Alicia Keys

The Element of Freedom |

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R&B

Despite what she sang so powerfully on 2007's As I Am, Alicia Keys isn't superwoman. But since we've grown to expect super artistic feats from the singer-pianist after her first three studio albums—and 12 Grammys—her latest comes as a bit of a disappointment. It's good, but she can do better. Freedom finds Keys repeating some elements of past songs. Not one but two tunes—"Distance and Time" and "How It Feels to Fly"—blatantly resemble her hit "Like You'll Never See Me Again" (which in turn echoed Prince's "Purple Rain"). But when she hits her stride on ballads like "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart," another Princely gem, Keys is still a major force to be reckoned with.

Timbaland

Timbaland Presents Shock Value II |

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POP/HIP-HOP

Rather than waiting around for his most important client, Justin Timberlake, to make another album, producer Timbaland is getting busy with a sequel to 2007's Shock Value. It's another all-star party, with Tim presiding over guests from the worlds of pop (Katy Perry), rock (Nickelback's Chad Kroeger) and hip-hop (Drake). Timbaland handles more of the vocals here, which isn't always a good thing, but still is happy to share the mic with old friends like Nelly Furtado and new ones like Miley Cyrus (on the teen-spirited "We Belong to the Music"). Timberlake shows up on "Carry Out," a percussive groove that is both exotic and erotic.

Thirty Seconds to Mars

This Is War|

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ALT-ROCK

Former My So-Called Life heartthrob Jared Leto earned his rock-star cred with his band's last blastoff, 2005's platinum A Beautiful Lie. He continues to distance himself from Jordan Catalano on This Is War, which, with goth and grandeur, displays shades of My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade.

DOWNLOAD THIS: "Kings and Queens," the anthemic, atmospheric first single

Robin Thicke

Sex Therapy: The Session |

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R&B

Taking a titular cue from Marvin Gaye, his most obvious hero, Robin Thicke promises sexual healing on his fourth album. And like a master tantra instructor, he delivers. On the title-track highlight, a Prince-style seduction right down to the toe-curling falsetto, he sings, "It's your body, we'll go hard if you want to . . . soft as you want to." Thicke goes a little harder than he did on 2008's Something Else, adding some hip-hop swagger with rappers like Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg. But no worries, ladies: He remains at heart a tender lover.

FOR DOWNLOAD PICKS INFO GO TO PEOPLE.COM/DOWNLOADTHIS

>• In the season of giving, there's plenty of enjoyment to be received from The Sun Came Out, with KT Tunstall, the Smiths' Johnny Marr and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy uniting to fight poverty.

>GUCCI MANE

The State vs. Radric Davis

In a case of real-life street drama, the rapper born Radric Davis is in jail for a probation violation as his major-label debut—featuring guests like Lil Wayne, Usher and Keyshia Cole—arrives.

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JIMMY WAYNE

Sara Smile

It's fitting that the country crooner covers Hall & Oates (on the title tune featuring the duo) because he colors his third album with hues of blue-eyed soul.

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THE BRAVERY

Stir the Blood

This alt-rock band's '80s nostalgia act may be getting a little old. But their mix of the Cure, Joy Division and New Order can still rouse.

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ANGIE STONE

Unexpected

From an old-school R&B singer like Stone, it's indeed unexpected when you hear what sounds like Auto-Tune here. Thankfully, it's only on one song.

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>• Whether it's jazz or country, back-in-the-day hip-hop or classic rock from the Stones to U2, these collections are great for holiday giving.

U2, THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE

Arriving 25 years after the album first was emblazoned into our memory, this limited edition piles on cool extras.

THE ROLLING STONES, GET YER YA-YA'S OUT!

This live album gets a blowout in two deluxe sets marking the 40th anniversary of their famed Madison Square Garden concerts.

THE COMPLETE MILES DAVIS COLUMBIA ALBUM COLLECTION

Available for $364.98 exclusively through Amazon, it's actually a bulk- buyer's bargain with 52 albums compiled over 70 CDs.

DEF JAM 25TH ANNIVERSARY

LL Cool J and Jay-Z are among the hip-hop label's stars rocking five CDs housed in a mini record crate.

DOLLY PARTON, DOLLY

From "Coat of Many Colors" and "Jolene" to "Islands in the Stream," this four-disc retrospective gives you 99 reasons why we will always love Dolly.

>• In the season of giving, there's plenty of enjoyment to be received from The Sun Came Out, with KT Tunstall, the Smiths' Johnny Marr and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy uniting to fight poverty.

>GUCCI MANE

The State vs. Radric Davis

In a case of real-life street drama, the rapper born Radric Davis is in jail for a probation violation as his major-label debut—featuring guests like Lil Wayne, Usher and Keyshia Cole—arrives. [

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]

JIMMY WAYNE

Sara Smile

It's fitting that the country crooner covers Hall & Oates (on the title tune featuring the duo) because he colors his third album with hues of blue-eyed soul. [

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  

]

THE BRAVERY

Stir the Blood

This alt-rock band's '80s nostalgia act may be getting a little old. But their mix of the Cure, Joy Division and New Order can still rouse. [

bgwhite bgwhite   

]

ANGIE STONE

Unexpected

From an old-school R&B singer like Stone, it's indeed unexpected when you hear what sounds like Auto-Tune here. Thankfully, it's only on one song. [

bgwhite bgwhite   

]

>• Whether it's jazz or country, back-in-the-day hip-hop or classic rock from the Stones to U2, these collections are great for holiday giving.

U2, THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE

Arriving 25 years after the album first was emblazoned into our memory, this limited edition piles on cool extras.

THE ROLLING STONES, GET YER YA-YA'S OUT!

This live album gets a blowout in two deluxe sets marking the 40th anniversary of their famed Madison Square Garden concerts.

THE COMPLETE MILES DAVIS COLUMBIA ALBUM COLLECTION

Available for $364.98 exclusively through Amazon, it's actually a bulk- buyer's bargain with 52 albums compiled over 70 CDs.

DEF JAM 25TH ANNIVERSARY

LL Cool J and Jay-Z are among the hip-hop label's stars rocking five CDs housed in a mini record crate.

DOLLY PARTON, DOLLY

From "Coat of Many Colors" and "Jolene" to "Islands in the Stream," this four-disc retrospective gives you 99 reasons why we will always love Dolly.