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Lady Gaga, Dr. Dre, the Strokes among top music stories for 2011

of the Oakland Press

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The music year of 2011 actually began in the waning minutes of 2010, when Avril Lavigne performed her new single, “What The Hell,” on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” and Lady Gaga tweeted the release dates for her next single and album, both called “Born This Way.”

But those are just two of the big music stories headed our way in the new year. Suffice to say, there will be lots to hear and plenty of spectacle to accompany it. The onslaught has only just begun.

With that in mind, here’s 25 of the main stories we’ll be watching as 2011 unfolds ...

Lady Gaga: “The Fame” turned the multi-faceted New York-born artist into a monster during the past two years — to the tune of 15 million albums and 51 million singles sold worldwide — and there’s more where that came from. Mark Feb. 13, Grammy Awards day, for the release of “Born This Way,” the first single and title track from her next album, which will follow on May 23. Gaga has described it as “definitely the most innovative of all the music I’ve done so far ... the marriage of electronic music with these sort of major, epic, I dare to even say metal, rock ‘n’ roll, pop, anthemic style melodies with really sledge-hammering dance beats.” Sample lyric: “I’m on the right track, baby.” No kidding.

Dr. Dre: A February release is expected for the hip-hop uber-producer’s long-time-coming third solo album, “Detox,” though that date is always subject to change. Dre has confirmed appearances by Eminem, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Akon, La Roux, The Game and others, and he maintains that this will be his final project as an artist — like we haven’t heard that before.

Foo Fighters: The Foos have been relatively quiet since touring to to promote 2007’s “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace,” though frontman Dave Grohl made plenty of noise during the interim with Them Crooked Vultures and an assortment of cameos (The Prodigy, Slash, Michael Jackson). Now a quintet with the return of guitarist Pat Smear, the group recently finished recording its seventh studio album with producer Butch Vig, and Grohl told the BBC that the new music is “massive.” Grohl’s Nirvana bandmate Krist Novoselic guests on the track “I Should Have Known.” A title and release date are forthcoming.

Britney Spears: A March release is expected for her follow-up to 2008’s career-saving “Circus,” with a first single, “Hold It Against Me,” expected this month. Max Martin, Dr. Luke and Shellback are on board as producers.

Avril Lavigne: The Canadian-born songstress who’s long positioned herself as an anti-Spears emerges from a four-year recording break and a divorce from Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley with her fourth album, “Goodbye Lullaby,” which is due out March 8. Whibley helped out on the 14-song set, along with longtime Lavigne collaborators Butch Walker and Evan Taubenfeld, and the first single, “What the Hell,” is out after being premiered on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” Lavigne will also be adding items to her Abbey Dawn clothing line this year.

The Strokes: After a couple of years of hemming and hawing, the terminally hip New York rockers appear poised to finally release their fourth album, and first in five years, in 2011. The Strokes started working with producer Joe Chiccarelli but ultimately scrapped those sessions, instead recording the 10 songs in guitarist Albert Hammond’s studio in upstate New York. Frontman Julian Casablancas tweeted that the album was finished in mid-November, but a title and release date have yet to be announced.

“Watch The Throne:” Kanye West and Jay-Z worked together in England, France and the U.S. on this collaborative project, which is due out March 1. It’s said to feature guest appearances by Common, Kid Cudi, Charlie Wilson, John Legend, La Roux and Bon Ivor, as well as posthumous Curtis Mayfield samples.

Wiz Khalifa: Though he’s released two albums already, the Pittsburgh rapper (real name Cameron Thomaz) raised his profile in 2010 via collaborations with Jamie Foxx, Wale, Rick Ross and Diddy-Dirty Money. That bodes well for his as-yet-untitled major label debut on March 29. He’ll preview some of the new material during two shows Jan. 15 at the Royal Oak Music Theatre.

Jackson and Jackson: Janet Jackson plans to be on the road in 2011 — and so does her late brother Michael, the latter via “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,” that begins its North American run on Oct. 2 and visits Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 15. An expanded edition of his 1979 album “Off The Wall” is also expected, along with a documentary about the making of the album. Janet’s tour will be called “Number Ones; Up Close and Personal,” and she’s currently taking setlist suggestions at her web site. She’ll also publish a self-help book, “True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself,” on Feb. 8.

Kid Rock Roast: His guest-laden 40th birthday concert on Jan. 15 at Ford Field is a big deal, of course. But the Clarkston rocker is still planning to go ahead with a Comedy Central roast later this year; we’ll see who hurls the first Waffle House joke.

Katy Perry: The “California Gurls” girl came out big with her second album, “Teenage Dream,” topping the charts and loading the gossip columns with her too-busty-for-“Sesame Street” look and her marriage to Russel Brand. She’ll spend 2011 on the road with her California Dreams Tour, kicking off Feb. 20 in Portugal and playing North American dates during the summer.

