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2015 Preview: 50 Reasons This Year Will Rule

The smash albums, blockbuster movies and water-cooler TV shows to watch out for over the next 12 months.

By Jonny Nail, David Fear, Cady Drell, Brandon Geist, Bilge Ebiri, Andy Beta, Sean T. Collins, Nick Murray, Richard Gehr and Tim Grierson.

Forget about hoverboards and the mirages of the future you were promised in fictional films of your childhood, because this is it. And from where we’re sitting it looks pretty amazing. Rock hiatuses are being abandoned, stages are set for rap heavy-hitter showdowns and the box office battle between Fifty Shades Of Grey and Star Wars will finally settle the long-standing debate of whether or not sex is more popular than space. Consider your calendars full.

‘Dumb & Dumber To’ (January 8)

Don’t even try and pretend like you won’t be calling in sick to work this Thursday and heading down to your local cinema. Sorry boss. J.N.

‘Togetherness’ (January 11)

With TV just starting to go through its Indiewood-revolution phase (see Transparent), we’re happy to see longtime lo-fi, low-key moviemakers Mark and Jay Duplass get in on the small-screen action. The siblings behind the cringe-dramedy Cyrus have fashioned an HBO series about an on-the-rocks thirtysomething Angeleno couple who take in a friend and a sister-in-law, both of whom are down on their luck. Expect the sort of painfully funny (and outright painful) social awkwardness, recognizable bad behavior and loose, raw brilliance the brothers have made their métier. D.F.

‘Broad City’ Season 2 (January 13)

The ladies behind last year’s breakout hit are back, and judging from the hints they’ve dropped about their sophomore season, the fictional lives of comedians Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are about to get, to paraphrase the latter’s horny stoner, “more jizzy jazzed.” New York heat waves, underage hook-ups, big-box store dance routines, sweaty sex with Seth Rogen and more pot-smoking than you can shake a one-hitter at are on deck. Kittens are yelled at and the phrase “titty chips” is uttered. There will be twerking. D.F.

‘Parks & Recreation’ Final Season (January 13)

Say it ain’t so, Knope! The members of the Pawnee parks department will get one last chance to take on bureaucratic red tape, small-town cynicism and those damned Eagleton residents in the seventh and last season of this beloved sitcom. We’re curious to see how the series goes out with its bold three-years-in-the-future scenario (crazy computer touch screens! Drone deliveries! Andy Dwyer as a TV ninja!), but mostly, we look forward to saying one final goodbye to Amy Poehler’s indefatigable government go-getter and the rest of the show’s regional kooks. D.F.

Belle and Sebastian, ‘Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance’ (January 16)

Don’t let the synths fool you: The latest from Belle and Sebastian doesn’t see the Glasgow pop pioneers dancing away from the sense of emotional reality that grounded the band’s past seven records. “I love those groups like Bronski Beat and Pet Shop Boys that seem to be able to write amazing, big-sounding electro-pop but also write it from the perspective of real people in real time doing real things,” frontman Stuart Murdoch recently told Rolling Stone US. Girls in Peacetime comes after a five-year break (the longest in the band’s nearly two-decade career), but first single “The Party Line” indicates that it was worth the wait. C.D.

Editor’s Note: Belle and Sebastian are also kick off their Australian tour later this month.

Wednesday, January 28: The Tivoli, Brisbane, Australia
Thursday, January 29: Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Sunday, February 1: Palais Theatre, Melbourne
Tuesday, February 3: Astor Theatre, Perth

Joey Bada$$, ‘B4.DA.$$’ (January 20)

The official debut full length from the exciting Brooklyn youngster will feature production from DJ Premier, J Dilla, The Roots and Statik Selektah. At this stage the release date seems to be unaffected by Joey’s arrest for assaulting a security guard at Byron Bay’s Falls Festival last weekend and his upcoming court appearance in March. Soulful introspective flashback “On & On”, the record’s fifth single, was released last week and follows previously released previews “Big Dusty”, “No.99”, “Curry Chicken” and the furious face-slap of boom-bap “Christ Conscious”. J.N.

