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2015 Preview: 68 Reasons This Year Will Rule

The smash albums, blockbuster movies and water-cooler TV shows to watch out for over the next 12 months

2015 Preview

2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don't see 'em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don't bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock's Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop's Yeezus will rise again. There will be Beach Boys, Fall Out Boys, and screaming females – the last, both inside and outside screenings of Fifty Shades of Grey. With the caveat that all dates are subject to change, here are the music, movies and TV you need to know about all year long.

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‘Togetherness’ (HBO, January 11th)

With TV just starting to go through its Indiewood-revolution phase (see Transparent), we're happy to see longtime lo-fi, low-key moviemakers Mark and Jay Duplass get in on the small-screen action. The siblings behind the cringe-dramedy Cyrus have fashioned an HBO series about an on-the-rocks thirtysomething Angeleno couple who take in a friend and a sister-in-law, both of whom are down on their luck. Expect the sort of painfully funny (and outright painful) social awkwardness, recognizable bad behavior and loose, raw brilliance the brothers have made their métier. D.F.

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‘Parks & Recreation’ Final Season (NBC, January 13th)

Say it ain't so, Knope! The members of the Pawnee parks department will get one last chance to take on bureaucratic red tape, small-town cynicism and those damned Eagleton residents in the seventh and last season of this beloved sitcom. We're curious to see how the series goes out with its bold three-years-in-the-future scenario (crazy computer touch screens! Drone deliveries! Andy Dwyer as a TV ninja!), but mostly, we look forward to saying one final goodbye to Amy Poehler's indefatigable government go-getter and the rest of the show's regional kooks. D.F.

Mark Ronson

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 04: Mark Ronson performs at The Other Ball in aid of Arms Around The Child at One Mayfair on June 4, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Mark Ronson, ‘Uptown Special’ (January 13th)

"Uptown Funk" crams an entire wedding reception into four-and-a-half minutes, and the album containing the song looks to be as much fun as the single. Mark Ronson thinks so: "It's my best record, for sure," he tells Rolling Stone. As usual, the producer has recruited a star-studded cast of singers and side-hands. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon wrote the lyrics; Mystikal, Bruno Mars and Tame Impala's Kevin Park contribute vocals; and Stevie Wonder plays a little harmonica. "It's probably the peak musical highlight of my life," Ronson says of that last collaboration. "I'm fine if I never top it." R.S.

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‘Broad City’ Season 2 (Comedy Central, January 14th)

The ladies behind last year's breakout hit are back, and judging from the hints they've dropped about their sophomore season, the fictional lives of comedians Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are about to get, to paraphrase the latter's horny stoner, "more jizzy jazzed." New York heat waves, underage hook-ups, big-box store dance routines, sweaty sex with Seth Rogen and more pot-smoking than you can shake a one-hitter at are on deck. Kittens are yelled at and the phrase "titty chips" is uttered. There will be twerking. D.F.

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‘Man Seeking Woman’ (FXX, January 14th)

Humorist Simon Rich's short story collection The Last Girlfriend on Earth is now a twisted FXX sitcom, with Jay Baruchel as a recently dumped young man named Josh, re-entering the dating world alongside his best friend and wingman (Eric André). The show takes a fantastical turn once Josh realizes that the singles scene is fraught with peril – as in, his life is literally in danger from sexy monsters and aliens. Rich is one of the funniest writers working today, and nobody plays "lovable sad-sack" quite like Baruchel. Welcome to the next basic-cable cult-comedy hit. N.M.

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‘Blackhat’ (January 16th)

Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral, Miami Vice) hasn't directed a film since 2009's underrated gangster saga Public Enemies, so any new film from him is an event. But Blackhat has the added benefit of remarkable, ripped-from-the-headlines topicality: It's a crime drama set in the world of cyberterrorism, with Chris Hemsworth (Thor) as an ass-kicking ex-con and computer genius(!) who helps the U.S. and Chinese intelligence agencies hunt down a mysterious hacker. Add in Mann's fondness for research and authenticity together with a globe-hopping plot, and we could be looking at the first genuinely great movie of the new year. B.E.

