John Mayer

Battle Studies |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



POP

It's hard not to think of John Mayer's well-publicized love life when you listen to this follow-up to 2006's Grammy-winning Continuum. In particular, his on-again, off-again relationship with Jennifer Aniston, which ended last March, hangs over more than a few battle-scarred songs—from "Heartbreak Warfare," the deceptively tranquil opener, to "Friends, Lovers or Nothing," the blues-tinged closer. Elsewhere, "Assassin," with its soulful shades of '70s Hall & Oates, seems to play on Mayer's image as a lady killer: "You get in, you get done and then you get gone," he sings with understated cool. But he saves his smoothest moves for "Perfectly Lonely," on which Mayer happily embraces the single life, calling it "a simple little kind of free."

50 Cent

Before I Self Destruct |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



RAP

"I'm supposed to hold a gun, not be stuck in the office," spits 50 Cent, who's gone from a gangsta rapper famous for getting shot nine times to a hip-hop mogul with a record label, a clothing line and a stake in Vitamin Water. But on his fourth solo album, Fiddy seems determined to prove he's still hardcore on street bangers like "Death to My Enemies," one of three tracks reteaming him with producer Dr. Dre, and "Gangsta's Delight," which riffs on the '79 classic "Rapper's Delight." Even in the corner office, there still lurks the corner hustler.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "Get It Hot," a club scorcher

Jay Sean

All or Nothing |

bgwhite bgwhite   



R&B-POP

Riding the wave of his recent No. 1 single "Down"—a pulsating dance groove featuring Lil Wayne—London's Jay Sean hits Stateside shores with his U.S. debut album. And while there's nothing else here as irresistible as "Down," there are other R&B-pop charmers showcasing Sean's silky, Ne-Yo-esque vocals. Too bad he gets dragged down by all the slow stuff, though.

Shakira

She Wolf |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



DANCE-POP

Apparently the she-wolf in Shakira's closet wants to be Madonna. On her latest English disc, the Colombian pop star unleashes her inner dance diva, giving herself—and fans—plenty to keep the hips gyrating. Helping Shakira shake things up are the Neptunes (who produced six tracks, including the percolating, Middle Eastern-flavored "Why Wait"), Timbaland and Wyclef Jean. But some of the electronic vocal manipulation feels worthier of Britney Spears, while the hip-hop posturing can be wack. She ditches all that, though, for the folky highlight "Gypsy."

Dashboard Confessional

Alter the Ending |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



ALT-ROCK

Chris Carrabba's emo outfit gets a punchy revamp with new producer Butch Walker (Pink, Katy Perry) and Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger serving as coproducer. Kicking up the guitar crunch and the drum thump adds more muscle to all the melancholy.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "Blame It on the Changes," an atmospheric ballad

FOR DOWNLOAD PICKS INFO, GO TO PEOPLE.COM/DOWNLOADTHIS

>• Number Ones, a two-disc hits collection, reminds us of when Miss Jackson was in control of the charts. New jam "Make Me" nods to her late brother's No. 1 "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."

>BIG KENNY

The Quiet Times of a Rock and Roll Farm Boy

After his Big & Rich cohort John Rich failed to impress on Son of a Preacher Man earlier this year, Big Kenny, on his second solo album, comes up short too.

bgwhite    



WEEZER

Raditude

Weezy meets Weezer when Lil Wayne joins Rivers Cuomo's crew on "Can't Stop Partying." Like much of this CD, the song is power-pop fun but wouldn't qualify as rad.

bgwhite bgwhite   



WALE

Attention Deficit

With help from Lady Gaga, Pharrell and Jazmine Sullivan, this D.C. emcee demands your attention on 2009's second-best hip-hop debut (after Kid Cudi).

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



ALEJANDRO SANZ

Paraíso Express

On the highlight of his latest, the bilingual hit "Looking for Paradise," Spain's 14-time Latin Grammy winner finds pop bliss with Alicia Keys.

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



>• On The Fall the singer, 30, picks up the guitar and moves on from a breakup with her bassist.

ON GUITAR VS. PIANO

I wanted a grittier texture. And it's fun to stand up and face the audience onstage. It's more freeing. But I'm not throwing away the piano.

ON HER SPLIT—PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY—WITH BASSIST LEE ALEXANDER

Nobody hates each other. I have a deep respect for him. We had a great working relationship. Musically, we were so connected. I'm not closing any doors. I hope that we work together again.

ON TURNING 30

I had a bowling party, which took the seriousness out of it. I hadn't bowled in 15 years! Over the last 10 years, I've definitely mellowed out a lot, which sounds funny 'cause I play very mellow music. But I'm not necessarily that mellow of a person.

ON HER IPHONE ADDICTION

I downloaded a bunch of games. I love games where you jump on monsters and save a princess. But I can't play around my mom!

>• Number Ones, a two-disc hits collection, reminds us of when Miss Jackson was in control of the charts. New jam "Make Me" nods to her late brother's No. 1 "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."

>BIG KENNY

The Quiet Times of a Rock and Roll Farm Boy

After his Big & Rich cohort John Rich failed to impress on Son of a Preacher Man earlier this year, Big Kenny, on his second solo album, comes up short too. [

bgwhite    

]

WEEZER

Raditude

Weezy meets Weezer when Lil Wayne joins Rivers Cuomo's crew on "Can't Stop Partying." Like much of this CD, the song is power-pop fun but wouldn't qualify as rad. [

bgwhite bgwhite   

]

WALE

Attention Deficit

With help from Lady Gaga, Pharrell and Jazmine Sullivan, this D.C. emcee demands your attention on 2009's second-best hip-hop debut (after Kid Cudi). [

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  

]

ALEJANDRO SANZ

Paraíso Express

On the highlight of his latest, the bilingual hit "Looking for Paradise," Spain's 14-time Latin Grammy winner finds pop bliss with Alicia Keys. [

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  

]

>• On The Fall the singer, 30, picks up the guitar and moves on from a breakup with her bassist.

ON GUITAR VS. PIANO

I wanted a grittier texture. And it's fun to stand up and face the audience onstage. It's more freeing. But I'm not throwing away the piano.

ON HER SPLIT—PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY—WITH BASSIST LEE ALEXANDER

Nobody hates each other. I have a deep respect for him. We had a great working relationship. Musically, we were so connected. I'm not closing any doors. I hope that we work together again.

ON TURNING 30

I had a bowling party, which took the seriousness out of it. I hadn't bowled in 15 years! Over the last 10 years, I've definitely mellowed out a lot, which sounds funny 'cause I play very mellow music. But I'm not necessarily that mellow of a person.

ON HER IPHONE ADDICTION

I downloaded a bunch of games. I love games where you jump on monsters and save a princess. But I can't play around my mom!