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Gearing up for 2014's busy music schedule

21st Century Media/Digital First Media, @GraffonMu

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With Beyonce's sneak album drop, Justin Bieber's "retirement" and Bruce Springsteen's accidental new album leak, 2013 in music went out like a lion.

And now 2014, with apologies to Katy Perry, is ready to roar.

As the new year dawns, there are plenty of known plans and titillating speculation about what's ahead for the next 12 months. So get out the calendar and start marking it up with these forthcoming events...

* Surprise releases: What has Beyonce wrought? You can bet her surprise drop of "Beyonce" in mid-December, netting a publicity coup and big sales, has plenty of peers and business-side folks scratching their chins. This won't be the last "ambush" release.

* Beatles 50th: This year marks the golden anniversary of the Fabs' arrival in the U.S., which will be must ballyhooed with the release of the group's U.S. album catalog on Jan. 21, the Jan. 26 airing of "The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles on CBS, the April 10 induction of the group's late manager Brian Epstein into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the production of a film biography about Epstein, "The Fifth Beatle."

* Zep flies again...: Although not in the way its fans would like. While a Led Zeppelin live reunion remains as likely as Miley Cyrus doing "La Traviata," Jimmy Page plans to start rolling out deluxe reissues of the group's albums, with bonus tracks and unreleased material. Frontman Robert Plant is planning a new solo album for the year, too.

* Adele: There's lots of chatter about a third album and follow-up to 2011's multi-platinum, Grammy-gobbling "21." But we're not sure if that's for real or just music industry wishful thinking.

* U2: The Irish quartet recorded its next album, the follow-up to 2009's "No Line on the Horizon," with Danger Mouse at Electric Lady Studio in New York. A Super Bowl XLVIII announcement is rumored for an April release.

* More Danger: Danger Mouse's Gnarls Barkley partner Cee-Lo Green recently said that the duo is working on a new album -- its first in six years -- for a 2014 release. Is that "Crazy" or what? Before that, the safety-averse rodent releases "After The Disco," a second Broken Bells album with the Shins' James Mercer, on Jan. 14.

* Foo Fighters: Dave Grohl and the guys are back for the eight time and making an album "in a way no one's ever done before." No specifics on that yet, but Grohl tends to be a mark of high quality and credibility, so we'll take his word for it.

* Beck: It's comeback time for the "Loser," who's been largely out of sight for the past five years. "Morning Phase" is said to be in the downbeat, acoustic mode of 2002's "Sea Change," is due in February, with a second, unspecified set also reported to be coming this year.

* Pharrell Williams: The artist/writer/producer was part of some of 2013's biggest musical moments -- Daft Punk, "Blurred Lines," "Despicable Me 2" -- for which he earned seven Grammy Award nominations, including Producer of the Year. His second solo album, due this year, has potential Event status.

* Bruce Springsteen: His new "High Hopes" was compromised by a short, accidental Amazon.com leak on Dec. 28, well in front of its official Jan. 14 release date. The intriguing set features re-recordings of some old favorites (including "The Ghost of Tom Joad") and Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave vet Tom Morello adding a new kind of guitar vibe to the mix. And we hardly think these early 2014 shows in South Africa and Australia are all he has in mind this year.

* Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: Petty is talking big about his 14th studio set, invoking past triumphs such as "Damn the Torpedoes" and "Wildflowers." He also guests on Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench's first solo album, "You Should Be So Lucky," which comes out Feb. 18.

* Don Henley: Now that he's celebrated the "History of the Eagles," Henley plans to drop his first solo album in 13 years, an American-flavored collection of both originals and cover songs.

* Stevie Wonder: Eight years after his last release, the Motown prodigy is promising not one but two new albums in the new year, "When the World Began" and "Ten Billion Hearts.

* Wu-Tang Clan: Rap's Wu warriors have re-enlisted for "A Better Tomorrow," their first new full-length effort since 2007's "8 Diagrams" -- though no firm details, like a release date, have been announced. We'll see if the Wu delivers.

* Eric Church: The country hotshot took a little extra time making his follow-up to 2011's breakthrough "Chief" -- which has only whetted appetites for "The Outsiders' " Feb. 11 release.

* Jennifer Nettles: The Sugarland singer goes solo on the 11-song "That Girl," produced by Rick Rubin and due out Jan. 14 with a cover of Bob Seger's "Like a Rock."

* Sharon Jones: The much-loved New York soul singer had to postpone plans after being diagnosed with bile duct cancer in June. She's better now, and her fifth album with the Dap Kings, "Give the People What They Want," hits on Jan. 14.

& Divas on tour: Their albums rolled out in 2014, now catch Miley (April 12 at The Palace), Katy (TBA), Gaga (TBA), Lorde (March 16 at the Fillmore Detroit), Britney (TBA) and grandma Cher (April 12 at Joe Louis Arena) live and in the flesh. Gaga is also planning to put out her "Cheek to Cheek" collaboration with Tony Bennett.

