Isn't November a great time for new music? Where each week has as many interesting new albums as most months do.
Take That - Progress (Nov. 22). After a 10-year break, Take That successfully reinvented themselves in 2006 with Beautiful World and followed it up with the even better The Circus, scoring major hits like "Patience," "Shine," "Rule the World" and "Greatest Day" in the process. But one key ingredient was missing--the group's bad boy Robbie Williams, who, as by far the most successful soloist, hadn't rejoined the band. That changes with Progress, the first release with all five members since Nobody Else in 1995. The album was produced by Stuart Price, a busy man this year, who also worked on the albums from Kylie, Scissor Sisters and Brandon Flowers. First single "The Flood" is quite spectacular.
Rihanna - Loud (Nov. 15). With her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, Barbadian singer Rihanna established herself as an international dance pop star, and then with her remarkable fourth album, Rated R, proved her artistry with a dark, introspective work. Loud promises to lift the heaviness of her last album in favor of a fun, party vibe, embodied by the album's first hit single "Only Girl (in the World)," one of several new tracks produced by Stargate. Other collaborators include Drake, Nicki Minaj, David Guetta, Taio Cruz, Timbaland and Shontelle.
Duffy - Endlessly (Nov. 29). Welsh singer Duffy had a spectacular launch in 2008 with Rockferry, the UK's biggest selling album of the year and winner of the Brit Award for Best British Album. It's hit single, "Mercy," was the year's biggest that didn't have anything to do with X Factor and also became a minor hit in the US. Rockferry was my personal favorite album that year. So my expectations are high for this follow-up, which Duffy wrote in collaboration with songwriter Albert Hammond. Duffy's said the album will have some hip-hop influence, and that she also worked with The Roots. First single "Well, Well, Well" is sassy fun.
Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Nov. 22). It's been 2 years since Kanye West took a break from his rap career and released the electronic pop album, 808s and Heartbreak, an album of sharp beats and melancholy tunes. He's back to rap for this, his fifth album, although so far it's getting more ink for its controversial cover than for its tunes. Early singles "Power" and "Runaway" have failed to really catch on so far, although I'd be surprised if West couldn't lob at least one major hit, considering that the guests include names like Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Bon Iver and John Legend, plus one track, "All of the Lights," that supposedly includes Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Elton John, John Legend, Fergie, and Kid Cudi.
Rumer - Seasons of My Soul (Nov. 1). Pakistani-Brit Rumer unleashed her enchanting voice late this summer with her first single "Slow," earning her comparisons to the late Karen Carpenter. She continues to show promise with her second single, "Aretha," a tribute to the legendary soul singer.
Cheryl Cole - Messy Little Raindrops (Nov. 1). Don't hold your breath for a Girls Aloud get together, considering that their star singer, X Factor judge Cheryl Cole, has released a second consecutive solo album without a release from the group. Coming just one year after the surprisingly decent 3 Words, this feels a bit rushed, but I'll withhold judgment until I've heard it. Will.I.Am reportedly returns, heading a list of collaborators that includes Starship, Dizzee Rascal, Travie McCoy, Ellie Goulding, Ne-Yo and Wayne Wilkins, producer of the album's first single "Promise This."
Robyn - Body Talk (Nov. 22). Robyn concludes 2010 with her third release this year. Not, as many expected a Body Talk Pt. 3 EP, but rather a full album with five tracks each from Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 plus five new songs, including a synthpop version of "Indestructible," which appeared in acoustic form on Pt. 2. Hopefully those of us who faithfully bought Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 will be allowed to cherry-pick the remaining five tracks.
Black Eyed Peas - The Beginning (Nov. 29). About a year and a half on the heels of their massively successful album The E.N.D., the Black Eyed Peas deliver this follow-up, billed as a sequel to their 2009 hitmaking album. I don't know much about it, other than that the first single, "The Time," makes liberal use of the Dirty Dancing love theme "(I've Had) The Time of My Life."
Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday (Nov. 22). Nicki Minaj is set to release her solo debut. But what exactly will be on it is a still a bit of a mystery. While Minaj has been all over the place this year, she's mostly appeared as a guest on others' songs, save for her "Your Love." Even current single "Check It Out" with Will.I.Am may or may not appear (I've read both). Regardless, expectations are high for this debut, executive produced by Lil Wayne.
