Will Guns N' Roses' "Chinese Democracy" finally be released?
Can Britney manage a comeback?
Will anyone escape the tween typhoon of "High School Musical 3"?
Nevertheless, five albums to look for (we think):
On Sept. 12, Metallica will drop their much-awaited, Rick Rubin-produced new album. Their ninth studio disc and first in five years is said to return the band to their speed metal roots. The band has been shy about playing the new tunes in concert, but expectations are high thanks to Rubin's involvement. Even with all their black clothes, Metallica's fans remain an extremely hopeful bunch.
The Atlanta-based rapper returns with his sixth album, which already boasts a hot single: "Whatever You Like." Due out Sept. 30, "Paper Trail" is all but assured of keeping T.I.'s streak of No. 1 albums intact. But the rapper (real name: Clifford Harris) will also have a balancing act in promoting it. While he continues to rap about violence, he's also speaking against it as part of a punishment handed out in March after pleading guilty to federal weapons charges. Besides at least 1,000 hours of community service, he faces almost a year in jail.
It's been eight years since AC/DC made a studio album, and a lot has changed since then. For starters, just look at how the seminal Australian hard rock band is releasing their new album on Oct. 20: only through Wal-Mart, Sam's Club stores and ACDC.com. Stoking excitement have been reports that suggest "Black Ice" bears similarities to AC/DC's classic 1980 disc "Back in Black," one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Not all the hotly anticipated albums are surefire chart-toppers. Music fans are also eager for new material from Lucinda Williams, Jenny Lewis, Kings of Leon and this ambitious Brooklyn band. TV on the Radio's last album, the absurdly named "Return to Cookie Mountain," topped many critics' best-of lists for 2006 (including this writer's). With each subsequent disc, TV on the Radio has seemed to mature a trajectory that suggests very good things for "Dear Science" (out Sept. 23).
Don't even try to fight it. The latest big-screen installment and the accompanying soundtrack out Oct. 21 of this Disney Channel phenomenon will be received with teenybopper hysteria in late October. If you must, begin constructing your bomb shelter now. But don't stop, even for a second, to gaze into Zac Efron's eyes. They ... will ... draw ... you ... in.
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