Photo: Joe Termini
How 'Love Sux' Led Avril Lavigne To True Love, Her First Fangirl Moment And An Album Process That Was 'Just Stupid Fun'
Twenty years into her career, Avril Lavigne is arguably the happiest she’s ever been, and it shows in her seventh LP, 'Love Sux.' Despite being a breakup album, it’s full of upbeat guitar-heavy anthems — and that’s the best part about it.
If you've ever been so beaten down by love that you just want to give up, Avril Lavigne knows what you're going through. Now, she's delivering a full soundtrack for it.
Love Sux, the seventh studio album from the Canadian pop-punk veteran, is an amped-up rock fest of catharsis. From the first rips of electric guitar on opener "Cannonball" to the declarative final line on album closer "Break of a Heartache," Lavigne takes a refreshing approach on a breakup album, employing both a sense of humor and a wave of confidence.
It's a continuation of the relentless spirit Lavigne has displayed since her GRAMMY-nominated debut, Let Go, which turns 20 this June. Only this time, she's older, wiser and, ironically, in love.
During the album's creation, Lavigne began dating fellow pop-punker MOD SUN, one of her main collaborators on the project. But that didn't alter the "Bite Me" singer's scorned attitude on Love Sux, and it resulted in what she refers to as "a love letter to women."
Ahead of the LP's release, GRAMMY.com caught up with Lavigne to discuss the gratifying process of Love Sux, how it's a culmination of her career, and why — even despite her current relationship status — she stands by the album's jaded sentiment.
Pop-punk has always been part of who you are as an artist, but how did you get back into that mindset and vibe after making 2019’s Head Above Water, which pivoted away from that style?
Because Head Above Water was so full of ballads and emotional and just like, deep, I felt like I was definitely ready to f<em></em>*ing rock. I just wanted to have fun, have a good time, and make an upbeat record.
I have a silly personality, so even though I'm talking about how love sucks — and I really, truly was feeling that way, burnt out and jaded on love, when I started this album — it's very lighthearted and there's a sense of humor in the songs.
This is the kind of music that I fell in love with when I was old enough to buy my own tapes and CDs, in like, grade nine, and discovering bands like Offspring, Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day. Before I started writing my own record, I was gravitating towards guitar-driven music. Even though some of my albums have pivoted a bit, all my concerts carry this spirit and energy in them.
This album is also a record I've wanted to make for a long time. I had my freedom…I didn't have a label or managers at the time, and I just went in the studio like, "Alright, time to rock all the way through. No holding back here."
Besides the creative freedom you had on it, what makes this album feel different?
Production-wise, it's the most alternative. Everyone was always trying to tell me to dial it back. I didn't have to, and I didn't care.
This far into my career, it's like, I don't have to be doing this. I'm doing it because I truly want to and I just want to have so much fun. Every album you go in kind of feeling a certain type of way stylistically, sonically, production-wise — this is just where I felt like, in my life, I wanna have fun, I wanna rock out.
How did that play into the direction you took lyrically?
Lyrically, I had just gotten out of a relationship, and I was reflecting on that. Because I had so much time in the pandemic to songwrite, I was looking back at my whole life, and love, the ups and downs, and the things I've gone through — the stuff I've seen, and the lessons I've learned — and put it into my music.
I do write about love a lot, but now the difference is, I'm writing from the perspective of a woman. My first album, I was just out of high school, so I was writing about skater boys. [Laughs.]
It was your first time working with both MOD SUN and veteran pop-punk producer John Feldmann — what did they bring to your creation process?
I felt like we all complemented each other, and they understood me. We all came from the same background, so we spoke the same language. Pop-punk is so easy for all of us. We all do it in our sleep. So it was just stupid fun.
I love Feldy's guitar playing. I think everything he does is cool. I personally think those two really get what "cool" is. It's hard to explain that to somebody.
When I write songs, I hear them a certain way in my head. A lot of times, you write a song and when you record it, you have to sit there and explain to the producer that you don't actually like what they did. [Laughs.]
I could not find a good producer on my last album. It literally took me a year. I had to take Head Above Water to, like, five different producers. I met John Feldmann, and I was like, "Where have you been? I could have used you the last 10 years of my life!"
Would you have ever thought that writing an album called Love Sux would actually lead you to falling in love? The irony of that is pretty hilarious.
I know! I was pretty closed off. I just needed a break. I was like, "I'm over it." And then I was having fun, and it was just like, "Whatever, f<em></em>* it." I was using my head, but then I followed my heart, I guess.
Oftentimes breakup albums can wallow in self pity and lament a relationship, even when the person singing isn't necessarily the one that screwed it up. You're just like, "No, I just want to say 'F you.'" I feel like this is the album women have been looking for.
I'm really happy to hear that. I just write from my experiences, and I tried to be super authentic. I make sure that I personally love everything, then throw it out there and hope that people love it. It's always really cool to hear that people can relate to the things that I've gone through, or they take the song and make it their own in their own way.
I imagine that that's kind of a big reason why you've called this album "a love letter to women," because it's speaking from your experience and not taking anybody else's experience into account. And if you've been screwed by a lot by men, then that's what you're going to write about.
I can see you two getting along very well.
She sang my song "Breakaway" and made it a huge hit. I thought that was so cool. She was like, "Oh my god, thank you for that song, by the way!" And I was like, "No, thank you for making it massive."
Was there a lyric you remember writing and thinking, "Oh, man, that's a badass lyric"?
"Love Sux" is one of my favorites. I was literally like, "Oh, not another breakup." So it was like [Sings] "Nah, nah, nah, not another break up/ When I think of you I just want to throw up." That's funny, but it's so true. When you go through a breakup you literally just feel sick to your stomach.
I just feel like I articulated myself perfectly on that song. "Love is so overrated, got me feeling jaded." It's nice for me to have a sense of humor about it. And I like that the album is lighter and fun — you're talking about breakups and stuff, but it's not heavy and dark. It's just fun and making fun of it.