Pink - Greatest Hits...So Far!!! (Nov. 15). Drawing on 10 years of hits, stretching back to her first, "There You Go," Pink releases a career-spanning collection of her biggest hits. "Lady Marmalade" is not present, neither is the hard-to-find "Feel Good Time" from Charlie's Angels 2, but other than the strange omission of "Most Girls," all the other big ones are here. It also includes the hot new single "Raise Your Glass," which I expect will more than earn its place on this collection. Some versions also contain her rendition of "Whataya Want from Me," which she wrote for Adam Lambert.
Briano Eno with Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams - Small Craft on a Milk Sea. The famed U2 and Coldplay producer releases an album of electronic music inspired by film scores.
Mariah Carey - Merry Christmas II You. Mariah Carey puts out her second Christmas album, including single "Oh Santa," a new version of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and 11 other tracks that represent a mix of new songs and old favorites.
Jay Sean - Freeze Time. Jay Sean offers up his fourth album featuring "2012" (with Nicki Minaj), a current hit in the UK and in the US.
Good Charlotte - Cardiology. The southern Maryland band releases its fifth album, which includes "Like It's Her Birthday," already a top 40 at US pop radio.
Pitbull - Armando. The Latino rapper featured on so many hits this year puts out his first Spanish album.
Jamiroquai - Rock Dust Light Star. Seventh album from him, featuring first single "Blue Skies."
Ne-Yo - Libra Scale. Still getting pushed back. The UK release is Nov. 1, but not until the 22nd for the US.
Pet Shop Boys - Ultimate. Pet Shop Boys get another greatest hits set, this time a 1-disc collection that goes for breadth, picking one to three singles from each of their albums, plus new track "Together."
Roll Deep - Winner Stays On. They've had two #1 hits this year--"Good Times" and "Green Light"--both of which are included here, plus new single "Take Control," featuring Alesha Dixon.
Tinchy Stryder - Third Strike. Tinchy Stryder's third album didn't get off to a great start with its first single, "In My System," which only hit #10, but he's still got a Taio Cruz collaboration waiting in the wings, "Second Chance."
James Blunt - Some Kind of Trouble. It's been 3 years since Blunt released his second album, All the Lost Souls, which produced only the one modest hit, "1973," a far cry from the massive "You're Beautiful" from his first album. Although perhaps that's not a bad thing, as I read Blunt has lamented the fact that he hears people singing his song while drunk as a joke--a song that when written meant something to him. This third album is reportedly more upbeat than his others.
Natasha Bedingfield - Strip Me. She's still yet to launch a first hit single in the US off this, after trying with "Touch" and the title trap. So don't be surprised if this gets pushed back.
Susan Boyle - The Gift. SuBo returns a year later with her second album, a Christmas one. Expect big sales.
Nelly - 5.0. The hip-hop artist releases his sixth album. Unlike his last, this is off to a good start with its hit single "Just a Dream" poised to hit #1 soon in the US.
Shayne Ward - Obsession. The second X Factor winner's delayed album is due for release, featuring first single "Gotta Be Somebody."
McFly - Above the Noise. The British boy/pop band releases its fifth album, which is intended to have a more upbeat electro-pop sound than their previous rock-leaning work. First single "Party Girl" hit #6, while new single "Shine a Light" featuring Taio Cruz will be out the week before this.
Glee Cast - Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album. This is self explanatory.
Kid Rock - Born Free. His 8th album.
Annie Lennox - A Christmas Cornucopia. Annie Lennox puts out a Christmas album.
Westlife - Gravity. The Irish man-band, now 11 years on, releases its 11th album. Features first single "Safe."
Nelly Furtado - The Best of Nelly Furtado. The Canadian singer releases her greatest hits, including big hits like "I'm Like a Bird," "Promiscuous" and "Broken Strings" ("Give It to Me" is missing) and uptempo new single "Night Is Young."
JLS - Outta This World. The former X Factor contestants release their second album, including #1 summer hit "The Club Is Alive" and new single "Love You More," which is this year's Children in Need charity release.
My Chemical Romance - Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. The alternative band releases their fourth album.
Alesha Dixon - The Entertainer. Dixon's third album, featuring "Drummer Boy."
Burlesque - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Can Christina Aguilera act? Can Cher still sing? Both these questions shall be answered soon.
Olly Murs - Olly Murs. Last year's X Factor runner-up releases his debut, featuring #1 single "Please Don't Let Me Go" and new single "Thinking of Me."