10 musical moments to look out for in 2020

Stormzy, Adele, Paul McCartney, Rihanna, Dua Lipa, Madonna and Taylor SwiftImage copyright
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All set for 2020: Stormzy, Adele, Paul McCartney, Rihanna, Dua Lipa, Madonna and Taylor Swift

I’m so 20/20 with my vision, 20/20 with precision,” sings Charli XCX on her latest album.

We can’t claim similar levels of foresight – but here are a few of the musical highlights we’re expecting over the next 12 months.

1) Adele’s drum and bass album

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“I’m calling my next album ADELE,” tweeted Lady Gaga in October, apropos of nothing.

She offered no further explanation, so let’s wildly speculate she was challenging Adele to finish her fourth album, otherwise she’d steal her thunder.

Adele’s certainly been keeping a low profile since her world tour ended in 2017; only surfacing periodically on Instagram to support Tottenham Hotspur or fangirl over the Spice Girls. But “sources” have told the tabloids she’s back in the studio, so it must be true.

Privately, the star’s been through a painful break-up with her husband Simon Konecki and, on her 31st birthday, she wrote that she’d “changed drastically in the last couple years”.

That’s bound to affect her music. Writing on Instagram, she told fans her new album would be “a drum’n’bass record to spite you”.

2) The new Bond theme

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The 25th James Bond film is due for release in April; which means that, somewhere on the planet, one of pop’s biggest stars is holed up in a recording studio, trying to find the perfect rhyme for No Time To Die.

Sheeran, Ed Sheeran is the bookie’s favourite to record the title song and, as luck would have it, he’s already got one oven ready.

“I’ve had a theme tune written for about three years,” he told Ireland’s Late, Late Show in 2017. Pressed to reveal the title, Sheeran added: “I’m not going to say ‘cause someone might steal it, but it’s good.”

Other names in the frame include Dua Lipa, Liam Gallagher and Lady Gaga, fresh from the success of her Oscar-winning turn in A Star Is Born. We’d like to hear what Lana Del Rey would make of a Bond theme… But the most brilliantly out-there suggestion is that producers could get Bond-in-waiting Idris Elba to crank out the theme song.

3) Kanye for President?

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2020, I’ma run the whole election,” bragged Kanye West on Facts, a track from his 2016 Life Of Pablo album.

The mercurial musician has long expressed ambitions for the White House – but is he really prepared to go up against Donald Trump next year?

Recent indications suggest not. Releasing his new album, Jesus Is King, the rapper revised his political plans, saying he had his sights set on 2024, not 2020, and that he’d be running on a platform of job creation.

“I’m not gonna run, I’m gonna walk,” he declared, before informing fans he intended to “legally change my name to ‘Christian Genius Billionaire Kanye West'”.

4) Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary

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The iconic festival celebrates its golden anniversary next year, with Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney and Diana Ross the first artists to be confirmed.

Organiser Emily Eavis says the rest of the line-up will be equally impressive, with “Pyramid-level” headliners playing on the festival’s second stage.

She’s also committed to getting “as close as we can” to 50/50 gender split on the bill; while there are “fresh ideas” afoot for the festival’s outré late-night arenas, Block9, Lost Vagueness and Arcadia.

Other acts rumoured for the bill include Kendrick Lamar, Guns N’ Roses, Ariana Grande, Arctic Monkeys, Madonna and The 1975. Elton John and Fleetwood Mac have been ruled out, however, and Queen won’t play because of a dispute over badgers.

5) Rihanna’s elusive reggae album

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For the last four years, Rihanna’s done everything except make an album: She’s built a fashion empire, launched a ground-breaking make-up range, and expanded her movie career.

This means nothing to her fans, though, who constantly pester her for new music. In April, as Rihanna promoted a new beauty range on Instagram, one commenter complained: “We want the album, sis.”

“Well, this is bronzer,” the star replied.

Over the summer, she took trolling to a whole new level – sharing a video of herself in the studio with the caption: “Behind the scenes of ‘Where’s the album?'” Two weeks later, she released a range of T-shirts bearing the legend: “No More Music”.

Despite that, we know there’s an album in the works. In November, she told Vogue it’d be “reggae-infused”.

“It’s in my blood,” added the Bajan star. “Even though I’ve explored other genres of music, it was time to go back to something that I haven’t really homed in on completely for a body of work.”

6) The ones to watch

Media captionWatch clips from the BBC Sound Of 2020 nominees

A cottage industry has sprung up around predicting the new year’s best new music, with the Brits’ Rising Star award, MTV Push and the BBC’s own Sound of 2020 all tipping fresh young artists for success.

Two names crop up on all three lists: Celeste, who the NME called “a once-in-a-generation talent” and “the finest British soul singer to emerge in years”; and Joy Crookes, whose rich RB grooves fuse her Irish-Bangladeshi heritage with a youthful London aesthetic.

In Scotland, folk-pop artist Gerry Cinnamon is making big waves – selling out Glasgow’s 50,000-capacity Hampden Park stadium in a matter of hours, despite not having a record deal. That word-of-mouth success looks set to grow in 2020, as his unvarnished, boisterous songs find a bigger audience.

It’s a similar story for Mancunian MC Aitch, who scored a top 10 hit earlier this year with the irresistibly cheeky Taste (Make It Shake). Since then he’s collaborated with Ed Sheeran and Stormzy, teeing up expectation for his debut album.

Keep an eye out, too, for singer-songwriter Maisie Peters, who knows her way around a confessional pop ballad; and Italian singer/rapper Beba, who released a handful of exhilarating singles in 2019.

7) The albums you’ll cherry-pick the best songs from, because no-one listens to albums any more

The following musicians will declare their album is “the ultimate expression of my artistic vision,” even as we drag all their singles into curated playlist and consign the ropey ballad about their mum to the dustbin.

  • Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia. Inspired by disco and classic pop, Dua Lipa told the BBC her second album would sound “like a dancercise class”.
  • The 1975 – Notes On A Conditional Form. Singer Matty Healy told Radio 1 the record would be an ode to “British nighttime culture” including “the beauty of the M25 and going to McDonald’s… in a Peugeot 206”.
  • Kendrick Lamar – TBC. What do you do when your last album won a Pulitzer Prize? That’s the question Kendrick Lamar has to answer as he puts together the follow-up to 2017’s Damn. Although he’s been pretty quiet for the last 12 months, his appearance on several 2020 festival bills suggests King Kenny might have found the solution.
  • Kesha – High Road. After the high drama of her Grammy-nominated Rainbow album, the Tik Tok singer says she’s “reconnected to the unrestrained joy and wildness that’s always been a part of me” for her fourth album.
  • Pet Shop Boys – Hotspot. Recorded in Berlin, the album comes in advance of an extensive Greatest Hits tour in May.
  • Lana Del Rey – White Hot Forever. When Lana’s latest album, Norman F_____ Rockwell came out in August, the star said she’d already started work on the follow-up. Enthusing about a new song called Let Me Love You Like A Woman, she said: “I feel like it’s going to be really important”.
  • Idles – Toneland. Details are scarce, but the band announced work had begun on their third album earlier this year.
  • Cardi B – TBC. The rapper posted an impressive freestyle on her Instagram in November, calling it, “just a little something ‘til I finish up the album”. It could be a long wait, though – she’s currently in the middle of filming Fast Furious 9.
  • The Killers – Imploding The Mirage. After a triumphant headline set at Glastonbury, Las Vegas’s finest hit the studio to start work on their sixth album, with titles tentatively including Dying Breed and When Dreams Run Dry. It’s due in May, swiftly followed by a UK stadium tour.

Other artists with new music on the way include Halsey, The Weeknd, BTS, Haim, SZA, Childish Gambino, Selena Gomez, BlackPink, 21 Savage, The Avalanches, Kendrick Lamar, Bombay Bicycle Club and Justin Bieber.

8) The big tours

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Madonna’s Madame X Tour sees her playing smaller, more intimate venues

Madonna hits the UK at the end of January for a 14-night residency at the London Palladium.

It’s a rare opportunity to see the Queen of Pop up-close and personal, and reviews of the US dates have called it “a colourful riot”, a “political spectacle”, and “sacred yet sleazy – the ultimate Madonna combination”.

Be warned, though, the star’s been turning up hours late – frequently taking to the stage after 11pm.

Stormzy’s made equally-ambitious plans, with a 55-date tour that includes three nights at London’s O2, as well as dates in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, North America and Africa.

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2019’s breakout star Billie Eilish starts her ecologically-friendly Where Do We Go? tour in Miami next March, arriving in the UK for dates in Manchester, Birmingham and London; while Little Mix are heading out on a 21-date UK stadium tour over the summer, topped off with a headline slot at the BST festival in Hyde Park.

Alanis Morissette has announced she’ll be playing her debut album Jagged Little Pill in full to celebrate its 25th anniversary – although, at the time of writing, dates are restricted to the US.

You’ll also have to jet to America if you want to catch the all-star 80s pop cruise: A week-long jaunt around the Caribbean in the company of The B-52’s, Berlin, Big Country, Bret Michaels, Bow Wow Wow and other artists whose names don’t begin with “B”.

Back in the UK, The Eagles will play their iconic Hotel California album over two nights at Wembley Stadium; while 2020’s festival headliners include Kraftwerk (All Points East), Haim (Latitude), Lionel Richie (Isle of Wight), Liam Gallagher (Reading Leeds) and Tyler, The Creator (Lovebox).

9) And don’t forget the musicals…

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OK, so Cats wasn’t great – but the success of The Greatest Showman, Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody means there’s no shortage of movie musicals stampeding towards your local multiplex.

Leading the pack is Steven Spielberg’s new adaptation of West Side Story, starring Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler as Tony and Maria. Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Anita in the original film, also returns in a newly-created role.

Another Oscar-winner, Jennifer Hudson, will play Aretha Franklin in a biopic of the Queen Of Soul (pictured above). “I just hope I make her proud [and] do her justice,” said the singer, who got the seal of approval from Franklin before her death.

Following the success of A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper is directing and starring in a biopic of composer Leonard Bernstein; while Celine Dion is getting the biopic treatment in a French-language film called The Power of Love.

As if that’s not enough, Film4 are adapting the hit West End show Everybody’s Talking About Jamie for the big screen; and the film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s kinetic Broadway show In The Heights will be released on 26 June… The same day as Top Gun 2.

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10) Beethoven turns 250

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Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Germany in 1770 – although, for years, the composer believed he was born in 1772, a ploy by his father to make his prodigious talent seem even more incredible.

There are dozens of events planned to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth, the centrepiece of which is a mammoth, 52-part documentary on Classic FM, presented by John Suchet every Saturday throughout 2020.

The BBC also has major plans, kicking off on 11 January with the European premiere of David Lang’s new opera, Prisoner of the State, a dark, futuristic retelling of the story behind Beethoven’s opera Fidelio.

A week later, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and WNO Orchestra will recreate the composer’s epic, four-hour 1808 benefit concert, where he premiered his 5th and 6th symphonies, as well as his 4th piano concerto, in which he was the soloist.

In Beethoven’s native city, Bonn, the Beethoven museum has been renovated in time for the anniversary; while electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk will stage an open-air concert in his honour.

And, to cap it all off, a team of musicologists and scientists are using Artificial Intelligence to complete the 10th Symphony Beethoven was working on when he died in 1827. Sounds awful.

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