That was the first time that I've ever had a fangirl moment. It was a "pinch me" moment. Like, "This is really cool. I listened to this band in high school."
I was really blown away by how talented he was. Obviously, I know he is, but seeing him work and write, I was just really impressed with his skills. He was writing really fast, and he'd record his part, then he'd lay his vocals, then he'd lay down the bass. I was just like, "Wow, this guy is so talented." I loved everything he was coming up with. That was pretty up there for me.
So now that you're 20 years in, where do you see things going in the next 20 years?
When I was younger, I was like, "I just want to do this for forever." That's sort of my plan, just to keep making music. I've got this album, and the tour. Keep going, keep having fun.
I'm gonna feel it out each year, what I'm in the mood for — if I want to take a break, take a break, if I want to keep going, keep going. This year, I'm definitely ready to go on tour.
You hardly look any different than you did 20 years ago, but do you feel any different, considering you're now in your late 30s?
I pretty much feel the same other than, like, I definitely can't drink as much as I used to [Laughs].
When you think back to 17-year-old Avril in 2002, and where you thought your career was headed once big things started happening, how does that compare to what actually happened and where you're at now?
I never thought that this would happen on this level. Hearing myself on the radio for the first time was crazy. I feel really blessed and really lucky.
This is such a special and unique situation. The fan base is just so passionate and they've been so supportive. They're the reason why I'm still here 20 years later, and why everything took off on the first album.
I never would have seen any of this coming. I truly just loved music and writing. I didn't even know what Hollywood was — I just knew I wanted to sing, and I loved to write, and I loved to play guitar. And then all this happened!
I'm definitely living my dream. And today, it's still just as much fun as it was before.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Avril Lavigne Suggests Next Album Is In The "Homestretch"
GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter hints on social media that her sixth studio album could soon be upon us
If there's a sound that defines the early 2000s, Avril Lavigne's punky verve was definitely in the mix. (See hits such as "Complicated," "Sk8er Boi" and "I'm With You.") But what does a modern-day Lavigne have to share with us? We may soon find out.
On April 12, the Canadian singer/songwriter posted a photo holding a guitar while writing on social media, captioned, "Homestretch bes." Though she didn't offer any other details, evidence points to the possibility that Lavigne's sixth studio album could soon be upon us.
Lavigne first started talking about a new album in 2017, but she told Billboard she wasn't necessarily in a hurry to finish it. The former Best New Artist nominee also suggested that she might return to her church and country roots, yielding a promise of an album that heads into uncharted territory.
"I challenged myself as a songwriter and I wanted to write about topics I hadn't hit on before," Lavigne said. "There's the love topic, but a lot of these songs are about life. I've experienced a lot over the past few years, and some of the songs just came to me."
Only time will tell what this "Girlfriend" has in store.
(L - R): Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie, Earl Sweatshirt, Rosalía
(Source Photos L - R): Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp; Jason Koerner/Getty Images; Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for iHeartRadio; Marc Grimwade/WireImage; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
30 Must-Hear Albums In 2022: Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Rosalía, Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie & More
2022 has no shortage of new albums to keep your shuffle hard at work. GRAMMY.com compiled a list of 30 upcoming releases — from Kid Cudi, Earl Sweatshirt, Combo Chimbita, Dolly Parton, and Guns N' Roses — to keep you moving in the new year.
Editor's Note: This piece has been updated to reflect release dates and album titles announced after publishing.
While it may feel like there's not much to look forward to during yet another wave of COVID-19, music fans around the world are eagerly waiting to load their playlists with new releases as 2022 gets underway.
And there's certainly plenty to look forward to: Along with The Weeknd, who released his fifth studio album, Dawn FM, on Jan. 7, superstars like Machine Gun Kelly, Camila Cabello, Dolly Parton, Guns N' Roses, and Rosalía have all announced or teased albums coming this year.
The pandemic may have slowed things down, but there's no stopping artists in 2022. Keep an eye out for these 30 albums from ENHYPEN, Mitski, Saweetie, Bastille, and many more.
The Weeknd, Dawn FM
Release date: Jan. 7
Only a year removed from his incendiary Super Bowl Halftime Show performance, the crowned pop prince of Canada returns with the semi-surprise Dawn FM, a hotly anticipated follow-up to his record-breaking 2020 release, After Hours (you know, the one with "Blinding Lights" and "Save Your Tears" on it).
As The Weeknd's album teasers promised, Dawn FM delivered sinister synthesizers, a vocal appearance from Jim Carrey, and old-man makeup that's arguably only slightly less distressing than his wax-faced After Hours persona.Max Martin is back (on lead single "Take My Breath"), and other guests include Tyler, the Creator and Oneohtrix Point Never.
As for what the three-time GRAMMY winner wants his listeners to take away from his latest work? "Picture the album being like the listener is dead," The Weeknd told Billboard. Capisce? — Brennan Carley
ENHYPEN, DIMENSION : ANSWER
Release date: January 10
Seven-piece boy group ENHYPEN may still be relatively new to the K-pop scene (the band formed in 2020 on the Korean survival competition show "I-Land"), but they're already making moves to put themselves in the ranks of BTS and EXO. Their latest release, DIMENSION : ANSWER, marks the group's first studio repackage album, expanding on their 2021 debut set, DIMENSION : DILEMMA.
DIMENSION : ANSWER will feature three new tracks,: "Polaroid Love," "Outro : Day 2," and lead single "Blessed-Cursed." Fans got a first taste of the three B-sides thanks to an album preview the group released on Jan. 4, which teased a wide array of sounds: punchy pop-sprinkled production on "Polaroid Love," sultry R&B vocals with "Outro : Day 2," and guitar-heavy rock on "Blessed-Cursed." With such vast musical prowess, DIMENSION : ANSWER may just be the group's ticket to K-pop superstardom. — Taylor Weatherby
Cordae, From a Bird's Eye View
Release date: Jan. 14
Cordae set the bar high with his GRAMMY-nominated debut album The Lost Boy and emerged as one of the most exciting new talents of 2019, making his return to the game with his hotly anticipated second album.
