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The fall season is upon us, and with it an onslaught of splashy new releases from marquee artists and labels clamoring for our attention.

I Shall Be Released: New Albums and Tours from Ariana Grande, One Direction, Mary J. Blige, U2, Seth MacFarlane and More

ariana grandeThe fall season is upon us, and with it a plethora of new releases from big stars of yesterday and today. Here are some of the announcements that caught our eye in the past week.

Billboard “it girl” ARIANA GRANDE starts an arena tour February 25, 2015 with dates in 25 U.S. and Canadian cities. Much sooner than that – September 27, 2014 – she makes her Saturday Night Live musical guest debut. For tour dates visit Live Nation.

On MARY J. BLIGE‘s The London Sessions, out December 2 on Capitol Records, the nine-time Grammy winner collaborates with a variety of UK artists including Disclosure, Emile Sandé, Naughty Boy, and Sam Smith. “This is a beautiful change for me and I’m proud of what we have done here,” Blige says.

ONE DIRECTION‘s new album comes out Nov. 17. Pre-order the hit-making boy band’s fourth album Four here. (Speaking of album titles, is there a trend here, with Maroon 5‘s fifth disc called V? We guess such a fantastically original new idea just can’t be suppressed.)

seth macfarlane christmas albumFans of SETH MACFARLANE‘s Family Guy have long known how much MacFarlane loves music of past golden eras. Republic Records will release his new album Holiday for Swing September 30. Recorded with composer, arranger, and producer Joel McNeely and a 52-piece orchestra, it includes “timeless holiday songs and lesser-known gems” such as “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” “Moonlight In Vermont,” “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?,” “Mele Kalikimaka,” and duets with Norah Jones on “Little Jack Frost Get Lost” and Sara Bareilles on “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Pre-order here.

JENNIFER HUDSON’S new dance-heavy album JHUD (note the title – how much does she want to match the pop success of the vastly less musically talented Jennifer Lopez?) is out September 23 and available for pre-order now. The single “It’s Your World” features fellow Chicago native R. Kelly, “Walk It Out” features and is produced by Timbaland, and “I Can’t Describe (The Way I Feel)” produced by Pharrell features T.I.

JOHNNY MATHIS released 10 Global/Mercury albums between 1963 and 1967. These mostly out-of-print records are being brought back, digitally remastered, in The Complete Global Albums Collection through Sony Music’s Columbia/Legacy label on November 17. The set also includes a “lost” album of Broadway show tunes, two CDs of non-album singles and unreleased songs, and all 10 Global/Mercury albums. The 13-CD clamshell-design package also has Mathis’s own “personal album-by-album annotations.” Pre-order here.

U2 gave away their new album Songs Of Innocence to millions of iTunes Music Store customers last week – eliciting at least as much whining as gratitude – but for those who actually want the long-running band’s new disc, it’ll be released October 14. A deluxe version will include an acoustic session and four additional tracks.

NEIL DIAMOND‘s new studio album Melody Road, co-produced by Don Was, comes out Oct. 21 on Blue Note Records. Pre-order here.

Finally, LEIF OVE ANDSNES‘s name may be hard to pronounce, but all you really have to know for this is how to say “Beethoven.” The Norwegian pianist and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra have completed their recording of all five of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerti and his Choral Fantasy. The third and final volume comes out September 16. Available at iTunes.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is a Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he visits every park in New York City. And by night he's a part-time working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.

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