Leave it to Taylor Swift to shake up the fall music calendar.
On Sunday, the prolific superstar set Twitter ablaze when she closed out the MTV Video Music Awards by announcing “Midnights” (out Oct. 21), a new album of songs inspired by restless sleeps and nocturnal reveries. The 13-track effort joins a wide-ranging lineup of crisp fall releases, with young artists (Noah Cyrus, Jackie Evancho) and proven hit-makers (Charlie Puth, Red Hot Chili Peppers) all unspooling fresh albums in the next two months.
With so many options to choose from, here’s a look at 12 of our most highly anticipated:
Hitting the big 5-0: Albums by David Bowie, The Eagles, Elton John mark milestones
Four of the 11 tracks from Lennon’s seventh album have trickled out since spring. Given that this is his first album since 2011’s “Everything Changes,” Lennon is understandably keen to promote his new work, including “Save Me,” an orchestral piano ballad, and “Freedom,” a slow-burning song filled with the melancholy tone ingrained in Lennon’s voice, first evident on his 1984 debut, “Valotte.” Lennon named his album after “Hey Jude,” the song Paul McCartney wrote for him as a young boy (co-credited to Lennon’s late father, John). – Melissa Ruggieri
The biggest female K-pop group on the planet has teased fans with “Pink Venom,” the paradoxical first single from their sophomore release. If it’s an indication of the rest of the album, expect a bouncy combination of hip-hop pop-rock spiced with traditional Korean instruments (the gayageum, also known as a pluck zither, is injected into the single). Attitude and bilingual delivery will also be in full supply. – Ruggieri
BTS hiatus? K-pop superstars say they’ll pursue solo projects
The gravelly voiced Mumford & Sons frontman is branching out with his first solo project, which finds him excavating his past experiences with addiction and being sexually abused at 6 years old. “That wasn’t a choice in the mind of a child and you knew it,” he sings on the hushed “Cannibal,” before opening the emotional floodgates on the bruising and guttural “Grace.” Mumford gorgeously harmonizes with Phoebe Bridgers on rousing standout “Stonecatcher,” and finds a similarly inspired duet partner in Brandi Carlile for album closer “How,” a soulful reflection on forgiveness and healing. – Patrick Ryan
Brandi Carlile:Musician talks new memoir, LGBTQ parenting and her ‘gay pen-pal father figure’ Elton John
The Japanese-British singer delivered one of 2020’s greatest albums with her vibrant debut “Sawayama,” and has since collaborated with Elton John, Lady Gaga and Charli XCX. On “Hold the Girl,” she returns more eclectic and introspective than before: moving past trauma on the breathtaking title track, and seeking validation on the thrashing “Frankenstein.” The rising pop star channels her inner-Shania Twain on the heart-wrenching country ballad “Forgiveness,” and name-checks Britney Spears in “This Hell,” a thumping middle finger to piety and hate. – Ryan
Phoebe Bridgers, Troye Sivan, Lil Nas X:How LGBTQ pop stars are thriving like never before
As Broken Bells – a side project of James Mercer (The Shins) and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) – the alt-rock duo crafts dreamy melodies with deceptively melancholy lyrics, both of which are on display in “Saturdays,” the sun-drenched second single off the band’s forthcoming third effort “Into the Blue.” Themes of love and loneliness permeate the similarly bittersweet opener “We’re Not in Orbit Yet…,” whose looming sirens and swelling guitars set the stage for another atmospheric album to get lost in. – Ryan
Staying true to their penchant for inscrutable – and lengthy – album titles, the British indie-pop quartet fronted by the enigmatic Matty Healy returns with a fifth release. The 11 tracks feature production work by Jack Antonoff on the two singles released so far. “Part of the Band” includes Antonoff and Japanese Breakfast on background vocals, scattershot lyrics (“I was coming off the hinges / living on the fringes” and “Am I ironically woke? / The butt of my joke?”) and violin as its primary instrumentation. On “Happiness,” the band goes full Roxy Music-meets-the Blow Monkeys on a gliding song propelled by a jangly guitar groove and soaring saxophone that swoops in with ’80s-influenced perfection. – Ruggieri
