I am painfully aware that I am over three weeks late with this article. For that, I sincerely apologize. 2023 was quite the year for veteran artists returning with new music. The biggest surprise (and highly unlikely comeback) was that of acoustic folk duo turned dance act Everything But The Girl with their album “Fuse” – their first in over two decades as a creative unit. The tragedy of demise for Depeche Mode via the loss of their keyboard player Andy Fletcher seemed like an unlikely precursor to “Ghosts Again” – one of the band’s most radio-friendly singles (brimming with “Violator” era vibes) in what feels like ages. That being said, the strongest albums of the 2023 were undoubtedly the rule-breaking (but yet commercially viable) and electronic beats heavy “Desire I want to turn to you” (a quantum leap from her debut solo) album by Caroline Polachek (former front woman of indie pop act Chairlift) and “Seaglass” by Peter Cox – the frontman of British Pop duo Go West (a musical counterweight to the New Wave era of the 80s). Peter Cox’s fantastic album combines swagger, soul, sophistication, and the glossy production of studio wizard Gary Stevenson. It is a reminder that the bias of ageism that has infected the curatorial ethic of pop/rock music‘s most influential gatekeepers continues to be an issue – one which relegates some of the finest musical output (from artists that rose to prominence in yesteryear) to relative obscurity practically rendering their music “dead on arrival”. After such a stellar year for veteran artists, it is fair to think that 2024 might pale in comparison. In terms of new music, based on what we know so far, our collective skepticism might be justifiable. That being said, there are some musical acts of consequence slated to return with new music in 2024. They are as follows:

1.Dua Lipa:

Our readers might scoff at the idea that British-Albanian popstar Dua Lipa qualifies as a veteran with only two full albums to her credit. While her 2017 hit single “New Rules” with its special effects heavy music video cemented her star status in the US that year, she had already become a starlet in late 2015 in continental Europe with her irresistible, (and in my opinion finest) single “Be the One”. Given that this was almost a decade ago, I do not believe it is wildly inappropriate to include her in our list of acts to watch out for in 2024. “Houdini”, the lead single from her third album has already seen the light of day and seems to pick up exactly where she left off with her hit-heavy sophomore disco-infused album “Future Nostalgia”. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, she indicated that she has written 97 songs for her new album.

Hopefully her record label is discerning as they choose what makes the cut for album #3. While I don’t think Dua Lipa has necessarily been consistent with her musical output (some legitimate doozies mixed with some potent pop fodder), it is reasonable to expect something noteworthy from her this year – especially from a collection of 97 songs!

2. Lenny Kravitz:

Unbeknownst to the masses, mixed-race (we feel the need to highlight this because he does not get the regard he deserves in popular commentary centered around artists of African American heritage) veteran rocker Lenny Kravitz has been churning out some fantastic material in recent years that from a quality perspective, eclipses signature hits such as “It ain’t over till it’s over” (1991), “Again” (2000) and “American Woman” (1998). Noteworthy examples of great new radio fodder from Lenny include the INXS-ish “The Chamber”, “5 more days till summer” and “Ride”. He is slated to hit a chronological milestone of consequence (he turns 60) in May 2024. Yet, he appears to be a fountain of youth with an energy and vitality that is commensurate with that of someone half his age. Nothing showcases this better than the music video for “TK421” – the lead single for his upcoming album “Blue Electric Light” (slated for release on March 15, 2024).

Only Lenny Kravitz can make the mundane activity of a wake-up routine look both exhilarating and glamorous as showcased in the music video for “TK421”. While there is a compelling argument that the song has more swagger than substance (of course, that has not prevented us from playing it on high rotation on our 24/7 online radio broadcast), it does whet the appetite for his upcoming album.

3. Kemopetrol:

In the Netflix documentary titled “This Is Pop”, a cleverly titled episode “Stockholm Syndrome” is devoted to the music factory of unsung heroes (both songwriters and producers) behind major US pop hits (for artists such as Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys) in the country of Sweden. The superior artistry of Swedish musicians is at odds with their understated approach to celebrity – one that eschews excess while embracing authenticity. This is probably what keeps them backstage as opposed to in the musical limelight where they truly belong. This assertion could also extend to Scandinavian music acts in general. Over the last four decades, other Scandinavian countries have also pulled their weight in the realm of pop/rock music with acts that enjoy large fanbases globally. The most celebrated of this gifted group of musicians include a-ha (Norway), Bjork (Iceland), ABBA (Sweden), Roxette (Sweden), Europe (Sweden), Kings of Convenience (Norway), The Cardigans (Sweden) and Poets Of The Fall (Finland). The one band that does not get the credit they rightfully deserve is the criminally underrated Finnish pop/rock act Kemopetrol. Their formation coincided with the dawn of the new millennium – a time when pop music might have been at its most uninspired. Kemopetrol aspired to the be the saviors of the pop music scene – and it seemed like they had hit on a formula to accomplish exactly that. Their stylistically fluid sonic template (which incorporates elements of rock, electronic music, and jazz) is a manifestation of the varied influences (that extend all the way from Genesis to Duran Duran to trip-hop acts such as Massive Attack and Portishead) on the band’s creative nucleus Kalle Kovisto. Lead singer Laura Narhi is NOT a vocal belter. Instead, she allows her voice to float gently and with ease over the exquisite sonic backdrop constructed by the rest of the band. They enjoyed initial success in their home country of Finland. I discovered their music around the time of the launch of Radio Crème Brulee’s 24/7 global online radio broadcast. It was bands like Kemopetrol that reaffirmed our belief that pop music’s glory years were FAR from over. That being said, our greatest criticism of the band is that they never released their best songs as singles. Instead, they relegated these sonic gems to album-track status. Noteworthy examples include infectious songs such as “You don’t feel the same”, “Private Encore”, and “From an Aeroplane”. That being said, it looks like they are recalibrating their sense of judgment with their new single “I can see across the world” (the cinematic and sexy lead single from their upcoming album).

This is their first English language output in over a decade. I was convinced they had split (why wouldn’t they in an industry that seems hell-bent on consistently rewarding a lot of musical mediocrity?) I am elated to see that they did NOT throw in the towel and are digging deep for inspiration. If their lead single is any indication of the rest of the album, fans (me included) are in for a treat.

4. Justin Timberlake:

When we first launched Radio Crème Brulee back in 2007, we would have never guessed that the music of former N Sync frontman Justin Timberlake would see the light of day on our playlists. I was personally quite annoyed at the prevalent view (in the US) that the concept of the boyband had been revived by acts such as Backstreet Boys and N Sync. That concept had been alive and well right through the 90s with boybands such as Take That, East 17, Caught in the Act, and Boyzone. Of course, none of these bands were embraced by conglomerate-owned terrestrial radio in the US and were hence unknown in America (while enjoying larger-than-life fanbases outside the US). Hence, the notion that Backstreet Boys and N Sync had revived boyband culture was both ignorant and stereotypically geo-centric in the US context. Justin Timberlake’s solo career seemed to be the success story that dreams were made of in the music industry. He seemed to be an unstoppable force (that I couldn’t care less for) to the point where something as objectively tuneless as his hit “Sexyback” enjoyed widespread acceptance among the music-buying masses. When I learned that he was involved in the Duran Duran album “Red Carpet Massacre” and suggested that he want to help them write the next “Ordinary World”, I wrote it off as the ambition of someone with an inflated view of his musical competencies and a boundless arrogance. That being said, when “Falling Down” (the lead single from Duran Duran’s ill-fated 2007 “Red Carpet Massacre” album) saw the light of day, I was quite blown away. Mr Timberlake had indeed helped co-write and produce a song that belonged in the same league as hit classics such as “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone” by Duran Duran. It made me rethink my harsh assessment of Justin as a musician. Of course, it didn’t lead me to appreciate his first two albums at all. “Suit and Tie” (the lead single from his “20/20 Experience” album) was the turning point in our curatorial relationship with the music of Justin Timberlake. We hailed “Suit and Tie” as the first great pop single of 2013. The album had some other great gems including the achingly beautiful and smooth “You got it on”. While this change of heart did not necessarily make me think of Justin Timberlake as a reliable artist in terms of musical output consistency, he undoubtedly became someone we had to pay attention to. His morphing from a pure musician to a multi-faceted media brand (with successful forays into acting and appearances on the television show Saturday Night Live) also meant that long gaps between albums did NOT undermine his ability to resurface with new music to an audience that was still interested. His upcoming album “Everything I Thought It Was” (featuring longtime collaborator Timbaland as producer) is his first since 2018’s “Man Of The Woods”. Apparently, this album will revisit the vibes of Justin’s successful sophomore album “FutureSex/Lovesound”. While this might please fans, it doesn’t exactly trigger any enthusiasm at my end since I thought that album was tragically unremarkable – but given my track record of being WRONG about Justin Timberlake in the past, I believe that his new material should be given a chance. Plus, his down-tempo debut single “Selfish” (which he performed at recent concert at the Orpheum in Memphis) from this new album sounds very promising! The song will see the light of day on January 25, 2024.

5. Samantha James:

This section of the article is the trickiest one to write since we have featured Samantha James in these annual articles multiple times over the years only to find out that our enthusiasm has been premature. Dance-pop diva Samantha James has been teasing new music for what feels like forever but her recent posts on Instagram reveal an unwavering focus aimed at making her decade-long hiatus worth the wait for fans of her music. I personally dislike the “dance pop” label attached to her because it automatically triggers the assumption (to those that are unfamiliar with her) that her brand of music is in the same vein as that of monotonous beat-driven music that lacks personality and doesn’t translate outside of a nightclub. This assumption could NOT be further from the truth. Samantha James’ music is rooted in soul and sophistication laced with ethereal production. It transcends genre boundaries in a way that lot of music dance music simply does not. I think of her as the posterchild for what the modern female artist should be – one that embodies star quality blended with class, substance, and authenticity. Critics that reviewed her first two albums “Rise” and “Subconscious” made comparisons to the creative chemistry shared between Samantha and producer Sebastian Arocha Morton to that of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt from Everything But The Girl. It appears that Samantha is deviating radically from that well-trodden and successful dynamic to work with a handful of producers (including Myon) and has recorded at various locations including Brooklyn (New York) and Budapest (Hungary). I am curious as to what drove this creative decision. Hopefully this is something Samantha will share if and when we have the opportunity to interview her to discuss her upcoming album. The clips that she has shared on Instagram from the recording studio sound incredibly promising. She definitely wins the award for being the ultimate tease raising our anticipation levels to unhealthy highs! For those that need a refresher of what she is all about, here (below) is one of her greatest manifestations pop music altruism from over a decade ago:

6. Leon:

Swedish starlet Lotta Lindgren (aka Leon) is yet another relatively well-kept secret of the modern pop/rock music realm that does not enjoy the widespread exposure in the limelight that she rightfully deserves. She truly ought to be a household name. This Stockholm native seems to have mastered the art of distilling ethereal beauty from heartbreak and elevating it with her top-notch songwriting ethic and a raspy vocal aesthetic far beyond her years. While her single “Tired of talking” paved the way for her first taste of a real fanbase, it was her single “Falling” from her eponymous debut album that captured our attention and that of our listeners once we started featuring it on high-rotation on our radio broadcast. I considered the possibility that she might be a one tricky pony with this song but she has moved from one musical milestone to the next and never ceases to amaze – with some of her finest moments on the albums “Apart” and “Circles”. After watching her perform live at Brooklyn Steel (New York) in June 2022, it became evident that is also a consummate performer (which amplifies the frustration surrounding her relative obscurity). The first sign that a collection of new music might be on the way was her addictive earworm “Pretty Boy” (released in the summer of 2023).

This was quickly followed up by a second single titled “Dirt”. In a December interview with Billboard magazine, Leon confirmed the following: “More songs are coming — songs that I’m so excited about, and more music is in the making. I’ve been a bit of a slow burn the past year and now I’m like, let’s go.” This girl never ceases to impress with a creative well that never seems to dry up. We can barely wait to see what she has up her sleeve musically speaking.

7. Coldplay:

Over-exposure has a way of breeding resentment – even for an act that has the musical trappings of an underdog – especially at a time (early 2000s) when British acts were conspicuous by their absence in the American musical mainstream. Against all odds, it seemed like Coldplay slipped through with potent hits such as “Yellow”, “Trouble”, and “Clocks”. While they got off to a stellar start, they seemed to still be somewhat of a punching bag for those that surmised that Coldplay were just around to fill the Alternative “quota” to give the US music scene an illusion of celebrating diversity in a mainstream dominated almost entirely by hip-hop, R&B, and disposable flavor-of-the-moment pop. The naysayers’ efforts were not enough to stop Coldplay from being a force to be reckoned with as they won music awards and played to large stadium audiences in the US while their other British contemporaries only managed to play in arenas or theatres despite being comparable (or even better) in terms of musical output. But then again, it matters to be the darlings of music’s most influential gatekeepers – especially in the world’s largest consumer market for pop/rock music. Despite a few duds over the years, Coldplay managed to reignite interest with poppy hits such as “Adventure of a Lifetime” (2015) and “Higher Power” (2021). They also scored a US #1 single in 2021 with “My Universe” (a collaboration with celebrated Kpop boyband BTS). This may have helped them make inroads with a younger generation. Their new album “Moon Music” will see the light of day early this year. A new down-tempo song “A Wave” has featured on their recent concert setlists. But there is an even better song (below) out there with a title that seems fitting with the name of their new album.

8. Saint Etienne:

As an internet radio DJ whose ability to retain radio listeners across the globe for the long-term, the relentless hunt for radio-friendly material is an endless endeavor (which sometimes involves wading through waves of sonic assault given some of the musical mediocrity that seems to be hurled at folks like us quite frequently). One of the acts we have come to rely on for hook-laden uptempo dance tracks laced with the sexy vocals of frontwoman Sarah Cracknell is Indie dance trio Saint Etienne. My fandom might have begun in 1993 (while visiting my maternal uncle in London) with a non-trivial dose of shallowness (as opposed to true musical appreciation) as I found myself smitten by the gorgeous Sarah Cracknell as she performed the single “Who do you think you are” with Saint Etienne on “Top Of The Pops”. Over the years, I discovered that the band was a fountain of talent and seemed to have a knack for catchy pop tunes such as “Pale Movie” (1994), “Method Of Modern Love” (2009), and “Tonight” (2012). They even shot for the stars with a submission for the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies”. Their classy and uptempo version of this song is far superior to the one (different tune and vibe altogether) by Sheryl Crow – which ended up as the official Bond theme. The movie’s star Pierce Brosnan seems to share our view on this song and held on the recording master of Saint Etienne’s submission for the theme of the movie. Given this track record, my heart sank when the trio’s return to the UK Top 20 albums chart in 2021 was via an ambient pop album titled “I’ve Been Trying to tell you” (recorded during the Covid lockdown) that was an ode to the music of the late 90s. In the spirit of that era, the songs sample tracks by Natalie Imbruglia, Tasmin Archer, Lightning Seeds, and Lighthouse Family. In an interview with Retropop, they revealed that they are working on two albums concurrently. The one that is likely to see the light of day later this year will be a sonic sequel to their 2021 album. That being said, they are sitting on a collection of uptempo tracks that they are considering including on the follow-up to their upcoming album. Can someone PLEASE convince them to switch the order of these releases?

9. The Blow Monkeys:

Having a larger-than-life blowout hit single can be a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in that if it was released in the heyday of mass pop culture, it is likely to be a gift that continues to give (monetarily speaking). It is a curse in that every subsequent musical release is compared to that career-defining single. People want that magic to be repeated without the music act (that churned out that hit single) being repetitive – a lofty demand that is unambiguously contradictory at its core. It is unclear how the members of sophisti-pop act The Blow Monkeys (fronted by the unimaginably cool and suave Dr Robert) view this dynamic – especially is it applies to their breakout single “Digging Your Scene” – the lead single from their sophomore album “Animal Magic” (1986). The layered production with a killer saxophone solo (with a slightly different twist for the song’s US version) and an inimitable vocal delivery by Dr Robert made this an impossible musical feat to outdo. That being said, the band did release a bunch of great songs in the 80s (noteworthy examples include “It Pays to Belong” and “Atomic Lullaby”) and once they reunited in the 2000s. Their 2020 single “Time Storm”, in particular, is a highlight from their later years. They are slated to release a new album this May titled “Together/Alone”. Rumors indicate that while this is a well-crafted selection of pop songs, it is likely to be stripped down (if someone can confirm this, we will be eternally grateful!). To me, the notion of music being stripped down by an act that I think of as being within the realm of sophisti-pop (a genre defined by dreamy and glossy production value) is not an easy pill to swallow. Oddly enough, in recent years, The Blow Monkeys have dabbled with BOTH stripped down songs and songs drenched in studio gloss – and it goes without saying that the music that falls in the latter category is far superior. I am an eternal optimist in that I believe that a band characterized by greatness has the ability to repeat that greatness. We just have to be open to that possibility – and in the case of The Blow Monkeys, my curiosity will always be there. Until the new album releases, here is a song from 1989 that has all the glam factor of the song that put them on the map:

