BLACKPINK

BLACKPINK charted in the Top 10 on Billboard’s very first Global 200.

Pop-punk tabloid rapper Machine Gun Kelly claims his recent hit single “Concert for Aliens” is a metaphor for social unrest and the end of the world, which is undeniably true. After all, who can question the gritty authenticity of lyrics about crash-landing in a UFO and being stuck on a roller coaster? And that’s just a preview of what can be found on Tickets to My Downfall, which, if the apocalypse doesn’t mess with Interscope’s fall release schedule, will come out later this week.

Of course, Machine Gun Kelly won’t be touring the new album anytime soon. But while live music is at a standstill, the recording industry is rolling in money.

Just two weeks ago, the RIAA announced in its “2020 Mid-Year Music Industry Revenue Report” that the record industry raked in $5.7 billion in revenues during the first six months of this year, a $100 million increase from the first half of 2019.

A whopping 8 percent of that revenue came from paid subscriptions to streaming music services (which, as we know, produce next to no income for actual musicians). Less than 10 percent came from physical formats, with vinyl records outselling CDs for the first time since the 1980s.

But while the trickle-up theory is still alive and well in the record industry, the rest of us can at least take comfort in having access to an art form that can provide much-needed relief from the tedium of life in isolation. With that in mind, here’s a selection of upcoming albums to help make the coming months more enjoyable. (Note: All release dates are subject to change, but you already knew that.)

Public Enemy, What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?

Leave it to Public Enemy to expose yet another repressed fear that’s been hiding deep within the collective unconscious. What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down opens with a high-energy title track in which George Clinton sets the stage for guest appearances by the likes of Questlove, Ice-T, YG, Ms. Ariel, Black Thought, Cypress Hill, Nas, and the surviving Beastie Boys. Despite all that, the most satisfying team-up may be the reunion of Chuck D and Flavor Flav, who’ve managed to bury the hatchet after an acrimonious breakup on the eve of a Bernie Sanders rally back in February. If there ever was a time for unity, this is it. (Sept. 25)

Lana Del Rey, Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass

Having put up with early criticisms of her vocal range, it’s understandable that Lana Del Rey would wait a decade before releasing a spoken-word poetry album. Set to music by Jack Antonoff, who worked on last year’s Norman Fucking Rockwell, the poems on Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass will also be featured in her book of the same name, which is due out next week. Yet even after selling 20 million albums, Del Rey is still dealing with detractors who dismiss her as a millionaire’s daughter who got lucky. “I’m not the kind of artist who’s ever going to get justified,” she recently told an Australian interviewer. “I will die an underdog and that’s cool with me.” (Oct. 2)

BLACKPINK, The Album

Last week, Billboard Magazine introduced its first-ever Global 200 charts, which found K-Pop well represented. Korean boy-band BTS and girl-group BLACKPINK both placed in the Top 10, as did Ben Shapiro’s favorite Cardi B song “WAP.” In the wake of BLACKPINK’s high-profile collaborations with Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez, no one should be surprised when their long-awaited debut album dominates Billboard’s pop, dance and global charts in the weeks ahead. (Oct. 2)

William Shatner, The Blues

Four decades after his hilariously melodramatic reading of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s “Rocket Man,” Captain Kirk’s alter ego asked himself, “How do you sing the blues without singing?” Granted, Lighnin’ Hopkins, Woody Guthrie and many others answered that question decades ago, but none in the way that Shatner and accompanists Ritchie Blackmore, Canned Heat and Brad Paisley do here. (Oct. 2)

Matt Berninger, Serpentine Prison

While this is Matt Berninger’s debut solo album, it isn’t the first time The National’s frontman has ventured beyond the confines of his band. EL VY, his one-off project with Roman Falls co-founder Brent Knopf, made waves of its own with “Return to the Moon,” which was one of the most infectious singles of 2015. For the more singer-songwriterly Serpentine Prison, Berninger got Memphis legend Booker T. Jones to serve as producer, arranger and keyboardist. The result is a cross-generational collaboration that will hold its ground as one of 2020’s best releases. (Oct. 16)

Bruce Springsteen, Letter to You

While Bruce Springsteen’s latest collection was recorded in five days with no overdubs, don’t expect any major musical departures. Apart from the late Clarence Clemons, whose sax duties are handled by his nephew Jake, the full-on E-Street Band is present and accounted for. Also adding to the nostalgia factor is the fact that a quarter of the songs on Letter to You were written back in the ’70s, a time when Springsteen had yet to complete his transition from New Jersey upstart to perennial rock legend. (Oct. 23)

Kylie Minogue, Disco

Disco music has been experiencing something of a revival this year, with artists like Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware and Lady Gaga exploring a genre that turned out to be as influential as it was controversial. All of which should give a boost to the sales of dance-pop diva Kylie Minogue’s upcoming Disco album. Granted, Minogue is unlikely to score a No. 1 hit in two dozen countries, as she once did with “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” But the new album will at least rekindle memories of that song’s endless “La la la / La la la-la-la” refrain, the one that seemed to go on forever and will probably be stuck in your head for the next several hours. (Nov. 6)

Music Editor

Bill Forman is the music and film editor of the Colorado Springs Indy, as well as the former editor of Tower Pulse Magazine and news editor for the Sacramento News & Review.