Second Album Syndrome 2016

As Big Ben struck twelve and 2015 ceased to exist, my mind wasn’t on arranging myself and my fellow drunkards into a circle, crossing arms to attempt to sing Auld Lang Syne or which New Year’s Resolution I would break first before returning to university. I was thinking intently as to what 2016 would have in store for the world, musically, of course.

Here is a selection of the six artists who I think could have a huge year in 2016. These are all acts who are under pressure to follow up hugely successful debuts, at risk of the dreaded condition known as ‘second album syndrome’. I’ve also picked a selection of artists rumoured to be releasing new albums in 2016.

The Haim sisters burst onto the scene in 2013 with their superb debut Days Are Gone. Tracks like Forever, Falling and The Wire established Haim as the biggest female rock band in the world, something the rock music industry was craving. Three years on, a follow up is in the works, but having supported Taylor Swift on her 1989 World Tour, I have faith that the ladies won’t have ‘sold out’ and this won’t be obvious on their forthcoming album. Also, the world wants to see the infamous Este Haim bass-face in all its glory ASAP.

Frank Ocean
The second of a number of artists who face the dreaded possibility of second album syndrome. The Grammy award winning Channel Orange will prove tough to beat, but Kendrick Lamar proved sceptics wrong by outdoing Good Kid M.A.D City with arguably the album of 2015, To Pimp A Butterfly. It will have been four years since the release of Ocean’s debut, the wave of success that accompanied Channel Orange is still high as the anticipation of its sequel in the hip-hop world is undoubted. Another ingenious, sonically eclectic album could propel Ocean into the music stratosphere.

London Grammar
The British trio’s beautifully ethereal debut If You Wait is almost forgotten. Despite being in their early 20s and managing to capture the angst of today’s youthful generation on their first album, they are another group that have a lot to live up to. They have been dormant for a while, a dangerous game to play, remember Grammy Award winning Gotye? Only just. London Grammar are a wonderfully unique band that are a testament to the British music industry. One can only hope they return with a strong second album to match the first.

Royal Blood
Following monstrous hits Little Monster, Out Of The Black and Figure It Out elevating Royal Blood to mainstream success, you wouldn’t blame the sceptics for writing off their chances of repeating these successes. However, the sceptics could well be wrong, as frontman and bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher premiered Hook Line and Sinker at Reading & Leeds Festivals to a positive reception with head banging and mosh pits galore, this was the first glimpse at new material. If this is anything to go by, the pair dubbed the saviours of rock (by me) could prove to be good for this crown, though they still have some way to live up to their earth-shattering debut.

The 1975
Love them or loathe them, Matt Healy and Co. have a habit of making very catchy pop tunes. New singles Love Me and UGH! prove that, even if UGH! is about cocaine. The overly long and slightly creepily named I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It is due on February 26. They are coming into their own as live artists and developing an artistic image, so, expect to see them high up on the festival line-ups. 2016 could prove to be another big year for the 1975 as they look to build on the commercial success of their self-titled debut.

Bastille released the most alarmingly infectious hit of 2013, one so contagious that 2013 was not the year of E-BOLA but the year of the Pompeii pandemic. Their debut Bad Blood brimming with indie-pop anthems reached number one in the UK and filled out festival stages, however, their debut will probably fade into obscurity with Taylor Swift’s single of the same name likely to come to mind first and more importantly top of Google searches for the phrase. With some genuinely smart covers (Of the Night and What Would You Do), Bastille are clearly a talented pop band. A strong second album with a title that hopefully won’t be overshadowed by one of the biggest pop songs of the 21st century should see them gain even more popularity.

A selection of other artists to keep an eye on in 2016:

Guns N Roses
Rumours have been rife for months for a GNR full reunion and earlier this week these were confirmed as the original band were announced as the first headliners for the world’s most annoying music festival, Coachella. While it could be one of the biggest comebacks of 2016, their recent British performances were notoriously dire and for rock ‘legends’ they have never managed to live up to the seminal album, Appetite for Destruction. Although Slash and Axl Rose are said to have ‘buried the hatchet’, the odds on the pair killing each other before a new album is released must be pretty low.


