Like U2, like Coldplay, Green Day is now in the business of making Event Records. After reaching career heights with 2004's punk-rock opera American Idiot, their ambitions are, if anything, even loftier on another concept album. With its social commentary and recurring characters and musical themes, the new disc feels like American Idiot 2.0. Multi-part songs like the anthemic title track—on which frontman Billie Joe Armstrong sings, "I think I'm losing what's left of my mind/ To the 20th century deadline"—are epic in and of themselves. Looking to the classics—from the Beatles and the Beach Boys to The Who and Elton John—the trio set out to make an album that will still be played in the 22nd century. They just may have succeeded.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "21 Guns," a Beatles-on-steroids ballad
Abnormally Attracted to Sin |
On her last studio album, 2007's American Doll Posse, Tori Amos morphed into five different female characters. Her new CD, which takes its title from a line in Guys and Dolls, finds the singer-pianist continuing to display a fetish for role play. Whether a torchy temptress, an ethereal enchantress or a spooky seductress, she's an alluring presence inhabiting this mood piece that explores her definition of sin.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Welcome to England," the fairy-dusted first single Catching up with ...
A Fine Mess |
The competition is so fierce among female singer-songwriters right now that even in the Kate division, Voegele finishes behind Katy Perry, KT Tunstall, Kate Nash and Kate Walsh
. While there's little to distinguish her brand of chick pop, the One Tree Hill actress at least plays well to the CW crowd.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Manhattan from the Sky," Vanessa Carltonesque piano pop
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>• Eight years after his last album, the neo-soul star returns with "Pretty Wings," a lovely ballad that showcases his fluttery falsetto. It's the first single from BLACKsummers'night, out July 7. Hopefully this will light a fire under D'Angelo.
>RUBEN STUDDARD Love Is The 2003 American Idol forgoes trying to keep up with R&B's trendy set on his fourth album. Instead, he delivers Luther-lite soul on these originals and covers (best is a tender version of Extreme's "More Than Words").
LAKISHA JONES So Glad I'm Me It's never a good idea to do Whitney Houston songs on American Idol, but Jones, fourth in Season 6, takes on "You Give Good Love." It invites comparisons her R&B debut can't live up to. Still, it's solid stuff.
ALECIA NUGENT Hillbilly Goddess On the bluegrassy title tune, Nugent celebrates the redneck woman: "Instead of Dolce & Gabbana, Smith & Wesson's in her purse." The singer proudly lets her roots show on this down-home disc.
PAUL POTTS Passione Before Susan Boyle, there was Potts, the not-so-telegenic cell-phone salesman who won Britain's Got Talent in 2007. The tenor brings plenty of Passione to his second pop-classical album but sometimes succumbs to bombast.
>• The '70s star once known as Cat Stevens, 60, quit music after converting to Islam in '77. He's back with Roadsinger.
ON LEAVING SHOWBIZ I wanted a break. I acted against the advice of the first imam I met, who said keep making records. But I got worried about doing something wrong [with Islam]. After a while I realized Islam and music have an amazing connection.
ON REDISCOVERING GUITAR In 2004 my son [Muhammed] had one with him on holiday in Dubai. It was dawn, everyone was asleep, and after like 28 years, I wanted to see if my fingers still knew what to do—and they did.
ON RETURNING TO POP MUSIC IN 2006 They say there are only two stories in life: leaving home and coming back. Being able to sing is a gift, so I better use it!