* Switchfoot: We know plenty about the San Diego group's "Fading West" already after the fall release of the surfing/tour documentary of the same name. We finally get the full album on Jan. 14.

* Johnny Cash: The cash-in on Cash's vaults continues, this time with an entire unreleased album from the 80s -- which, admittedly, was not his best period. Nevertheless, we'll be listening.

* Rosanne Cash: The eldest child of Johnny has become one of the most consistent singer-songwriters on the Americana scene, and her new "The River and the Thread," due out Jan. 14, digs into her Southern roots with an all-star musical cast.

* Bastille: The single "Pompeii" is creating a big set-up for the upcoming "All This Bad Blood" package on Jan. 14 and the British group's upcoming North American tour, which begins Jan. 19 at the Royal Oak Music Theatre.

* Sophomore survivals: The soulful southern rockers Alabama Shakes will follow-up the gold-certified, Grammy-nominated triumph of 2012's "Boys & Girls" this year, but we're still waiting for specifics...British one-man troubadour Ed Sheeran has slated a second full-length set for Feb. 18 but has also been light on details...And country upstart Hunter Hayes is planning to prove his freshman success was no fluke later in the year.

* Damon Albarn: The guiding force of Blur, Gorillaz, The Good, the Bad & the Queen and Rocket Juice & the Moon is planning to release his first-ever solo album. Given his track record, we can only imagine what new course he'll take.

* The Crystal Method: The prospect of a new album from the electronic duo is usually interesting enough; it didn't need a delay to Jan. 14 -- due to Scott Kirkland's brain surgery -- to fuel the intrigue.

* Against Me!: Frontman and founder Tom Gabel did not became Laura Jane Grace for publicity purposes, of course, but her transgender transition certainly piques a little more interest for the Jan. 21 release of the Florida punk group's "Transgender Dysphoria Blues."

* Young The Giant: The California alt.rockers made a lot of friends with its 2010 debut and singles such as "My Body" and "Cough Syrup" -- building the heat for its successor, "Mind Over Matter," which drops Jan. 21.

* Headbanging heroes: Metallica, Tool and Slipknot are planning new albums after waits of seven, eight and six years, respectively, while Linkin Park returns after a brief two years. Stone Temple Pilots plans to release more new material, either in album or EP form, with new singer Chester Bennington (also of Linkin Park). Guns N' Roses is making noise about something new, too, but if we had a dollar for every time they said that we'd make the Mega Million jackpot look like a 50/50 raffle.

* Dr. Dre: "Detox," which he's been making since "2001" in 1999, is still in the laboratory. There are predictions it'll be out this year, but...well, see what we said about Guns N' Roses above.

* Kanye West: Get enough of him in 2013? Despite a vow of silence, he's talking about a follow-up to "Yeezus" sooner rather than later.

* Brian Wilson: The Beach Boys mastermind is said to be working on three albums, but the first -- which features Jeff Beck on guitar -- is expected to catch a wave for 2014.

* Lily Allen: She's more popular in her native Britain, though 2009's "It's Not Me, It's You" did hit the Top 10 stateside. Now Allen is causing a stir with "Hard Out There," the Top 10 first single from her third, TBA album.

* "The Last Ship:" Sting hits the stage with his first musical, released on album in September and opening during June in Chicago. This is after he tours with Paul Simon, including a Feb. 26 stop at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

* Justin Bieber: Is he really retiring or just trying (desperately) to get people to go to his box office bomb of a movie. We'll "Believe" it when we see it.

And closer to home...

Here's what some of Detroit's leading music icons have planned for the new year:

* Techno beat-down: A new pair of electronic music events -- a fresh (and free) Detroit Electronic Music Festival in Campus Martius Park and the Federation of Electronic Music Technology at Ford Field -- will debut during the Fourth of July weekend, but Memorial Day's reigning Movement isn't going anywhere and has, in fact, responded with an unprecedented early announcement of its lineup. Game on...

* Eminem: With plenty of life left in the chart-topping "Marshall Mathers LP 2," the rapper is headed to Australia for four shows in February -- hopefully (and probably) not the last we'll see of him on stage this year.

* The Four Tops: The venerable Motown group will celebrate its 60th anniversary this year with a memoir from lone surviving original member Abdul "Duke" Fakir and a stage musical that may be cast via a reality TV show and then open in Las Vegas.

* Aretha Franklin: Recording has begun on the Queen of Soul's next album, a covers set featuring her versions of songs made famous by other female performers, which Franklin hopes to have out during the first half of the year.

* Kid Rock: He promises a new album in 2014, following 2012's "Rebel Soul." He'll tell us more when he decides we need to know.

* Ted Nugent: The gonzo guitar god is also working on a set of new material, his first since 2007's "Love Grenade."

* Smokey Robinson: The Motown stalwart is recording a duets album with former "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson producing. Partners include John Legend and Jessie J, with more to be revealed soon.

* Bob Seger: Still recording and still talking about a new album. And we're still hopin'... -- Gary Graff

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