The Maryland-raised rapper held fans over with his Just Until… EP last April before launching into his album rollout with the braggadocious hit, "Super" and a collaboration with Lil Wayne, "Sinister." The 24-year-old wordsmith — known for his reflective, carefully-crafted raps — said From a Bird's Eye View was inspired by "a life-changing trip to Africa, enduring the loss of a friend gone too soon and evolving as an artist and a man."
The album will also mark Cordae's first full-length effort since the official disbanding of his YBN collective in 2020. — Victoria Moorwood
Animal Collective, Time Skiffs
Release date: Feb. 4
Followers of experimental pop adventurers Animal Collective have waited six years for a new album following 2016's Painting With. At last, the four-piece will release Time Skiffs, an album full of otherworldly harmonies and mind-opening melodies.
Animal Collective has released two singles from the LP so far: the gently psychedelic "Prester John" and the equally trippy "Walker." The latter is a tribute to Scott Walker, the prolific singer-songwriter who died in 2019. Its beautifully intricate music video, directed by band member Dave Portner and his sister Abby, brings the Time Skiffs album cover to life in vivid detail. — Jack Tregoning
Avril Lavigne, Love Sux
Release date: Feb 25
Like everything Y2K, pop-punk is making a comeback. And nearly 20 years since the release of her seminal pop-punk debut Let Go, Avril Lavigne brings back her pop-punk princess persona in all its glory — combat boots and all. In early November, the "Sk8r Boi" singer shared her the angsty anthem "Bite Me," first new single in over two years, featuring Travis Barker.
With the new music, Lavigne also shared she had signed to the drummer extraordinaire's label DTA Records. Her seventh studio album is set to be the artist's first LP since her more traditional pop LP Head Above Water in 2019. — I.K.
Release date: Jan. 14
Like everyone else around the world, electronic shapeshifter Simon Green had a very unusual past two years. The British musician and DJ, better known as Bonobo, found himself grounded in his adopted home of Los Angeles, itching for new inspiration to get through the pandemic. His wanderings took him from a tent in the Californian desert to a new appreciation for modular synths back home in lockdown, all with a nervous eye on the precarious state of the world.
This activity fed into a flood of music which we'll soon hear on Bonobo's seventh studio album, Fragments, out on Ninja Tune. Fragments features guests including Jamila Woods, Joji and Kadhja Bonet, while channeling influences from UK bass, Detroit techno and global music through Bonobo's widescreen lens. The producer is already up for two Best Dance/Electronic Recording awards at this year's GRAMMYs, for "Heartbreak," his collaboration with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and "Loom," with Ólafur Arnalds. Bonobo begins a tour of the US in February, giving fans a few precious weeks to soak up the album before its live debut. — J.T.
Earl Sweatshirt, SICK
Release date: Jan. 14
With a decade-plus of acclaimed projects such as 2018's Some Rap Songs, Earl Sweatshirt is both an underground hero and a critic's darling. He hasn't achieved the same level of mainstream success as former Odd Future colleagues Tyler, the Creator and Syd – which is fine with him.
Judging from SICK's lead track "2010," where he pays homage to his mother in cryptic terms, the 10-track album promises to be another collection of stylized verses, dusty beats and autobiographical confessions (albeit rendered in a clearer voice than his previous album, 2019's lo-fi affair Feet of Clay). As its title suggests, SICK was inspired by the pandemic. "My whole thing is grading things on the truth, you know what I mean? However expansive or detailed the truth is," he told Rolling Stone. — Mosi Reeves
iann dior, On To Better Things
Release date: January 21
After blasting onto the scene with his 24kgoldn team-up (and runaway smash) "Mood" in 2020, iann dior hasn't slowed down, releasing an EP and countless other collabs. On To Better Things marks dior's first full-length album since 2019, serving up 15 tracks that will help the rapper truly come into his own.
Like the Lil Uzi Vert-assisted "V12" and the racing single "Let You," On To Better Things will see dior further explore his capabilities as a rapper while also tapping into his alt-pop/rock sensibilities. Judging by his previous releases, dior won't be afraid to get raw and real on his latest project as he opens up about love, relationships and loyalty. There may be glimmers of hope on the album, though, as dior captioned a post teasing the album, "life is better now." — T.W.
Combo Chimbita, IRÉ
Release date: Jan. 28
The melding of cumbia beats and psychedelic vibes was embraced during the '70s by many pioneering outfits in Peru and Colombia. Since the release of their 2017 debut, New York quartet Combo Chimbita has built on that foundation, amping up the mystical tinge of its material through the soulful chanting of extraordinary vocalist Carolina Oliveros.
Always ready to speak up on social and political issues, Chimbita uses cumbia as a starting point, adding swashes of funk and soul, Afro guitar lines and atmospheric samples. The band's new album expands its palette, enhancing lead single "Oya" with a video shot at the ruins of Puerto Rico's abandoned Intercontinental Hotel. A tour with the awesomeLido Pimienta will follow soon. — Ernesto Lechner
Release date: January 2022
Anticipation surrounding Aaliyah's fourth album has been building since 2012, when Blackground Records released "Don't Think They Know," which paired the late singer's vocals with Chris Brown, and a Drake collaboration, "Enough Said." The long-awaited arrival of her back catalog to streaming last fall added fresh fuel for a project that has been controversial, with some diehard fans questioning whether it honors Aaliyah's legacy.
Unstoppable includes guests like Snoop Dogg, Future and Ne-Yo. The first single, a woozy ballad titled "Poison," features The Weeknd as well as lyrics originally written by the late Static Major. "Some of the people Aaliyah liked are on the album. She loved Snoop Dogg," Blackground CEO and Aaliyah's uncle Jomo Hankerson told Billboard. "Everything I do at Blackground is always with her in my heart and my mind." — M.R.
Bastille, Give Me the Future
Release date: Feb. 4
If the pandemic had even a glimmer of a bright side, it comes courtesy of musicians like Bastille pivoting and positioning their art to address the present, as Give Me the Future promises to do.
