While it's been reported that Beyoncé is already hard at work on the follow-up to her massive "I Am... Sasha Fierce," the details of the highly anticipated set are still very much under wraps. What is known: She recently recorded with Kanye West's "Power" producer, Symbolic 1, and with longtime the-Dream collaborator Christopher "Tricky" Stewart.
Justin Bieber's first priority in 2011 is not to make new music, but to release his first film: "Never Say Never," a 3-D film documenting his rise to fame, is slated for a Feb. 11 theatrical release. But the 16-year-old has devoted as much time as his nationwide tour has allowed to recording new material, with an eye toward releasing the follow-up to his breakthrough "My World" albums by the end of 2011.
Among the names already attached to the project are Ne-Yo, who said in October that he has written songs for Bieber with the goal of illuminating the singer's maturity. "He just needs tangible records, the kind of records that will grow with him and allow his fans to grow with him," Ne-Yo said.
One song recorded for consideration to appear on the album-"Latin Girl," a track produced by JHype and Goodwill & MGI and written by Bieber himself, according to a source-is now unlikely to appear on the final version since leaking in November. Additionally, Bieber has confirmed a collaboration with Rascal Flatts, and manager Scooter Braun said in January that Kanye West spoke with Bieber "about a song they're trying to work on together. Kanye wants to produce a bunch of new songs for his new album." Which of these collaborations will actually end up on one of the most anticipated releases of the year? Stay tuned.
People who think they have a bead on Coldplay's upcoming fifth studio album clearly haven't been paying attention to Chris Martin's recent bout of playful jabbering with the British media.
Martin and his bandmates have hinted that the follow-up to 2008's double-platinum "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends" is a concept album. "It's about love, addiction, OCD, escape and working with someone you don't like, from the point of view of two people who are a bit lost," Martin says.
Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion are working hard to put something out before the end of the year. They began in late 2008, returning to producer Brian Eno for a long period of "just messing around" before moving on to Marcus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons), another "Vida" cohort. Sessions have been taking place at the Bakery in Colorado Springs, Colo., where "Vida La Vida" was recorded, as well as at a converted North London church called the Beehive. "Christmas Lights," Coldplay's holiday single, was issued in December as a bit of a stand-in when it was clear the album wouldn't be ready for a release that year. Other song titles that have been mentioned include "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" and "Princess of China."
The "Chinese Democracy" of hip-hop albums finally has a release date, although heaven knows fans have had their hearts broken before. Along with the first single, "Kush," a track called "I Need a Doctor," produced by Alex Da Kid and featuring Eminem, is rumored to appear on the long-delayed album.
According to Furtado, the Timbaland-produced "Lifestyle" will be inspired by the broad influences of her 2000 debut, "Whoa, Nelly!," and the vocals of 2009's Spanish-language "Mi Plan." "There's a little bit more of an alternative influence on this new album," Furtado says. "It's definitely inspired by a lot of the new music that's coming out right now."
To finish their 10-song collaborative album, Jay and West decamped to Peter Gabriel's studio in Bath, England. Sources are keeping mum on whether the recording will involve a "Sledgehammer" cover or drums by Phil Collins-the only track that's been made public is "H.A.M.," which was produced by Lex Luger.
For her forthcoming album, Lady Gaga says she's giving the Little Monsters full credit-though probably not royalties-for their role in the project. The new album "was really written by them," Gaga told Britain's BBC Radio 1. "Every night they're funneling so much into me. It's all about little monsters and me, Mother Monster."
But her reliance on outside input doesn't mean she's crowd-sourcing the entire project. Her chief studio collaborator on her first effort, RedOne, is expected to play a big role on the follow-up.
Gaga began working on "Born" in 2009, while "The Fame" was still in ascent. By the summer of 2010, she declared she'd finished the album. To the delight of fans, "You and I" showed up in a stripped-down solo arrangement during the summer run of her Monster Ball tour. Gaga revealed the album's title last September at MTV's Video Music Awards.
Gaga also told the BBC's Newsbeat that "the album's music combines electronic music with these sort of major, epic-I dare to even say metal, rock'n'roll, pop, anthemic styles-melodies with really sledgehammering dance beats."
She's started working on videos for "Born This Way," and another tour is expected to roll out before year's end.
Lil Wayne originally planned on releasing his upcoming "Tha Carter IV" album on Nov. 5-the day he was released from New York's Riker's Island. But now? The rapper/MC has gone back to the drawing board. So far, Weezy has worked with producers T-Minus on the track "Maybe She Will," as well as Boi-1da and Bangladesh, and has collaborated with Drake, Rick Ross and Cory Gunz-the last of whom appears on first single "6 Foot 7 Foot."
Lady Gaga, take note. With "Hold It Against Me" debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this issue-and every conceivable rumor regarding her next album being subjected to WikiLeaks levels of scrutiny-Britney Spears has made it clear that she won't be relieved of her pop princess title that easily.
After a week of release, "Hold It Against Me" debuted on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 Songs chart at No. 16 with 4,071 plays, the highest detections total by a debuting title in the chart's 18-year history. Perhaps even more impressive was the hype that preceded its release, which included a leaked demo and the song's co-producer, pop hitmaker Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, stoking the speculative flames on Twitter ("The first word of the Britney song is 'hey'... the 24th word is 'song,' " he wrote.)
For Spears' (officially) still-untitled seventh studio album, Gottwald and Max Martin have signed on as co-executive producers (as they did for Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream") and signaled a continued embrace of the dance-pop that was ahead of the curve on Spears' most recent albums (2007's "Blackout" and 2008's "Circus") but is now inescapable. Will this be to their detriment?
Gottwald doesn't think so. "Everything is in cycles, and it will change, but I don't think  is necessarily that year," he says. He adds, however, that the intent with Spears' album is to push the sound forward. "Hopefully you'll hear a progression," he says, "while keeping great songs."
There's proof beyond the early success of "Hold It Against Me'" that Spears can still mobilize millions of fans, commanding as much attention with a photographed Starbucks run as with a cryptic tweet. And until more music is available, teasing will have to suffice. "Britney's 2nd single is gonna be fire!!!!!!" Gottwald tweeted Jan. 16. "Watch out!!!!!!"
Band manager Paul McGuinness told the Irish Times in October to expect a new album before U2 returns to touring in May. Provisionally titled "Songs of Ascent," the set is said to contain several tracks the band has been playing live, including "Mercy," "Every Breaking Wave" and "Boys Fall From the Sky."