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Who Will Rule the School in '07?


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For those of you who don't feel like reading the entire thing, I made the parts about VR and GN'R bold.


Who Will Rule The School In '07? Big Albums Due From Em, 50, Britney, FOB, Weezy

MTV News takes a look at next year's biggest releases — and sizes up their chances for success.

By Gil Kaufman

The music business is a lot like high school: One minute you're in the cool kids' club, but one wrong move can land you at the losers' table in the lunchroom. With that in mind, we looked at the most anticipated albums on the syllabus — from acts such as Eminem, 50 Cent, Fall Out Boy, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Panic! at the Disco, Linkin Park and T.I. — to see which cliques will be ruling the school next year, and which ones are in for an atomic wedgie.

Raunchy Upperclassmen

Who: 50 Cent, Eminem

What We Know: Lest you think 50 is pulling punches on his third major-label release, the title says it all: Before I Self-Destruct. That said, the burly MC has promised that the new album, due in the spring, will bring more of a classic R&B feel and show the vulnerable side of his sensitive thug image (see "50 Cent, Almost Ready To Self Destruct, Unloads On Critics First"). Not much is known about the sequel to Em's 2004 album, Encore — a label spokesperson wouldn't even comment on whether Slim Shady will release a solo album in 2007. But with Em coming off a tough few months — which included a stint in rehab, another divorce from Kim and the death of his best friend, Proof — he'll have plenty to talk about.

Prospects: 50's big-screen debut tanked, but you can't underestimate a student whose first two albums sold more than 20 million copies combined. Ditto Eminem, the troubled honor student teachers love to hate.

Also: R. Kelly, Scott Weiland

Geeks Who Get The Girls

Who: Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, Linkin Park

What We Know: These are the guys now getting the last laugh on their former tormentors. Infinity on High is FOB's fourth release, but for most fans the second major-label album from the Chicago group, due February 6, is a crucial chance to sidestep the dreaded sophomore slump. If the funk/emo-leaning first single, "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" and the R&B touches of "Carpal Tunnel of Love" are any indication, the boys have cooked up some big sounds to go with their wordy titles, including touches of piano and strings on a few tracks. As promised, they even worked with Babyface on one of the album's ballads and got Island/Def Jam boss Jay-Z to drop in for the intro (see "Fall Out Boy Exclusive: Pete Wentz Reveals LP Title, Details On Single"). FOB protégés and big-top aficionados Panic have become huge stars in their own right and now have to prove the first time wasn't just beginner's luck. They're slated to record the follow-up to their multiplatinum A Fever You Can't Sweat Out album next year (no release date has been set). Finally, Linkin Park have teamed with super-producer Rick Rubin on an album they promise will erase any memories of their ties to the reviled nü-metal genre (see "Linkin Park Say Nu-Metal Sound Is 'Completely Gone' On Next LP" and "Mike Shinoda Hosts Art Show, Says Linkin Park LP Gets Rick Rubin Excited").

Prospects: All three get A's for effort, but fans will be looking hard to see if their notebooks are filled with more of the same doodles.

Also: Simple Plan, the Academy Is ..., Jimmy Eat World

Prom Queens And Kings

Who: Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, "High School Musical," Chris Brown, Maroon 5

What We Know: No "American Idol" alum has charmed the world the way Clarkson has. With the breakout success of her second album, Breakaway, the singer has carte blanche to really show what she can do on her yet-untitled third album, which she has promised will rock more, have more soul and capture her in a more singer/songwriter mode. "I love bubble-gum ear candy, but it's great to have a break from that," she said. Clarkson's album is due in late April/early May (see "Kelly Clarkson Blowing Off 'Bubblegum Ear Candy' On New LP"). Lavigne has undergone an image makeover almost as radical as Clarkson's, from bratty teen to glamorous rocker/model. She said her new album is full of "fun and cool" songs, including some written and produced with Sum-41 hubby Deryck Whibley (see "Avril Lavigne, Deryck Whibley Dish Details On 'Fun, Young, Bratty' LP"). The cast of "High School Musical" is prepping a comeback with its second album around the time of August's planned TV sequel movie. Nice guy R&B crooner Chris Brown is also gearing up to record his second album, though few details were available at press time. Speaking of nice guys, Maroon 5 have reportedly roughed up their sound a bit on the long-awaited follow-up to their multiplatinum 2002 debut, Songs About Jane, thanks to producer/Dr. Dre lieutenant Mike Elizondo (Fiona Apple, Eminem). The album is due in the spring.

