Doo-Wops & Hooligans |
Before his debut album, Bruno Mars was already a major part of two big hits this year, cowriting and crooning on "Nothin' on You" (with B.o.B) and "Billionaire" (with Travie McCoy). Then last month he took his solo single "Just the Way You Are" all the way to No. 1. The song (no, not a remake of the Billy Joel ballad) is pure pop bliss, a swoonworthy sequel to "Nothin' on You." Mars also displays a knack for old-fashioned romance on the charming, chiming "Marry You," on which he comes off as the modern-day answer to a '50s doo-wop idol. However, his sweet but limited voice can't always keep up with the range of styles here, from R&B and reggae to surf rock and psychedelic pop.
Seal 6: Commitment |
If there's anyone who should be happy about Seal's sixth album of original material, it's Heidi Klum
. Songs like "All for Love," "You Get Me" and the hip-swaying highlight "Best of Me" are practically dripping with devotion to his wife of five years. "I belong to you, and you belong to me," he sings on the intimate ballad "Secret," which plays like an open love letter set to strings and acoustic guitar. Yes, things can get a little too mushy at times-and David Foster's lush production certainly turns up the schmaltz factor-but Seal invests it all with such soulful earnestness that you can't really begrudge him.
Tiger Suit |
"Still a weirdo after all these years," sings KT Tunstall on her third studio album. But it's her quirkiness that made 2006's "Black Horse & the Cherry Tree" a Grammy-nominated hit for the Scottish singer-songwriter. She continues to embrace her inner freak here, whether with the Bjork-like background vocals of "Uummannaq Song," the whistling whimsy of "Glamour Puss" or the glockenspiel giddiness of "Fade Like a Shadow." Elsewhere she comes closest to matching the funky folk-pop of "Black Horse" on "Come On, Get In," while the tortured ballad "Lost" shows that this tiger can purr as well as bite.
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Jamey Johnson tapped his pal Matthew McConaughey
-they met at the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards-to direct and appear in his "Playing the Part" video.
MARK RONSON & THE BUSINESS INTL
Ronson, an Amy Winehouse producer (and sometime deejay), sure throws a good party, with cool guests like Q-Tip, D'Angelo and, heck, even Boy George.
The title nods to Grammy-winning producer Daniel Lanois (U2) as well as the sonics employed on this guitar-driven album, which finds Young letting rip without a band.
All About You
On his second album, the "Birthday Sex" boy delivers more slow-to-midtempo R&B jams, but only a couple of them-such as "X's & O's"-have real staying power.
Fight or Flight
Osment takes on Hannah Montana costar Miley Cyrus
with her full-length debut. It's respectable but unremarkable, with Gaga-lite tunes like the first single, "Lovesick."
ARETHA FRANKLIN, "DAY DREAMING"
It's gorgeous the way she sings it, and the melody is beautiful. It's such a romantic song-not just lyrically but the way it's arranged.
BILL WITHERS, "I CAN'T WRITE LEFT-HANDED"
It's a gripping, powerful story about a solider. We did an epic rendition of it [on Wake Up!]. We wanted to talk about war because it's important.
STEVIE WONDER, "LOOKIN' FOR ANOTHER PURE LOVE"
It takes me back to college, when I started to fall in love with Talking Book. It has a great feel-very nostalgic, very wistful, very innocent.
NINA SIMONE, "I LOVES YOU PORGY"
It's haunting-the pain, the emotion. She had such great control and subtlety...that strength. I didn't really know her as a child, but as an adult I became a big fan. She's always in my head.
MARVIN GAYE, "WHOLY HOLY"
I grew up playing gospel music. I'm not religious now, but I still have a lot of affection for gospel. I love singing it; I love hearing it.
MARVIN GAYE, "GOT TO GIVE IT UP"
The perfect way to warm up a house party! It's certainly one of my go-to songs if I'm having people over.
"THE SONGS ON MY NEW ALBUM ARE VERY SOULFUL AND GRITTY"
"One of my bigger crushes was Eve. I loved her 'cause she was kind of hard. I love those tattoos."
"I had the biggest crush on Johnny Gill from New Edition when I was like 4 years old."
"My teen crush was Lance Bass. But then he [revealed he] was gay, and I was like, 'Awww.' But he's still so hot. I would still make out with him."
. I remember seeing her 'Someday' video and thinking, 'I'm going to marry her one day.'"