I Look to You |
"I want you to love me/ Like I never left," implores Whitney Houston on her long-awaited comeback album. While I Look to You—her first studio offering since 2002—may not restore the diva to her "I Will Always Love You" glory, it goes a long way toward erasing the memory of Being Bobby Brown. Houston addresses her well-publicized struggles on two inspirational ballads: the R. Kelly title tune and "I Didn't Know My Own Strength," on which she sings, "I crashed down and I tumbled/ But I did not crumble." She's best, though, when giving good love on the midtempo "Call You Tonight" and the money track, "Million Dollar Bill," a soul-disco collaboration with Alicia Keys. Although her pipes aren't quite what they once were—she doesn't push her upper register much—it's sure great to hear that voice again.
One Love |
Having coproduced the Black Eyed Peas' No. 1 smash "I Gotta Feeling" and scored a No. 1 dance single with "When Love Takes Over," French deejay David Guetta has been on a hot streak this summer. That continues with this party-rocking album, on which Guetta plays host to such guests as will.i.am, Akon and Estelle. Kelly Rowland appears on three cuts, including "Choose" (also featuring Ne-Yo) and "When Love Takes Over," easily the best thing she's done not involving Beyoncé.
After their brilliant debut, 2006's Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, Arctic Monkeys gave the people more of the same—in every way you wanted—on 2007's Favourite Worst Nightmare. But on their moody third album—a grower rather than a grabber—the Monkeys venture into the dark unknown. Working for the first time with Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme as producer, these Brits go to gloomier places than they've ever been on tracks like the spooky single "Crying Lightning." They also bring a heavier sexuality to cuts like the rumbling "My Propeller" and the punk-spiked "Potion Approaching," where leader Alex Turner snarls, "If I could be someone else for a week/ I'd spend it chasing after you." Consider the Monkeys still worthy of hot pursuit.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Cornerstone," a melancholy, Morrissey-like ballad
On her new album, Ingrid Michaelson builds upon her strummy breakthrough hit, 2007's "The Way I Am," with more fetching folk-pop. Take the ridiculously upbeat title tune, on which she comes off like the distaff answer to Jack Johnson. On other tracks, such as the lilting, waltz-like "The Chain," Michaelson shows that she owes a big debt to that mother of all female singer-songwriters, Joni Mitchell.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Maybe," an unusually breezy breakup song
Shaka Rock |
You can always count on Jet for a mean bass line. After all, that's exactly what catapulted the hard-rocking Aussies into stardom with their 2003 debut single, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." Mark Wilson's bass is the first thing you hear on Jet's potent third album, launching the heavy attack of "K.I.A. (Killed in Action)." A bass groove also propels the second track, the funky "Beat on Repeat." But it's the third song, the Stones-esque first single "She's a Genius," that comes closest to matching the bass-driven badassness of "Are You Gonna Be My Girl."
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>• Eclectic and eccentric, the sound track to Quentin Tarantino's WWII film features mood-setting instrumentals, Nazi-era German songs and tunes by Billy Preston and David Bowie.
>SEAN PAUL Imperial Blaze
Paul's latest has its share of hot dance-hall grooves like "Birthday Suit," but many of the tracks feel like they remind you of a better earlier one from the Jamaican star.
LOVE AND THEFT World Wide Open
Sure, this new male country-pop trio steals from Rascal Flatts. But with their harmonies and songs like "You to Miss," you may not care.
DOLORES O'RIORDAN No Baggage
On her second solo album, the Cranberries singer turns her ethereal voice to some atmospheric alt-rock, such as the first single, "The Journey."
GEORGE BENSON Songs and Stories
The jazz guitarist and singer fluidly moves between originals (one by Bill Withers!) and covers (Donny Hathaway to Christopher Cross).
>MARY J. BLIGE delivers the stirring "Stronger," cowritten by Chris Brown. It's from the soundtrack to the fall's LeBron James documentary More Than a Game. $0.99 at iTunes.com.
JOSH TURNER will have you kicking up your heels with "Why Don't We Just Dance," an upbeat preview of the country singer's next album, Haywire. $1.29 at amazon.com.
LIVVI FRANC turns out the fierce club banger "Now I'm That Bitch," from the Bajan singer's upcoming debut disc. $0.99 at rhapsody.com.
>• The Cuban-American rapper, 28, follows up "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)" with another Top 10 hit, "Hotel Room Service," from Rebelution.
ON HOW HE GOT HIS NAME I used to battle [other rappers] in high school, and it would be like four against me. Pit bulls bite and don't let go until business has been taken care of. And they're illegal in Miami, so I'm the only Pitbull there that's got papers!
ON RAPPING IN ENGLISH VERSUS SPANISH Spanish is my first language, but I like English the most because you can really play with punch lines and double meanings.
ON HIS CRAZIEST FAN ENCOUNTER I was on a plane and the stewardess asked me, "Who's the artist you're traveling with?" I said, "Some guy named Pitbull. The record he's got out now is 'I Know You Want Me.'" She said, "That's my ring tone! I'd love to meet him." I said, "You're speaking to him!"
ON BEING A RAP-STAR DAD I have one daughter and three boys. I trained them: "I'm Pitbull to [my fans], but I'm Papi to you. They love Pitbull. You love me."