Larry Wilmore

Peter Yang

‘The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore’ (Comedy Central, January 19th)

The bad news? The Colbert Report is no more. The good news? Comedy Central has given the 11:30pm time-slot to comedian Larry Wilmore, whose Daily Show riffs on race relations have been a late-night highlight for nearly a decade. Though the new series' title has been changed from the more provocative The Minority Report to the safer The Nightly Show, there's no reason to expect that Wilmore will shy away from the cutting commentary he's been sharing with Jon Stewart since 2006. N.M.

Belle and Sebastian

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 12: Belle & Sebastian performs during a concert as part of Corona Capital Festival day 2 at Hermanos Rodriguez Racetrack on October 12, 2014 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Edgar Negrete/Clasos/LatinContent/GEtty Images)

Edgar Negrete/Getty Images

Belle and Sebastian, ‘Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance’ (January 20th)

Don't let the synths fool you: The latest from Belle and Sebastian doesn’t see the Glasgow pop pioneers dancing away from the sense of emotional reality that grounded the band's past seven records. "I love those groups like Bronski Beat and Pet Shop Boys that seem to be able to write amazing, big-sounding electro-pop but also write it from the perspective of real people in real time doing real things," frontman Stuart Murdoch recently told Rolling Stone. Girls in Peacetime comes after a five-year break (the longest in the band's nearly two-decade career), but first single "The Party Line" indicates that it was worth the wait. C.D.

Fall Out Boy

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Fall Out Boy, ‘American Beauty/American Psycho’ (January 20th)

While touring in support of 2013's arena-ready comeback LP, Save Rock and Roll, Fall Out Boy wrote a new song around the scatted hook from Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner." This became the poppy, electronic-infused "Centuries," the band's latest single and the first track off American Beauty/American Psycho, which has already gone platinum. "My mission statement has always been, 'I want to be the biggest,'" bassist Pete Wentz says in the new issue of Rolling Stone, adding of the group’s vocalist-guitarist Patrick Stump. "Patrick's has always been, 'I want to be the best.' At some point, we realized they were two versions of the same thing." N.M.

Marilyn Manson

BOLOGNA, ITALY - DECEMBER 12: Marilyn Manson performs at Unipol Arena on December 12, 2012 in Bologna, Italy. (Photo by Mario Carlini - Iguana Press/Getty Images)

Iguana Press/Getty Images

Marilyn Manson, ‘The Pale Emperor’ (January 20th)

"It's dirty," Marilyn Manson says of his forthcoming ninth album in the new issue of Rolling Stone, "like the dirt under my nails, like someone who has dug a grave." If Manson seemed to be digging his own grave with his last few records, which were not particularly well-received either by fans or critics, The Pale Emperor represents a creative rebirth –  and a much-needed maturation. Written with soundtrack composer Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy, Californication), the album is bluesy and menacing, weathered and worn in the best way, with Manson sounding all and more of his 46 years on swamp-goth anthems like "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge" and "Cupid Carries a Gun." Has the God of Fuck actually grown up? Judging from this new shit, it's hard to say no. B.G.

Sleater Kinnney

INDIO, CA - APRIL 15: (L-R) Musicians Mary Timony, Janet Weiss and Carrie Brownstein of the band Wild Flag perform during Day 3 of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival held at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2012 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)

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Sleater-Kinney, ‘No Cities to Love’ (January 20th)

It had been nine years since we last heard the riot grrrl vanguards making original music together, so fans were appropriately shocked when, in October, Sleater-Kinney unveiled a new song, “Bury Our Friends,” and announced that they'd secretly finished an entire new album. The music's quality comes as less of a surprise: Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss haven't lost any ferocity, and the record is chock-full of the kind of surging punk fury they've been perfecting for decades. C.D.