Biffy Clyro
Simon Neil has aimed for ‘Deafheaven meets Tears for Fears meets Death Grips’ on Biffy’s seventh effort. It will be very interesting to see how hip hop sounds with a thick Scottish accent, crossed with metal and…Tears For Fears. Whether this is what is needed to upgrade from headlining Reading & Leeds to the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury we will have to wait and see.

Arcade Fire
3 years on since the release of Reflektor, a film, and an album from everyone’s favourite Butler (Will), the Canadian band are due a record if they are to stick to their 3 year cycle of producing game-changing indie-rock albums.

The Last Shadow Puppets
Last seen drunkenly dancing to the Strokes at Hyde Park, the Alex Turner/Miles Kane coalition is back with a follow up to their experiment gone good The Age of Understatement.


Bloc Party
With a new line up to accompany Kele Okereke, Hymns will drop on January 29th. If lead single The Love Within is anything to go by, expect a slightly different but equally awesome sounding Bloc Party.

Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor, December 18th: ‘New NIN coming in 2016. Other stuff, too.’ Awesome.

The teasers of second album Adore Life are sounding good. Very good. T.I.W.Y.G. and The Answer suggest that the 2016 festival season could belong to Savages.

Lady Gaga
After Artpop failed to change popular music in the clearly overambitious ways it was intended, Gaga has reinvented herself as Tony Bennett’s jazz partner and then as a Golden Globe-nominated actress for her part in American Horror Story. Can she rediscover the form from The Fame and The Fame Monster that made her the most exciting pop star in the world at that time?

You’ve got to be self-assured to release a Best O’ album before an actual LP. The cheerily named Leave Me Alone is released in early 2016 for the highly thought of, all-female Spanish Indie rockers.


The second debut album on the list, Blossoms are on the BBC Sound of 2016 Shortlist, need I say more? Well they’re also named after a pub. Perfect.


Jack Garratt
Making up a trio of debutants, the Brits Critics Choice Award winner will release Phase in February. The multi-instrumentalist already has over a million monthly listeners on Spotify, expect him to repeat the success of fellow Critics Choice Award winners Sam Smith and James Bay.

Damon Albarn’s cartoon crew 2D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs are said to be reviving their roles as the world’s most famous animated band, for a new album with none other than David Bowie being linked for a collaboration.

Kanye West
The ‘greatest living rock star on the planet’ (his words not mine) will release his seventh album in 2016, currently called SWISH (subject to change). If it’s half as good as Yeezus, he may begin to live up to his self-proclaimed status.

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Already confirmed to headline a handful of festivals across Europe, expect brand new material with the Chili’s eleventh album produced by the legendary Danger Mouse almost finished.

The XX
What will the band be like following the undisputable success of Jamie XX’s album In Colour. NSYNC, Take That, The Backstreet Boys are just a number of ‘artists’ that were rocked by member’s solo projects. Fortunately, The XX don’t share too many similarities with them.

Following Tom Delonge’s departure and Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba’s recruitment, are the ageing pop-punk heroes biting off more than they can chew by attempting a new album? Their last outing, the criminally underrated Neighborhoods (2011), would suggest not.


After Atoms For Peace, Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes and Jonny Greenwoods’ dabblings in film scores, Radiohead are said to be working on a follow up to The King of Limbs, enough to make any Radiohead fan to get flustered.

2015 saw the conversion of nearly all to Beliebers, Dave Grohl yet again proving why he is the Man, by finishing a gig with a broken leg, and the rise of the evil tyranny that is the Taylor Swift Empire. Whatever happens in 2016, I’m sure it is going to be another terrific year in music.


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