Marilyn Manson, ‘The Pale Emperor’ (January 23)

“It’s dirty,” Marilyn Manson says of his forthcoming ninth album in the new issue of Rolling Stone, “like the dirt under my nails, like someone who has dug a grave.” If Manson seemed to be digging his own grave with his last few records, which were not particularly well-received either by fans or critics, The Pale Emperor represents a creative rebirth – and a much-needed maturation. Written with soundtrack composer Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy, Californication), the album is bluesy and menacing, weathered and worn in the best way, with Manson sounding all and more of his 46 years on swamp-goth anthems like “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge” and “Cupid Carries a Gun.” Has the God of Fuck actually grown up? Judging from this new shit, it’s hard to say no. B.G.

Sleater-Kinney, ‘No Cities to Love’ (January 23)

Announced a few months back and confirmed upon the release of first single, “Surface Envy”, in December, the indie vets will officially return later this month for their first album in almost a decade. A few quick link-clickers have already heard the record thanks to a streaming slip-up by Sub Pop just before Christmas. Following the leak, the label has now confirmed all those that have pre-ordered the album will have a stream available to them on January 13, a week ahead of the US release date. J.N.

Pond, ‘Man It Feels Like Space Again’ (January 23)

Stars definitely seem to have aligned for Perth psych-wanderers as they slowly shake the shackles of dwelling in Tame Impala’s shadow. While the pair of initial singles — the sharp-shifting “Elvis’ Flaming Star” and the wobbly star-gazing ballad “Sitting Up On Our Crane” — hint that once again the boys will be dragging their neon ponies across wide-stretching terrain, there appears to be a stronger pop element starting to creep through. Shaking big brother might be harder than predicted though, with management also revealing this week that Tame Impala will also have a new album out sometime this year. J.N.

Bob Dylan, ‘Shadows Of The Night’ (February 3)

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After putting out the Basement Tapes Complete in 2014, Bob Dylan will continue to look back with the release of Shadows of the Night, an album recorded entirely of songs made famous by Frank Sinatra. “I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time, but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a five-piece band,” Dylan said in a statement. “That’s the key to all these performances.” The album will eschew strings and horns – two things traditionally found on standards ballads – though details regarding its sound remain shrouded in secrecy. J.N.

‘Better Call Saul’ (February 8)

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We all know the story of Walter White, but how did his lawyer break bad? That’s the intriguing idea behind AMC’s so-crazy-it-just-might-work prequel to Breaking Bad, in which Bob Odenkirk reprises his role as Saul Goodman (née Jimmy McGill), the sleazy but skillful lawyer to Albuquerque’s lowlifes. Rejoining Odenkirk and showrunner Peter Gould (the character’s original writer) are Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and costar Jonathan Banks as the infamous fixer Mike Ehrmantraut. Origin story, bitch! S.T.C.

‘The Walking Dead’ Midseason Premiere (February 8)

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The zombie drama has been a massive ratings success since day one, but the series hit a critical highpoint during the first half of its seventh season, taking a more varied and character-driven approaches to telling its story of survivors struggling to rebuild civilization and stay alive. The show’s midseason finale ended with another bloody melee and shocking death, and with no clear sense of direction for what comes next —just that kind of unpredictability that’s kept Dead very lively and kept us tuning in. N.M.

Father John Misty, ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ (February 10th)

Early in November, Father John Misty brought a 22-piece orchestra to the Ed Sullivan Theater and performed a surprise new single, “Bored in the USA,” on an episode of the Late Show. Looking to shake things up even more, he then dropped a self-penned press release that listed sources of inspiration as diverse as Henry Nilsson, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Muhammed Ali and “self-loathing narcissism.” It also used the word “blammo” more than once. As if all this weren’t enough to have us eagerly anticipating his new album, the LP features a track called “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Cow.” C.D.

‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ (February 12)

E.L. James’ racy, insanely popular novel tapped a motherlode of repressed-reader bondage fantasies to become an book-publishing juggernaut. Now comes the inevitable film adaptation, which could spur a revival of the R-rated erotic drama at the box office (even after Sons of Anarchy‘s Charlie Hunnam jumped ship as the male lead). Jamie Doman and Dakota Johnson star as S&M-loving one-percenter Christian Grey and mousy college student Anastasia Steele, who’s sent to interview him and winds up losing her heart — and inhibitions — in the process. If director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) pulls this off, there won’t be a dry seat in the house. S.T.C. 

‘Blackhat’ (February 19)

Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral, Miami Vice) hasn’t directed a film since 2009’s underrated gangster saga Public Enemies, so any new film from him is an event. But Blackhat has the added benefit of remarkable, ripped-from-the-headlines topicality: It’s a crime drama set in the world of cyberterrorism, with Chris Hemsworth (Thor) as an ass-kicking ex-con and computer genius(!) who helps the U.S. and Chinese intelligence agencies hunt down a mysterious hacker. Add in Mann’s fondness for research and authenticity together with a globe-hopping plot, and we could be looking at the first genuinely great movie of the new year. B.E.

Modest Mouse, ‘Strangers To Ourselves’ (February 27)

The iconic band’s first full-length album in over 7 years will arrive a few days early for us down under with the local distributor opting for the always preferred “Friday before” release date. Clattering lead single, “Lampshades on Fire”, hints that the record will take on a similarly up-tempo tone to the band’s last two albums — “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank” and “Good News for People Who Love Bad News”. J.N.

‘Mad Men’ Final Season (Autumn)

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You thought Don Draper’s double life was a big secret? Try getting any information about upcoming Mad Men episodes out of creator Matthew Weiner sometime. Hints or no hints, the second half of Mad Men’s final season (the first half, culminating in the song-and-dance death of Bert Cooper, aired last spring) is the most eagerly anticipated television finale since the end of Breaking Bad — and seems likely set to settle the show’s place in the pantheon once and for all. S.T.C.

Drake, ‘View From The Six’ (Autumn, TBD)

With the world-building of Divergent out of the way, the second film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s popular post-apocalyptic YA series can jump right into the action: Shailene Woodley’s Tris and her group of rugged young rebels can now get straight to the business of fighting evil Kate Winslet and smashing society’s rigid caste system. Director Robert Schwentke (Flightplan) should bring plenty of the book’s adolescent angst, teenage derring-do and future-shock thrills to the party. N.M.

Faith No More’s Follow-Up to ‘Album of the Year’ (April TBD)

“[T]here’s parts that are very powerful and there’s parts that have a lot of ‘space,'” bassist-producer Bill Gould told Rolling Stone US by way of describing the avant-metal innovators’ first release since 1997’s Album of the Year. The as-yet-untitled collection, which arrives in April via the group’s own Reclamation label, reportedly bears the influence of the Cramps, Link Wray, Siouxsie and the Banshees and, possibly, Balkan saxophone king Ferus Mustafov. Which all bodes well, as does its first single, the sarcastic, hard-stomping “Motherfucker.” R.G.

‘Furious 7’ (April 2)

Somehow, very gradually, the Fast & the Furious films went from being fancied-up gearhead B-movies to one of the more vibrant, imaginative, and diverse big studio film franchises out there. After a troubled production marked by the tragic death of star Paul Walker, this latest, delayed entry is finally hitting theaters. Can director James Wan, whose previous films (The Conjuring, Saw) were mostly in the horror genre, stay true to the wild, anything-goes ethos of these films while bringing his own unique stamp? Our engines are already revving. B.E.