Bandleader Dan Smith had already begun work on the English pop-rock group's fourth album before COVID-19 threw a wrench in his plans, but the pandemic made the album's probing themes seem that much more prescient. Glistening songs like "Thelma + Louise" and the vocoded "Distorted Light Beam" dig more deeply into Bastille's exploration of escapism when the troubles of the world are thundering outside our windows, all with the help of new collaborators Rami Yacoub and One Republic's Ryan Tedder. We promise it's way more fun than it sounds. — B.C.
Mitski, Laurel Hell
Release date: Feb. 4
Mitski almost pressed pause on her music career which, according to a Rolling Stone interview, was "shaving away my soul little by little." After a final performance, "I would quit and find another life." Fortunately, though, Mitski has stuck with it.
Three years since the release of her fifth studio album Be the Cowboy, the indie singer-songwriter is set to share her forthcoming project Laurel Hell. While the majority of the LP was penned in 2018, it wasn't mixed until 2021, making it the longest the singer has spent on one of her records. What listeners can expect is a transformative set of songs that pair Mitski's signature vulnerability with uptempo dance beats and, ultimately, catharsis. — Ilana Kaplan
Guns N' Roses, Hard Skool EP
Release date: Feb. 25
In 2021, 36 years after the band first formed in the hard rock hotbed of Los Angeles, Guns N' Roses returned with two new singles. This productive streak was remarkable enough in itself given the group's notoriously haphazard release schedule. The singles "ABSUЯD" and "Hard Skool" are doubly remarkable, though, because they usher in a new EP that brings beloved members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan together again after 28 years.
Reinterpreted from the band's Chinese Democracy sessions, "ABSUЯD" features a raw, punk-tinged sound that surprised some fans before rewarding repeat listens. "Hard Skool," meanwhile, harkens back to the classic sound that Guns N' Roses perfected in the late 1980s. The Hard Skool EP will feature the two 2021 singles alongside live renditions of GNR favorites "Don't Cry" and "You're Crazy." To mark this new era, the band is touring arenas throughout 2022, reuniting Axl, Slash and Duff as a powerhouse onstage trio. — J.T.
Take a Look Back: Guns N' Roses' 'Appetite For Destruction' | For The Record
Charli XCX, CRASH
Release date: March 18
Pop polymorph Charli XCX has been promising fans her sellout era for months now ("tip for new artists: sell your soul for money and fame," she tweeted last July), ushered in with last summer's "Good Ones" and buoyed into the holidays with "New Shapes," a powerhouse team-up with Caroline Polachek and Christine and the Queens.
CRASH is the fifth and final album she owes Atlantic Records — a benchmark not lost on fans or Charli herself. For it, Charli promises edge-of-your-seat appearances from Rina Sawayama, frequent collaborator A. G. Cook, and frequent Weeknd cohort Oneohtrix Point Never. Come for the bloody album artwork, stay for the cheeky, self-aware pop concoctions contained within. — B.C.
Dolly Parton, Run, Rose, Run
Release date: March 2022
The beloved, multi-GRAMMY Award-winning singer-songwriter Dolly Parton has built a career as a trailblazer, so it stands to reason that her next musical effort would carry on that grand tradition. Run, Rose, Run is an album of original tunes taking its energetic moniker from a companion novel that Parton co-authored with the acclaimed writer James Patterson.
According to Parton, the accompanying album consists of "all new songs written based on the characters and situations in the book" and centers on a tale about a girl who treks to Nashville to pursue her dreams. Adds Patterson, "the mind-blowing thing about this project is that reading the novel is enhanced by listening to the album and vice versa." Both projects are dropping in tandem. It's a unique undertaking that celebrates a smoldering passion for music; but if you've been following the legend's career, would you expect anything less? — Rob LeDonne
Maren Morris, Humble Quest
Release date: March 25
GRAMMY-winning singer Maren Morris has conquered modern country music with her soulful solo material and even forayed into pop (just mentioning "The Middle" will glue its sticky chorus to your every waking moment for the next week). So whatever magic Morris might make with her highly anticipated third album, Humble Quest, is cause enough for celebration.
Morris kicked off her next LP with "Circles Around This Town," an expansive, freewheeling single that blends the echoing production of her 2016 debut HERO and super-personal lyrics of 2019's GIRL. The album will be Morris' first since the untimely 2019 passing of her longtime creative partner busbee, but her partnership with pop hitmaker Greg Kurstin (who produced "Circles Around This Town" as well as four GIRL tracks) hints that this next project is going to be a timeless trip and an emotional walloping. — B.C.
Thomas Rhett, Where We Started / Country Again: Side B
Release date: April 1 / Fall 2022
Though country music has always been the core of what Thomas Rhett has done since his debut album (2013's It Goes Like This), the star's 2021 set, Country Again: Side A, was more traditional than his past projects. Clearly his roots (along with the unexpected pandemic-induced downtime) sparked a bout of inspiration, as Rhett announced in November that he'll be releasing Side B as well as another LP, titled Where We Started, in 2022.
Surprisingly, Side B won't be coming first. But it will create one cohesive Country Again narrative once it arrives, as Rhett promised in an interview with Rolling Stone last year — though he did hint that Side B will feature production that's "a smidge more experimental" than Side A. His latest single, the wistful "Slow Down Summer" hints that Where We Started will also bring back more of the pop-leaning production he's incorporated in his previous albums.
Still, that doesn't mean he'll lose sight of the country boy that has been unleashed: In writing all of this music, Rhett told his producers (per Rolling Stone), "This is the direction I'm headed in, and I think I'm gonna be here for a long time." — T.W.
Jack White, Fear of the Dawn / Entering Heaven Alive
Release date: April 8 / July 22
Epic ambition fuels the very essence of rock 'n' roll and Jack White has embodied the genre's weakness for glamour, dissonance and excess since his days with The White Stripes. The reckless propulsion of "Over and Over and Over" — off 2018's Boarding House Reach — proved that he has kept the bravado in his songwriting very much alive.