Katy Perry

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 27: Katy Perry performs live at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on November 27, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Bradley Kanaris/Getty

Super Bowl XLIX (February 1st)

It's been an annus horribilis for the NFL, so you can bet commissioner Roger Goodell is hoping this year's big game will erase some of the scuffmarks from the shield. And with postseason storylines aplenty, there's a pretty good chance it might: Can Peyton Manning cap his career with one more championship? Will Tony Romo finally come through in the clutch? Are the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks destined for a showdown to determine the team of the decade? Throw in a big-budget halftime show featuring Katy Perry, and  it's almost enough to make us forget about all the off-field transgressions. Almost. J.M.

Bob Dylan

Legendary American singer, songwriter, poet, artist and actor, Bob Dylan performs from his repertoire of over 400 songs and 50 albums at the 22nd annual Bluesfest music festival near Byron Bay on April 25, 2011. Dylan will conclude his tour of Australia with two shows in Sydney on April 27 and 28. AFP PHOTO / Torsten BLACKWOOD (Photo credit should read TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

Torsten Blackwood/Getty Images

Bob Dylan, ‘Shadows of the Night’ (February 3rd)

After putting out the Basement Tapes Complete in 2014, Bob Dylan will continue to look back with the release of Shadows of the Night, an album recorded entirely of songs made famous by Frank Sinatra. "I've wanted to do something like this for a long time, but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a five-piece band," Dylan said in a statement. "That's the key to all these performances." The album will eschew strings and horns – two things traditionally found on standards ballads – though details regarding its sound remain shrouded in secrecy. J.N.

Better Call Saul

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman - Better Call Saul _ Season 1, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC

AMC

‘Better Call Saul’ (AMC, February 8th)

We all know the story of Walter White, but how did his lawyer break bad? That's the intriguing idea behind AMC's so-crazy-it-just-might-work prequel to Breaking Bad, in which Bob Odenkirk reprises his role as Saul Goodman (née Jimmy McGill), the sleazy but skillful lawyer to Albuquerque's lowlifes. Rejoining Odenkirk and showrunner Peter Gould (the character's original writer) are Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and costar Jonathan Banks as the infamous fixer Mike Ehrmantraut. Origin story, bitch! S.T.C.

Walking Dead

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Gene Page/AMC

‘The Walking Dead’ Midseason Premiere (AMC, February 8th)

AMC's zombie drama has been a massive ratings success since day one, but the series hit a critical highpoint during the first half of its seventh season, taking a more varied and character-driven approaches to telling its story of survivors struggling to rebuild civilization and stay alive. The show's midseason finale ended with another bloody melee and shocking death, and with no clear sense of direction for what comes next —just that kind of unpredictability that's kept Dead very lively and kept us tuning in. N.M.

Father John Misty

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 08: Musician/vocalist Joshua Tillman aka Father John Misty performs onstage after the screening of "Life After Beth" with Father John Misty in concert during Sundance NEXT FEST at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on August 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Image

Father John Misty, ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ (February 10th)

Early in November, Father John Misty brought a 22-piece orchestra to the Ed Sullivan Theater and performed a surprise new single, "Bored in the USA," on an episode of the Late Show. Looking to shake things up even more, he then dropped a self-penned press release that listed sources of inspiration as diverse as Henry Nilsson, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Muhammed Ali and "self-loathing narcissism." It also used the word "blammo" more than once. As if all this weren’t enough to have us eagerly anticipating his new album, the LP features a track called "Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Cow." C.D.

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‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (February 13th)

E.L. James' racy, insanely popular novel tapped a motherlode of repressed-reader bondage fantasies to become an book-publishing juggernaut. Now comes the inevitable film adaptation, which could spur a revival of the R-rated erotic drama at the box office (even after Sons of Anarchy's Charlie Hunnam jumped ship as the male lead). Jamie Doman and Dakota Johnson star as S&M-loving one-percenter Christian Grey and mousy college student Anastasia Steele, who's sent to interview him and winds up losing her heart — and inhibitions — in the process. If director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) pulls this off, there won't be a dry seat in the house. S.T.C.