Fall Out fallout: Fall Out Boy may be on indefinite hiatus, but there will be plenty of music from its members this year. Frontman Patrick Stump is readying his first solo album, “Soul Punk,” for a February release while bassist Pete Wentz is planning to roll out the first full-length from his electropop group Black Cards. Guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley, meanwhile, will hit the road with the Damned Things, an all-star heavy metal group with members of Anthrax and Every Time I Die whose debut album, “Ironiclast,” came out in December.Coldplay: After the triumph of 2008’s “Viva la Vida,” the British quartet has been working again with producer Brian Eno on what’s now rumored to be a concept album frontman Chris Martin says is “from the point of view of two people who are a bit lost ... It’s supposed to be very personal within a big framework.” Expect a late 2011 release.

Beastie Boys: The rap trio pushed back “Hot Sauce Committee, Vol. 1” from its planned fall of 2009 release in order for Adam “MCA” Yauch to be treated for cancer. Yauch’s recovery puts the Beasties’ first album in four years on track for a spring release, though “Vol. 2” will come before its delayed predecessor.

NKOTBSB: It’s a sign of the times that this combo package of New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys — which hits the road June 2 and hits town June 16 at the Palace of Auburn Hills — will work to fill one night in venues Justin Bieber can play multiple times with just a single tweet. But some high-profile joint TV appearances (the American Music Awards, “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve”) have stoked interest in the outing.

U2: Nobody’s quite sure what U2’s 13th studio album will be — rumors include anything from material recorded for 2009’s “No Line on the Horizon” to new collaborations with Danger Mouse and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am. “Songs of Ascent” has been bandied about as a title, but there’s no word on whether it will be out by the time they roll into Spartan Stadium on June 26. Meanwhile, Bono and The Edge are still putting finishing touches on the beleaguered Spider-Man musical that opens Feb. 7 on Broadway.

Jane’s Addiction: The iconic modern rockers will release a new album — their first in eight years and just their fourth in their 26-year career — this summer, after personnel drama that saw the return and departure of original bassist Eric Avery and a short-lived stint with Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver’s Duff McKagan before settling on TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek.

Flaming Lips: Rather than release a new album, the maverick Oklahoma psychedelic rock troupe plans to release a new song each month of the year, accompanying them with videos. Recording is slated to start in late January with regular producer Dave Fridmann.

R.E.M.: The trio continues its association with Irish producer Garret “Jacknife” Lee on its 15th album, “Collapse Into Now,” which was recorded in Berlin, Nashville and New Orleans and features guests such as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith, Peaches and Lenny Kaye. It comes out March 8.

blink-182: The reunited punk trio hopes to bring its first new album in eight years out in early spring and hit the road again this summer. Meanwhile, drummer Travis Barker plans a solo album, “Give the Drummer Some,” on Feb. 22 with friends such as Slash, Snoop Dogg, B.o.B., Lil Wayne, Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and others helping out.

Rush: On creative roll since the turn of the century, the Canadian trio has been working on its 19th studio album with co-producer Nick Raskulinecz, who also collaborated on 2007’s “Snakes & Arrows.” One track, “Caravan,” has already been released, with the album coming this year. Meanwhile, Rush will play 1981’s “Moving Pictures” in its entirety when its Time Machine Tour hits the Palace of Auburn Hills on April 17.

No Doubt: It’s been nearly a decade since the Southern California quartet released its last album. They hit the studio last May to work on a sixth album after a 2009 reunion tour, and all indications are it will be out this year.

Bush: Gavin Rossdale, who’s married to No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani, revived the Bush name in 2010 after an eight-year break, with three new members (drummer Robin Goodridge remains). The return album, “Everything Always Now,” was slated for release in the fall but is now expected in February.

Wanda Jackson: 2011 will see a number of recording comebacks, including Gregg Allman and The Band’s Robbie Robertson, but few are more exciting than “The Party Ain’t Over” from rockabilly hero and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Wanda Jackson. Produced by Jack White, it’s due out Jan. 25.

Dennis Coffey: The latter-day Motown Funk Brother best known for his guitar opus “Scorpio” is back with a new album for Strut Records, recorded at Royal Oak’s Rustbelt Studios and produced by Kid Rock cohort Al Sutton. Due out in late April, its eye-catching guest list includes Mayer Hawthorne, Mick Collins of the Gories and the Dirtbombs, Rachel Nagy of the Detroit Cobras, Lisa Kekaula of the BellRays, Fanny Franklin, Kings Go Forth and others. A South By Southwest Music + Media Conference showcase has just been confirmed.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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