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20 Most Anticipated Pop Albums of 2016

Katy Perry, Zayn Malik and more

Sia; Lady Gaga; Rihanna; Bruno Mars

Sia, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Bruno Mars are the among the many pop stars set to release highly anticipated new albums in 2016.

Trae Patton/NBC, Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty, Christopher Polk/Getty, Joe Scarnici/Getty

From hit machines like Katy Perry and Bruno Mars, to up-and-comers like Zendaya and Tinashe, to legends like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears, 2016 is looking to be another year full of giant hooks. Here's the pop albums we're most looking forward to.

Bruno Mars

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 02: Singer Bruno Mars performs onstage at EIF Women’s Cancer Research Fund’s 16th Annual “An Unforgettable Evening” presented by Saks Fifth Avenue at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on May 2, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for EIF)

Joe Scarnici/Getty

Bruno Mars

Beyond working on "All I Ask" off Adele's blockbuster 25, Bruno Mars has been focused on creating his third album, the follow-up to 2012's double platinum Unorthodox Jukebox. Despite the wait in between albums, Mars has never really exactly left the spotlight, playing the Super Bowl Half Time show and appearing on 2015's biggest single, Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk," which spent 14 weeks at Number One.

Lady Gaga

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Lady Gaga

She's spent the last year touring classic pop songs with Tony Bennett and starring as the Countess on American Horror Story: Hotel, but Lady Gaga has also been working on her follow-up to 2013's Artpop. "I want the fans to be surprised," Gaga told Yahoo in late December. "But I will just tell you that it's a wonderful, soul-searching experience. … This record is like – my old self as a cadaver. And I'm just, I'm operating on my old self." Among the forensic investigation: Possibly returning to the studio with RedOne, if a studio selfie with the "Poker Face"/"Bad Romance" producer is any indication. "We took a little break from each other and now it feels like we are in a good place, both of us. She did her thing, I did my thing, and it feels like we're back on track together," RedOne said to The National.

Lorde

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: Lorde performs onstage at the 29th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 10, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Kevin Mazur/Getty

Lorde

New Zealand teen Lorde revitalized alt-pop with her 2013 debut Pure Heroine and its anti-materialism anthem "Royals." Since then, she curated the soundtrack for the penultimate installment of The Hunger Games film franchise and appeared on "Magnets," the standout track off Disclosure's latest album, Caracal. Lorde teased a follow-up as 2015 came to a close, tweeting about how she was "feeling quietly excited about 2016" and confirming that an album name has been chosen. 

Britney Spears

OFFENBURG, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 27: Singer Britney Spears performs during the Bambi Awards 2008 Show on November 27, 2008 in Offenburg, Germany. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Andreas Rentz/Getty

Britney Spears

A ninth album appears to be imminent for the pop princess, who stormed 2015 with a hit Las Vegas show, an appearance on disco icon Giorgio Moroder's comeback LP, and a campy single with Iggy Azalea titled "Pretty Girls." Several songwriters and producers have confirmed studio time with the singer, including frequent EDM vocalist Matthew Koma and rising songwriting titans Justin Tranter and Julie Michaels, the duo who co-wrote Justin Bieber's "Sorry," Selena Gomez's "Good for You" and Hailee Steinfeld's "Love Myself."

Christina Aguilera

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 10: Singer Christina Aguilera performs at 102.7 KIIS FM's Wango Tango at StubHub Center on May 10, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)

Chelsea Lauren/Getty

Christina Aguilera

When the swivel-chair-assisted singing competition The Voice returns for its 10th season in February, Christina Aguilera will be back on the judges' panel — and that return might coincide with new music. In October, Aguilera told Today that she was "accumulating ideas" for two albums: An English-language follow-up to 2012's Lotus and a Spanish-language album, her first since 2000's Mi Reflejo. Amd during a January interview with Extra, she mentioned that she had been working on music with fellow Voice mentor Pharrell Williams.

