Summer Music Preview: Hottest Albums and Concerts

This summer sees the release of a wide variety of albums, ranging from highly-anticipated projects to long-in-the-works albums from artists who’ve been around for years. Given the sheer number of albums coming out this year, it’s impossible to tackle them all, but here are some of the pop albums (with some other genres thrown in for good measure) you should know about this summer.

Alanis Morissette leaves the major labels and strikes out on her own with her upcoming album, Havoc and Bright Lights (out August 28). It’s her first album since 2008’s vastly underrated Flavors of Entanglement. Fans who want a taste of the new album can download lead single “Guardian” now.

Up-and-coming rapper (and member of the bisexual community) Azealia Banks drops her debut EP, 1991, digitally on May 29 and in stores on June 12. Her lyrics are…dirty, but extremely catchy.

Fiona Apple is known for a few things when it comes to her albums: they take quite a while to come out, and ridiculously long titles are never out of the question. Both of these things are certainly true when it comes Apple’s fourth album, her first since 2005. The album (deep breath…),The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, comes out June 19.

This one’s more for warning than anything else: Justin Bieber’s dropping his highly anticipated Believe album on June 19. If lead single “Boyfriend” is any indication, look for Bieber to try and claim the pop space left vacant by the other Justin.

It seems crazy to hear, but even in the iTunes generation, labels are still releasing greatest hits albums. Fans of Australia’s gift to dance pop music, though, probably won’t mind when The Best of Kylie Minogue comes out June 19. The project spans Kylie’s 25-year career, from “The Loco-Motion” to “Get Outta My Way.”

Fans of self-described “gangsta Nancy Sinatra” Lana Del Rey will get a second dose of music from the artist – kinda – when she re-releases her pre-fame debut, Lana Del Ray A.K.A. Lizzy Grant. The album dates back to before Del Rey had decided on the current spelling of her name, and features production from David Kahne (Kelly Clarkson’s My December).

For her second album, Electra Heart (out July 17), Marina and The Diamonds (yes, she’s a solo artist with a band’s name) shifts away from the indie pop of her debut and teams up with some of the biggest pop producers on the market. With song titles like “Bubblegum Bitch,” though, it’s clear Marina’s not selling out so much as slightly skewering the genre.

Sometimes an album title says it all. Case in point: Maroon 5’s upcoming album, Overexposed (out June 26), which describes the band’s state these days thanks to lead singer Adam Levine’s other job on The Voice(as well as Adam’s frequent state of attire, thankfully). The album is their most pop-friendly to date – think less “Misery” and more “Moves Like Jagger.”

It’s been six years since Nelly Furtado released her highly catchy Loose. She’s finally releasing the English-language follow-up this summer with The Spirit Indestructible. If lead single “Big Hoops (Bigger the Better)” is any indication, her music’s just as catchy as ever.

You’ve probably heard of Neon Hitch, even if you don’t realize it. After providing guest vocals on Gym Class Heroes’ “Ass Back Home,” she’s planning on releasing her debut album later this summer. The album, Beg, Borrow, and Steal, features the single “Fuck U Betta,” which may just be the ultimate kiss-off song this summer.

Sam Sparro finally drops his sophomore album, Return to Paradise, this summer. The album promises to deliver more of Sparro’s sexy voice and dance music.

Scissor Sisters are shaking things up with their upcoming album, Magic Hour, coming out May 29. Collaborators on the album include Calvin Harris, Pharrell Williams, Diplo and Azealia Banks.

Atlanta native Usher releases his latest album, Looking 4 Myself, on June 12. After the success of more dance-oriented singles in recent years, this album appears to be heading in that musical direction. Worth downloading: the lead single, “Climax,” which just screams “sex.”

 

This summer also sees a number of acts coming through Atlanta on tour, providing a wide variety of musical experiences. Here are some of the acts making their way to our fair city that might interest you.

Fans of alternative/indie acts who can’t make their way to Bonnaroo will have something to look forward to in June. Radio station 99x is bringing in Foster the People, The Kooks, Kimbra and Bon Iver for Alpharettaroo on June 7 and 8 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

Dutch DJ and producer Afrojack plays at the Tabernacle on June 14. You may not know the name, but you’ve likely heard his work on Pitbull’s #1 single “Give Me Everything.” He’s also dating Paris Hilton. Make of that what you will.

Tony and Emmy-winner (and modern-day gay icon) Kristin Chenowethcomes to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on June 22. Expect a mix of Broadway showtunes, pop standards and songs from her most recent album, the country-tinged Some Lessons Learned.

Grammy-winner Norah Jones plays at the Fox Theatre on June 23. Jones is currently promoting her latest album, Little Broken Hearts, which features Jones collaborating with producer Danger Mouse.

Beware the throngs of teenage girls (and some gay men, I’m sure): British boy band One Direction will be playing at the Arena at Gwinnett Center on June 26. In case you’re confusing them with the other British boy band, The Wanted, this is the group that sings “What Makes You Beautiful,” not the group that sings “Glad You Came.”

If you prefer your Brits a bit older, Coldplay comes to Philips Arena July 2. The band is touring in support of their current album, Mylo Xyloto.

One of the biggest badasses in country music, Miranda Lambert, plays at Aarons Amphitheatre on July 13. Seriously, if you haven’t listened to her music, check out “Gunpowder and Lead.”

Nicki Minaj brings her manic blend of rap and pop to Atlanta as the Pink Friday Tour hits the Fox Theatre on July 22.

In case you didn’t catch her earlier this year, Kelly Clarkson is coming back to Atlanta with The Fray. The artists will be playing at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on August 8.

Finally, Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias are teaming up for a massive summer tour, and they’re coming to Philips Arena on August 29. Anticipate a lot of dancing.

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