Remember how Coldplay granted the music industry a stay of execution with this summer's blockbuster Viva La Vida? Now, apparently, a cabal of top-flight artists is conspiring to save the industry's yearly bottom line in similar fashion. How else to explain the inordinate number of big-time fourth-quarter releases?
Joining a slate of previously announced albums from Kanye West (808s & Heartbreak, December 16), T.I. (Paper Trail, September 30), Oasis (Dig Out Your Soul, October 7) and Fall Out Boy (Folie a Deux, November 4) — and possible ones from Guns N' Roses and Dr. Dre — are the Killers (Day and Age, November 25), 50 Cent (Before I Self Destruct, December 9), Beyoncé, (untitled, November 18), and Britney Spears (Circus, December 2). We suppose some of these artists might have individual motivations for dropping albums before the end of the year — Brit's handlers, we're sure, are eager to capitalize on her unlikely victory at the VMAs, and T.I. probably wants people to think about him for something other than his license-plate-making skills before he starts his yearlong jail sentence in the fall. But we still smell a conspiracy: The Killers haven't put out an album of new material in two years — why would they bother getting up off their gold-plated chaise longues now? And what about Kanye, who'll surely have to neglect his beloved blog to finish up 808s?
Are artists banding together to save the embattled recording industry? Are they just trying to speed through their contracts so they can sell their next albums In Rainbows style? Or, more likely, are they simply trying to put out one last record before people stop buying them altogether? Will any CDs be released next year? Maybe not!