Nick Jonas

MIAMI BEACH, FL - SEPTEMBER 27: Nick Jonas performs at the Fillmore on September 27, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Larry Marano/WireImage)

Larry Marano/Getty

Nick Jonas

Jonas has been "digging deep" into R&B and soul vibes for the follow-up to his self-titled 2013 LP. In September, following the release of the bouncy "Levels" and his dip into trap-soul with "Area Code," Jonas told Entertainment Weekly that a new album will be out early this year, just in time for his co-headlining tour with fellow former Disney Star and current business partner Demi Lovato. 

Gwen Stefani

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27: Gwen Stefani of No Doubt performs onstage at the 2014 Global Citizen Festival to end extreme poverty by 2030 at Central Park on September 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Global Citizen Festival)

Kevin Mazur/Getty

Gwen Stefani

Beyond the glare of tabloid cameras and The Voice, tireless businesswoman and artist Gwen Stefani has, in fact, had some time to make some actual music. Stefani reportedly started work on her third solo studio album, the follow-up to 2006's The Sweet Escape, in 2014, but scrapped most of it. Instead, we got the first single, the nakedly personal ode to ex-husband Gavin Rossdale, "I Used to Love You." Stefani told Beats 1's Zane Lowe that the song arose as part of an unusually prolific, post-writer's-block period. "I think I have enough for probably two albums," she told him. "I have to write a few more songs, because I feel like, might as well keep going while it's there." It's not all torch songs and ballads, though, she told him. A new single, a "really happy song," is likely due out next — it's called "Misery." Go figure.

Charlie XCX

LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 065 -- Pictured: Musical guest Charli XCX performs on July 7, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Lloyd Bishop/NBC/Getty

Charli XCX

Charli XCX canceled her fall 2015 tour with Bleachers to work on her follow-up to 2014's Sucker. In September, she offered a few details about the still-untitled album to the U.K. newspaper The Mirror: "It's definitely the most electronic pop sound I've done," she said. "I've been really inspired by Paris Hilton, small dogs and a glitter, luxe lifestyle." In October she bore out that prediction when she released the dark, pounding "Vroom Vroom," produced by future-shocked electro artist Sophie.

Zayn Malik

BURBANK, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Musician Zayn Malik performs onstage at the "One Direction iHeartRadio Album Release Party" hosted by Ryan Seacrest at the iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles – Clear Channel's new music and events venue located at The Burbank Studios in Burbank, CA (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel)

Christopher Polk/Getty

Zayn Malik

It's been nearly a year since Bradford bad boy Zayn Malik dropped out of the boy band life, leaving behind a world tour with One Direction and swearing he wanted to be a "normal 22-year-old." By summer, Malik had secured a solo deal with RCA and began teasing his studio time on Instagram. According to his recent Billboard cover story, Malik's new sound, which is being cultivated with the help of Frank Ocean's producer Malay, focuses on "beats and atmosphere," following in the vein of Drake and the Weeknd. 

Haim

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - AUGUST 09: Alana Haim and Danielle Haim and Este Haim of Haim perform on stage on day 2 of Way Out West Festival on August 9, 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Helen Boast/Redferns via Getty Images)

Helen Boast/Getty

Haim

The Haim sisters have experienced a roller-coaster ride since their 2013 debut, Days Are Gone — including collaborations with Calvin Harris and M83, a show on Beats 1 and an opening slot on Taylor Swift's 1989 Tour. In October, they told Beats 1's Zane Lowe that their long-in-the-works second album was almost finished. "Essentially the oven has been pre-heated and the oven door is open. … Fish fingers in the tray," they quipped. While their signature harmonies will likely remain intact, there are a lot of wild cards at play: "We're always writing and figuring out new vibes and trying to get our inner Kanyes out," Alana Haim told Rolling Stone in 2014.

Ariana Grande

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Singer Ariana Grande performs "Just a Little Bit of Your Heart" onstage during The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards at the at the STAPLES Center on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Ariana Grande

Former Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande has had one of the easiest transitions from child star to pop diva. Her 2014 sophomore album My Everything showed off her vocals and pop dominance, and her third LP, Moonlight, may continue to solidify her as a star. She debuted first single "Focus," which features uncredited vocals from Jamie Foxx, in October. Charlie Puth confirmed that he had written tracks for the album, and Grande spilled to fans that the track "Moonlight" was co-written by her and Victoria Monet. 