Prospects: When you're a cultural phenomenon like Clarkson and the "High School" kids, it almost doesn't matter what you show up to class wearing: people are gonna check you out. Similarly, Brown should be able to coast on charm even if he turns in a subpar effort. Lavigne is at that awkward-teen stage of her career where she's not yet a "grown-up" star, but not really a tweener target either, so she might have to earn some extra credit. Maroon 5 will definitely have to work hard to keep their advanced-placement status this time around.

Also: James Blunt, JC Chasez, Enrique Iglesias, Keyshia Cole, Aqualung, Train, Backstreet Boys, Joss Stone

Bad Kids

Who: Avenged Sevenfold, Good Charlotte, Lil Wayne, Nicole Scherzinger (of the Pussycat Dolls) — and Britney Spears

What We Know: Who has been badder lately than Britney? The now-single pop star could cement her place in history if her fifth, yet-untitled album debuts at #1, although she'll have to deliver the goods musically if she hopes to overshadow her recent spate of bad press. The album may contain songs she's recorded with Sean Garrett, J.R. Rotem, Swizz Beatz and rapper T-Pain; among the new tracks that have appeared on her Web site are "Rebellion" and "Just Yesterday (Little Me)" (see "Britney's New Music Is 'The Next Level,' Producer Says"). Tattooed metalcore rockers Avenged Sevenfold are slated to follow up their 2005 City of Evil breakthrough with an album they've promised will change up their sound, and although Good Charlotte are sticking with their hip-hop/punk hybrid on Good Morning Revival (March 20), the album is said to feature some dance beats and a collabo with Fabolous (see "Good Charlotte Don Their Dance Shoes For Feel-Good Revival"). Heavily tatted rapper Lil Wayne is prepping the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2005 album with Tha Carter III, and Dolls leader Scherzinger is working on her springtime solo debut, which will reportedly feature assists from such songwriters/producers as Akon, Timbaland, Will.I.Am, Sean Garrett and Polow Da Don.

Prospects: Britney's album will determine whether she wins the homecoming-queen crown. Sevenfold and Charlotte are still trying to master being both tough kids and teachers' pets — a status Lil Wayne has aced.

Also: Kings of Leon, Kid Rock, Whitney Houston, Lily Allen, Danity Kane

Homeroom Hustlas

Who: Paul Wall, Rich Boy, T.I., Big Boi, Will.I.Am, Three 6 Mafia, Yung Joc, Timbaland

What We Know: Grillmaster Paul Wall is ready to drop Get Money Stay True, which features guest spots from Snoop Dogg, Lil Keke and Trina. Wall says he's keeping the party jams but also branching into new territory (see "'Mature' Paul Wall Still Raps About Girls, Grills With Mariah, T.I."). Also look for the major-label debut in early 2007 from Alabama's Rich Boy (with production from red-hot Polow Da Don and Mannie Fresh) and a solo album from Outkast's Big Boi, who has promised that 'Kast partner Andre 3000 will lend a production hand and that the album will be similar to his hip-hop heavy Speakerboxxx (see "Big Boi Plays Games, Golf; Andre 3000 Re-Enacts Seattle Battle"). No release date has been set for the solo effort from the Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am., but given his recent producing pedigree (Fergie, the Game, Snoop, Mary J.) you can bet it'll be a star-studded affair. Coming off their Oscar win, Three 6 Mafia will follow up 2005's Most Known Unknown, while Yung Joc will return for his second album in less than a year. Another record that promises to feature a gallery of stars is Timbaland's solo effort, due in March and tentatively titled Timbaland Presents Shock Value. Among the luminaries lined up are Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, She Wants Revenge, Elton John and the Hives, and the first single, "Give It To Me," features Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake (see "Timbaland Nabs 50 Cent, Dr. Dre For LP, Starts Timberlake Gossip Frenzy"). Also look for a new album from T.I. titled T.I. vs. T.I.P. this summer.

Prospects: Though producer albums are sometimes suspect, Timbaland has earned his advanced-placement status, while Will.I.Am and Big Boi have both proven they can stand on their own. Rich Boy still has some proving to do, but Wall and Joc have laid enough groundwork to ensure a strong semester. As for Three 6 — good luck following an Oscar!

