By Chloé Agar

So, we’ve survived the New Year, almost got through Veganuary, and have even started Hilary Term. What more excitement could there be? Well, music releases, of course (work with me here).

While it is still only January, and I might be setting the bar very high, there are already some fantastic pop music albums to look out for. These are albums that rightfully deserve to be setting the bar so high for the quality and range of songs on them.

Album #1 – Kesha: High Road – 31st January

The album that I’m most looking forward to this January is Kesha’s (or Ke$ha’s, if you go by her previous albums) High Road, which is out today. The song samples currently available on Amazon promise variety, ranging from soulful in the fashion of ‘Praying’ or ‘Hymn’ from her last album, Rainbow, to the loud and raucous ‘Raising Hell, which is reminiscent of her earlier albums. That loud and raucous side to Kesha formed a good amount of the music that got me through some difficult years at school, and wasn’t the sort of thing that anyone would have expected me to listen to, which is probably why I enjoyed it and am glad that there’s more coming out.

It looks like High Road will be a continuation of Kesha’s triumphant return after a long, troubled hiatus. So far, it seems that Kesha is going from strength to strength, and I look forward to it continuing.

Album #2 – La Roux: Supervision – 7th February

This one is quite the surprise for me – it was only a few weeks ago that I was reintroduced to La Roux after a brief encounter during secondary school French lessons, of all places. Like everyone who’s heard of La Roux, that introduction was through the fast and energetic song ‘Bulletproof’ from the eponymous debut album – when the name still referred to Elly Jackson and her producer Ben Langmaid, as opposed to now when it just refers to Elly Jackson. My reintroduction was through La Roux’s performance of a couple of the songs from her new album, including ‘International Woman of Leisure’ on Jools Holland’s Hootenanny, his annual New Year show broadcast on the BBC and featuring some of the current and up-and-coming stars of all genres of music, on New Year’s Eve 2019. Amazon shows that the songs on Supervision are longer, perhaps being better suited to being background ambiance than the normal length songs on La Roux. Her performance also promised something more electric, but a nonetheless welcome reminder that there is far too little music from this artist for her clear talent and uniqueness. 

Album #3 – Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia – Release date TBC

So far ‘Future Nostalgia’ the song is punchy and energetic and promises either a livelier album than Dua Lipa’s debut, or one with a similar variety of songs. It’s clear that we should expect a release date to be revealed soon, hopefully with the wave of Dua Lipa culture shock that came with her debut, as her voice is clear, the tone of her songs is varied, and her lyrics are creative without being weird or pretentious. This variety in tone can be seen if we compare ‘Future Nostalgia’ with ‘Swan Song’, which Dua Lipa provided for the end credits of Alita: Battle Angel. ‘Swan Song’ is more mournful, with an undercurrent of hope and rage (suiting the tone of the film nicely). I’m keen to see what range of material is on this album, and how it compares.

Bonus Album – Lady Gaga: Adele – Release date TBC

This album would be in my top three if we knew anything more concrete about it. After a rocky start in which my parents discovered quite how lewd (but brilliant) pop music could be, they and I are now great Lady Gaga fans, and keen to see what she releases next after the rollercoaster ride of variety that she has given us so far, and whether her next album is more similar to the very personal Joanne or the very loud and risqué ARTPOP or Fame.

All that is currently known about this album, is that Lady Gaga herself alleged in October 2019 that it would be called Adele, which has been taken by some to be a joke. I think, however, that if she were joking, we might have had that confirmed by now. Perhaps she is. We won’t know until we find out more, but I will wait to find that out with great anticipation.

So, those are the pop albums that I’m most looking forward to in 2020. I’m sure that I’ll have to update the list soon, as we’re still only in January, but that bar is still very high and I’m looking forward to seeing what might top it.

Chloé Agar

Chloé (she/her) is an Egyptologist who, when not studying obscure ancient languages, writes fantasy and sci-fi fiction and non-fiction articles on education and the arts for The Oxford Blue, The Oxford Student, and Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative.