Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball – The Boss is back with his 17th studio album. The 62-year-old troubadour of the American working class has explored themes of the common man through a variety of styles from hard rock to folk. Springsteen continues to evolve in what, perhaps unsurprisingly given the times, has been called his angriest album. He also takes inspiration from younger bands such as Arcade Fire, which he has in turn influenced in recent years.

Adam Lambert, TrespassingAll American Idol finalists get their 15 minutes, but some get considerably more. Glam rocker Adam Lambert is certainly among the latter. In the year following his season 8, second place finish, Lambert released a critically praised, commercially successful album with three hit singles and launched a world tour. Although the lead single from his sophomore effort, “Better Than I Know Myself,” is more low key than we’re used to hearing, collaborations with Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars among others indicate Lambert may just have the staying power many Idols lack.

The Shins, Port of MorrowFrontman James Mercer’s indie outfit with an ever-changing lineup stunned critics and music lovers alike with their powerful 2001 debut, Oh, Inverted World. Two more hit albums followed. Now, after five years, fans finally get to hear the hotly anticipated fourth studio release. The band’s latest lineup includes personnel from Modest Mouse and Crystal Skulls.

Madonna, MDNAThe mother of re-invention is set to unleash her 12th studio album – her first not associated with Warner Bros. and arguably the most anticipated album of the year. Ever the master of promotion, Madonna expertly timed the release of the album with her 2012 Super Bowl halftime performance and the release of the football-themed video to the lead single “Give Me All Your Luvin’” both featuring collaborators Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. as cheerleaders. The single itself has received mixed reviews, but this is Madonna, the album will be a hit regardless.

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