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No writers were harmed in the making of this list, but it’s worth mentioning that I nearly “put them paws” on an esteemed colleague who argued that Beyoncé belonged on his Most Anticipated Pop Albums — in the pleasant company of Selena Gomez and the JoBros — and not here alongside the architect of her megahit “Single Ladies” or, say, the opening act she hand-picked for her Revel run.

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Yes, Queen Bey’s rule spans the globe, but she’s an R&B singer from her head to her Louboutins. That was never more clear than on her critically acclaimed last album, 4, which found Ms. Knowles bravely doing an about-face from the radio-ready formula of Sasha Fierce in favor of low-simmering heat like “1+1” and the Grammy-nominated “Love on Top.” Bey may not have burned up the charts but she helped renew our faith in soul music.

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And it wasn’t just Beyoncé who went to bat for rhythm and blues. 2012 saw the genre waging a comeback with assists from acts like Frank Ocean and the Weeknd. We’re just as hopeful for the crop of discs scheduled to drop this calendar year, our Most Anticipated R&B Albums of 2013.


Daughter Blue Ivy turns 1 today (January 7), but we have a feeling the multitasking mommy will be cutting records and cake. Whether those records feature cameos from Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga or husband Jay-Z is still unknown but we do know super-producer The-Dream, newbie Miguel and “Irreplaceable” writer Ne-Yo are all onboard for her upcoming release.

Bridget Kelly

We couldn’t click though a blog last year without stumbling on U.K. import Rita Ora, but BK may be Roc Nation boss Jay’s best-kept secret. The 26-year-old’s Gotham growl reminds us of early Alicia Keys. And while her “Special Delivery” got here right on time, that album is long overdue.

Chris Brown

A few days after the release of his last LP, Fortune, Breezy explained his approach on the follow-up to his dance-dabbling F.A.M.E.: “It was important for me to go back to the basis of what people love me for, and that was my R&B.” In November, he shared via Instagram that a new album was “coming soon!” Now after a year dominated by bottles, beef and broads, we just need him to hit the re-set button.


Recruiting Rodney Jerkins for your second single and Joseph Kahn for the video was a quick way to the top of the Billboard pile in the early aughts, but CiCi’s jumbled “Got Me Good” got no chart love when it dropped last fall. Still, a third single may be the charm for One Woman Army.


We don’t need abs — we just want an album from D’Angelo! The reclusive singer seemed to wade into the comeback waters last year with a string of shows but his long-anticipated James River still has no release date. How Does It Feel? No good.


Want proof that “record company people are shady”? JoJo’s third album, once titled Jumping Trains, gestated for five years before label woes relegated it to a dusty shelf. A mixtape, Agape, landed softly on the Net last month, timed to her 22nd birthday. The so-soulful songbird is tenacious, though, and the sultry “Demonstrate,” with production from Drake collaborator Noah “40” Shebib, likely won’t be the last we hear from her.

Leah LaBelle

Co-written with producer Pharrell, “Sexify” had all the makings of a summer smash but the Bulgarian beauty couldn’t quite connect. It’s back to the boards now. When MTV News caught up with her last year, she told us Jermaine Dupri and Skateboard P were on track to helm her debut.

Luke James

This NOLA native had grown women squealing and stomping to his “I Want You” when he opened for Beyoncé in Atlantic City. The scorching track went on to score a Grammy nom in December, the same month James dropped his Whispers in the Dark tape. If you still don’t know this singer/songwriter’s name that should all change in 2013.


Sure, her Dev Hynes-assisted EP, True, only came out in November (we’re still weeping over “Lovers in the Parking Lot”), but are we crazy to cross our fingers for a full-length this year that’s as well-crafted as this eclectic seven-track disc?

Tamar Braxton

It’s not easy to play baby sister to an R&B diva (ask Solange), but the brash reality TV star has serious pipes and she’s ready for her solo shot after years of doo-wopping for Toni. Her sweeping lead single, “Love and War,” rocketed to the top of iTunes after a gushing tweet from Lady Gaga (Tamar’s hubby is Mother Monster’s manager) but the notoriously judgy blogs lit up with praise for that voice not the co-sign.


Everything Terius touches turns to platinum. At least it seems that way to us. The Love IV is due this spring.

The Weeknd

Ever enigmatic, our first hint that an LP was on its way from the Weeknd came in the form of a twitpic of his computer screen. On it, two folders: one labeled “2013 art work,” the other “2013 untitled album.” The much-anticipated LP would follow the Toronto singer’s repackaged Trilogy, and yep, we want Drake features. READ MORE

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