New music from troubled divas, other hit makers

Pop Music

September 12, 2002|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Coming this fall: The Drama of the Troubled Diva.

For the next four months, many of pop's juiciest plot lines will feature female singers struggling back from the brink. They include Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera and TLC, all of whom have spent far more time of late on the gossip pages than on the charts.

Here's what they face:

Whitney has to create music good enough to make people forget the endless press speculation about her possible drug use, embattled husband and general mental state. Her last-minute cancellation of a video shoot last month, plus her decision to cut a cover of Debbie Boone's "You Light Up My Life," have only upped the tension.

Aguilera, who has gone missing for a long time, must overcome the waning of the teen movement by releasing her first album of all-new pop music since that trend began.

TLC has to face the public for the first time as a twosome, after losing the group's beloved Lisa (Left Eye) Lopes, who died in a car accident in June but whose final work appears on the coming album.

And those aren't the only cliff-hangers set for the fall. An unusually large number of stars who broke through with their debut albums have to try to beat the common sophomore jinx with their follow-ups.

These include India.Arie, Disturbed, Sum 41, Three Doors Down, Lifehouse, Coldplay, David Gray, O-Town, Nine Days, Blu Cantrell, Crazytown, Uncle Kracker and Craig David.

This fall also will feature some big names coming back with likely hits, including Faith Hill, Monica, Jay-Z, Eve, DMX, Santana, Matchbox 20, LL Cool J, Nas and Bon Jovi.

Then there are those prestige artists who will float down from their ivory towers with fresh manna for the discriminating - Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel, Rhett Miller, Beck and the Roots among them.

For a complete rundown of the fall's twists and turns, read on - but with one caveat: Record labels are notorious for changing release dates.

Many of the albums listed don't even have set titles yet. So expect lots of fiddling before these sounds hit stores.

Sept. 17

Disturbed Believe: The second major-label album from the most convincing group in the recent metal wave.

Various artists Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions: Ireland's Chieftains meet the cream of country bluegrass players.

Kenny G Paradise: New music from the suburbs' favorite sax man.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony: The latest from this fast-flowing rap outfit.

Xzibit Man vs. Machine: A concept album from the respected L.A. rapper.

Sept. 24

India.Arie Voyage to India: The follow-up to her platinum Acoustic Soul debut.

Alison Moyet Hometime: A more mature album from England's contemporary answer to Dusty Springfield.

Josh Joplin Group The Future What Was: One of the most promising new singer-songwriters releases his second major-label work.

Ryan Adams Demolition: A collection of castoffs and B sides from alt-rock's hottest star.

Rhett Miller The Instigator: An excellent solo debut from the leader of the alt-country act Old 97's.

Gerald Levert G Spot: More make-out anthems for R&B swanksters.

Steve Earle Jerusalem: The father of alt-country returns with an album featuring his controversial ode to John Walker Lindh.

Elvis Presley 30 1 Hits: All the King's top tracks, plus the propulsive remix of his "A Little Less Conversation" (a deserved No. 1 U.K. smash).

Beck Sea Change: The intellectual changeling returns with a serious new sound.

Peter Gabriel Up: The star's first album of all-new material in a decade.

Weezer The Lion and the Witch: The prolific popsters' second album in a single year.

Lifehouse Stanley Climbfall: The follow-up to the trio's breakthrough hit.

Isyss The Way We Do: The debut from R&B's new hit-making hotties.

Burning Brides Fall of the Plastic Empire: The major-label first from the pride of Philly punk. Is this band the next Hives?

Uncle Kracker No Stranger to Shame: More neo-'70s pop-soul from Kid Rock's DJ.

Nas The Lost Tapes: Unreleased cuts from the star wordsmith.

Various artists Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Johnny Cash: Features Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Rosanne Cash, Dwight Yoakam, Little Richard, Emmylou Harris and other stars covering songs by the man in black.

Oct. 1

Mark Knopfler The Ragpicker's Dream: Another soundtrack from the thoughtful guitarist.

Jackson Browne Naked Ride Home: Will this long-careening folk-rocker finally wrestle back his muse?

The Rolling Stones 40 Licks: The Stones' first hits album to combine classics from the '60s with the group's best-known songs since. Also features four new tracks to help flog the Stones' 40th-anniversary tour.

Soundtrack Brown Sugar: Features cuts from progressive hip-hop and soul stars Erykah Badu and Common.

GZA Legend of the Liquid Sword: A new solo work from the Wu-Tang master.

Chris Rock Bring the Pain: Comedy from one of the form's last honest men.

Oct. 8

John Michael Montgomery Pictures: A country hunk returns.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers The Last DJ: His latest work attacks greed, the record industry and other sitting ducks.

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