10. Tahiti 80:

French Indie pop Band Tahiti 80 are the posterchildren for creative resilience. Though they formed in the 90s in Rouen (France), their rise to prominence was only in the early 2000s and it accompanied that of fellow Frenchmen Phoenix. The downside of this simultaneous emergence of both these acts is that one played second fiddle to the other while clearly being the better act. The closest parallel we can draw between these two acts is the dynamic between Coldplay and Keane. Just like I risk being called contrarian for stating emphatically that Keane is a far superior band to Coldplay (and I mean no disrespect to these guys – they’ve got some great songs), I might be slapped with a similar label when I say that despite the swagger that pop band Phoenix has, Tahiti 80 has been FAR MORE reliable with their musical output. Songs such as “Big Day”, “1000 times”, “Crush”, and “Coldest Summer” still hold up very well after all these years. As a result, they are always on our radar and fortunately, their desire to dig deeper and deeper into their creative well in a music industry with a perverse incentive system is beyond admirable. In fact, the last song (a song called “Big Party” from their 2022 “Lipstick Stains” EP) of theirs that we featured on high-rotation on our 24/7 global online radio broadcast was a reminder of just how much of a knack these guys have for good pop melodies. Furthermore, it is unclear when these guys ever actually take a break. They seem to alternate between mini-albums (EPs) and traditional full length albums. In the midst of this, lead singer Xavier Boyer has also recently released a solo album called “Soda Coda” (as of January 2024, we’re still featuring its lead single “Oh Liza” on high-rotation on our radio broadcast). Their unwavering tenacity after all these years is beyond commendable and we can barely wait for their new material (featuring Parisian producer Stephane Laporte) to see the light of day. In case you have trouble remembering what these guys are all about, here is a refresher:

11. Bright Light Bright Light:

Welsh DJ and singer Rod Thomas (aka Bright Light Bright Light) got on our radar with his fantastic mid-tempo single “Cry at Films” in the early years of us running Radio Creme Brulee. His songs are constant reminders that there can be sonic beauty in simplicity. His relentless pursuit of creating music in an era in which success has never been more elusive – especially for those for whom artistry takes precedence over celebrity, Bright Light Bright Light perseveres – and that commitment has translated to great songs such as “Symmetry of two hearts” (featuring Elton John), “The One”, and “Arms Of Another”. In April 2023, it became obvious that he wasn’t just a recording studio wizard. He proved his competency as a stellar performer as the opening act for Savage Garden frontman Darren Hayes at Town Hall in New York City. His 5th album “Enjoy Youth” is slated for release on May 17th (2024) and we just know it will be the foundation for some new radio fodder that we can get excited about featuring on our 24/7 global online radio broadcast. Bright Light Bright Light’s debut single “You want my…” has already seen the light of day. I am personally lukewarm on this song but am sure there will be songs on the new album that will be worth sharing and celebrating!

The one act we are still playing the guessing game on is The Cure. At their concerts last year, they have featured six new songs on their setlists. Noteworthy examples include “And Nothing Lasts Forever”, “Endsong”, and “I Can Never Say Goodbye”. Apparently, performing these songs has made The Cure’s frontman Robert Smith want to re-record them. One can only speculate on how long that could take.

Any noteworthy omissions in our list of veteran artists returning with new music in 2024? If so, please feel free to let us know via the comments section below!


Broadcasting Worldwide

In case you did not pick up on this earlier, the blog you are reading is affiliated with Radio Creme Brulee – an online radio station that features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. Alongside newer artists, we also play plenty of newer music by bands that rose to prominence in the 80s,90s, and the 00s. Noteworthy examples include Simply Red, Wet Wet Wet, Coldplay, Kylie Minogue, Dubstar, Kings Of Convenience, Tears For Fears, Go West, Duran Duran, Belinda Carlisle, Camouflage, Spandau Ballet, INXS, Depeche Mode, Suede, The Corrs, Jamiroquai, Keane, Johnny Hates Jazz, Simple Minds, and Culture Club.

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