Paula Abdul, New Kids on the Block, and Boyz II Men
Paula Abdul hasn’t hit the road with her solo material in 25 years, but she’s making a comeback this summer when she joins New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men on the ‘90s-tastic Total Package Tour. “Being the only girl isn’t something that’s new to me, because of American Idol,” says Abdul, who spent seven years spent judging the musical competition show with Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson. “I’m used to having lots of brothers. But none of them will be as testy as the British one!” Expect her setlists to feature all her biggest ’80s and ’90s hits, from “Opposites Attract” to “Forever Your Girl.” —Ariana Bacle
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Soul2Soul: The World Tour (buy tickets here)
Now through Oct. 27
The couple’s last joint tour, which ran from 2006 to 2007, became the highest-grossing country music tour ever. So to hit the road together again, they know they have to outdo themselves. Hill says they accomplished that with their “rock solid” backing band, who will support the pair through their own solo material and songs from their upcoming joint LP. McGraw adds, “There hasn’t been a night where we haven’t turned back to them and went, ‘Holy s—!’” —Madison Vain
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
40th Anniversary Tour (buy tickets here)
Now through Sept. 17
Forty years after their debut, Tom Petty and his legendary crew are out on what the singer says might be their final trek. They’ll hit arenas, festivals, and stadiums before early fall and they’re bringing a killer slate of openers along: Joe Walsh, Chris Stapleton, Peter Wolf, the Lumineers will all trade off dates throughout the run. Says Stapleton: “The 17-year-old me is going to be freaking out — and probably the 39-year-old me! He’s a hero. I used to spend my money on going to Tom Petty concerts.” —M.V.
WorldWired Tour (buy tickets here)
Now through Aug. 16
Metallica doesn’t mess around when it comes to their stadium tours. “You want to bring some s— that blows up,” drummer Lars Ulrich says. “You want to have everything be larger than life.” Of course, on their first massive jaunt since the release of 2016’s double LP Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, they’re focusing on more than just pyrotechnics. Ulrich touts the band’s unique setlists — he says they haven’t duplicated one since 2004 — and claims fans have been clamoring for the new stuff, too. “In 35 years of being in this band, I’ve never heard the phrase, ‘Play more new songs!’” —Eric Renner Brown
The Joshua Tree tour (buy tickets here)
Now through July 1
As the rock gods revisit their 1987 classic for this stadium tour, they won’t be messing too much with the album’s original arrangements. “We all felt that there was a duty to be faithful to the record — radical reinvention would rather defeat the object of celebrating this album,” U2’s longtime creative director Willie Williams says. In fact, the concert is so true to the original, the band tapped photographer Anton Corbijn, who shot the original cover art, to create accompanying visuals, which Williams calls “breathtaking.” But it’s not just a celebration of U2’s pivotal masterpiece. They’ve also been performing new material like “The Little Things That Give You Away” and peppering setlists with other tunes like “I Will Follow” and “Ultraviolet (Light My Way).” —Kevin O’Donnell
4 Your Eyez Only tour (buy tickets here)
June 1 – Aug. 20
The North Carolina rapper is flying high after releasing his fourth album, 4 Your Eyez Only, in December, which maintained his streak of topping Billboard’s albums chart with every release. He’ll begin his summer tour with a string of intimate club shows in southern cities including Baton Rouge and Memphis before expanding his act for arenas across the country. —E.R.B.
15 in a 30 Tour (buy tickets here)
June 1 – Sept. 23
Since debuting in 2014, the burgeoning superstar has warmed stages for the likes of Kenny Chesney and Lady Antebellum. But this summer, the 32-year-old now has his name on the marquee’s top spot. Playing music off his anticipated second album has the singer excited — Hunt’s finger-snapping new jam “Body Like a Back Road” has cracked the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100—but it’s his openers Maren Morris and Chris Janson that really pump him up. “They could be doing their own thing but they’ve chosen to go out with us,” Hunt says. “In country, we do things as a family. It’s more fun to go out with your peers and play for fans that are fans of the genre first.” —M.V.
After producing hits for stars like Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Zayn, Jack Antonoff’s second album with Bleachers marks a huge creative leap forward. The album mixes giant, fist-pumping choruses with deeply felt lyrics about life, love, and the anxieties of adulthood. It’s the kind of album that wouldn’t sound out of place soundtracking one of John Hughes’ teen soaps from the ’80s. Recorded in Antonoff’s home studio in Brooklyn, the sessions were a largely relaxed affair. Says Antonoff, “I’ve basically filled my tiny studio with all this bizarre crap and I just roll around all day and make noises until something feels truly interesting.” —K.O.