2022 will find the multi-GRAMMY Award winning singer/guitarist releasing two full-length albums: Fear of the Dawn, led by the wonderfully bombastic single "Taking Me Back," will also include a collaboration with rapper Q-Tip. No details are available on July's Entering Heaven Alive, but the appearance of two albums in the same year is the kind of grandiloquent gesture that rock is in need of more than ever before. — E.L.
Swedish House Mafia, Paradise Again
Release date: TBA, ships April 15
When GRAMMY-nominated Swedish House Mafia announced they were getting back together (and this time for good), fans were cautiously optimistic. The trio of DJ-producers — Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell — promised a host of new music to mark their return, and so far they've kept to their word. The comeback began with the dark, guest-free "It Gets Better," which deviated from the big-room EDM sound championed by the Swedes up to their split in 2013.
From there, the trio delivered "Lifetime," featuring Ty Dolla $ign and 070 Shake, and "Moth to a Flame," featuring The Weeknd, which became their first major hit of the new era. This flurry of activity sets the stage for Swedish House Mafia's first full album, Paradise Again. As Ingrosso told NME, the album will combine their trademark "Scandinavian melodies with dark production and hard sounds." Starting July 2022, the DJs embark on their first tour in a decade, playing 44 dates throughout the US, UK and Europe. — J.T.
Jason Aldean, Georgia
Release date: April 22
Jumping on country music's 2021 double album trend, Jason Aldean issued Macon, the first half of his own two-disc set, Macon, Georgia, in November. The title is an homage to his hometown, which he refers to as a "melting pot" that shaped his music, according to Country Now. Yet, the 30-song project expands on Aldean's signature country-rock sound without steering too far away from what fans have grown to love, as evidenced with both Macon and Georgia's crooning lead single, "Whiskey Me Away."
Like its predecessor, Georgia will include 10 new songs and five live recordings of his biggest hits, essentially creating Aldean's first-ever live album.With the aptly titled track "Rock and Roll Cowboy" to boot, Georgia helps make Macon, Georgia a career highlight for Aldean. — T.W.
Machine Gun Kelly, Born with Horns
Release date: TBD
The upcoming sixth studio album from enigmatic rocker Machine Gun Kelly, ominously titled Born with Horns, was rumored to drop on New Year's Eve 2021, but it seems Kelly had a change of heart tweeting "See you in 2022." While the release date continues to be murky, there is some solid information about the highly anticipated fresh slate of music from the multi-hyphenate rockstar.
For one, the album is produced by fellow rock luminary Travis Barker and includes the decidedly dark single "Papercuts." "It feels more guitar-heavy for sure, lyrically it definitely goes deeper, but I never like to do anything the same," Kelly said of Born with Horns in an interview with Sunday TODAY, noting it'll also mark a personal evolution. "I'm not scared anymore, there's nothing holding me back from being my true self — and my true self can't be silenced, can't be restrained." — R.L.
Camila Cabello, Familia
Release date: TBD
There's perhaps never been a better advertisement for an album than Camila Cabello's edition of NPR's Tiny Desk. Released last fall, the session begins with three old songs and ends with two Familia cuts strong enough to bowl you over. In just 20 minutes, the former Fifth Harmony singer genuflects at the altar of pop's past while steering its ship into the future.
"Don't Go Yet" brims with the promise of comfort as it opens with a warm flamenco guitar. "La Buena Vida" is a Mariachi-based explosion of emotion and evocation, anchored by Cabello's arresting vocals. Whereas her prior albums sought to cement the 24-year-old amidst her contemporaries, the uber-personal Familia seems likely to propel her into a whole new pedigree of artistry. — B.C.
Release date: TBD
In 2018, Rosalía's cinematic El Mal Querer signified a before-and-after for the music of Spain and Latin America. A visionary blend of flamenco, hip-hop and confessional torch song, the album introduced her to the world as an intellectual, musicologist and pop diva wrapped up into one slick sonic package. Subsequent singles (2019's "Haute Couture" was a gorgeous slice of electro-pop) demonstrated that Rosalía's path to global domination relies on a voracious curiosity for disparate styles and high-profile collaborators such as Billie Eilish and Bad Bunny.
Titled MOTOMAMI, Rosalía's much anticipated release includes "LA FAMA," a deliciously distorted bachata duet with The Weeknd. We can only imagine what other wonders Rosalía's remarkable imagination has dreamed up for this, her first full-length album since becoming a cultural icon. — E.L.
Saweetie, Pretty Bitch Music
Release date: TBD
Saweetie is set to finally release her debut album, Pretty Bitch Music, this year. After first announcing the project in 2020, the Bay Area native's star power has exploded, reaching new heights last year with major endorsements, her first GRAMMY nominations and a "Saturday Night Live" debut. Pretty Bitch Music was initially slated to arrive in 2021, but Saweetie postponed the effort for some additional fine-tuning.
"I'm just living with it to ensure it's perfect," she told Hollywood Life in August. "I'm really challenging myself and I just want to ensure that I put out a body of work that [will] symbolize art."
Pretty Bitch Music is expected to include Saweetie's 2x Platinum-certified collaboration with Doja Cat, "Best Friend" and her single "Tap In" with production by Timbaland, Lil Jon and Murda Beatz, among other heavy-hitters. — V.M.
Kid Cudi, Entergalactic
Release date: TBD
Three years after it was announced, Kid Cudi's animated music adventure for Netflix is set to arrive this summer, as the rapper declared during his set at Rolling Loud California in December. "I got some tasty surprises," he told fans before offering a snippet of unreleased music that may be on the soundtrack.
Not much else is known about the project, which takes its title from a song on Cudi's 2009 debut Man on the Moon: The End of Day, and which co-creator Kenya Barris referred to as "the most ambitious thing" in a 2019 interview with Complex.
