Madonna! T-Swift! Nicki! Bono! Bruce! And Dre? The Most Anticipated Albums of 2012

Archeological experts have just checked in, and it turns out a mistake was made: The Mayans did not predict that the world would end in 2012 but, rather, that this would be the year Dr. Dre's Detox would finally be released, after millennia in the making. Good news!

But even if that ancient prophecy doesn't come to pass, there are plenty of surer bets to look forward to in 2012. Some have been officially announced by the record labels, while others have been unofficially heralded in media interviews or the artists' own Twitter feeds. We've got a mega-list of upcoming releases, starting with 20 of the most anticipated:


We've got some doubt the band's new album will be out next year. After all, it's been over a decade since the last (2001's Rock Steady), and Gwen Stefani and cohorts seem to have graduated from the Dr. Dre school of false promises. But for some reason, we kind of believed them when they took to their website in September to say they were close to making a pre-Christmas deadline but couldn't quite make it with the high standards they needed to meet after all this time—writing, "This collection of songs means everything to us." Interscope's accountants, too!



Fresh off her Super Bowl halftime gig, Madonna will be releasing her first album for Interscope after almost three decades with Warner Bros. Her album sales haven't always matched her ability to sell out shows, so it'll be interesting to see what stops she pulls out to push this one. Perez Hilton reported that the albm would open with "Trust," a "strings and flute song" produced by William Orbit and co-written by Sia. Orchestra and wind instruments: now that ought to make the new label feel confident about their investment! Rumor has it that M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj show up for duets, and that one or both will perform "Gimme All Your Lovin'" with her at the Super Bowl.

VAN HALEN (Feb. 7)

David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen have been making nice—so far as we know—ever since they announced their reunion tour in 2007, so here's hoping the four years of good will have added up to good studio vibrations on the reunion album produced by Ross Hogarth. As ancient historians recall, the last full VH album with Roth came out in late 1983; the last tracks with Roth came out on a best-of in 1996; and the last VH album, period, the one with Gary Cherone, caused a stink in 1998. Yet still we yearn to see Diamond Dave twirl the mike, as he does in the video below, shot at a Roxy rehearsal some time in December.


(4th quarter)

You'll probably have to wait six months or so for an official announcement, but Swift was in the studio between her fall 2011 tour dates and looks to be well on track for a fourth studio album, destined to come out in late fall, per her usual every-other-year schedule. No new song titles have been forthcoming, but in a recent New Yorker interview, Swift said she'd written about 10 songs for the project and "they're sad… if I'm being honest." You have 10-11 months to save up a wellspring of tears, Swiftians.



In an interview published in Rolling Stone in October, the Edge said, "It's quite likely you might hear from us next year. But it's equally possible you won't." Bono, for his part, told Hot Press that fans could expect an album "probably next fall." What's for sure is that the quartet has a lot of material already in the can. They've been in the studio with two different producers, making club-oriented music with RedOne and more traditional-sounding U2 stuff with Danger Mouse. Adam Clayton told RS: ""We have to focus on what we do best, and the work we did with Danger Mouse came closest to that. We want to be in the clubs and make pop music as well as the thing U2 does, but in the end, the thing we did with RedOne doesn't feel like the right fit." Given how great Danger Mouse's new Black Keys album sounds, we're hoping for something even better than the No Line on the Horizon thing.


Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (Feb. 14)

Valentine's Day may never be the same after Minaj releases her sophomore album. The character referenced in the title was first introduced in "Roman's Revenge," a "gay boy" who's "mean, angry, and vicious." He shows up again in the new album's already released teaser single, "Roman in Moscow," though the "real" single is apparently "Stupid Hoe." Both songs, interestingly, have been seen as taking shots at Lil Kim. But maybe that's just "Roman's" fixation?


