Brandy Clark

One of the more remarkable features of Bobbie Gentry's recordings is their lavish embroidery of down-home sensibilities.

The last decade of music saw major artists break many of the rules about how to release an album. Beyoncé and Drake popularized the "surprise release" — putting out albums with little to no roll-out at all. So in the era of surprise digital drops, and at the beginning of a new year of music, how do you make predictions about what's coming?