NBA All-Star

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Grant Hill #33 of the Eastern Conference All-Stars digs in on defense against Kobe Bryant #8 of the Western Conference All-Stars during the 1998 NBA All-Star game played February 14, 1998 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1998 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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NBA All-Star Game (February 15th)

The league's best battle it out in basketball's Mecca: Madison Square Garden. Sure, the Knicks might be terrible this year – and the Nets aren't much better – but whenever the NBA brings its superstar showcase to New York City, great things tend to happen. The last time the All-Star Game was played here in 1998, a 19-year-old named Kobe Bryant made his debut and Michael Jordan was named MVP for the third (and final) time. This year, the game is at the Garden, while Brooklyn's Barclays Center will host a sundry of All-Star events, including the Slam Dunk and Three-Point contests, and the always entertaining Rising Stars Challenge, where future All-Stars flash their skills. J.M.

Imagine Dragons

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 13: Vocalist Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons performs during Live 105's Not So Silent Night at ORACLE Arena on December 13, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic)

Miikka Skaffari

Imagine Dragons, ‘Smoke + Mirrors’ (February 17th)

Attempting to follow up the multiplatinum success of their 2012 debut, Night Visions, would be a daunting challenge for Imagine Dragons even if frontman Dan Reynolds didn't have to worry about hurting his voice in the recording studio. The singer had vocal-cord surgery three years ago, and the risk of re-injury is an occupational hazard he has come to accept. He sounds no worse for wear, however, on Smoke + Mirrors' typically epic lead single "I Bet My Life." As on the song, Reynolds says in the new issue of Rolling Stone, "there is a lot of struggle and total joy, total celebration and confusion, on the album." B.G.

Screaming Females

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 1: Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females performs in support of the bands' Ugly release at The Warfield on October 1, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Screaming Females, ‘Rose Mountain’ (February 24th)

If their dreamy single "Wishing Well" is any indicator, hardcore Screamales fans expecting more of the band’s signature raucous rock might be off-put by Marissa Paternoster and Co.’s new album. Recent collaborator Steve Albini is out as engineer, and the result might even be a little family friendly. "We've never had a set formula as to what style of music we ought to be playing," Paternoster said when they released the track. "I vaguely recall my wonderful aunt mentioning that we finally had written a song she liked." R.S.

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‘Last Man on Earth’ (Fox, March 1st)

Because who better to roam the earth after some sort of apocalypse has wiped out the global population than MacGruber himself? SNL veteran Will Forte plays everydude Bill Miller, who ends up going from loser to humanity's last hope overnight; if you think this means a lot of shopping sprees while he's wearing nothing but boxer shorts and singing in empty stadiums, we applaud your powers of prediction. The gentlemen behind The Lego Movie, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, are behind the camera, which suggests that the humor will also be sly and pathos-driven in addition to plain old silly. D.F.

Modest Mouse

INDIO, CA - APRIL 19: Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse performs as part of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field on April 19, 2013 in Indio, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage)

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Modest Mouse, ‘Strangers to Ourselves’ (March 3rd)

The cover art of Strangers to Ourselves – the darkly catchy indie rockers' first album since 2007's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank – consists of a satellite photograph of a pentagonal Arizona RV park. Making the mundane seem strange again has always been Modest Mouse's forte, and "Lampshades on Fire," the March release's first single, achieves that end too. It’s a typically brazen return, complete with Isaac Brock's downbeat declamations about party time on the cusp of the apocalypse. R.G.

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‘Chappie’ (March 6th)

Two South African criminals kidnap a robot; while in captivity, the artificially intelligent machine begins to develop self-awareness and a sense of social justice, which doesn't sit well with the authorities. Before you start cracking Short Circuit jokes, you should know that it's written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, the man behind the stellar, scrappy sci-fi flick District 9, and that it costars the members of wacked-out Cape Town rap-rave duo Die Antwoord. D.F.   