Entergalactic might not be where Kid Cudi stops in 2022, either: Amid his Rolling Loud teases, he said, "I want to drop another album before [Entergalactic]... I really am excited about all this new s, this new music to give to you guys. So that's why I'm teasing this s now, 'cause it's comin' out soon." — M.R.
Beach House, Once Twice Melody
Release date: throughout 2022
Nearly four years since the release of their seventh studio album aptly titled 7, Beach House is slowly unveiling their latest record Once Twice Melody. But instead of dropping all 18 tracks at once, the dreamy indie duo has been giving fans a taste of their new sound in four chapters.
Once Twice Melody is a significant shift as it's the first album produced in full by the band. Beach House also thought about its structure completely differently than they had in the past. "It didn't just feel like a regular, like another album of ours, it felt like a larger, newer kind of way of looking at our music," singer Victoria Legrand told Apple Music. Instead, they view it as "cinematic" and "literary." What fans can expect, they say, is "a lot of love" and "a sacredness of nature." — I.K.
Kendrick Lamar, TBA
Release date: TBD
One of our most celebrated artists of his generation may make his triumphant return this year. Although it's been nearly five years since Kendrick Lamar released his GRAMMY- and Pulitzer Prize-winning album DAMN, Lamar has remained busy. In 2018, Lamar curated the Black Panther soundtrack and he's also made guest appearances on tracks by artists as varied as Nipsey Hussle, Anderson .Paak, U2 and his cousin, Baby Keem.
But Lamar has been mostly mum about his own music, save for an August blog post titled "nu thoughts." "Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family," he wrote, adding that his next album will be his last with Top Dawg Entertainment. It's the sort of thoughtful, precise announcement (and perhaps a hint to his album's content) that fans have come to expect from the notoriously private rapper. Lamar will thankfully make an appearance at this year's Super Bowl in February. — Britt Julious
Cardi B, TBA
Release date: TBD
Despite the slow-burning success of her single "Bodak Yellow," few could have predicted the popularity of Cardi B'sdebut album, Invasion of Privacy. A critical and commercial success, "Invasion of Privacy" won Best Rap Album at the 61st Grammy Awards, making Cardi the first woman to win in the category. That's why anticipation for her sophomore record is so high.
Cardi's brand of hip-hop is provocative and fun, and her two singles (possibly from the record) seem to confirm that same mood is still present in her music. In 2020, she dropped "WAP," a cultural reset of a collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion, and in 2021, she released "Up," which later inspired a viral TikTok dance challenge. As with many artists, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the release of Cardi's new album. But late last year on Instagram Live, Cardi said she has "lots of jobs now" and one of them is to "put out this album next year." Hopefully fans won't have to wait too long. — B.J.
Release date: TBD
If Koffee's latest single is any indication, the youngest GRAMMY Award winner for Best Reggae Album is planning a glorious homecoming in 2022. Sung with a wide smile you can nearly hear, "West Indies" is a dancehall love letter to the islands and an upbeat promise for what the singer has in store on her first full-length.
"I want to speak of a solution and of a way that we can come together and get along, even when things are going wrong," Koffee told Rolling Stone.
Although the pandemic halted her album recording and nixed her first Coachella performance, Koffee defies the dour attitude of much of the past two years. On "West Indies," Koffee assures that she's partying and having the time of her life — her as-yet-untitled album will likely soundtrack yours while you do the same. — Jessica Lipsky
Read More: The Women Essential To Reggae And Dancehall
Girl Ultra, TBA
Release date: TBD
Few musical experiences are as uplifting as listening to a singer/songwriter's follow-up to a brilliant debut, where they enhance the scope of their craft with new influences and sounds. Nuevos Aires, Girl Ultra's first full-length album, was just that – a breath of fresh air for Latin R&B, anchored on the purity of her voice and collaborations with Ximena Sariñana and Cuco (for the languid hit "DameLove.")
Following that 2019 release, the artist also known as Mariana de Miguel returns with a new EP. Lead single "Amores de Droga" evokes the sophistication of Everything But The Girl, combining smoldering vocalizing with cool electro grooves. A study in contrasts, it finds the Mexico City chanteuse reaching a pinnacle of inspiration. — E.L.
Photos (L-R): J. Shearer, M. Caulfield, Dimitrios Kambouris, Jeffrey Mayer, Theo Wargo (all for WireImage)
Why 2002 Was The Year That Made Pop-Punk: Simple Plan, Good Charlotte & More On How "Messing Around And Being Ourselves" Became Mainstream
As pop-punk finds a new generation, veterans Good Charlotte, Sum 41, Bowling For Soup, and Simple Plan celebrate by looking back on the year that brought the genre to the pop world — and beyond.
On May 6, Simple Plan released their sixth album, Harder Than It Looks — less than two months after the pop-punk group's debut album, No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls, turned 20. While it's a feat for any band to still be around 20 years after their debut, Simple Plan may find it the most remarkable of anyone. Because, according to what they were told in the early 2000s, pop-punk wasn't supposed to last this long.
"When we got signed, a lot of labels passed on us and [were] saying, 'Hey, this pop-punk thing, you're at the tail end of it. It's just about to go out. This is not gonna last,'" Simple Plan's frontman, Pierre Bouvier, remembers. "We were like, 'Nah, this is here to stay for much longer than that.' People thought it was gonna be the end, and it was really just the beginning."
To the naysayers, perhaps it did seem like the genre was losing steam. Though Blink-182 and Green Day (whether they like to claim the pop-punk label or not) were arguably bigger than they'd ever been at that point, their style of rock hardly broke into the pop- and rap-dominated mainstream. Yet, it was Bouvier who had it right — pop-punk was only getting started.
No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls was one of several albums to arrive in 2002 that are now considered pop-punk/emo-pop classics: Avril Lavigne's Let Go, Good Charlotte's The Young and the Hopeless, the All-American Rejects' self-titled debut, New Found Glory's Sticks and Stones, Bowling For Soup's Drunk Enough to Dance, Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends, the Starting Line's Say It Like You Mean It, and Something Corporate's Leaving Through the Window, among others.