Is This the Life We Really Want?
Roger Waters originally planned Is This the Life We Really Want? to be what he describes as a “long meandering radio play.” But the Pink Floyd founder was talked out of that idea by producer Nigel Godrich. “He listened to this rambling thing and went, ‘Hmm, it’s really interesting, I don’t think it’s a record though,’” says Waters. The singer and bassist’s first rock release since 1992’s Amused to Death has an abundance of ballads but also an uptempo single, “Smell the Roses.” “That song is almost an afterthought,” says Waters. “It’s Nigel going, ‘Oh f—, you’ve written all these ballads. Thank god we’ve done some jams. Could you please write some words to this thing?’ ‘What thing?’ ‘That thing in E.’ ‘Do I have to?’ ‘Yeah!’” Waters launches a tour titled called Us + Them in Kansas City, MO., May 26. “I’m playing four tracks off this album and a bunch of Pink Floyd tracks,” says Waters. —Clark Collis
Don’t let the title of the British alt-rock group‘s third album, Relaxer, fool you. “There are some subdued songs on there, but I think there are eight very different songs and eight very different moods,” says keyboardist and vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton. “It’s quite a well-balanced meal — gives you all the food groups emotionally.” Recorded late last year in London, the project is Alt-J’s most sonically rich yet, adding strings and horns to their idiosyncratic melodies. “We have the freedom from the label to try out more new things,” Unger-Hamilton says. “We thought it would give extra depth.” And the group, who documented the real-life romance of 1930s war photographers on 2012’s “Taro,” remain an unusual and bold lyrical force, especially on closing cut “Pleader,” which was inspired by a book about 19th century Welsh miners. “Our lyrics are always grounded in the realm of imagination,” Unger-Hamilton explains. “We’re always taking these flights of fancy and seeing where we land.” —E.R.B.
Waiting on a Song
For his second solo album, the Black Keys frontman stayed local in his adopted home of Nashville and enlisted some of the city’s session legends — John Prine, Duane Eddy, and Jerry Douglas, to name a few — to help him cook up a distinctly American “musical stew” of rock, country, blues, and soul. “We’re talking about, for me, some of the greatest musicians that have ever walked the earth,” Auerbach says, rattling off credits that include Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, and more. “The only thing these guys have done their entire lives is make records. That’s always been the music I’ve loved — and I have the opportunity now to work with these guys who, unknowingly to them, have been blowing my mind for years!” But even among his idols, Auerbach held his own. “I always felt honored to be playing with them,” he notes. “They always make me feel like an equal.” —E.R.B.
City of No Reply
After years as a singer-guitarist in Brooklyn indie-rock outfit Dirty Projectors, Amber Coffman decamped to Los Angeles in 2013 to record what would become her solo debut. “I moved out here with nothing and started my life over,” she says. “The main purpose of moving here was to make this record. [Los Angeles] certainly fostered an environment for me to be able to focus and relax a bit. … I was allowed to have the time and the mental space to come up with things and sit on them and develop them carefully.” Coffman loaded City of No Reply with breezy pop-rock tunes that harken back to the Laurel Canyon’s singer-songwriter heyday of the ’70s — but the roster of artists she assembled, including percussionist Mauro Refosco (Atoms for Peace, Red Hot Chili Peppers) and the string players of the Calder Quartet, added fresh sonic depth. She also drew inspiration from collaborating with Frank Ocean on his 2016 album Blonde, describing the singer as “somebody who is doing a pretty good job of living on his highest vibration.” Says Coffman: “I’ve wanted to do this since I was about five years old. It was a really special experience.” —E.R.B.
The British singer’s debut solo album was supposed to arrive earlier this year, but she pushed it back to squeeze in some eye-catching collaborations: R&B crooner Miguel shows up on the rollicking “Lost in Your Light,” while Coldplay’s Chris Martin joins her for the tender duet “Homesick.” Upbeat electro-pop, moody piano ballads, sassy kiss-offs to no-good guys — Lipa pulls it all off with attitude and confidence. “I want music to make people feel strong, to make people feel good,” she told EW earlier this year. “Talking about my stories and writing songs has helped me. To find out that it’s helping other people? It’s just a win for me, really.” —Nolan Feeney
hopeless fountain kingdom
When Halsey wrote her debut album, 2015’s shadowy Badlands, she did it with her now ex-boyfriend in her home. Since then, she’s sung on the Chainsmokers ubiquitous hit “Closer,” sold out Madison Square Garden, and played enormous festivals like Coachella. “The scope has changed,” the 22-year-old says. So for her second LP, which chronicles the demise of that romance, she teamed up with hitmakers Benny Blanco and Greg Kurstin to create something “more cinematic, cleaner, and more vibrant. I wrote the record from top to bottom. I wanted the end result to somehow prove to me that I was just as good on my own.” —M.V.
