Five Things Mainstream Music Needs in 2018 … and Three Things it Doesn’t

Yes, Margo Price is more than deserving of the success and praise she's received over the past couple of years. But there are plenty of other ladies of country music who deserve the same acclaim and adoration.
Yes, Margo Price is more than deserving of the success and praise she's received over the past couple of years. But there are plenty of other ladies of country music who deserve the same acclaim and adoration. Photo by Clint Hale
As the calendar turns on yet another year, that certainly provides a chance to look back on what we witnessed on the pop music landscape in the previous year. Alas, it’s a lot more fun to look ahead and speculate than it is to look back and pontificate.

The coming year should be an interesting one for mainstream music. Which new hitmakers will emerge? Which will fade a bit? Will certain stars ever get around to releasing new music? Better yet, do we want more music in 2018 from certain artists? Plenty of questions abound.

Here are five things mainstream music needs, and three things it can do without, in the coming year.


Anything from Adele

It remains to be seen whether Adele will ever release new music, considering she’s comfortably transitioned into family life and seems all set with money. So a new album and full-blown tour seem a bit of a stretch. That said, perhaps we can get a couple of one-offs from arguably the world’s biggest musical superstar. Rumors persisted for a bit that she would appear on Sam Smith’s new record, but that never came to pass. Perhaps there is a movie on the upcoming calendar in need of a hitmaker to help chart the film’s soundtrack (Adele has ably done so already in the James Bond universe). Maybe a pop hitmaker (Beyoncé, U2, etc.) comes along with a track that just begs for an Adele verse. Something (anything!) to give us new Adele music for the first time in nearly two years.

Something From Sam Hunt

Sam Hunt absolutely exploded on the bro-country scene three years ago with his debut album, Montevallo. The record only checks in at 10 tracks, and yet, Hunt managed to chart six on the country singles charts; four hit the top spot, and another peaked in the two spot. Pop-country had a new king, and many in the know were curious what Hunt would do next. Then … nothing. Hunt toured for a while on Montevallo, then sort of disappeared for a while. He emerged with another hit single (“Body Like a Back Road”) in early 2017, but no proper album followed and no other singles were ever released to country radio. Hunt has promised new music in 2018, so it’s likely we’ll at least get some more singles, possibly a new album, from the former college quarterback in the coming year. It will be hard to top Montevallo, but it will be nice to see Hunt give it a shot.

More Exposure for the Ladies of Country

Margo Price has become the First Lady of badass female country singer/songwriters, and with good reason, but one can’t help but wonder if others aren’t as deserving of similar adoration. LeeAnn Womack has totally shaken off the “I Hope You Dance” one-hit wonder label and released her best album (The Lonely, The Lonesome, and the Gone) in 2017. Jessica Lea Mayfield released Sorry is Gone. Kelsea Ballerini put out Unapologetically. The list goes on. Country music is arguably in its best place historically in terms of the influence of women on the genre, and it’s time these ladies get increased notice.

An Outkast Reunion

It won’t happen, and it will be on this list again next year. But if Jay-Z and Eminem can return to form in 2017, why not Big Boi and Andre 3000 in the coming year?

More Nostalgia Tours

Of the top 10 grossing tours in 2017, one can safely say that seven of these artists fall at least somewhat into the nostalgia category – U2, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Depeche Mode, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, and Garth Brooks. Legendary artists, all of them, but not exactly ones brimming with classic material in recent years. Point being, nostalgia sells, so expect others to hit the road in search of past glory and big-time paychecks. Could be Madonna. Maybe The Cure fires it back up. Either way, multiplatinum artists of yesteryear will be on the road in 2018.


A New Drake Album

I like Drake, and his latest mixtape – More Life, released in March – was certainly fine. Not his best. Not his worst, though he did sound a tad uninspired for most of it. That said, Drake hasn’t gone a full calendar year without releasing a new album or mixtape since 2014. Hell, in 2015, he put out two! Point being, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it’s time for Drake to take some time off. Perhaps he can release a single or two as fall approaches, teasing a new album for early 2018. But as full-length releases go, Drake needs a little time to recharge and return to form.

More Poor Pop Music Fits

Bless ‘em for trying, but just because a pop star tries to change it up doesn’t mean that change is for the best. Katy Perry tried and failed to do “woke pop” in 2017 with Witness, and Taylor Swift (while still a sales juggernaut) simply didn’t suit the EDM and bad-girl musings that dotted Reputation. Hell, Eminem teamed up with Ed Sheeran on his latest album, and while “The River” is a fine song, it was an awkward pairing to be sure. Here’s hoping that, as 2018 goes, mainstream pop artists stick to what they do best.

A Rap-Rock Revival

Speaking of nostalgia, every year brings with it the rise of another trend from years past. And considering it’s been about 20 years now since bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock made rap-rock a real thing, it’s high time for a bunch of 90s rap-rock heyday types to get together for a nostalgic cash grab. This should not happen. This must not happen.
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Clint Hale enjoys music and writing, so that kinda works out. He likes small dogs and the Dallas Cowboys, as you can probably tell. Clint has been writing for the Houston Press since April 2016.
Contact: Clint Hale