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From Rihanna to the Rolling Stones, Eight New Albums Fans Are Crossing Their Fingers Will Be Released in 2022

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Will your favorite pop-music star finally release that long-awaited album? That’s a big question for fans of everyone from Rihanna to the Rolling Stones.

The pined-for album—a perennial problem for music listeners—is evolving in the era of streaming. Today, most artists pump out music frequently to stay in the public consciousness, industry analysts say, yet music’s biggest stars have been stingier about major releases in recent years.

Here are eight acts that could blow their fans away with new albums in 2022—or leave them disappointed and waiting longer.

Beyoncé

With her 2019 live album and 2020 single “Black Parade,” Beyoncé has been active enough that it’s easy to forget she hasn’t released a follow-up to 2016’s “Lemonade.”

That album was part of a renaissance for hip-hop and R&B that included landmark albums by Kanye West and Frank Ocean, another artist fans are hungry for. More recently, hip-hop and R&B, which dominated music in the mid- to late-2010s, have ceded some territory on the charts to pop artists like Olivia Rodrigo.

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The overall pop-music scene also seems in flux: Some of the biggest stars fell flat with new releases in 2021, critics say. The top four songs on Billboard’s 2021 year-end singles chart were songs from 2020 by Dua Lipa, The Weeknd and 24kGoldn—a sign that 2021 was a transitional year for pop and that a change could be in the cards.

If Beyoncé returns in 2022, there’s no guarantee she will dominate in the same way as listeners’ preferences evolve.

Rihanna

Perhaps no artist—except Beyoncé—is the subject of so much pent-up demand as this 33-year-old R&B-pop singer and fashion mogul. Her ninth studio album, if it arrives, could shake up 2022.

As her Fenty fashion and beauty empire has expanded, Rihanna’s musical output has shrunk. It has been nearly six years since 2016’s “ANTI,” a musical high-point for her that went triple-platinum. But the likelihood of a 2022 release is unclear. The singer has talked sporadically of the album, saying it’s going to be reggae-influenced and “completely different.”

Dolly Parton

The country legend has a busy year ahead. During the pandemic, she burnished her reputation as one of music’s most beloved celebrities by donating $1 million to help develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

Now fans are pumped for new music. On March 7, Ms. Parton publishes her first novel, “Run, Rose, Run.” It is a collaboration with James Patterson about an aspiring musician. Accompanying the book, on March 4, are 12 new original songs under the same title. Ms. Parton says they are based on its characters and situations.

Kendrick Lamar

Among the artists without confirmed releases on this list, one with a real chance of dropping a new album is Mr. Lamar.

The Los Angeles rapper faces the considerable challenge of trying to top a Pulitzer Prize-winning record, 2017’s “DAMN.” At a recent show, Mr. Lamar didn’t perform new material—a hint a new record isn’t imminent.

But compared with prior years when he has been relatively quiet and inactive, he has talked recently about his next album and collaborated with protégé Baby Keem on tracks, which suggests a return to the spotlight. “See you soon enough,” he told fans in a letter on his website.

The Weeknd

The Weeknd made what many call 2020’s defining album—“After Hours,” a critical smash and commercial blockbuster that contained the Max Martin-produced hit “Blinding Lights.”

“After Hours” also is considered The Weeknd’s career peak. He has said his next album is “complete.” So the question for fans is what the R&B-pop star does next and how he maintains momentum. Also, will he stick with his ’80s-inspired synthwave style, or switch gears?

Guns N’ Roses

In 2016, Axl Rose and Slash shared a stage for the first time in 23 years—and they’ve been on tour since. But what Guns N’ Roses loyalists now want is a new album, which would be the first since 2008’s “Chinese Democracy,” which Slash wasn’t involved with.

To spur excitement for recent shows, the hard-rock band used a stopgap measure: They released two songs, “Absurd” and “Hard Skool,” that are revamped versions of old, unreleased songs Mr. Rose had in his vault. The songs will appear on an EP out Feb. 25. Chances for a new album, however, are low; Slash said in October the band hadn’t begun writing it.

The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have been talking about finishing what would be their first album of new material in over 16 years. The death of drummer Charlie Watts—replaced on tour by Steve Jordan—is probably the biggest hurdle yet.

But the band’s recent activity, including its acclaimed 2016 blues covers album, 2020 single “Living in a Ghost Town” and 2021 performances, suggest a band in fine fettle. Given how robust the Stones remain, fans are holding out hope for new tunes.

100 gecs

This duo makes hyperactive music that throws genres into a blender. It’s a cult act, but one whose 2019 album, “1000 gecs,” appeared on many best-of-year lists because of its refreshing playfulness and sense of abandon.

Band members Dylan Brady and Laura Les have a sound that has been labeled “hyperpop.” Their coming release, “10000 gecs,” is confirmed for 2022. Very few new artists have generated this much hype among critics in recent years, which means there’s considerable interest in what the experimental oddballs do next.

Write to Neil Shah at [email protected]

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