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ (April 23)

The film most likely to battle Star Wars: The Force Awakens for both box-office and geek-vs.-geek online forum supremacy in 2015, this sequel to the game-changing superhero movie reunites the Marvel all-star posse, as well as original Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon. This time around, they face off with the ingenious robot villain Ultron, played by James Spader, (already a marvelously nuanced baddie on The Blacklist.) “Spader can play all of the levels,” Whedon said last year. “He’s the guy to break the Avengers into pieces.” We have a feeling the good guys are up to the challenge. T.G.

‘Pitch Perfect 2’ (May 7)

Given the way the 2012 sleeper hit Pitch Perfect cruised to success on its zesty humor and its cast’s dorky adorableness, a follow-up was inevitable. This musical sequel to the Step Up of a cappella films sends Anna Kendrick and the rest of the Barden Bellas to compete in an international singing tournament, while the ladies also cope with the looming inevitability of graduation and adulthood. The franchise adds Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy) into the mix, which also marks the feature directorial debut of producer and co-star Elizabeth Banks. T.G.

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (May 14)

In a year of sequels to long-dormant franchises, this is the one that we are really excited about. Director George Miller, who made the original Mad Max films, is one of the architects of the modern post-apocalyptic blockbuster. Now, finally, he returns with the series that made his name, and instead of Mel Gibson, we get sensitive brute extraordinaire Tom Hardy as the titular road warrior; a bald, badass Charlize Theron is also now along for the ride. And that nutso trailer suggests this is going to take that old-school demolition-derby vibe and run wild with it. B.E.

‘Entourage’ (June 4)

OK, hear us out here. When it first premiered, this HBO comedy about a young movie star and his bro-tastic crew of besties was both a delightfully raunchy showbiz fantasy and a hilarious send-up of Hollywood venality. Over the years, it became a little too smug for its own good, but here’s hoping that this new movie reconnects with what made this series so special once upon a time. Welcome back, Johnny Drama. B.E.

‘Jurassic World’ (June 11)

The special-effects wizardry that made Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs unprecedentedly realistic paved the way for the big beasts of everything from Pacific Rim to Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies. But in the 14 years since Jurassic Park III, hopes for another sequel almost went extinct themselves. Can dinosaurs rule the earth once more? Casting newly minted action superstar Chris Pratt in the lead role—and debuting the “mosasaurus,” a monstrous sea creature that eats sharks like a toddler eats Goldfish crackers — give this monster movie all the genetic markers of a blockbuster hit. S.T.C.

‘Inside Out’ (June 25)

Given that 2014 came and went without a Pixar film — and since it’s been three years since their last non-sequel outing — just about anything new from the studio is cause for celebration. And this latest project sounds incredibly promising: a tour of the anthropomorphised emotions inside the brain of a sullen young girl, courtesy of a great voice cast (including Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, and Bill Hader), Up director Pete Docter, and Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt. Inside every animation fan, cute little creatures named “Hope” and “Anticipation” are currently leaping giddily about. N.M.

Darts, ‘Below Empty & Westward Bound’ (Mid-Year)

Since winning Triple J’s prestigious ‘Unearthed’ competition in 2009, it’s been a steady build up of momentum for Melbourne alt-rockers Darts. 2015 is destined to be their breakthrough year with their forthcoming new album Below Empty & Westward Bound — which was mastered by Joe Laporta who has previously worked the boards for Yuck, Wavves and Arcade Fire — already generating a fair bit of buzz. Sydney folks are lucky enough to get a preview of the new “claustrophobic aggression and expansive melancholy” songs next weekend at the Rice Is Nice summer party. J.N.

‘Terminator Genesys’ (July 1)

Ridiculous spelling aside, Terminator Genisys the latest entry in the man-vs.-machine franchise looks the most significant addition to the long-running franchise since 1991’s Terminator 2. The new picture (directed by Thor: The Dark World’s Alan Taylor) reportedly serves as a simultaneous sequel and prequel — set in the future and the past — while setting up two more films that are already scheduled to come out in 2017 and 2018. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as everyone’s favourite killer cyborg, but the key players are Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke (as Sarah Connor) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Jason Clarke (as John Connor), who will be the series’ main human heroes for the next few years. N.M.