Also: Ying Yang Twins, Juelz Santana, Daddy Yankee, Chingy, Missy Elliott

The Cool Kids

Who: Arcade Fire; Bloc Party; Kaiser Chiefs; Spoon; the Good, the Bad and the Queen

What We Know: One of the most hotly anticipated indie albums of 2007 is by Montreal's the Arcade Fire. The group has recorded more than 15 songs for Neon Bible, its follow-up to 2004's Funeral, some of which will presumably feature the huge pipe organ pictured on singer Win Butler's journal page. Bloc Party will return with album #2, A Weekend in the City, in February — be prepared for a more mature, quite different album, advance copies of which have divided some fans' opinions (see "After Failed Panic! At The Disco Tour, Bloc Party Look Ahead To New LP"). The Kaiser Chiefs will drop the sequel to their debut, Employment, in February, featuring songs the band road-tested in 2006. Spoon are busy on album #6, working out such songs as "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case," "Kindness Kills Them" and the eloquently titled "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga." With just two singles to their credit, the Good, the Bad and the Queen — Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn's latest project — will brighten early 2007 with their self-titled album. Joining Albarn this time are former Clash bassist Paul Simonon, ex-Verve guitarist Simon Tong and Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen playing dramatic, cinematic rock on songs such as "Kingdom of Doom."

Prospects: While the Chiefs were always treated like the class clowns of the recent Brit rock wave, Arcade Fire, Spoon, Bloc Party and the members of the Good have all earned their passes to the cool lunchroom table.

Also: The Magic Numbers, Placebo, K-OS, Louis XIV, Rilo Kiley, Von Bondies

The Rockers

Who: Velvet Revolver, Chris Cornell

What We Know: One of rock's reigning supergroups will go head-to-head in '07 with itself, as VR singer Scott Weiland drops his second solo album. As if that weren't enough competition, the singer for America's other hard-rock supergroup, Audioslave's Chris Cornell, is also prepping his second solo album. After abandoning the idea of a concept record and parting ways with Rick Rubin over unspecified issues, Velvet Revolver will follow their 2004 debut, Contraband, with the springtime release of Libertad, produced by Pearl Jam/Rage Against the Machine vet Brendan O'Brien (see "Scott Weiland Pumped For Velvet Revolver LP, Solo Collabo With Pharrell"). "I haven't been this excited about a rock record since 1993, when I went into the studio to record [sTP's] Purple," Weiland said recently. Cornell's sequel to his 1999 solo debut, the eclectic Euphoria Morning, will feature his rocked-up take on Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," "She'll Never Be Your Man" and a few tunes he described as "gospel and R&B."

Prospects: Cornell possesses one of the most distinctive voices in rock but his last extracurricular outing fell flat; Velvet Revolver are multiplatinum stars who could still use that one mammoth, signature tune to set them apart from the rest of the class.

Also: Coheed and Cambria, Megadeth


Who: Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins

What We Know: Green Day are getting started on the follow-up to their career-reinvigorating American Idiot. Singer Billie Joe Armstrong recently told the New Music Express that the band is working on three albums' worth of material: some songs are similar to Idiot, some are straight-ahead punk, and some are in a more experimental vein. As always, the sessions for the next Nine Inch Nails record are shrouded in mystery, but Reznor said on his Web site that the album is finished, and plans call for the Rick Rubin-overseen disc to be mixed in early 2007 and released late in the spring. Most mysterious of all is the reunion album by the Smashing Pumpkins. All we know for sure is that leader Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin are on board and longtime Queen/Cars producer Roy Thomas Baker is behind the desk. It will be the band's first studio album since 1999; a posting on the Pumpkins' Web site promises the LP will be out "soon" (see "Smashing Pumpkins Drummer Offers More Clues About Forthcoming LP").

Prospects: Former class clowns Green Day have become modern-day icons; Trent is hanging tough; the Pumpkins will have to do some extra-credit work to regain their former glory.

Also: Duran Duran, Metallica, Radiohead, Wilco, Korn, Lil' Kim, Dinosaur Jr., Courtney Love, the Stooges, the Offspring, Ozzy Osbourne

Misunderstood Geniuses Still Earning Enough Credits To Graduate

Who: Guns N' Roses, Dr. Dre

What We Know: Despite promises that their decade-plus-in-the-making supposed masterpiece, Chinese Democracy, was right around the corner in late 2006, GNR still haven't delivered the album. A recent post from Axl earmarked a March release but hedged — we'll see what happens (see "Axl Rose Sets Chinese Democracy Release Date, Apologizes For Delay"). Equally mythical is rap legend Dre's purportedly final studio album, Detox, which he's been talking about for years. A video recently posted on MySpace has Dre protégé Bishop Lamont promising a release in September, but a spokesperson would not comment about a potential release date (see "Producer J.R. Rotem Helping 50 Get Soul, Tossing Beats For Dr. Dre").

Prospects: These albums have become the equivalent of the "awesome girlfriend from Canada" stories your buddy tells after summer vacation: tantalizing but short on solid proof.


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