LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 02: Rihanna arrives at The Fashion Awards 2019 held at Royal Albert Hall … [+]
R&B is in such an exciting state these days, as new acts are continually pushing the genre to places its never been, changing what it sounds like and altering everything from the traditional image to release schedules. At the same time, younger acts are breaking new ground, tried-and-true favorites are carrying on doing what they’ve always done, creating incredible music for their adoring fans.
2020 promises a healthy mix of both of these figures making waves in the field, and it should be a huge year for R&B acts.
Here’s a look at eight of the most anticipated R&B albums coming in 2020.
It’s tough to predict whether Normani’s debut full-length will lean more into R&B or pop, both of which she’s already exhibited, but it seems like she can differentiate herself from her fellow former Fifth Harmony members by focusing more on R&B, which itself is a vague term these days. Her first solo single “Love Lies” was decidedly R&B, while follow-ups “Dancing With a Stranger” with Sam Smith and her own “Motivation” were much more pop.
There’s no title or release date yet, but fans will have to wait a little while to hear her full collection.
R9 has been anticipated for years, and she has ended up on this annual list of the forthcoming R&B full-lengths more than once, but somehow, no project has materialized. While it’s tough to say for certain that Rihanna’s new album, which she has stated will be influenced more by dancehall and reggae than pop, will hit in 2020, she has been suggesting over a period of months that the big day is getting closer.
To be fair, it’s not as if Rihanna has been quiet since the 2016 release of Anti. In the years since then, she’s been featured on a slew of hit singles fronted by other artists and she’s launched both her cosmetics line Fenty Beauty and her fashion brand Fenty.
Just a few weeks ago, The Weeknd scored his fourth No. 1 single in the U.S. with “Heartless,” which only needed two frames to jump to the top of the tally. Coming in not too far behind it was “Blinding Lights,” which peaked at No. 11, missing out on hitting the top 10 by just one rung.
It looks like those two cuts are the first tastes of a forthcoming fourth full-length, which could reasonably arrive in the first half of 2020, and it already stands a good chance at becoming one of the biggest R&B titles of the year.
Last month, the singer, songwriter and Grammy host revealed she has a new album coming in 2020 called A.L.I.C.I.A. So far, a handful of singles have been shared from the set, including “Show Me Love” with Miguel and her solo cut “Time Machine.” The project could be shared at the same time as her autobiography More Myself: A Journey, and fans may be able to buy the two together. A.L.I.C.I.A. will be Keys’ seventh album and her first in four years.
It appears that Bryson Tiller’s next album will be titled Serenity, though he announced that name so long ago, things may have changed in the interim. The musician’s third studio effort was supposedly originally scheduled for a release at some point in 2018, but he opened up about his issues with depression and decided he wasn’t going to make anything public until he was happy with it.
Serenity, or whatever the chart-topper decides to label his new set, will likely feature the singles “Canceled” and “Blame.”
Between 2018 and 2019, John Legend released a pair of singles, “A Good Night” with BloodPop and “Preach,” both of which seemed like they were previewing an album…but then he went fairly quiet. Since then, the EGOT talent has been busy with a number of projects, but there hasn’t been any word about a new full-length, or even whether he’s including his now-older cuts or if he’ll start fresh with cuts that gain some traction.
Usher, once the king of R&B, saw his surprise 2018 album A flop, as it failed to produce any hit singles and it only spent a short time inside the top 40 on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 31. Not one to sit back and fade from popularity, the musician and dancer has already shared singles “LaLaLa” with Black Coffee and “Don’t Waste My Time” with Ella Mai. Both of those could end up on the tracklist of the hotly-anticipated Confessions 2, his follow-up to his generation-defining Confessions album.
Keep An Eye Out For
Some of the most popular women working in R&B today, such as Jhene Aiko, SZA and Ella Mai could all be working on new music to push in 2020. SZA’s follow-up to her debut album Ctrl has been something R&B lovers have been waiting for, while Mai will probably look to capitalize on her breakout success from 2018, which saw her land a huge hit with “Boo’d Up” and drop a self-titled debut.
Grammy-nominated performer 6lack has been releasing singles for some time, which seems to suggest a new LP is coming. Bruno Mars, whose music is often labeled as R&B, even though it should really be labeled as pop, is probably due in 2020 for a comeback.
It’s also never smart to count Beyoncé out, as she’s the queen of surprising the world with new music. She dropped a pair of earth-shattering albums in 2019, though neither were proper studio albums of all-original material pushed simply as a Bey record, so 2020 may see her kick off another era.