(1st quarter)

It'll be the first album Bruce has recorded with the E Street Band and without Clarence Clemons—but truthfully, since he'd deemphasized the sax on all but a few post-1984 tracks, the difference may not be immediately apparent. In late November, Springsteen's website posted a message saying that "we want you to know that the music is almost done (but still untitled), and we have almost settled on the release date (but not quite yet)." The producer? Maybe Ron Aniello, who said he was working on it on his own website, before yanking that info. Springsteen's website announced that a European tour will in mid-May, but according to Rolling Stone's sources, it'll actually be preceded by a run of U.S. dates in the spring before a longer American tour later in the year.



We thought that Hawthorne, California would freeze over before Brian Wilson and Mike Love ever worked together again. But for the first time in 15 years, they've been in the studio together, along with Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks, for a new album that will precede a 50th anniversary tour. Now that Smile has finally officially been released, maybe the curse is off?



The reunions just keep on coming. The original lineup—Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and Tony Iommi—is making its first new album in 33 years, to be produced by Rick Rubin. Osbourne said at a fall press event that, after putting aside longstandind differences, "for some magical reason, we have written about seven or eight songs." "It's like putting on an old glove," said Iommi. Smell it!


Emotional Traffic (Jan. 17)

Never have court reports made for such entertaining reading for music fans as all the legal briefs filed over this album. McGraw recorded it in 2010 as the last album on his deal with Curb, but the label declined to put it out, suggesting he'd given them product that would sound dated by the time they eventually issued it. Of course, the fact that the single they put out, "Felt Good On My Lips," went to No. 1 didn't support their argument too much. Anyway, the courts just freed McGraw to record for other labels. So Curb is putting out Traffic, and we can judge for ourselves just how antiquated it sounds… while McGraw has designs on making up for lost time by putting out a second album this year, on a label yet to be determined.


Born to Die (Jan. 30)

Is the "Video Games" phenom truly the next big chanteuse… or will she seem like last decade's Atari detritus after we finally hear a full set of songs from the self-proclaimed "gangsta Nancy Sinatra"?



More than 80 artists put their talents to use on 75 Dylan songs, including none other than—as you've heard, and possibly lamented—Miley Cyrus. But don't let that frighten you away: Adele is on board, too, as are Elvis Costello, Sting, Queens of the Stone Age, Pete Townshend, Bad Religion, Silversun Pickups, Patti Smith, the Dave Matthews Band, My Morning Jacket, Pete Seeger, and, of course, Ke$ha.


Old Ideas (Jan. 31)

His first album in eight years is bound to get a lot more attention than 2004's Dear Heather. After all, that was before "Hallelujah" became an American Idol standard, and before Cohen started playing to a new generation of hip kids at places like Coachella. For his return, Cohen worked with Madonna producer Patrick Leonard, among others, on a set preceded by the already much-acclaimed single "Show Me the Place." A press statement promised 10 songs that "poetically address some of the most profound quandaries of human existence — the relationship to a transcendent being, love, sexuality, loss and death." Just like the Nicki Minaj album, probably.


Trespassing (March 20)

His debut album never really quite found its audience, but we'll see if working with producers as mammoth as Dr. Luke, Ammo, Nile Rodgers, and Pharrell Williams can rectify that. Fans are already getting to know "Better Than I Know Myself," the first single.



It'll be "raw, nasty, tough rock," promises producer Jack Douglas, who worked on the band's classic '70s album (and returned to the fold for their last studio album, the blues covers project Honkin' on Bobo, in 2004). They haven't released an album of new material in 11 years, so fans will be watching to see whether the band's been weakened by the last decade's worth of interpersonal tension—and/or softened by Steven Tyler's time spent sitting in a chair on TV—or whether they're ready to be back in the saddle.


Home (Feb. 7)

One of country's most credible stars, Bentley had much of this album completed by last March, when he previewed it for radio programmers, but he's since gone back in to cut new material. The title song, an American anthem Bentley came up with as a response to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in his home state, is out already, as one of Bentley's less beer-drenched singles.



