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2020: The music highlights we're already anticipating

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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The just-started 2020 doesn't look quite like what was envisioned in the 1990 video game "Cyperpunk 2020" or the 1997 comic book series "2020 Visions" or in films such as "Thunderbirds," "Annihilation Earth" or "Godzilla: Final Wars."

That's probably a good thing in all cases.

The good news is that for music fans, the new year (and fresh decade, for that matter) is already brimming with highly anticipated new music, tours and other endeavors from known quantities and upstarts alike. Surely many of this year's biggest stories have yet to be revealed, of course, but here's a quick tour through 15 things we're excited about for the coming 12 months.

"Respect:" The Aretha Franklin biopic was teased during December, with our first earful of Jennifer Hudson's portrayal of the late Queen of Soul. No release date has been announced yet, but here's hoping the finished product lives up to its title.

Stadium Arcadium: After an austere year for the Detroit metro area's biggest venues just two shows at Ford Field a formidable calendar already includes Garth Brooks (Feb. 22), Kenny Chesney (Aug. 15) and Justin Bieber (Aug. 29) there and, at Comerica Park, Billy Joel (July 10) and the back-to-back packages of Green Day/Fall Out Boy/Weezer/The Interruptors (Aug. 19) and Def Leppard/Motley Crue/Poison/Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (Aug. 20). The Tigers and Lions should both have comebacks like this. Visit 313Presents.com and fordfield.com for details.

"The Last Ship" Sails: Broadway in Detroit's already-strong 2020 season got a boost with the announcement of the Sting-penned musical, with Sting himself appearing, for a run April 22-26 at the Detroit Opera House. broadwayindetroit.com.

Came from Dee-troit City: Alice Cooper's new studio album, a Detroit-inspired set he's been recording locally with producer Bob Ezrin and Motor City mates such as Wayne Kramer, Johnny "Bee" Badanjek, Mark Farner and others, is slated for release after the "Breadcrumbs" EP teaser last year.

Overtime: After four singles last year, will we finally hear Detroit rapper Big Sean's long-gestating "Don Life" and end the three-year wait for a new album?

Regenerating: Detroit's We Came As Romans broke its musical silence after the death of vocalist Kyle Pavone with a pair of new tracks in 2019, "Carry the Weight" and "From the First Note." The current quintet is expected to drop its sixth album this year.

Rage returns: Hard-hitting Rage Against the Machine isn't letting this Election Year go by without jumping into the fray, reuniting for the first time in nearly nine years. Only five dates are announced so far including two at the Coachella festival but fans fingers, toes and other extremities are crossed for more.

Reunited, and it feels ...: Some other reunions of note this year include the unlikely resumption of the Black Crowes (July 29 at the DTE Energy Music Theatre) after brothers Chris and Rich Robinson spent years publicly flapping, and the Doobie Brothers with former member Michael McDonald to celebrate the group's 50th anniversary, minute by minute (Aug. 2 at DTE). Visit 313Presents.com for details.

Sparks fly again?: Last year Bruce Springsteen, exploring "Western Stars" after 13 months on Broadway, spoke about writing new material for his E Street Band, whose members alluded to the same in their own interviews. Fans, of course, hope that means E Street will be shuffling back on the road as well. No "yes" yet but no "no," either.

Back in Black: Members of AC/DC, including returned frontman Brian Johnson, were spotted in Vancouver last year working on material for a new album that's said to be crafted from guitar riffs left behind by the late Malcolm Young. No official confirmation yet but it seems likely stoking hopes for a tour to follow.

Big Grrrl: After a 2019 that truly was "Good as Hell" including Time, Entertainment Weekly and Associated Press Entertainer of the Year honors look for Lizzo to capitalize in the new year, on the road especially but don't rule out the prospect of more new music.

Crazy Train rolls again: After taking 2019 off due to illness and injury, Ozzy Osbourne is set to return this year with "Ordinary Man," his first new album in 10 years, and rescheduled tour dates and maybe some new fans from his cameo on Post Malone's hit "Take What You Want."

Still Beatin': Huey Lewis' celebrated career came to a sad and sudden halt due to the crippling inner ear disorder Miniere's disease. But he and the News will deliver one more time with the album "Weather" on Feb. 14, featuring the last material the group already had in motion.

Give the drummer some: After the Black Crowes' Steve Gorman stirred the pot in 2019 with his memoir "Hard to Handle," two fellow drummers are pounding the page rather than the skins. Chris Frantz of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club will publish "Remain in Love" this spring, while Matt Sorum (Guns N' Roses, the Cult, Velvet Revolver) will unleash "Double Talkin' Jive" on April 7. Rim shot, please ...

Gang's all here: If you thought Joe Walsh was the James Gang's original guitarist, you'll get a history lesson this year. Original member Glenn Schwartz will make some posthumous noise with an album recorded before his 2018 death produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and featuring Schwartz's replacement, Joe Walsh. It certainly looks good on paper.

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