To open her fifth album, Pink
seals her split from motocross racer Carey Hart with a kiss-off: "I guess I just lost my husband/ I don't know where he went/ So I'm gonna drink my money/ I'm not gonna pay his rent," she sings on the snarling "So What," already a No. 1 hit. She continues to work through her breakup issues on Funhouse
, and it makes for plenty of listening pleasure. But it's not all bitterness and badassness. From the unabashed plea of the deceptively upbeat "Please Don't Leave Me" to the naked emotion of the stripped-down ballad "I Don't Believe You," Pink
displays rich shades of vulnerability. As the party-girl anthem "Bad Influence" demonstrates, though, she's still a rock star with some serious rock moves.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "It's All Your Fault," a long, mood-shifting rocker
This New York scenester brings a downtown party-girl vibe to her fun dance-pop debut. Songs like the decadent "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" and "Just Dance," the electro-infused first single, will bring out your inner club kid.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Paparazzi," a snapshot of stalkerish love
"What good is an ear if a Q-Tip isn't in it?" asks the former chief of A Tribe Called Quest at the start of his first release since 1999. Then he shows us exactly what kind of dope aural stimulation we've been missing. With chilled-out grooves and cool guests like D'Angelo and an Erykah Badu-esque Norah Jones, Q-Tip is, at 38, a rapper reborn.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "ManWomanBoogie," a funky live-bass getdown
Ryan Adams' fourth album with the Cardinals—but only the third to officially bill the band—glides by smoothly, even if it fails to truly soar. Cardinology has a stronger first half than second, and could have used some more variation from the leisurely midtempo groove, only really shaken up by the garage rocker "Magick" and the closing ballad, "Stop." Still, as tipped by the titles "Go Easy" and "Let Us Down Easy," there's a nice ease to it all that's downright comforting.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Fix It," the soul-soothing first single
Underneath all the makeup and goth trappings, Robert Smith is one of rock's most hopeless romantics. On 4:13 Dream
, a damn-near-classic Cure album, he continues to explore his almost otherworldly visions of love. "The two of us is all there is/ The rest is just a dream," Smith sings on this disc's heart-on-black-sleeve highlight, "The Perfect Boy." On another standout, he moons about "This. Here and Now. With You." But on the fierce band jam "Switch," Smith spits, "I'm sick of being alone with myself/ And I'm sick of being with anyone else." His misery still makes good company.
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• Fifteen years after first releasing the dance-craze song, which went on to hit No. 1 in '96, Los Del Rio is back with a new version of the tune, with Spanish lyrics by Jon Secada (right).
HINDER Take It to the Limit
These hard rockers pounded their way to triple-platinum sales of Extreme Behavior, their 2005 debut. While hardly testing the limits of the genre, they excel when cranking it to the max on cuts like the title track.
KAISER CHIEFS Off with Their Heads
For their third album, these Brits hook up with Grammy-winning producer Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse
) and Lily Allen (on backup vocals). But the Chiefs' brand of punchy post-punk still dominates.
NIKKA COSTA Pebble to a Pearl
Costa's new CD is her first with Stax Records, the classic R&B label that gave us Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes. And with some key players along, she brings plenty of old-school soul and funk to the affair.
BRETT DENNEN Hope for the Hopeless
This singer-songwriter got the Grey's Anatomy
seal of approval when his ballad "Ain't Gonna Lose You" was featured on the show this fall. He keeps things strumming along nicely on this folk-pop disc.
The 42nd Country Music Association Awards will air live from Nashville Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Here, our inside take on the top categories.
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
* Kenny Chesney Brad Paisley
Sugarland Keith Urban
Bet on Chesney to lasso his third in a row (and fourth overall) in this category.
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Martina McBride Taylor Swift
The American Idol
has more chops than Swift and more clout than Lambert.
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
* Brad Paisley
George Strait Keith Urban
It's a toss-up with Jackson and Urban, but smells like Paisley, last year's winner, will repeat.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
, Carnival Ride
Brooks & Dunn, Cowboy Town
* Alan Jackson, Good TimeKenny Chesney
, Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates
George Strait, Troubadour
In a battle of vets, Jackson edges Strait.