Sure, fast-forward a few years, and you'll find albums (and artists) that were arguably even more monumental in the pop-punk/emo world, from Fall Out Boy's 2005 blockbuster From Under The Cork Tree to Paramore's 2007 game-changer Riot. But it was 2002's crop that took the genre from a cult following to a true movement — one that wasn't as fleeting as some may have thought.
The groundwork had been laid in the years leading up to 2002. Blink-182's "All The Small Things" became a crossover smash in 2000; 2001 birthed two of pop-punk's biggest anthems, Sum 41's "Fat Lip" and Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle" (though the latter made it big in '02, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 that June). And before that, bands like Green Day, the Offspring, and the Descendents helped prove that an audience was there.
What was different about 2002, though, is that mainstream music was in the wake of the super-pop explosion of the late '90s and early 2000s. After a few years of manufactured boy bands and hyper-produced pop stars, the carefree nature of pop-punk was both refreshing and eye-catching.
"It felt novel compared to what people were listening to, and it was very organic," Good Charlotte's Benji Madden says. "Kids who start listening to music pretty young, they start digging a little bit deeper; they start wanting new sounds, new vibes. And pop-punk was there."
That young crowd is exactly what fueled the pop-punk takeoff. Not only was it a fresh sound, but its lyrical content spoke to teenagers — who may have been underserved by popular music around that time.
"A lot of our songs have always been about struggling and trying to get through it," Bouvier says. "When the band started, we were like, 19 years old, so we were fresh out of those really tumultuous teenage years. Maybe it was a blind spot that other songwriters hadn't quite tapped into yet. It felt like this needed to be said, and to us, it was genuine. And the listeners felt the same thing."
As Bouvier's bandmate, Chuck Comeau, argues, pop-punk didn't just have "pop" in the name because it was popular. "I always said if you meet somebody and they're like, 'What kind of music do you guys do?' I say, 'Well, it's kind of like the Beatles, but just played faster with distortion,'" he quips. "It's the same catchy melodies, but the lyrics were very heartfelt, very honest, and very real — also very vulnerable, in a way that pop music really wasn't at the time."
The new pop-punk demographic was among the same group that was religiously tuning into MTV's Total Request Live, one of the main music trendsetters at the time — if not the trendsetter. Sum 41 singer Deryck Whibley credits MTV for helping launch "Fat Lip" into the stratosphere, and embracing pop-punk music videos in general. "It was a pivotal moment," he says. "I think that was really the biggest reason why the genre exploded."
The "Fat Lip" video encapsulates the authenticity that made pop-punk so appealing. Filmed in a few locations in Pomona, Calif. (just outside of L.A.), the clip captured what was essentially a parking-lot Sum 41 show, complete with a mosh pit, crowd surfing, and even a halfpipe. "We were just gonna film everybody doing dumb s<em></em>* and see what they do… there was no treatment," Whibley recalls. "It represented that age group across the country — and kind of across the world, really."
"It was a very big contrast from all the boy bands and pop stars, [where] everything is controlled and they're shown in the perfect light," Bouvier adds. "Here we are, just messing around and being ourselves. I think people were hungry for that."
Several of Simple Plan's videos shared a similar vibe, from a high school gymnasium rock show in "I'm Just a Kid" to a destructive living room performance in "Addicted." Good Charlotte offered a near-identical aesthetic to "Fat Lip" with the video for "The Anthem," proving the concept resonated: "The Anthem" is the fifth most-requested video in TRL history, according to Screen Rant.
But the pop-punk scene wasn't just a guy's club. Avril Lavigne reigned the TRL countdown for several weeks in 2002 thanks to her signature singles "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi." The former marked her debut, and almost instantly crowned her pop-punk's princess, reaching No. 2 on the Hot 100 that August.
"Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi" both reached No. 1 on Billboard's Pop Airplay chart that year as well — a feat none of her 2002 pop-punk peers would ever achieve (well, at least not until 7 years later, when the All-American Rejects' 2009 belter "Gives You Hell" reached the top). Still, Simple Plan, Good Charlotte and Bowling for Soup had plenty of pop radio hits around that time, each scoring at least one top 10.
Lavigne is also among the coveted ranks of pop-punk artists who have received GRAMMY nominations. In addition to "Sk8er Boi" and "Complicated" both receiving nominations at the 2003 GRAMMYs — the latter earning a Song Of The Year nod — Lavigne's debut album, Let Go, was up for Best Pop Vocal Album, and she was nominated for Best New Artist. (Bowling For Soup's "Girl All The Bad Guys Want" also received a nom that year in the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal category — further showing pop-punk's crossover appeal.)
"Avril was a great example of a young artist looking to express herself, and [she] created something that was a lasting impression of what an artist can be in the mainstream and what the music can be," Good Charlotte's Joel Madden says. "Whether it was conscious or not, it was really authentic. And each [pop-punk] group was authentic to themselves. It was kind of that moment in time."
If you ask Lavigne about what made her music resonate so widely, her answer is simple: "People were just loving rocking out, having fun, wearing low guitars, and jumping and bouncing around on stage."
Despite any rebellion that may have emanated in the videos, lyrics, and outfits — or just the demeanor — of any pop-punk act at the time, one thing rang true: it was good, clean fun.
"It was safe rock 'n' roll," Bowling For Soup frontman Jaret Reddick says. "I remember my agent saying, 'You guys are not cool, but you're the first band that parents let their kids buy your album even if you say 's<em></em>*' on like, half the songs.' Kids liked it because it was fast, and it pleased parents because they could understand the lyrics — and, topically, we weren't alienating anybody."
Reddick points out that the pop-punk craze became a full-on frenzy in 2003. And by that point, the fan base extended beyond teenagers. "We started to notice that there were people who brought children to see us. It was like, 'I think our fans have a curfew,'" he laughs. "But people who liked us as a rock band continued to support us, it's not like we lost people. We gained a movement."