‘Magic Mike XXL’ (July 2)

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An apparently happily retired Steven Soderbergh declined to return to direct the sequel to his surprise 2012 hit, though he is serving as the cinematographer and editor for his longtime assistant Gregory Jacobs. Magic Mike screenwriter Reid Carolin is back too, co-writing with star Channing Tatum, who leads his pals Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello through a story that sees the strippers road-tripping to a convention. It’s just like that time the Bad News Bears went to Japan, only with way more man-thongs. N.M.

‘Ant-Man’ (July 16)

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The latest adaptation from the Marvel factory doesn’t star an action icon but, rather, a veteran comic: The immensely charming and likable Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a con-man who takes over the mantle of Ant-Man from Michael Douglas’s Dr. Hank Pym. Marvel has made a mint championing the little guy, from Steve Rogers to Peter Parker — but in the case of Ant-Man, we’re talking about a hero who can literally shrink himself down while retaining superhuman strength. T.G.

‘Trainwreck’ (July 23)

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Amy Schumer and director Judd Apatow could stage a reading of old copyright-law trial transcripts and make them hilarious, so what they could do with a story about a commitment-aphobe (played by Schumer, who wrote the script) trying to get her life together. As if that was not enticing enough, the supporting cast includes Bill Hader, Daniel Radcliffe and Tilda Swinton. Schumer has already established herself as a killer stand-up and brilliant sketch comedian; this could be where she proves she’s an equally talented actress to boot. D.F.

‘Fantastic Four’ (August 6)

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Face front, true believers! The superheroes that put Marvel Comics on the map way back in 1961 are getting rebooted for their return to the big screen following their two woeful Jessica Alba/Michael Chiklis–starring efforts in the mid-2000s. With the X-Men franchise rooted in the same continuity it’s had ever since it launched in 2000, this is Fox’s first real response to Marvel Studios’ successes with Iron Man, The Avengers, et al. A terrific cast that includes Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Williams as the Human Torch and House of Cards’ Kate Mara as the Invisible Woman is a good place to start. Flame on, game on! S.T.C.

‘Straight Outta Compton’ (August 13)

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Finally, the biopic we’ve been dying to see for decades now: It’s the story of how a bunch of kids in South Central Los Angeles formed a rap group called N.W.A., put West Coast hip-hop on the map, pissed off legions of parents and the federal government, and made musical history. The fact that Ice Cube and Dr. Dre signed on as producers lends this project a sense of legitimacy; if the musicians and director F. Gary Gray (Friday) display the same kind of brutal honesty that characterised the collective’s lyrics, this could be blistering. And did we mention Paul Giamatti(!) is playing manager Jerry Heller? D.F.

‘Masterminds’ (August 27)

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Originally titled Loomis Fargo, the latest offbeat comedy from Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess stars Zach Galifianakis as a disgruntled armored car driver who agrees to help out with a heist — and then gets royally screwed over by his accomplices. The reliably funny Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Ken Marino, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones fill out the cast, while Eastbound & Down auteurs Jody Hill and Danny McBride both worked on the script and executive-produced. N.M.

‘Black Mass’ (September 17)

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An adaptation of Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s 2001 book on Whitey Bulger, this drama on the notorious Boston mobster is notable for scoring some serious casting coups: Johnny Depp plays Whitey, Benedict Cumberbatch is on board as his brother William, Sienna Miller plays his moll Catherine Grieg, and Joel Edgerton is John Connolly, the former FBI agent who got caught up in the Beantown kingpin’s web. A cynic might insert jokes about Jack Sparrow sporting a Bah-stun accent here, but the uncanny-resemblance photos of Depp in Bulger make-up and bald cap suggest that director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) and his stars aren’t playing around. D.F.

