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Listen up! Musical predictions for 2011



2010 may not have been a very good year for the music industry, but it sure contained plenty for music fans to talk about. There were onstage meltdowns (M.I.A.), surprising reunions (Pavement), massive flops (Christina Aguilera’s “Bionic”) and incredible triumphs (indie rockers Arcade Fire hitting No. 1 with “The Suburbs”). With all of that quickly fading into the past, here’s a sample of what we’re looking forward to in 2011.

Decemberists bulk up

The Decemberists say their new album, “The King Is Dead,” will be their most stripped-down yet. Maybe that’s why they felt the need to make sure the packaging is extra-large. The album will be available not only as an individual CD, but also as a limited-edition box set with a Polaroid photo book, a white vinyl record, a hardcover book of more photos and drawings, a signed print and a 30-minute documentary. Both versions drop Jan. 18. The band plays the Beacon Theatre a week later.

Jack & Wanda

In 2004, Jack White revived the career of country legend Loretta Lynn by producing her comeback album, “Van Lear Rose.” Now he’s serving as a fountain of youth for 73-year-old Wanda Jackson, known as the Queen of Rockabilly. Their collaboration, “The Party Ain’t Over,” comes out Jan. 25. If this works, White could become the hit doctor of choice for female singers in need of a career boost. Someone get him Lauryn Hill’s phone number, stat.

Kanye or Lady Gaga?

That’s the question on every music fan’s mind. No, not which one will sell more records, but which is more likely to disrupt the Grammy Awards on Feb. 13. Take your pick — a crazy rant or another food-related outfit? Personally, I’m hoping she wears poultry this time.

Comeback kids

Comebacks of a more recent vintage include the Strokes and Fiona Apple, New Yorkers who are releasing long-awaited albums this spring.

The year of D’Angelo?

Then there’s R&B recluse D’Angelo, whose comeback album is on the schedule for 2011, but with no actual release date. This may or may not be a good sign, since it was also on the schedule for both 2009 and 2010.

Youth movement

For the first time since Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, musicians under 40 are playing the Super Bowl halftime show. Will the Black-Eyed Peas add a much-needed dose of youthful energy or prompt everyone to change the channel?

Ain’t that America?

Beginning Jan. 12, Lincoln Center brings back its acclaimed American Songbook series with  16 nights of pop, folk, cabaret, country, rock and show tunes. Performers include Mary Chapin Carpenter, Herb Alpert and Bebel Gilberto.

Danger Mouse visits Italy

The always-interesting super-producer may have come up with his most bizarre concept yet. Danger Mouse spent the last five years seeking out the musicians who worked on the scores for classic films like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” then put them in a studio with no modern technology.  Then he got Jack White and Norah Jones to sing over the music they created. The results come out in March.

The prodigal band returns

For nearly 20 years, the Allman Brothers Band has held down the Beacon Theatre for multiple nights in March. Until last year, when the band was displaced by the Cirque du Soleil flop “Banana Shpeel.” After an apology from the Beacon’s owners, the Allmans are back where they belong starting March 10.

Avoiding the sophomore slump

It’s a cliché that bands have their whole life to write their first album, then a few months for the second one, which almost always leads to disappointment. Now the question is whether bands like noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells, folk-rockers Mumford & Sons and sun-kissed indie-rockers Best Coast can successfully follow up their exciting debuts in 2011. Will one of them become the next Arcade Fire, or will they go the way of past indie-blog darlings like Tapes ’n Tapes?

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