Sky Ferreira

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 09: Sky Ferreira performs during the Outside Lands Music And Arts Festival at Golden Gate Park on August 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/WireImage)

C. Flanigan/Getty

Sky Ferreira

Moody pop upstart Sky Ferreira kicked off her 2016 with an Instagram post updating interested parties on her long-in-the-works second album, Masochism. "I refuse to put out something that isn't honest," she wrote. "It's not something that I can force out. If I was to do it any sooner I either would have been compromising myself & anyone listening. I would have had to put out music that wasn't true or a message I would not want to put out into the universe." The first single from Masochism, "Guardian," was supposed to come out in August, but "health issues" delayed its release.

Fifth Harmony

WANTAGH, NY - JUNE 01: Fifth Harmony performs during BLI Summer Jam 2014 at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on June 1, 2014 in Wantagh, New York. (Photo by Kevin Kane/Getty Images)

Kevin Kane/Getty

Fifth Harmony

Even though member Camila Cabello began stepping out on her own with her Shawn Mendes duet "I Know What You Did Last Summer," Fifth Harmony has been recording their sophomore LP, deemed "5H2" by their fans until more information is released. During an interview with Rolling StoneCabello revealed that she hopes the album will be released "at the top of the year" and that the group had been working with pop super-producer Max Martin on the new material. 

Tinashe

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Singer/songwriter Tinashe performs onstage during the Nicki Minaj, Ne-Yo, Tinashe, Rae Sremmurd concert at Staples Center on June 26, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET)

Earl Gibson/BET/Getty

Tinashe

Tinashe's 2014 debut Aquarius was a strong start for the multi-talented musician and dancer. She spent 2015 touring with Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry and is now prepping a sophomore album, Joyride, that will solidify her mark. For the LP, she's worked with Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Boi-1da, Hit Boy, Diplo and Dev Hynes, to name a few, and has already previewed a darker, grittier vibe to her party-R&B with singles "Party Favors" featuring Young Thug and "Player" featuring Chris Brown. 

Kylie Minogue

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 08: Kylie Minogue performs at BBC's Proms In The Park at Hyde Park on September 8, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Chiaki Nozu/WireImage)

Chiaki Nozu/Getty

Kylie Minogue

For her follow-up to her 2015 Christmas record, Kylie Minogue is thinking back to her sinewy dance music. "I could see myself going full pop after this. Getting back to my dance/pop roots," she told Idolator in November. "Recently it was the 12th anniversary of  [the Grammy-nominated] 'Slow.' I think back to songs like that and I go, 'Yeah, I'd like to do that again.'" No collaborators have been confirmed, although Minogue did release the Kylie + Garibay EP — a collection of songs she worked on with Lady Gaga co-conspirator Fernando Garibay and electronic-music legend Giorgio Moroder — in September.

Zendaya

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Actress and singer Zendaya performs onstage at the Barbie Rock 'N Royals Concert Experience at the Hollywood Palladium on September 26, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Amanda Edwards/Getty

Zendaya

Disney star Zendaya became a prominent figure in 2015 outside of the tweens who adore her shows and films on the family-friendly channel. On red carpets, she became a style icon, and on social media, she spoke out against racism and sexism. She's poised for pop stardom, and the first step is her sophomore album, originally rumored to debut in February though never confirmed by the singer or her label. For her next album, the singer has been working with Diane Warren and Timbaland. In November, she gave a taste of what's to come with the Timbo-produced song "Close Up," which was featured in a fashion film for Vivienne Westwood. 

Santigold

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Santigold

We already got a taste of one of 2016's first big releases, Santigold's 99¢ (Due January 22nd), from the album's first single, "Can't Get Enough of Myself," a giddy tune driven by a unique and uncharacterizable global pop beat. "The record cover is a picture of me basically in a bag, shrink-wrapped, with a bunch of items, random clutter from my life …  and there's a 99-cent sticker on it," Santigold said of the album title. "Everything is a product at this point, including people and relationships, and everything's about marketing products. So, I'm a product. And also, everything is undervalued, so I thought 99 cents is a good price for me and my life and all my hard work."

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