Mariah Carey

E=MC 2 |

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R&B-POP

Pop goddess Mariah Carey scaled Olympian heights with her last album, 2005's Grammy-winning, 6-million-selling The Emancipation of Mimi. Certainly, E=MC2 doesn't equal its predecessor. Still, this is a satisfying follow-up, heavy on hip-hop-flavored midtempo jams (like the irresistible No. 1 hit "Touch My Body") and beat-driven ballads (best is the pretty, piano-laced "I Stay in Love"). The disc occasionally strays from that formula on cuts like the churchy closer "I Wish You Well." But the highlight is "Side Effects," the CD's darkest and most personal track, which seems to allude to Carey's failed marriage to music exec Tommy Mottola: "Sleeping with the enemy/ Aware that he was smothering every last part of me." Vaguely menacing, it shows that even pop goddesses have their demons.

Consolers of the Lonely |

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

ALT-ROCK

That Jack White sure does like to keep busy. Less than a year after releasing Icky Thump with the White Stripes, he's back with the second album from his other band, the Raconteurs. After 2006's potent Broken Boy Soldiers, it's pretty clear that this is no halfhearted side project for White. Consolers is another strong effort, with White sharing lead vocals and songwriting with Brendan Benson. The group continues to revive classic rock, displaying a Zeppelin-esque blues streak on stompers like the title track, while also showing flashes of Beatles melodicism.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "You Don't Understand Me," an epic ballad that evokes the Fab Four after a night out at the juke joint

Leona Lewis

Spirit |

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POP

It's pretty telling that a remake is the best song on Spirit, the debut by British sensation Leona Lewis, which arrives in the U.S. five months after its record-breaking U.K. release. Her version of the Roberta Flack classic "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" shows just what this winner of Britain's The X Factor is capable of with great material. While the rest of Spirit, including the No. 1 hit "Bleeding Love," is solid, it's never quite smashing. And though Lewis has the vocal chops to draw comparisons to Whitney and Mariah, she lacks a killer original like "You Give Good Love" or "Vision of Love" to really announce a new diva's arrival.

For more information on where to find our Download This picks, go to PEOPLE.COM/DOWNLOADTHIS

MARIAH CAREY (1990) The album that introduced That Voice to the world.

DAYDREAM (1995) From "One Sweet Day" to "Always Be My Baby," her best CD.

THE EMANCIPATION OF MIMI (2005) The "We Belong Together" comeback disc.

R.E.M. Accelerate
R.E.M. comes rocking back to life on their best disc since 1992's Automatic for the People. The chugging, instantly catchy "Supernatural Superserious" and the soul-deep "Hollow Man" stand up to just about anything they've ever done.

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ERYKAH BADU New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)
The neo-soul siren continues to play by her own freaky, formula-busting rules on her first full-fledged album since 2000, mixing seductive grooves and sociopolitical lyrics.

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PANIC AT THE DISCO Pretty. Odd.
Beatles-esque pop? Check. Beach Boys sunniness? Check. Smiths-style melancholy? Check. These dudes display all this and more on their whimsical second disc, proving that they have grown well beyond emo.

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JANET JACKSON Discipline
While still letting Janet be Janet, Discipline puts a spanking new sheen on her mix of clubby dance tracks, candy-coated midtempo confections and sweet and sexy slow jams. Her best since 2001's All for You.

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He's played himself on ABC's Eli Stone this year. And he's gearing up for his first North American tour in 17 years this summer. Now this new two-CD retrospective, marking his 25th anniversary in the music biz, shows just how major a pop icon Michael has been—shades, stubble and all. Disc 1 is "For Living," featuring uptempo songs like "Faith," while Disc 2 is "For Loving," with ballads like "Father Figure." The set has most of the hits (including Wham! faves such as "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"), but it also has several new tracks and the rare gem "As," his Stevie Wonder cover with Mary J. Blige. And it will give you a chance to catch up on some of the sorely overlooked work from Michael's past three albums.

MAROON 5 sharpen their rock edge on Live from Soho , a digital-only EP of the band's performance at a Manhattan Apple Store this year. At iTunes.com.

NELLY turns up the heat on the dance floor again with the Fergie-assisted "Party People," from the rapper's Brass Knuckles, due June 24. At napster.com.

JESSE McCARTNEY works all his heartthrob-ness on the hip-pop charmer "Leavin'" from the singer's third album, Departure, due May 20. At music.aol.com.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE gets in college-radio gear on the trippy "I Will Possess Your Heart," from their May 13 release, Narrow Stairs. At amazon.com.

Cyrus, 46, and daughter Miley, 15, co-host the CMT Music Awards in Nashville on April 14 (airing at 8 p.m. ET).

ON COHOSTING WITH MILEY She and I both play everything by ear, and I've got a feeling we're just going to wing it. We're just looking for a good time.

ON BEING A PROTECTIVE POP There was one time it got really crazy with Miley [and the paparazzi], and I wasn't there. That next day I found every one of those guys and I said, "Guys, this is man-to-man, put your cameras down and let me talk to you." And we sat underneath a shade tree, and I said, "My little girl is 15, and you guys scared her to death. Get yourselves together!" They apologized, and it's been different ever since.

ON MILEY'S NAME CHANGE She was [born] Destiny Hope, but had always just gone by Miley. When she said she wanted to change her official name to Miley Ray, I tried to stop her, but she had her heart set on it. My name is Billy Ray and my dad was Ronald Ray, so I think she just wanted to carry on the Ray tradition. So now I'm changing my name—I'm going with Billy Hope!