Bjork

OTTAWA, ON - JULY 13: Bjork performs on Day 9 of the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest on July 13, 2013 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Mark Horton/WireImage)

Mark Horton/Getty Images

Bjork, MoMA retrospective and Follow-Up to ‘Biophilia’ (Opens March 8th, TBD)

Outside of collaborations with Death Grips and Sir David Attenborough, Björk has been oh so quiet since Biophilia's 2011 release. That will all change with a new album (co-produced with breakout artist Arca) and a career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. "Björk is an extraordinarily innovative artist," MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach said. "This highly experimental exhibition offers visitors a direct experience of her hugely collaborative body of work." A.B.

Madonna

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 28: (Exclusive Coverage) Madonna performs during the MDNA North America tour opener at the Wells Fargo Center on August 28, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Madonna, ‘Rebel Heart’ (March 10th)

The best-laid plans of Madge and men often go awry. After hackers leaked numerous songs from Madonna's upcoming album, Rebel Heart, the singer parried the blow by releasing six of the tracks to iTunes and hitting Number One on the digital music service's charts. Kanye West, Avicii, Alicia Keys and Rolling Stone cover star Nicki Minaj are all confirmed to appear on the eclectic LP. "You know when you meet somebody and you work with them and you recognize that you both look at life the same way?" Madonna said regarding another collaborator, EDM star Diplo. "[It was] playing each other music that we loved and just recognizing we both enjoyed a lot of the same things, and then just getting to work." J.N.

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‘It Follows’ (March 13th)

This tiny indie horror film has already been knocking them dead on the festival circuit, and with good reason. It's got one of the most novel demoniac curses in film history – a malevolent force that manifests as ordinary people walking towards you, purposefully and steadily and unstoppably…until they kill you. It's an unnerving, cinematically inspired idea, and writer/director David Robert Mitchell makes sure to frame every shot in just such a way as to keep us guessing. B.E.

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‘Insurgent’ (March 20th)

With the world-building of Divergent out of the way, the second film adaptation of Veronica Roth's popular post-apocalyptic YA series can jump right into the action: Shailene Woodley's Tris and her group of rugged young rebels can now get straight to the business of fighting evil Kate Winslet and smashing society's rigid caste system. Director Robert Schwentke (Flightplan) should bring plenty of the book's adolescent angst, teenage derring-do and future-shock thrills to the party. N.M. 

Wrestlemania

Moses Robinson/Getty

WrestleMania 31 (March 29th)

It's wrestling's biggest stage, the place where legends are made, champions are crowned and feuds are finally settled. After selling out the Superdome last year, the WWE brings 'Mania to the brand-new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California – and rumors of a superstar-packed bill (Triple H vs. Sting, Hulk Hogan vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin) are already circulating. More likely, fans will get to see monstrous Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar finally get his just desserts, though just who will walk out of WrestleMania with his belt is anybody's guess (for the record, we think it should be Dolph Ziggler.) J.M.

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‘Furious 7’ (April 3rd)

Somehow, very gradually, the Fast & the Furious films went from being fancied-up gearhead B-movies to one of the more vibrant, imaginative, and diverse big studio film franchises out there. After a troubled production marked by the tragic death of star Paul Walker, this latest, delayed entry is finally hitting theaters. Can director James Wan, whose previous films (The Conjuring, Saw) were mostly in the horror genre, stay true to the wild, anything-goes ethos of these films while bringing his own unique stamp? Our engines are already revving. B.E.

Faith No More

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 01: American band Faith No More performs during the third night of Pepsi Music Show at Club Ciudad de Buenos Aires on November 01, 2009 Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Javier Bulon/LatinContent/Getty Images)

Javier Bulon/Getty Images

Faith No More’s Follow-Up to ‘Album of the Year’ (April TBD)

"[T]here's parts that are very powerful and there's parts that have a lot of 'space,'" bassist-producer Bill Gould told Rolling Stone by way of describing the avant-metal innovators' first release since 1997's Album of the Year. The as-yet-untitled collection, which arrives in April via the group's own Reclamation label, reportedly bears the influence of the Cramps, Link Wray, Siouxsie and the Banshees and, possibly, Balkan saxophone king Ferus Mustafov. Which all bodes well, as does its first single, the sarcastic, hard-stomping "Motherfucker." R.G.

