the top row of the Hot 100. Rihanna is used to dropping a new album every year, so it’s a bit shocking to see her presence reduced to a whisper. Expect Rihanna to shine bright like a diamond in the New Year with her eight studio album.

In the fall of 2014, DJ Skee of Dash Radio had some information about a newer direction coming from Ri’s style. “For overall sound, you can still expect the big ballad vocal songs accustomed to Rihanna, but I would say they’re almost mixed with hard-hitting beats,” he said. “A little edgier than typical Rihanna, if that makes any sense. In terms of producers, she’s been in with a lot of people. They still haven’t announced or determined the final track listing because there have been a lot of records cut, but I know Stargate is definitely in the mix.”


Sam Smith was 2014’s year, an important moment in the realm of Brit soul. Adele, the titleholder in this genre, was last heard singing “Skyfall,” the soundtrack anthem for the last James Bond 007 thriller. That was 2012. Like Rihanna, Adele decided to rest the year out. She deserved it, since she gave birth to her first baby, Angelo. But expect new music from the English singer-songwriter. In 2012, Adele mentioned that it would be some time in between albums, much like the time between 19 and 21. “I have to take time and live a little bit, she told France’s NRJ radio. “There were a good two years between my first and second albums, so it’ll be the same this time.”

Expect her to maintain domination in the songwriting department, teaming up once again with producer Paul Apworth and possibly Ryan Tedder, “Rumor has it” that the musical direction of the next album would feature more of an Americana roots and country twist. “I was exposed to a lot of country, rockabilly and bluegrass,” she told The Sun about her visit to the US. “The melodies and to-the-point lyrics I have found in a lot of American styles of music is definitely something I’m going to be pursuing heavily from now on.” Will that be all she entertain? Heaven only knows, but we’re for certain that it will have that magical Adele touch.

Charlie Wilson & Snoop Dogg

Charlie Wilson has made a name for himself as urban contemporary crooner to the 50-and-up crowd. Laugh all you want, but Wilson still sells records. Two of his most recent solo albums have peaked at number one on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart (2009’s Uncle Charlie, 2013’s Love, Charlie). He also picked up two Grammy nods for servicing vocals to Kanye West’s “Bound 2.” So what’s next for Uncle Charlie? Well, a funk album. The former Gap Band frontman plans to drop a more uptempo album on the next round. “I’m waiting to go back into the studio to come up with really, really great uptempo records that I’ve been wanting to do since the Gap Band days,” he told Billboard magazine back in February last year. And there’s also a pretty list of cameos expected to come with it. The new effort will feature collaborations with hitmaker Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake and musical mentor Stevie Wonder. It is a fact that Wilson will be appearing on Snoop Dogg’s next record Bush, an album that will be released on Pharrell Williams’ record label (I Am Other). Watch for the two of them to make a little “bow-wow” noise in the New Year.

My Morning Jacket

Jim James has tons of songs to share. Still touring religiously, the My Morning Jacket frontman admitted to Rolling Stone that the band has been working in the studio on two forthcoming albums. “I just had tons of songs this time,” James said. “We didn’t even get to all of them.” They are already working on the mixing for the first disc, which is being held in Portland, Oregon and not in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. James, who is also recovering from back surgery, is also piecing together work for the follow-up to his breathtaking solo debut LP, Regions of Light and Sound of God. But that’s not what’s most important. Anxiety is piling high on a new My Morning Jacket album, especially as they prepare for their One Big Holiday mini-festival in Mexico. This year’s line up will feature three full shows from My Morning Jacket alongside acts like Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The War on Drugs, Biz Markie and Band of Horses. When will the new material drop? No one knows for sure, but it will be sometime in 2014, hopefully before touring season kicks off.

The Strokes

Count it a miracle. 2013’s Countdown Machine appeared as glimmers of The Strokes’ best material.  But the lifeless album cover was also a tell-tale sign of how disturbed this band had become. And with very little promotion and fanfare, the Strokes went back into hiding. Still, you can never keep a good thing down. And if you know the Strokes, whenever they hit the road to perform their big hits, it’s very hard to keep them down. So it’s no surprise that guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr., the most accessible of all the bandmates, believe a new album is definitely on the way. “I know that when The Strokes tour again, it will be because we put something out – even though we didn’t tour the last one [Countdown Machine],” he told Gigwise. “Doing a few festivals before you put something out is kind of gearing up the big machine. It just kind of helps everyone get ready mentally,  financially and it brings you back to your audience.” Right now the boys are currently touring as solo acts, but you can believe that a reunion is in the cards.

Giorgio Moroder, Chic & Duran Duran

I admit it is a bit scary to put a 74-year old man on a list like this, but Giorgio Moroder’s return to music is something the galaxies and the universe has been awaiting for since the sunset of disco and the sunrise of EDM. Both creations owe its master a bow, and Giorgio Moroder deserves a good final bow. In the late ’70’s and early ’80’s, Moroder’s name was etched to each and every piece of Donna Summer gold. As solo recording artist, Moroder never danced in the same glow of majesty as the big producers of dance do today. His finest contribution was probably 1977’s From Here to Eternity, a time travel of proto-EDM ecstasy. But thanks to Daft Punk’s crafty powers and a track that featured Moroder’s story (“Giorgio by Moroder”), he gets an overdue breakthrough. Now signed to RCA, Moroder plans to drop an atomic bomb on the dance world with 74 Is the New 24. After three decades of dormancy, he will be making music with the likes of Charli XCX, Britney Spears, Sia, Kylie Minogue, Foxes and more.