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
The Nashville Sound
Isbell has solidified himself as one of America’s great singer-songwriters over his past two solo collections — and now he’s ready to turn the dial way up. For his latest, his lead backing band, the 400 Unit, lets loose with heavy riffs, raucous drums, and nimble fretwork. “That was an accident,” Isbell told EWearlier this year. “I got lucky on this album that I had a good set of songs that I think will keep everybody awake.” The Nashville Sound is the nickname for RCA Studio A, where the group recorded, and after they’d wrapped, it occurred to the 38-year-old, “Wouldn’t it be nice to try and claim that?” —M.V.
For her follow-up to 2013’s Prism, the pop superstar has collaborated once again with hitmaker Max Martin and his team—along with a host of new writers and artists. “It’s a beautiful smorgasbord, honestly,” Perry says. “Max has kind of been my longtime guy….We do our best work together. But I wanted to experiment and fly away from the nest.” Among the talent that she’s recruited: Jeff Bhasker, Mike WiLL Made-It, Hot Chip, Purity Ring, Hayden James, and Rationale. Lyrically, Perry is mixing lighter fare — “[There’s a song] called ‘Swish Swish,” she says — with weightier subjects, such as the aftermath of the election. (Perry was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton.) “I have a song on the record called ‘Bigger Than Me,’ and I think the song talks about Hillary and the election and something is happening that’s bigger than her,” says Perry. “Yes, maybe at that moment she lost. But that might have been a battle, and we’re [now] looking at a war here. I think you have to think about long-term. I think [the election] woke up a sleeping giant that is now getting its strength back and breathing and about to just slay!” —K.O.
The country trio took a brief hiatus before recording their anticipated seventh LP — singers Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley each dropped solo sets while Dave Haywood focused on producing — but now, the group finds itself ready for a jam-packed 2017 as Lady Antebellum. The new set’s 13 tracks burst with refreshed energy, but there’s one song in particular that has Haywood gushing. “I’m most excited for people to hear the lyrical twist on the title track,” says the guitarist. “We wrote ‘Heart Break’ at the beach and I feel like once we wrote that we felt like we were on course for this entire record. So, check out the lyrical spin and dive into that song.” —M.V.
Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie
Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie
Fifty years after Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie came together to form Fleetwood Mac, the two are finally splintering off for their first-ever collaborative album. The blueprints came together after McVie rejoined the group in 2014, following her 16-year-long hiatus. “We thought we’d go into the studio to reacquaint myself to playing in a rock band and getting the chemistry and the vibe,” says McVie. “We thought we’d lay down a couple of tracks; that’s all we meant to do. And then Lindsey had some [songs]. And we just started having a good time.” Longtime Mac fanatics will be stoked to learn that the two recorded these 10 tracks — which feature uptempo rockers like “On With the Show” and quieter, McVie-led ballads like “Game of Pretend” — in the same Los Angeles studio as the band’s 1979 opus Tusk. “It was like a time warp,” says Buckingham. “It was cool!” —K.O.
To Phoenix, their last album, 2014’s Bankrupt!, wasn’t lively enough. This one, though? “The new songs are more physical,” guitarist Christian Mazzalai explains. “We couldn’t release this album in the winter.” Although initially hesitant about creating such a sunny record amid strife in their home country of France, the foursome ended up embracing the contradiction. “The music is hedonistic and light and joyful,” frontman Thomas Mars says, “and we feel that it embodies the true value of what art should be, which is a world of possibilities.” —A.B.
After the sweeping, critically acclaimed Helplessness Blues debuted in 2011 — and earned the band their first Grammy nod — Fleet Foxes took a break. Frontman Robin Pecknold, for one, studied at Columbia University. But after six years, they’re back with their third record — and it has all the hallmarks of their most beloved material: grand, atmospheric folk riffs and soaring, multi-part harmonies. —A.B.