If you thought you'd have to wait a few decades to see Taylor Swift collaborate with T Bone Burnett, they had a more accelerated schedule in mind. They hooked up with the Americana duo the Civil Wars for "Safe and Sound," the lead single from the soundtrack to the wildly anticipated teen-dystopia film. Burnett also enlisted the Decemberists, Arcade Fire, and others yet to be announced for the companion album. Leading lady Jennifer Lawrence is said to make a vocal contribution, too.


(Feb. 7)

Macca wrote two new songs for the collection, one of which is said to be his wedding song for his bride, Nancy Sevelle. But the rest of the set consists of standards. "Writers like Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, all of those guys -- I just thought the songs were magical," McCartney said in a statement, offering few clues as to the set list just yet. Sounds like a sequel to Ringo Starr's Sentimental Journey. (Ringo has his own new album come out just a week prior to Paul's, incidentally.) Tommy LiPuma produced, and guests include Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, and LiPuma's most celebrated protégé, Diana Krall.


Trouble Man (Feb.)

He worked on and released an album while he was in prison, so you can only imagine how busy he's been since he got out in September. Busy enough to work up a reported 45 tracks, which ought to fill the pipeline for a while even if he has any recidivist tendencies. Which maybe we should worry about, because he told MTV News that "every song on here is about things that can get me in trouble. I'm reminiscing on the days when I used to run wild and do my thing the way I used to do it. I've got records that are just totally intellectually ignorant." Sounds right up America's alley.



"It's been an unspoken—or spoken—thing over the years: 'We've gotta do a record'," said Harris of her upcoming collaboration with Crowell, a fellow mainstream country star gone Americana. Their duets project is expected to be a combination of classic covers and Crowell originals.

These 20 aren't enough to make you pleased to ring in the new? Then here are 100 more that could bring us some happy future shock in 2012:

Aimee Mann
Alabama Shakes
Alan Jackson
Ani DiFranco
Animal Collective
Ben Kweller
Best Coast
Big Sean
Bucky Covington
Built to Spill
Carrie Underwood
Cat Power
Christina Aguilera
Craig Finn
Craig Morgan
Dwight Yoakam
Esperanza Spalding
Faith Hill
Gene Watson
Green Day
Gretchen Peters
Guided by Voices
How to Destroy Angels (Trent Reznor's band)
I See Hawks in L.A.
Janelle Monae
Jeff Lynne
Jimmy Fallon
Joni Mitchell (boxed set)
Josh Thompson
Kellie Pickler
Kid Cudi
Kirk Whalum
Leighton Meester
Leona Lewis
Linkin Park
Lionel Richie (country duets project)
Lisa Marie Presley
Luke Bryan
Lyle Lovett
Magnetic Fields
Mazzy Star
Michelle Branch
Mike Posner
Mitch Ryder
Nada Surf
Neal McCoy
Neil Young
Nelly Furtado
Neon Trees
Nicole Scherzinger
Of Montreal
Paul Van Dyk
Pearl jam
Pink Floyd (The Wall—Immersion Edition)
Queens of the Stone Age
Rascal Flatts
Rick Ross
Ringo Starr
Rita Wilson (yes, that Rita Wilson)
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Rufus Wainwright
Ruthie Foster
Silversun Pickups
Sinead O'Connor
Sleigh Bells
Smashing Pumpkins
Snow Patrol
The Chieftains
The Cranberries
The Flaming Lips
The Fray
The Little Willies
The Offspring
The Postal Service
The Shins
The xx
Ting Tings
Willow Smith

And should we throw Dr. Dre in there, even though Detox was first promised in 2000? Yes, we should, and not just because last summer he said it'd be out by Christmas, so he must only be a little bit behind schedule. But because if ever the times called for a little blind optimism, it's these.

Related links:

Best singles of 2011

Best new artists of 2011

Yahoo!'s Year In Review special