Yep, I didn’t make this up. Move over David Guetta. Big Daddy needs the spotlight…again.

Guitarist Nile Rodgers also got a big break after working on Daft Punk’s Grammy-winning piece of genius. Since then, he has been collaborating with acts like Disclosure and Adam Lambert. As the surviving force of Chic, Rodgers has been working hard on a new album featuring all-new material. Chic’s last album dropped back in 1992 (Chic-Ism). The next album from the best-selling disco band is scheduled to feature superstar collaborations from the likes of David Guetta and Avicii. And here’s the good news? Looks like some of the original players of Chic might be “striking up the band” on the next round. Former Chic singer Alfa Anderson was seen photographed with other Chic singers Norma Jean Wright, Luci Martin along with Fonzi Thornton and Rodgers at the old Power Station studios back in November and December. Anderson’s only comment on what’s to come: “Reunited with a dear friend today in our old stomping grounds…details TBA!”

Rodgers is also working with Duran Duran on their next record. If you can remember correctly , he produced the band’s hit “The Wild Boys,” co-produced the Notorious album and re-mixed “The Reflex” into the soundtrack of our MTV lives. “I couldn’t be happier to be working with my band again,” Rodgers told Billboard last September. “They’re like my second Chic.” Mark Ronson, who produced the band’s last record All You Need Is Now, will also be returning to produce the band’s next record.

Culture Club

You missed them blind, admit it. With a new album slated to drop in early 2015, the New Wave/pop-reggae band Culture Club are anticipating the comeback of their careers. A new single dripping with U2 affection (“More Than Silence”) emerged in late 2014, so did plans of a world tour. But George was forced by doctors to go on vocal rest after vocal cord problems rose. His doctor in Los Angeles discovered that he has a large polyp on one of his vocal cords, which has started hemorrhaging. Severe inflammation was also reported. “It’s a risk I just cannot take,” George explained, expressing his dismay on the tour cancellation. Without a tour, the album could be in jeopardy, but expect George to fully recover and return to performing this year. And expect that new album to drop when the timing is right.


Here’s something you probably didn’t expect. Pop-rock band Toto will be dropping a new album in 2014. Original members Steve Lukather, David Paich and Steve Porcaro are teaming up again with former singer Joseph Williams, who sung with them briefly from 1986 to 1988. “One day Dave called and said, ‘We’ve gotta do something — [Mike Porcaro] is doing bad and his family needs some bread,’” Lukather told Ultimate Classic Rock in a 2013 interview, exposing their need to help raise funds for Porcaro’s medical bills brought on by ALS. “So I said, ‘Look, I’ll do this again. But Joseph’s gotta come back and Steve Porcaro’s gotta come back, and then you’ve got me.’ It was all for the right reasons, and it was happy — it was like, ‘Hey, my buddies are back!’”

Now with a new muse and a new album on the horizon, Toto plans to hit the road and will be co-headlining alongside Michael McDonald, who also brings his vocals to the forthcoming disc. A new drummer will also be coming on board: Simon Phillips will be replaced with Keith Carlock. The bandmates are excited about the new changes and the new material for Toto XIV. “The repertoire is coming together so naturally, it is as though we never took a break from creating as Toto in the studio,” Paich mentioned in a recent press release. “They really are treating this like this is Toto 5, like it’s the follow-up to Toto 4.”

A special EPK on the makings of the new album can be viewed below:

Janet Jackson

Pop superstar Janet Jackson stepped away from the music world spotlight several years ago. After battling the conspiracy theories pertaining to her wardrobe malfunction at the NFL Super Bowl XXXVIII and dropping under performing albums throughout the 2000s, Jackson took a long hiatus after 2008’s Discipline. She appeared here and there, mostly on Tyler Perry’s version of the big screen. But Jackson, now happily married, is working on new material for a forthcoming LP. And the secret is definitely out. According to a report from MediaMass, there are as many as eight songs having been put to tape. “It’s still in the early stages,” “She’s got security on the doors to ensure no-one hears a whisper,” one unknown source said. While talking with Billboard back in May 2013, Jackson said “I am working on a new project now. We are creating the concept and initial thoughts on the music.”


Say it isn’t so! Chris Martin and the guys are considering on calling it quits. But before giving their final bow, the alternative rock band plan to drop their seventh studio album. “It’s our seventh thing, and the way we look at it, it’s like the last Harry Potter book or something like that,” the frontman told People. The disc already has a name: A Head Full of Dreams. Sounds like it may have gained some inspiration from their 2013 hit “A Sky Full of Stars.” Martin promises the band will pump their heart and soul into their final record, but isn’t exactly closing the book on music.  “Not to say that there might not be another thing one day, but this is the completion of something,” he said. “Now we are making things that sound different. It’s just a very fun time to be in our band.”

Other people we are watching: Anita Baker and their mystery album; Bjork’s Vulnicura, which drops in March; Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk, which falls later this month.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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