Since scaling the top 40 charts a near-decade ago with “Habits (Stay High)” and “Talking Body,” Lo has playfully and provocatively colored outside the margins of mainstream music. Now, she’s independently releasing her fifth full-length effort “Dirt Femme,” featuring collaborations with First Aid Kit, SG Lewis and Channel Tres. The album begins with “No One Dies From Love,” a sneaky earworm about overwhelming heartbreak that is also one of the year’s very best pop songs. She also reveals new shades of vulnerability in the hypnotic “Suburbia,” about her fears of settling down, and “I’m to Blame,” which shows off her vocal prowess as she contemplates a failed relationship. – Ryan
It’s been five years since we got a new album from the perennially cool English rockers, who trade the heady space-pop of 2018’s “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” for a more “sumptuous musical landscape” on the seventh outing “The Car,” according to a band statement. Their new direction is apparent from the lush opening chords of lead single “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball,” a wistful, woozy ballad about searching for the light at the end of a relationship. “I’m sure to have a heavy heart,” frontman Alex Turner croons over soft high hats and swirling synths. “So can we please be absolutely sure there’s a mirrorball for me?” – Ryan
Jepsen is forever chiseled into pop’s Mount Rushmore thanks to 2015’s “Emotion,” a wall-to-wall masterpiece of sparkling synth-bops and soaring, sax-assisted anthems. The Canadian singer reaches similarly euphoric heights on her sixth album “The Loneliest Time,” which despite the glum title, features some of her brightest and boldest songs in years. The infectious one-two punch of “Joshua Tree” and “Talking to Myself” alone is enough to erect a monument in Jepsen’s honor. – Ryan
There is something inherently joyful about Trainor’s music. Maybe it’s her wholehearted embrace of musical styles no longer considered cool (doo-wop, ukuleles). Or perhaps it’s her admirable ability to deliver a lyric that sounds as sweet as a candy apple while it quietly poisons. Her skills land mightily on “Sensitive,” the opening track of her latest album, as she chastises an ex about lying and cheating over a heavenly chorus of harmonies (Scott Hoying of Pentatonix provides an assist). Elsewhere, you can see Trainor’s hips swinging during “Made You Look,” while she and Teddy Swims croon beautifully on “Bad for Me.” And the Jewel-esque “Superwoman” will find many fans among her female base as Trainor reminds, “Even heroes cry, so why can’t I?” – Ruggieri
Demi Lovato unleashed: Singer excavates demons on hard-rocking new album
Swift has sneakily become one of music’s most exciting and unpredictable chameleons: morphing from an earnest country ingenue to a media-savvy pop star and reclusive folk songwriter. Now, the 11-time Grammy winner is set to unveil another side of her artistry on “Midnights,” which she describes in a statement as “a collection of music written in the middle of the night.” Fans have wildly speculated about the album’s genre ever since Swift announced the project at the VMAs. But if there are two things we know for sure, there will be some killer bridges and an utterly devastating Track 5. – Ryan
For his first release since 2015’s “Return of the Tender Lover,” producer/singer Babyface enlisted an assembly of some of the most interesting female voices in R&B/soul. Relegating himself to the background as a presence who drops in and out, Babyface instead spotlights the talents of singers including Tink, Muni Long, Ari Lennox and Coco Jones. His pairing with Kehlani on “Seamless” is a throwback R&B ballad, while “Keeps on Fallin’,” with Ella Mai, flutters on a seductive bed of keyboards. Queen Naija and Baby Tate get a little more explicit on “Game Over” and “Don’t Even Think About It,” respectively. Baby Tate makes it quite clear where she stands on commitment when she sings, “Baby, you better not let me see you when I roll over my pillow.” – Ruggieri
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Leave it to Taylor Swift to shake up the fall music calendar.