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‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ (May 1st)

The film most likely to battle Star Wars: The Force Awakens for both box-office and geek-vs.-geek online forum supremacy in 2015, this sequel to the game-changing superhero movie reunites the Marvel all-star posse, as well as original Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon. This time around, they face off with the ingenious robot villain Ultron, played by James Spader, (already a marvelously nuanced baddie on The Blacklist.) "Spader can play all of the levels," Whedon said last year. "He's the guy to break the Avengers into pieces." We have a feeling the good guys are up to the challenge. T.G.

Lana Del Rey, Courntey Love

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Lana Del Rey, Endless Summer Tour (Starts May 7th)

Lana Del Rey’s Endless Summer shows would be some of the hottest of the year even if eight dates of the West Coast leg didn’t feature a sure-to-be incendiary opening set from grunge firebrand Courtney Love. The two musicians became besties after Del Rey covered Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box," and Love dropped some trivia on the brooding pop star. "You do know the song is about my vagina right?" she tweeted. "Next time you sing it, think about my vagina will you?" Expect a duet. A.B.

U2

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: (L-R) Musicians The Edge, Bono, Larry Mullen Jr., and Adam Clayton of U2 perform onstage during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

U2, Innocence + Experience Tour (Starts May 14th)

U2 surprised the world by beaming their last album, Songs of Innocence, directly to iPhones, but Bono says that the band has a few tricks reserved for its upcoming tour. "We are going to try to have a completely different feeling from night one to night two and have some fun playing with the idea of innocence and experience," he says. The seating chart shows that they will be performing from an unusual stage configuration – a rectangle placed hot dog-style in the middle of the floor – and the tour’s name suggests that they will be playing at least a few songs from their upcoming album Songs of Experience. N.M.

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‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (May 15th)

In a year of sequels to long-dormant franchises, this is the one that we are really excited about. Director George Miller, who made the original Mad Max films, is one of the architects of the modern post-apocalyptic blockbuster. Now, finally, he returns with the series that made his name, and instead of Mel Gibson, we get sensitive brute extraordinaire Tom Hardy as the titular road warrior; a bald, badass Charlize Theron is also now along for the ride. And that nutso trailer suggests this is going to take that old-school demolition-derby vibe and run wild with it. BE

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‘Pitch Perfect 2’ (May 15th)

Given the way the 2012 sleeper hit Pitch Perfect cruised to success on its zesty humor and its cast's dorky adorableness, a follow-up was inevitable. This musical sequel to the Step Up of a cappella films sends Anna Kendrick and the rest of the Barden Bellas to compete in an international singing tournament, while the ladies also cope with the looming inevitability of graduation and adulthood. The franchise adds Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy) into the mix, which also marks the feature directorial debut of producer and co-star Elizabeth Banks. T.G.

David Letterman

The Last ‘Late Show With David Letterman’ (CBS, May 20th)

We knew it had to happen one day — nothing last forever, people — but when news broke last year that David Letterman was retiring, you could hear the collective "Nooo!" echo across the nation. The man who bestowed the gifts of irony and smart-assitude upon a generation of comedians and after-hours couch potatoes will pull the plug on an entire era of late-night TV when he signs off. We're just hoping for some sentimental farewells and one more round of Stupid Pet Tricks before he walks into the sunset. D.F.

Taylor Swift

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02: Singer Taylor Swift performs during the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Earl's Court Exhibition Centre on December 2, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Taylor Swift, 1989 Tour (Starts May 20th)

The biggest pop star of the moment has been shaking it off for months, performing songs like "Welcome to New York" and "Blank Space" at award shows, as part of the Jingle Ball extravaganza and in the middle of Times Square. This May, she pulls together the 1989 deep cuts and hits the road, opening her new tour in Louisiana before heading to Europe and back, with the whole thing set to wrap on Halloween. But since her new hometown doesn't currently appear on the schedule, there may well be more dates yet to be announced. N.M.

