The reptile will soon die; long live the reptile. In Chinese astrological terms, the Year of the Dragon is due to end in early February, allowing a comfortable transition into 2013, the Year of the Snake—which, by the way, is responsible for Bob Dylan, Art Garfunkel and Kanye West. In the interest of informing the public through half-baked speculation, let’s dive into some predictions relating to music—and its makers—in the new year. (Note: Everything here should be taken with a massive grain of salt, except for, of course, the forecasts that end up coming true. We’ll be happy to take credit for those.)
• Taylor Swift’s innovative and successful promotional tactics for her hit 2012 LP Red quietly inspires copycat scenarios as the recording biz continues to cope with money issues. After Papa John’s hawked Red via a special CD/pizza combo, several companies—high fashion brands, kitschy chain restaurants, no-name granola bar start-ups—jockey for space on the ground floor of this trend. Looking to 2018, the old-school patronage system will be back in full swing, with nonmusic-based businesses footing the bill for most young and notable musicians’ studio budgets.
• After her fast transition in the indie music press from shiny object of fascination to notorious public enemy, Lana Del Rey makes a comeback of sorts, revamping her image in subtle fashion. Her new record will be a year-end favorite.
• AC/DC write a song that sounds nothing like any other AC/DC songs. No, just kidding. You’ve heard AC/DC, right?
• Over the last few years, various indie rock bands (Pavement, Archers of Loaf, etc.) have reunited, and the trend won’t stop now. Jawbreaker, the Replacements and Pretty Girls Make Graves ascend once more with slightly modified lineups. Former spouses Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore reteam for a couple of non-Sonic Youth songs.
• Also on the reunion trail: dance-punk dissidents Le Tigre and garage-rock rapscallions Rocket from the Crypt. Justin Timberlake and Outkast leak their first new recordings in years.
• Speaking of Timberlake: In an ongoing effort to elevate his name beyond tweenagers, Justin Bieber participates in an endearing, audacious and image-challenging stunt along the lines of “Dick in a Box.” Pandering to this new demographic will work at first, but the Biebs will squander the goodwill by 2014.
• New releases by M83, My Bloody Valentine, Russian Circles, Morrissey, GZA and the Black Keys are outstanding. New releases by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Megadeth and Descendents are good. New releases by Snoop Lion and Nicki Minaj are terrible.
• Chris Brown teases his public redemption, only to then pull the rug out from underneath the American public. Pitchfork tines are sharper and torch-fires burn hotter than ever before. Team Breezy continues to defend their beloved through silly hashtags and uninspired insults.
• Adele’s latest album is astonishingly upbeat, supplementing her specialty of smoky blue-eyed soul with inflections of girl-group pop and empowering, cheerful blues rock. Mass confusion results.
• After Metallica’s 3-D concert film disappoints at the box office, execs realize that there’s not much juice to be squeezed out of the whole 3-D-concert-films thing, effectively killing the young trend.
• Radiohead, Jack White and the Flaming Lips collaborate on something especially bizarre.
• West and Kim Kardashian are a much- publicized matrimonial item by summer. By winter, the nasty separation begins, resulting in unimaginably entertaining Twitter drama. On the docket for 2015: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy II: #AfterKardashian.
• Jessie Ware, Action Bronson, Miguel, Charli XCX, First Aid Kit and A$AP Rocky (the latter of whom will make headlines for a rumored Rihanna romance) seriously rise in prominence. The glimmer fades significantly for PSY and Odd Future.
• By summer, everyone has completely forgotten the cause célèbre known as Pussy Riot, if they haven’t already.
• Although Digital Domain, the company responsible for the Tupac hologram at Coachella 2012, filed for bankruptcy last September, there is a renewed surge of interest in hologram performances by the year’s close. Elvis Presley returns to the stage in 2014.
• On the subject of notable Philly-ites, Diplo remains devilishly prolific, further reminding you that no matter how many things you do in a day, he’ll somehow be able to accomplish three times that. Also, expect a stupendous record from Kurt Vile. He’s been rather dormant in 2012, but that’s all just part of the slow build-up for his brain-bending psychedelics out this autumn.
• A massively important name associated with the 1980s unexpectedly dies.
• Finally, Dr. Dre’s Detox still doesn’t come out. As of this writing, hip-hop’s equivalent to Chinese Democracy is at least 11 years in the making; as of Dec. 31, 2013, it’ll be 12. But c’mon, we just narrowly avoided Armageddon. Must we really tempt the fates again?
PW's Music Issue 2014