Is it too early to start thinking about 2019? No way, and already many of our favorite musicians are plotting their endeavors for the next year. We’ve heard two singles from the next Ariana Grande album, seen James Blake drop new tunes in DJ sets, and witnessed Sharon Van Etten announce her next record via t-shirts. And beyond that which we know and we expect, there will surely be countless surprises that we’re not even yet expecting.
Drake doesn’t sit out most years, SZA seems to be saying she’s got new music coming at some point, plus The Strokes just announced some new tour dates for their return. It all means that music listeners and artists will be equally busy in the coming year, and it could be a great way to send off the decade. With that in mind, here are our own picks for the albums we’re most anticipating for 2019.
50. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus’s most recent album, 2017’s Younger Now, saw her heading in a more country-pop direction, a vibe she won’t strictly adhere to on her next record. She recently confirmed that hip-hop producer Mike Will Made-It is involved with her new album, and she said of it, “A song that [Mark Ronson] and I have done together is more rock driven, modern Debbie Harry or Joan Jett. Then we’ve got songs with Mike Will that lean more hip-hop and songs with Andrew Wyatt that lean more pop/alternative. I just have kind of everything.”–Derrick Rossignol
49. Steve Gunn, The Unseen In Between (1/18)
Steve Gunn’s The Unseen In Between will help ring in the new year with its January 18 release date, and he’s shared a couple tastes of the album so far. “New Moon” has an old-school psychedelic vibe to it, while “Stonehurst Cowboy” is an emotional tribute to his father.–D.R.
48. Rexx Life Raj
This upbeat Oakland rap crooner has flown under the radar for quite some time thanks to his Bay Area-bred, innately independent spirit. However, even remaining unsigned, his chances of winning in 2019 increase exponentially with every massive festival crowd he plays to with fun, soulful songs from projects like Father Figure 2 and California Poppy. He’s got the grit to stick it out, too, because even though he went to college on a football scholarship, he remained committed to his goal of rap stardom. That kind of dedication always pays off in the long run, and the finish line is near.–Aaron Williams
47. Chance The Rapper
Chance’s most recent release was 2016’s Coloring Book, so he’s due for something new. He’s released six non-album singles in 2018, which suggests that he’s been productive enough for there to be a full-length release in 2019.–D.R.
46. Louis Tomlinson
Since One Direction went on hiatus in 2015, Louis Tomlinson is the only member of the band who hasn’t released a collection of solo material yet. Tommo’s most recent single, the electric pop-punk banger “Miss You,” was over a year ago, but the singer is insistent that the wait for new music is almost over. (“Soon is getting sooner,” to quote a tweet from a few months back.) Tomlinson’s solo singles have been hit and miss so far, but he also wrote dozens of songs for One Direction, including many of the band’s most beloved deep cuts. Tomlinson is a known perfectionist and has been picking away at this album (and teasing it on social media) for the better part of three years. The wait has only built up the intrigue, though — “sooner” can’t come soon enough.–Chloe Gilke
45. Pusha T
Pusha T gave us his most potent batch yet on Daytona, crafting an arguably flawless seven-track album this summer. Daytona’s execution bodes well for his full-length followup — especially as his nemesis Drake keeps needling at his boss Kanye.–Andre Gee
44. Cass McCombs, Tip Of The Sphere (2/8)
Over the last 15 years, Cass McCombs has made a name for himself through his consistently masterful songwriting that feels untouched by the indie world around him. His next album, Tip Of The Sphere, was recorded quickly in Brooklyn by an artist who seemingly never gets tired of making music in new places, with his own unique storytelling and melodic gifts giving his work its necessary through line.–Philip Cosores
43. Maren Morris
Maren Morris‘ 2016 debut, Hero sparked some notable country hits, but Morris broke into the pop scene this year with the inescapable “The Middle.” The Zedd collab reminded us what we already knew — Morris has the kind of elastic powerhouse voice that blows you away and knocks down genre walls. The singer is staying mum on whether this new album will lean more toward her country roots or her pop breakout. She hasn’t announced a release date for the project yet, but the singer recently confirmed on Twitter that the album is finished, and is teasing the release of some new material very soon. In the meantime, I’ll be blasting “Drunk Girls Don’t Cry.”–C.G.
42. Cardi B
Before her breakup with Offset, fans were “merely” anticipating a follow-up to one of 2018’s most beloved albums. Now, they’re also anticipating what the infamously outspoken Bronx rapper has to say about the scandalous breakup of one of music’s biggest couples.–A.G.
41. Jessica Pratt, Quiet Signs (2/8)
For those of you who are enamored with old world folk and delicate, utterly unique vocals, Jessica Pratt is your new go-to. She’s been quietly delivering homespun, expertly-fashioned albums full of poetic, intense story-songs for years now, and has promised another collection in Quiet Signs will be out in early 2019. This is the third studio album for the LA-based singer-songwriter, and on this one, she just might start to get loud.–Caitlin White