‘Spectre’ (November 6)

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It’s remarkable to live in an era when people are actively looking forward to James Bond movies. (Sorry, Pierce Brosnan.) On the heels of the rousing Skyfall, Spectre returns star Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes alongside a stellar supporting cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Léa Seydoux and Christoph Waltz — who you can stop asking whether he’s playing infamous Bond villain Blofeld, by the way. The recent Sony email leaks revealed internal concerns about a ballooning budget, but moviegoers won’t care, just so long as Spectre is as smart and stylish as Skyfall — and Daniel Craig keeps shaking and stirring us by bringing his patented sense of blue-eyed brutishness to the role. T.G.

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ (November 19)

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Even critics who enjoyed the first half of the Hunger Games finale have admitted that the movie offers more build-up than payoff, and left Jennifer Lawrence’s gritty heroine Katniss Everdeen on the sidelines a bit too much. If nothing else, the second Mockingjay will bless us with an honest-to-goodness ending, and bring a proper finish to a series that’s been the class act of the whole dystopian YA genre. (The film also marks the end to the career of the great Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was working on this project when he died.) N.M.

Taylor Swift, 1989 Tour (December)

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The biggest pop star of the moment has been shaking it off for months, performing songs like “Welcome to New York” and “Blank Space” at award shows, as part of the Jingle Ball extravaganza and in the middle of Times Square. This May, she pulls together the 1989 deep cuts and hits the road, opening her new tour in Louisiana before heading to Europe and back, with the whole thing set to wrap on Halloween. But since her new hometown doesn’t currently appear on the schedule, there may well be more dates yet to be announced. N.M.

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (December 17)

Whether or not you care about George Lucas’s space opera, the seventh instalment in the Star Wars franchise will be 2015’s most unavoidable cinematic event. With plot details at a minimum and a recent teaser trailer that emphasized the tease, The Force Awakens will be shouldering the expectations, antipathy and guarded optimism of millions of moviegoers. The cast features a who’s-who of prominent rising stars — Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong’o — to accompany familiar faces like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. But the biggest X factor is the man behind the camera. J.J. Abrams grew up a Star Wars kid: He’s now the first director of his generation to put a stamp on a series that defined plenty of childhoods. May the force be with him. T.G.

Adele’s Follow-Up to ’21’ (TBD)

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In October, XL Recordings released a statement admitting that the follow-up to Adele’s world-conquering 21 (tentatively titled 25, though the singer has since jumped to 26) would not come out in 2014. There still isn’t a release date, but longtime collaborator Ryan Tedder is thrilled with what he’s heard. “I’m super-stoked,” the producer and OneRepublic singer recently told ABC News. “I know that with the amount of insanely good songs she has to pick from – ’cause I’ve heard most of ’em” – this album’s gonna be crazy.” R.S.

Fergie’s Follow-Up to ‘The Duchess’ (TBD)

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Fergie’s only solo LP, The Duchess, remains a mid-aughts pop classic. Its follow-up comes after the two biggest albums of the Black Eyed Peas’ career and the birth of a son, Axl Jack. The singer tells Rolling Stone US that the record will likely include beats from Mike Will Made-It and DJ Mustard (who produced lead single “L.A. Love”), as well as guest verses from “No Flex Zone” rappers Rae Sremmurd. “It’s definitely similar to The Dutchess in that each song is different and has its own character,” she says. N.M.

Kendrick Lamar’s Follow-Up to ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ (TBD)

Expect Kendrick Lamar’s next album to pick up where the last one left off. “There was a lot I left out of good kid – it could have been a 30-track album,” he says. So far, he’s worked with producers like Dr. Dre and Flying Lotus and has at least one track (besides Isley-sampling single “i”) that he can’t wait for the world to hear. “It’s one where I just went in the booth and spilled out what I want to say at that moment,” he says. “I just freestyled, because I really just wanted to grab the raw emotion of it.” N.M.

Editor’s Note: unconfirmed reports suggest the album will be out “early 2015”.

