The last year proved to be a fantastic year for music (thanks, Kanye!), and the spheres of rock and pop are shaping up to be just as exciting in 2011. The upcoming year promises the return of some of music’s biggest names. Radiohead is set to release their follow-up to 2007’s exceptional “In Rainbows” sometime this year. The band broke new ground three years ago when they released “Rainbows” using a pay-what-you-want model, so expect Radiohead’s still-untitled album to be released in some strange Internet stunt, most likely without any warning whatsoever.
The Strokes have kept busy since their last official release in 2006, with most of the band members embarking on moderately successful side projects. The NYC quintet reunited last summer to headline various festivals, and anticipation has been steadily building for the Strokes’ new LP, expected in March. Meanwhile, Bono found time in his busy schedule — between discussing economic development with President Barack Obama and writing an epic disaster of a Broadway show — to record (yet another) new-agey U2 album, due out later this year.
And if you’re running out of fodder for sappy mixtapes, never fear — Chris Martin and the lads of Coldplay are rumored to have an album in the works for a 2011 release. If your tastes lean more towards indie, 2011 is shaping up to be a fine year, with anticipated releases from mainstays The Shins, My Morning Jacket, Iron & Wine, Bright Eyes, Fleet Foxes and The Decemberists.
In terms of the pop music forecast for 2011, expect a year shamelessly monopolized by Lady Gaga. With her new album “Born This Way” set to drop this May, fans are in for a Gaga-saturated year. Lady Gaga is nothing if not provocative, and since her outrageous music videos and bizarre fashion stunts have become almost commonplace, expect Gaga to up her shock value ante. Lady Gaga has already promised that “Born This Way” will be the “greatest album of this decade” — sounds a little like Kanye, no? Gaga may be following West’s example, flaunting her ego and staging elaborate media stunts (stay tuned for whatever strange contraption she decides to wear to the Grammys) but topping the artistic feat that was West’s magnum opus, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” will be a difficult feat for Gaga. She claims that her new album is “so much deeper than a wig or lipstick or an outfit, or a f—ing meat dress,” so how exactly Lady Gaga will go about plumbing the depths of human emotion in her next release is something to be anticipated.
Britney Spears is also set to release an album around the same time as Gaga, so be prepared for an overload of pointless, mind-numbing buzz leading up to Gaga’s inevitable walloping of Spears in record sales. Expect Gaga to be ubiquitous in 2011, reigning supreme over charts, clubs, and Top 40 radio through her rapid-fire barrage of singles, videos, stunts, tours and semi-edible gowns. Some advice for non-fans: enjoy these final few moments of quiet while you still can.