How do you top an album like 2013’s Pure Heroine, which vaulted Lorde from New Zealand outsider to Top 40 megastar thanks to left-field hits like “Royals”? Easy: You don’t even try. “Anytime you have a gigantic first album, the second album is just going to be different,” says Ron Perry, president and head of A&R for SONGS Music Publishing, who helped Lorde develop the LP. “She understands that.” Expect one-third weird-pop anthems like first single “Green Light,” one-third vulnerable numbers like “Liability,” which she performed on Saturday Night Live, and one-third darker, hip-hop-flavored tunes that evoke her debut. Says Jonathan Daniel, one of Lorde’s managers, “It feels like a very natural progression.” —N.F.
Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey
All The Hits Tour (buy tickets here)
June 22 – Sept. 5
After delaying this tour’s March launch so Richie could recover from knee surgery, the two will finally kick off this 30-date trek in Oakland, Calif. Expect a non-stop parade of their hits: Recent Richie gigs have featured material from his solo career as well as his Commodores days, while Carey has sprinkled her performances with hits like “Hero” and “Emotions,” plus surprising covers like Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You.” —K.O.
Evolve (buy tickets here)
Over two opulent albums, the Las Vegas quartet delivered spine-tingling, arena-rock catharsis. But for their third effort, they’re scaling things back. Frontman Dan Reynolds says most songs on the LP feature just four instruments. “We wanted to be selective about each noise,” the 29-year-old says. Imagine Dragon’s sonic shift comes after a particularly bad spell of depression for the singer. “I felt very numb,” he says. “Numb and gray. This record encapsulates color in a way the band has never experienced before. It’s a celebration, an evolution of mind and sonics.”—M.V.
Big Fish Theory
Staples stormed the hip-hop world with his masterful 2015 double LP Summertime ’06 — and on Big Fish Theory, which follows collaborations with James Blake and Damon Albarn, he shows no signs of letting up creatively. “We were trying to create a new soundscape,” he says of his second full-length. “We wanted to have something really concise that spoke to the mood we were trying to convey emotionally, because it’s not always what you say, it’s about how you say it.” Staples emphasizes, though, that Big Fish Theory isn’t a political record. “I don’t pay attention to politics, to be completely honest,” he says. “People are people.” And as for whether the album’s runtime will approach Summertime‘s sprawling hour? “Ah, f— no.” —E.R.B.
The Underside of Power
“We started recording right around the time Brexit happened and finished the album’s mixing and mastering right around Trump’s inauguration,” Algiers frontman Franklin Fisher tells EW of the post-rock group’s explosive second album. Global turmoil pervades The Underside of Power, which grapples with bleak concepts like cryptofascism and late capitalism. Inspired by their academic pursuits — Fisher and bandmate Ryan Mahan hold advanced degrees from King’s College London and the London School of Economics, respectively — the album’s lyrics draw on influential theorists like Fredric Jameson and Jean-François Lyotard. “Late capitalism subverts any sort of real political engagement and ability to engage,” Fisher says. “Materialist escapism is so endemic of our entire culture. If you think about it, in that context, Donald Trump makes perfect sense as president of the United States in 2017, because that type of person is what the culture as a whole glorifies.” Those brainy lyrical themes are punctuated with wild instrumentals; Portishead legend Adrian Utley produced the album and encouraged Algiers to dabble in styles from crackling hip-hop to U.K. grime. “Adrian was actually really hands-off,” Fisher explains. “But then he would make a suggestion and it would work brilliantly.” —E.R.B
Divide world tour (buy tickets here)
June 29 – Oct. 7
The pop-rock megastar took the first hiatus of his career in 2016 and now, he tells EW, he’s feeling “refreshed and rejuvenated” and ready to hit the road to promote his pop juggernaut, Divide. “[The] production is definitely bigger,” he says of the massive run that’s currently crossing Europe before hitting the States in June. “I have a new loop station that can handle a bit more.” But longtime fans shouldn’t expect big changes to his intimate performances. “Ultimately,” he adds, “it’s still just me, my guitar, and my looper … I don’t see that changing.” —M.V.
Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1
Get ready to pick your jaw up from the floor: The DJ-producer has tapped an insane roster of all-stars to collaborate on his fifth studio album, including Frank Ocean, Katy Perry, Big Sean, Migos, Ariana Grande, Snoop Dogg and others. —K.O.
Chilli and T-Boz are bringing their ’90s R&B group back for one final, Kickstarter-funded album — and their first as a duo since founding member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes died in 2002. “Even though you cannot physically see her, you will always feel her presence and we make sure of it,” Chilli previously told EW of the new album’s music, which the two promise “will stay true to the TLC sound” defined by now-classic hits like “No Scrubs” and “Waterfalls.” —A.B.