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The Year in Music 2016 -- Welcome Back!

ABC/Fred Lee2016 was the year we finally got long-awaited albums and/or singles from some of the world's biggest artists.  Here's a rundown:

-- Ever since Lady Gaga's 2013 album ARTPOP "under-performed," as the industry likes to put it, fans had been waiting for the star to return to form.  She spent the first part of 2016 winning a Golden Globe for American Horror Story, paying tribute to David Bowie at the Grammys, and singing "Til It Happens to You," a powerful meditation about sexual assault, at the Oscars. Finally, in October, she delivered her new album, Joanne

The album was inspired by her late aunt Joanne, who died before Gaga was even born, and a few of the songs seemed to address Gaga's breakup with her fiance, Taylor Kinney.  The album was much more stripped-down than her previous work, and even showed off the singer's country influences.  Her look had changed too: she sported a broad-brimmed pink hat, long blonde hair and minimal makeup for many of her appearances.

Gaga supported the album with her so-called Dive Bar tour, where she played at tiny clubs in select cities.  She also performed on Saturday Night Live, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, the American Music Awards, James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke" and more. While it has yet to produce any monster hit singles,  Joanne debuted at #1 on the chart, making Gaga the first woman ever to score four #1 albums in the 2010s.  She'll perform at the Super Bowl in February.

-- Bruno Mars returned in 2016 with his first album in four years, 24K Magic, though it seemed as though he'd never left.  After all, during that time, he'd been touring, performed at the Super Bowl twice and topped charts worldwide with "Uptown Funk," his collaboration with Mark Ronson, which won him two Grammys at the start of 2016. 

After much speculation as to when his next disc would arrive, Bruno announced on a Monday in early October that a new single, "24K Magic," would be released that Friday.  He dropped the single and video on schedule, and announced that his new album, also called 24K Magic, would be coming November 18.

"24K Magic," a funky tune with '70s and '80s influences, debuted at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Bruno appeared seemingly everywhere to promote it, from The Voice, to the American Music Awards, to The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, to "Carpool Karaoke."  The album debuted at #2, behind the first Metallica album in eight years.  Bruno will kick off a world tour in March; U.S. dates start in July.

-- Justin Timberlake hadn't released any new solo music since his 2013 album The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2.  That changed in 2016 when he surprised fans in May with a new single, called "Can't Stop the Feeling!"  It was from the soundtrack of the animated movie Trolls, for which Justin also executive-produced the music and provided the lead voice, but which didn't come out until November.  The song debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has since gone on to score Grammy and Golden Globe nods.  As for a new solo album, we still don't know when that's coming.

-- Since her smash 2013 album The Truth About Love, Pink hadn't released any new music under her own name; a 2014 album she made with songwriter Dallas Green was released under the band name You + Me.  In 2016, Pink returned with "Just Like Fire," from the soundtrack of the movie Alice Through the Looking Glass. While the movie itself wasn't a hit, the song was, reaching #1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart.  At the same time, a duet she recorded with country superstar Kenny Chesney, "Setting the World on Fire," was #1 on Bilboard's Hot Country Songs chart.  On Monday, December 26, Pink and husband Carey Hart welcomed their second child, son Jameson Moon.

-- How long ago did John Mayer's last album, Paradise Valley, come out?  It features a lovey-dovey duet with Katy Perry, that's how long ago it was.  Since then, he'd released only one single under his own name, a cover of Beyonce's "XO."  He also spent time touring with Dead & Co., a Grateful Dead spinoff group, dodged tabloid rumors about his love life, and mentored Shawn Mendes.  But in November of 2016, he announced new music: a romantic, mellow single called "Love on the Weekend.  It's the first single from his long-awaited new album, The Search for Everything.

And there's apparently a lot more in store from John Mayer. During a Facebook Live session, he said that in 2017, he'll have "more music coming than I've ever put out in any one year."

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