James Davis

Joslyn Nyce

James Davis, ‘James Davis’ (Spring)

James Davis, it turns out, is not one artist but a group of L.A. siblings – fraternal twins Jessika and Rey and brother Auston – who make laid back, progressive soul music. "We'll just be hanging around and one of us will start humming or playing something at home, at rehearsal or at dinner," says Rey. "One song may be only two chords, we may not have a bridge or we may have five verses and no resolve." Expect the unexpected when their self-titled debut arrives at some point this spring. N.M.

Mad Men

Jon Hamm as Don Draper - Mad Men _ Season 7, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

‘Mad Men’ Final Season (AMC, Spring)

You thought Don Draper's double life was a big secret? Try getting any information about upcoming Mad Men episodes out of creator Matthew Weiner sometime. Hints or no hints, the second half of Mad Men's final season (the first half, culminating in the song-and-dance death of Bert Cooper, aired last spring) is the most eagerly anticipated television finale since the end of Breaking Bad — and seems likely set to settle the AMC show's place in the pantheon once and for all. S.T.C.

Giorgio Moroder

UNSPECIFIED - JUNE 01: Photo of Georgio Moroder. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Giorgio Moroder, ’74 Is the New 24′ (Spring)

Paterfamilias for disco, techno and EDM, influencing everyone from Dr. Luke to Daft Punk, producer Giorgio Moroder will return this spring with his first album in 25 years. Of late, Moroder has been feeling his oats, remixing Coldplay and Haim while trading production tips with the likes of Avicii and David Guetta. Expect 74 Is the New 24 to feature ladies like Britney Spears, Sia, Charli XCX and Kylie Minogue. "His music has this amazing electronic sheen," MNDR's Amanda Warner said of working with Moroder. "But fundamentally, he's trying to get a human performance out of you." A.B.

Brian Wilson

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 13: Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys performs with the KLOS All Star Band at the 95.5 KLOS Christmas Show held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on December 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)

Tommaso Boddi/Getty

Brian Wilson, ‘No Pier Pressure’ (Spring)

A mellow autumnal aura pervades No Pier Pressure, the Beach Boys genius' first solo album of original material since 2008. Wilson channeled his disappointment at bandmate Mike Love's decision to cancel a 2012 reunion tour into tracks like "Last Song," which co-producer Joe Thomas says concerns "a missed opportunity for Brian and the guys to ride into the sunset together." Kacey Musgraves, Zooey Deschanel, and Fun.'s Nate Ruess all appear on the spring release. R.G.

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‘Entourage’ (June 5th)

OK, hear us out here. When it first premiered, this HBO comedy about a young movie star and his bro-tastic crew of besties was both a delightfully raunchy showbiz fantasy and a hilarious send-up of Hollywood venality. Over the years, it became a little too smug for its own good, but here's hoping that this new movie reconnects with what made this series so special once upon a time. Welcome back, Johnny Drama. B.E.   

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‘Jurassic World’ (June 12th)

The special-effects wizardry that made Jurassic Park's dinosaurs unprecedentedly realistic paved the way for the big beasts of everything from Pacific Rim to Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies. But in the 14 years since Jurassic Park III, hopes for another sequel almost went extinct themselves. Can dinosaurs rule the earth once more? Casting newly minted action superstar Chris Pratt in the lead role—and debuting the "mosasaurus," a monstrous sea creature that eats sharks like a toddler eats Goldfish crackers — give this monster movie all the genetic markers of a blockbuster hit. S.T.C.

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‘Inside Out’ (June 19th)

Given that 2014 came and went without a Pixar film — and since it's been three years since their last non-sequel outing — just about anything new from the studio is cause for celebration. And this latest project sounds incredibly promising: a tour of the anthropomorphized emotions inside the brain of a sullen young girl, courtesy of a great voice cast (including Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, and Bill Hader), Up director Pete Docter, and Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt. Inside every animation fan, cute little creatures named "Hope" and "Anticipation" are currently leaping giddily about. N.M.  