And the movement continued to grow. The next year saw the rise of My Chemical Romance thanks to their second album, 2004's Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (which spawned now classics "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" and "Helena"). The year after that, Fall Out Boy's "Sugar We're Goin' Down" became an immediate pop-punk standard, beginning a hit-filled career that has helped them remain a touring giant 20 years later — and, along with MCR, ushering in the emo era.
Although it didn't completely erase the spirit and sound that pop-punk's leaders had established, emo became the dominant genre by the mid-2000s. As its name hints, emo (short for emotional) introduced a darker vibe to the brightness of pop-punk. Yet, that didn't stop it from crossing over into pop: Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Paramore and Panic! At the Disco all scored top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with songs that were branded as emo.
By 2005, emo became a full-blown subculture. And while the genre label had changed, pop-punk clearly had an influence on emo's more pop-leaning acts like We The Kings, All Time Low and Mayday Parade.
Today, the bands that were considered emo are often pooled in with early 2000s acts, and pop-punk and emo have become umbrella terms. Whatever the "correct" name, most of the acts have cohabited in several ways — particularly on the now-defunct Warped Tour — and, above all, have strived to ensure that the spirit endures. But according to Whibley, it has never dwindled.
"Something interesting that I've noticed over the years is, it's almost like the crowd never changes, and never grows up," he suggests. "The front row always looks the same as it did in 2001."
Pop-punk has seen a strong resurgence in recent years, with artists like Machine Gun Kelly, Olivia Rodrigo and Meet Me @ the Altar taking cues from their predecessors. And many of the genre's pioneers are still going: Along with releasing a new album, Simple Plan is co-headlining a tour with Sum 41; Lavigne triumphantly returned to her roots on her latest album, Love Sux.
Lavigne is also one of 65 pop-punk/emo acts on the newly minted When We Were Young Festival — an event that not only caused an internet frenzy upon its announcement, but was extended from one to three days due to demand. One Instagram commenter may have summed up the lineup best: "It's like high school all over again."
A 2021 TikTok trend also proved that pop-punk and emo have staying power. Soundtracked by All Time Low's 2006 classic "Dear Maria Count Me In," TikTokers proudly proclaimed, "Mom, it was never a phase — it's a lifestyle!"
Between the new music and the nostalgia, the essence of what began in the early aughts is certainly alive and well.
"This music speaks to a younger generation, and the new generation always gets into it," Whibley continues. "Whether it's in the mainstream or not has never seemed to affect what I see from the stage. There's just something about this kind of music that is youthful and exciting. It's always going to be here."
Avril Lavigne at the GRAMMY Museum
Photo: Alison Buck
Avril Lavigne Has Always Known Exactly Who She Is
At the GRAMMY Museum last night, the eternal punk princess reflected on her musical beginnings, unyielding self-confidence and the impact of her music
17 years ago, a Canadian teen named Avril Lavigne skated her way into our hearts with her debut album, Let Go, along with unforgettable hit singles like "Complicated" and "Sk8ter Boi." She was just a teenager when the GRAMMY-nominated LP was released in June 2002, but she already knew who she was and felt ready to share her punk-rock style and sensibilities with the music world.
As she recounted to 250 lucky fans at her GRAMMY Museum event last night, Lavigne famously dropped out of high school at 16 to move to Los Angeles and pursue a music career. Clearly things went her way, as she is now one of the most recognizable names in pop—and through all the pressures that come with being a young woman in the music industry, she never lost sight of who she was.
Photo: Alison Buck
Speaking to Scott Goldman in the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, the eternal punk princess, rocking all black with punky suspender pants, reflected on her musical beginnings, that unyielding self-confidence and the impact her music has had on the next generation of female alt-rockers. They also discussed her sixth studio album, Head Above Water, which she released earlier this year. To close, she brought out two of her bandmates to share a few songs they've been rehearsing for her upcoming tour, her first one in five years.
Looking back on her initial experience with the L.A. music industry, she explains that they didn't quite get her at first. "The music was too soft and fluffy for me… I just wanted to hear guitars, even though I was only 16," Lavigne said. "The label saw me as a pop star," she added, musing that pop-rock wasn't so much a thing yet, in the early part of the millennium. She knew she had to be clear with who she was in order to prove herself to those who didn't understand it.
"I'd show up to a high-fashion shoot with a book bag of neckties," she explained, a testament to her confident demeanor and edgy style. Sharing some wisdom on how she managed to be so much of herself at such a young age, she said, "You have to love yourself and find your confidence."
When Goldman asked what her early music, specifically her first two albums, sound like to her when she listens now, Lavigne replied that she was proud of what she wrote as a teen and hears "variety and a lot of depth."
Goldman also asked what it felt like to be a role model for the next generation of guitar-loving women, citing rising alt-rockers Soccer Mommy and Snail Mail, who've named those early albums as major influences to their own music. "It's so cool…to know that my music inspired or influenced anyone," the "Complicated" singer beamed.
Avril Lavigne al Grammy Museum cantando in versione acustica la sua Hit “Girlfriend”pic.twitter.com/LuxscYJeH4— AvrilBestItalian (@AvrilBestItalia) September 6, 2019
The much-anticipated performance included two songs from the new album, opening with the title track and closing with the anthemic "Warrior," as well as two of her '00s hits. After serving up a powerful rendition of "Head Above Water," Lavigne went into one of her "favorites to perform," "My Happy Ending," from her second album, Under My Skin. Before breaking into the chorus, she asked the audience to join her. She asked the crowd what they wanted to hear next, and over a dozen selections from her discography were shouted out.
Lavigne gave the audience a chance to be heard, listening, before responding, "'Girlfriend' should be fun." She was right.
Finally, in an epic act of on-stage cuteness, as Lavigne got up from her stool to exit the stage, the suspenders hanging from her pants got stuck, evoking a laugh. This was the perfect time for the crowd to request an encore, and she left everyone on a high note with "Warrior," even getting fan-assistance with a lyric she forgot on the new song.
As the fans filed out of the theater, a teen with hot pink hair and a cutoff plaid shirt turned to her dad and said with wide eyes: "I'm seriously shaking."