Rihanna’s Follow-Up to ‘Unapologetic’ (TBD)

A consistent chart-topper, headline-maker, musical innovator and sartorial chameleon, Rihanna has also proven to be a mandatory follow on social media. Two months ago – two years after the release of her latest LP – the singer Instagrammed an audio clip of herself “phuckin roun in da studio,” and in December she shared a video of her touring guitarist, Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme, tracking a new tune – called “Kiss It Better,” according to songwriter John Glass. No official release info regarding the album, rumored to be called R8, has been revealed, but keep following Rihanna, because according to a recent tweet, any news will be delivered directly from her. A.M.

Edtor’s Note: the first sneak peak of the record, a demo with the working title “World Peace”, has leaked. Listen above.

Slayer’s Follow-Up to ‘World Painted Blood’ (TBD)

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In May 2013, Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman passed away from liver failure, leaving a huge void in the pioneering thrash band. Hanneman hadn’t toured with the group since 2011, when he contracted the flesh-eating disease necrotising fasciitis, but he was a crucial songwriter, penning Slayer’s most definitive anthems and contributing to all the group’s records, including 2013’s World Painted Blood. In April 2014 the band debuted “Implode,” its first new song in five years, and a few months later hit the studio with producer Terry Date (Pantera, Deftones) to work on its 11th album, which, according to guitarist Kerry King, may include material written by Hanneman before his death. Look out for a new song “When the Stillness Comes” early this year. B.G.

Gwen Stefani’s Follow-Up to ‘The Sweet Escape’ (TBD)

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No Doubt’s latest LP flopped, but Gwen is back solo and “Baby Don’t Lie” was her catchiest single in years. According to Pharrell, an album will soon follow. “It was time for her to really express herself and not have a bunch of people telling her what to do,” says the “Hollaback Girl” producer. “I held up the mirror and [said], ‘Do you know who’s in there? Do you know how many people respect that person?’ The more she saw, the deeper she reached, and the crazier the stuff came out.” N.M.

Tool’s Follow-Up to ‘10,000 Days’ (TBD)

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Fans have been waiting for nine years – or roughly a third of “10,000 days” – for a new Tool album, an unusually long gap even for a band that has only released four full-lengths over its 25-year existence. In a July interview with Rolling Stone US, guitarist Adam Jones and drummer Danny Carey revealed that a multi-tiered lawsuit against the prog-leaning alt-metal group has played a major role in delaying its fifth album; while the band members whetted die-hards’ appetites by dropping words like “heavy,” gnarly” and “nose-bleeding” when describing a new song, they also cautioned that writing was still in the incipient stages. This all appeared to change in October when Jones posted a photo of the band in the studio on Instagram —including vocalist Maynard James Keenan, who historically doesn’t join the process until it’s well along its way. B.G.

Kanye West’s Follow-Up to ‘Yeezus’ (TBD)

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If we know anything about Kanye’s new album, we know that it’s constantly changing. Seth Rogen heard one version early in the year, but come July the rapper told GQ that he had “a new song that’s so good that the album has to be balanced against it.” In September, West reportedly played the yet-unfinished record for 20 or so people at a private listening session, where, according to musician Theophilus London, the songs had its listeners “moshing drunk with mad babes.” Some think that Kanye thrives off heartbreak (his car accident, the death of his mother, the unraveling of long-term relationships), so what will he make now that he’s happily married dad? A.M.

Lil Wayne, ‘Tha Carter V’ (TBD)

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In October, Lil Wayne revealed plans to release Tha Carter V in two parts. “I got too many songs,” he said. “I worked way too much to give y’all half of it.” By December 4th, he wanted off his label, claiming that “my album won’t and hasn’t been released bekuz [label co-founder] Baby and Cash Money Records refuse to release it.” Expect things to change at some point in 2015 when this album drops to fulfill the promise of lead single “Believe Me,” which became a radio hit this past summer. N.M.