For some, the beginning of October heralds the first month of a long, arduous holiday season. For music fans however, it represents something truly glorious: the start of Q4, or quarter four. During this time of year, big album releases are a pretty good bet, with records from Solange and Bon Iver paving the way for arguably the biggest time of the year for music. Check out some of the LPs that are set to dominate iPods and Top 40 radio for the foreseeable future.
Lady Gaga’s “Joanne” — Oct. 21
A lot is riding on the success of Lady Gaga’s fifth studio album, “Joanne.” After a lengthy hiatus which saw her star on FX’s “American Horror Story” (2011-present) and release “Cheek to Cheek” (2014), a collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett, Gaga is in dire need of a career revamp, especially considering that her last solo album, “Artpop” (2013), was largely unsuccessful by her standards. So far, the reinvention has been hit-or-miss. “Perfect Illusion,” the disco- and rock-inspired lead single to her fifth record, largely came and went without making much of a dent on the charts. Despite this, Gaga has secured herself as the headliner for the Super Bowl LI halftime show — not a small feat — and is launching a dive bar tour with Bud Light, playing into the album’s whole “look, I’m normal now” vibe. Musically, the album features an expansive list of collaborators, including Mark Ronson, Florence Welch, Emile Haynie, Kevin Parker, Father John Misty and Beck. Whatever the final product may be, almost certainly everyone will be talking about it for months.
Tove Lo’s “Lady Wood” — Oct. 28
Swedish superstar Tove Lo burst onto the scene in 2014 by ushering a new style of pop for the 2010s centered around the highs and lows of abusing substances to avoid emotional pain. Both Tove Lo’s “Habits (Stay High)” (2013) and Sia’s “Chandelier” (2014) did just that by giving listeners choruses that were almost as addictive as the drugs the artists were singing about. This jarring juxtaposition between the melodies and the subject-matter helped make Tove Lo somewhat of an overnight sensation here in the United States, and on the follow-up to her debut, “Queen of the Clouds” (2014), she promises to keep listeners enthralled. “Lady Wood,” cheeky title notwithstanding, is very much reflective of The Weeknd’s current influence on Top 40 radio as lead single “Cool Girl” drips with apathy and features a woozy yet still groovy baseline. With Tove Lo mostly working with the same people that made her debut so successful, namely the English rock band The Struts, expect this record to be full of catchy choruses and all-too-relatable anthems for the more adventurous nights.
The Weeknd’s “Starboy” — Nov. 25
Speaking of The Weeknd, pop’s reigning man is back again, following last year’s ubiquitous “Beauty Behind the Madness.” Wasting no time in riding the moment he created with said record, The Weeknd dropped the teaser for “Starboy,” both the title of the album and its lead single, without any notice, completely disrupting the Q4 schedule. However, surprises like this are what this release period is all about, and The Weeknd has once more given the general public a reason to pay attention. By collaborating with electronic icons Daft Punk on the lead single, he demonstrates a willingness to temper and transform his sound via a slick, propulsive backbeat. The music video confirms this even darker, distant sound by quite literally depicting The Weeknd leaving behind his former self and embracing his role as “a motherf—-n’ starboy.” Noticeably, very few details have been released about the record, yet buzz single “False Alarm” proves he is going for a much more eclectic, sonic palate this time around with a homage to early-2000s rock. Keep a look out for more details as the release date gets closer.
Jay-Z and Beyonce’s collaborative album — release date TBD
Okay, so this last one is probably more of a pipe dream. But with numerous reports of imminent drop dates and hype dating back to the release of Beyoncé’s own “Lemonade” (2016), it is impossible for any music fan not to dream about this project being real. If it does materialize, do not look for any prior warning; the queen of the surprise drop will be sure to keep the collective pop world on notice and in a constant state of terror until she does so.