Brooks and Dunn

KMazur/Getty Images

Brooks & Dunn, Together in Vegas Residency (Starts June 24th)

So much for the long goodbye. Eight years after releasing their last album, Cowboy Town, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn are coming to Vegas, playing a series of reunion shows with Reba McEntire as opening act. "We love hanging out and playing music," Brooks recently told Rolling Stone Country. "We thought, 'Let's do it somewhere besides the campfire.'" As it stands, they are scheduled for three dates at the end of June, three more at the beginning of July and six in the first two weeks of December, all at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. N.M.

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‘Terminator Genesys’ (July 1st)

Ridiculous spelling aside, Terminator Genisys the latest entry in the man-vs.-machine franchise looks the most significant addition to the long-running franchise since 1991's Terminator 2. The new picture (directed by Thor: The Dark World's Alan Taylor) reportedly serves as a simultaneous sequel and prequel — set in the future and the past — while setting up two more films that are already scheduled to come out in 2017 and 2018. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as everyone's favorite killer cyborg, but the key players are Game of ThronesEmilia Clarke (as Sarah Connor) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Jason Clarke (as John Connor), who will be the series' main human heroes for the next few years. N.M.

Magic Mike

RELEASE DATE: June 29, 2012 TITLE: Magic Mike STUDIO: Nick Wechsler Productions PLOT: A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money. PICTURED: ALEX PETTYFER as The Kid, MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY as Dallas and CHANNING TATUM as Mike Martingano.(Credit: © Nick Wechsler Productions/Entertainment Pictures/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Nick Wechsler Productions

‘Magic Mike XXL’ (July 3rd)

An apparently happily retired Steven Soderbergh declined to return to direct the sequel to his surprise 2012 hit, though he is serving as the cinematographer and editor for his longtime assistant Gregory Jacobs. Magic Mike screenwriter Reid Carolin is back too, co-writing with star Channing Tatum, who leads his pals Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello through a story that sees the strippers road-tripping to a convention. It's just like that time the Bad News Bears went to Japan, only with way more man-thongs. N.M.

Ant-Man

Marvel

‘Ant-Man’ (July 17th)

The latest adaptation from the Marvel factory doesn't star an action icon but, rather, a veteran comic: The immensely charming and likable Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a con-man who takes over the mantle of Ant-Man from Michael Douglas's Dr. Hank Pym. Marvel has made a mint championing the little guy, from Steve Rogers to Peter Parker — but in the case of Ant-Man, we're talking about a hero who can literally shrink himself down while retaining superhuman strength. T.G.

Trainwreck

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 30: Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei film Judd Appatow's "Trainwreck" on June 30, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Sands/GC Images)

Steve Sands

‘Trainwreck’ (July 24th)

Amy Schumer and director Judd Apatow could stage a reading of old copyright-law trial transcripts and make them hilarious, so what they could do with a story about a commitment-aphobe (played by Schumer, who wrote the script) trying to get her life together. As if that was not enticing enough, the supporting cast includes Bill Hader, Daniel Radcliffe and Tilda Swinton. Schumer has already established herself as a killer stand-up and brilliant sketch comedian; this could be where she proves she's an equally talented actress to boot. D.F.

Fantastic Four

FANTASTIC FOUR, Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, 2005, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

20th Century Fox

‘Fantastic Four’ (August 7th)

Face front, true believers! The superheroes that put Marvel Comics on the map way back in 1961 are getting rebooted for their return to the big screen following their two woeful Jessica Alba/Michael Chiklis–starring efforts in the mid-2000s. With the X-Men franchise rooted in the same continuity it's had ever since it launched in 2000, this is Fox's first real response to Marvel Studios' successes with Iron Man, The Avengers, et al. A terrific cast that includes Fruitvale Station's Michael B. Williams as the Human Torch and House of Cards' Kate Mara as the Invisible Woman is a good place to start. Flame on, game on! S.T.C.  

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