The biggest rock band of 2013? That would be Imagine Dragons ... and that tells you all you need to know about the year that was.
That's not to slight the Dragons, who hustled their way into the the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and nabbed a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year. Instead, it's meant to point out how down of a year it was for so-called established rock acts: Sure, Paramore, Kings of Leon and Pearl Jam all released records, but none of them had the impact of Night Visions. Instead, it was the newcomers — and massive (yet minor) bands like Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire — who carried the mantle in 2013.
Though we suspect this year might be different. Could 2014 be the year the big bands strike back? Looking at the calendar, that seems to be the case. Triumphant returns, high-stakes follow-ups and much-discussed mystery projects, they're all on tap this year ... and they all made our list of the Most Anticipated Rock Albums of 2014.
Beck: It's been a while — almost six years — since Beck's last studio album (no, we're not counting that sheet music thing,) but he'll return in February with Morning Phase, an effort that's already being billed asthe spiritual sequel to his morose 2002 masterwork, Sea Change. Hey, even if he's bumming us out, it's great to finally have Beck back in our lives.
Black Keys: Word is, the Keys are currently putting the finishing touches on their follow-up to El Camino down in Nashville. And while little is known about the project, the band told MTV News that frequent collaborator Danger Mouse will once again be involved ... and while there's been no mention of "Lonely Boy" dancing machine Derrick T. Tuggle, they may have John Stamos on drums.
Coldplay: Is there a new Coldplay album coming in 2014? That's the rumor currently making the rounds, based on a French Canadian report that says the record is due in "May or June," and sounds similar to their massive 2002 effort A Rush of Blood to the Head. That would be good news for fans who weren't feeling the electronic leanings (or Rihanna cameos) of Mylo Xyloto ... though there's yet to be any kind of official confirmation about any of this.
Foo Fighters: After taking a break (but not breaking up,) the Foo Fighters will roar back in 2014 with a brand-new — and quite bloody — album. There's still no word when we'll get to hear it — like Dave Grohl told MTV News earlier this year, "If I give you a release date, I'll actually have to make that deadline" — but, from the sound of things, it might just one-up the made-in-the-garage Wasting Light: Grohl previously joked that it'll be recorded "in outer space."
Foster the People: The "Pumped Up Kicks" hitmakers return from a self-imposed studio exile with a new album in 2014. According to frontman Mark Foster, the still-untitled record will be released at the "beginning of next year," with a single set to hit radio in January. But don't expect a sequel to "Kicks;" Foster calls the album "polarizing," and singled out new songs like "Beginners Guide to Destroying the Moon" and "Are You What You Wanna Be" — which features a "6/8 African shuffle rhythm" — as favorites.
Fun.: Fun.'s Some Nights was one of 2012's biggest breakthroughs, spawning three hit singles and winning the group two Grammys, for Song of the Year and Best New Artist. How do they follow that? Good question. We know frontman Nate Ruess is writing in Los Angeles, and while there's nothing on the calendar just yet, it's not out of the realm of possibility to expect a new album in 2014.
Gerard Way: My Chemical Romance may have called it quits in 2013, but that doesn't mean the music will stop. Their former frontman has spent most of the year working on a myriad of projects, one of which appears to be a new album. He revealed lyrics to a new song called "Millions" over the summer, and has been posting a series of photos that show him recording something. Will he be going solo? We'll just have to wait to find out.
Imagine Dragons: The runaway rock act of 2013 have scheduled one last string of North American shows in 2014, then they'll get to work on the follow-up to Night Visions. But does that mean they'll finish in time to release it next year? That all depends on several things, including the Dragons staying alive. As frontman Dan Reynolds joked to MTV News: "that second album will come, unless we die at the age of 27." Jeez, let's hope they make it.
Metallica: There are whispers that the mighty Metallica may awaken from their slumber with a new album in 2014 ... of course, given that guitarist Kirk Hammett told MTV News it would take "an amazing stroke of luck" to get the record in stores this year, we're not willing to put much weight in whispers. It's more likely that we'll have to wait until 2015 for the proper follow-up to 2008's Death Magnetic.
Tool: It's been eight years since the prophetically titled 10,000 Days was released, but at long last, it appears the Great Tool Drought will finally in 2014. Drummer Danny Carey revealed that the band were planning to finish up the slowly-gestating new album by the end of 2013, with a goal of releasing it in "early 2014." And how will it sound? Well, like a Tool album: "Stylistically, we're trying to push things in different ways," Carey said, "but it always comes out sounding like Tool no matter what we're trying to do."
U2: Supposedly, the legendary Irish rockers will announce their return with a big-budget Super Bowl spot (of course), and then drop a new album in April. That'll be almost five years to the date since their last effort, No Line on the Horizon, and they've tasked producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse to help polish the thing up. They've just given us a tentative taste of what we can expect in the form of "Ordinary Love," their chiming contribution to the "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom," though they're quick to point out this version was masterminded by Adele producer Paul Epworth.