in music release jargon it’s ‘q4’ but what does this mean for your ears?
It’s the final quarter of the year -- time for all the big pop bangers to appear.
Christmas comes but once a year, right? Wrong. Well, factually that's correct, but for the music industry most weeks between the end of September and the end of December are gift-wrapped bundles of (they hope) huge sales and all-out media coverage, with a 'produced by Greg Kurstin' bow on the top. Q4, for that is what it's called, is that halcyon period where pop really comes into its own, proper megastars (and Sam Smith) sprinting out of the gates, sweating glorious bangers and spouting the sort of nonsense that (they hope) guarantees at least 458 think pieces. It's when music fans suddenly regress about ten years and actually purchase those shiny circular things that come in plastic cases from, like, a shop or something. It's mad and glorious and can leave you feeling as full and as drunk as you do on Christmas afternoon.
With that in mind, here's a handy guide to who's doing what, who's releasing what and who's possibly maybe releasing what in this year's Q4 bonanza.
Who: Taylor Swift
When: November 10
Regina George grows even more bitter and twisted. While the world rapidly slides into a roaring hell fire, Taylor Swift turns her gaze further inwards, spewing out an apparently still festering grudge that most people forgot about the day after it happened. Lead single Look What You Made Me Do -- which samples Right Said Fred and sounds like a less sexually active Peaches -- is Blank Space without the knowing nudge-nudge wink-wink, that song's exaggerated, manic persona now very much the reality. The second song to emerge, ...Ready For It?, continues with the more 'aggressive' tone, and finally -- FINALLY -- showcases Taylor's rap skills. This could be interesting.
What: Beautiful Trauma
When: October 13
She's reliable isn't she, P!nk? Every few years she knocks out an album you'll have a listen to a couple of times and then hear the three or four singles in every shopping centre you go to for at least the next eighteen months. There will be a couple of proper Max Martin bangers, some nice ballads about loving yourself and a vaguely political one with some broad sloganeering. So far we've had the latter in the shape of What About Us, so I assume it's a windswept ballad next so she can do some high-wire acrobatics on Ellen.
What: Double Duchess
When: September 22
Sarah Ferguson is back! Oh, wait, no, it's Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas isn't it, here to finally capitalise on the momentum of 2006's solo debut, The Dutchess. Fellow Pea will.i.am produced the limp You Already Know (which, like most songs in 2017, features a rubbish Nicki Minaj verse), so perhaps keep your expectations fairly low. It's also a 'visual album', which isn't really what anyone wants from a Fergie album in 2017, but what can you do.
Who: Shania Twain
When: September 29
Fifteen years after her last album, Eilleen Regina Edwards, aka Shania Twain, aka the only human being who can pull off a leopard print bodice with a bloody hood, is back back back. To be honest, the songs so far have all been a bit limp, but given she lost her voice and desire to sing after her husband ran off with her best friend, only for her to then shack up with that former best friend's husband, it's just a joy to see her and her luscious hair again.
Who: Michael Jackson
When: September 29
The quite literally dead Michael Jackson returns with a collection of songs featuring titles that are vaguely connected to Halloween. So the tracklisting includes Dangerous, Unbreakable and, er, Leave Me Alone. Obviously this is in no way a cynical cash-in now that the unreleased songs vault is starting to look even more bare, and is just his old label facilitating a great opportunity for fans to own songs they already own but in a different order. To be fair, the vinyl edition does glow in the dark, which is quite cool.
Who: Miley Cyrus
What: Younger Now
When: September 29
Having ditched the bangers of Bangerz (and that apparent love of R&B and its connected culture), Miley Cyrus has re-generated as godmother Dolly Parton with a dash of someone vaguely rebellious off Nashville. Younger Now's lead single Malibu was a floaty dress of a song, perfect for skipping through a meadow while being chased by some candy floss and looking a bit like the guy from Soul Asylum in the hair department, but the jury's out as to whether that schtick can work over a whole album.
Other albums on the horizon, that have either been confirmed or are about to be, include professional screamer Demi Lovato's Tell Me You Love Me (September 29), Jessie Ware's no doubt soft as silk Glasshouse ('soon', apparently), Sam Smith's more-of-the-same-thanks second one, a Christmas album from Sia (!), a Christmas album from Gwen Stefani (!!) and Kelly Clarkson's Meaning of Life (October 27).
Q4 is also a place for some nice surprises, i.e. albums that only get green-lit last minute once a single takes off, so expect a new opus from Selena Gomez, whose more experimental recent singles Bad Liar and Fetish have tickled the charts but have yet to fully grope them. Zayn is also returning; his fresh off the runway single Dusk Till Dawn features Sia and was produced by pop midas Greg Kurstin and has a very expensive-looking video, i.e. its peak Q4 behaviour. Also, this being a new year, there's likely to be, at the very least, a new Little Mix song if not a full album (rumours are Raye has been writing with them, which is a very good idea). Perhaps they'll revive the age-old Q4 standard, the re-pack, and just chuck some new songs on last year's Glory Days the week before an X Factor performance. It's also 25 years since Take That were spawned so it wouldn't be that much of a shock if they chucked out another Greatest Hits album to help pay those tax bills.