CRITIC'S CHOICE

Kanye West

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy |

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HIP-HOP

Whether or not you want to invite him over for dinner, there will be no denying the brilliance of Kanye West after listening to his fifth album. An instant classic, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is mind-blowing stuff. Building upon the sampledelic sound of his earlier work after the electronica departure of 2008's 808s & Heartbreak, it's a dense, deep vision probing his psyche-and those demons-with thrilling twists and turns. From the tribal thump of "Power" to the sinister subversion of "Monster," there is one highlight after another. But the album reaches Olympian heights on "All of the Lights," with a pantheon including Rihanna, Alicia Keys, John Legend and Elton John adding to its orchestral grandeur.

Ke$ha

Cannibal |

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DANCE-POP

Less of a proper album and more of an addendum to Ke$ha's 2010 debut Animal, Cannibal will feed fans hungry for more of her electro-infused dance-pop. She's at her best on dirty-fun tracks like "Sleazy," the "Hollaback Girl"-esque highlight. But there is a sameness to some of these tunes, and "The Harold Song" shows she can't rock a ballad.

Kid Rock

Born Free |

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COUNTRY-ROCK

He may be known as Kid Rock, but on Born Free he can sound more like Kid Country. The erstwhile rap-rocker, who scored a Top 5 country hit with 2008's "All Summer Long," finds mixed results invading Nashville territory. "Collide" is a smooth merger with "Picture" partner Sheryl Crow, but "Flyin' High," on which Zac Brown actually talk-raps, fails to take off. Even odder is when Martina McBride and T.I. show up on "Care." Elsewhere, on heartland rockers such as the title cut, he's like the poor man's John Mellencamp.

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THE BEATLES

Notorious holdouts the Beatles have at long last come together with iTunes. You can even get a $149 digital box set with the whole catalog. Now that's fab!

NE-YO

Libra Scale

Although not quite up to 2008's Year of the Gentleman, this is more suave R&B full of subtle pleasures. On creamy jams like "Crazy Love," the spirit of MJ continues to be alive and well in Ne-Yo.

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LEE DEWYZE

Live It Up

Expectations were not the highest for DeWyze, given the lackluster Idol season he won. Still, his unassuming appeal and textured vocals help this pop-rock effort.

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NELLY

5.0

The rapper found chart bliss again with "Just a Dream," on which he breaks out his croon. But the whole singing thing wears thin on the mushy "Nothing Without Her."

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RASCAL FLATTS

Nothing Like This

While there's nothing much different going on here-and the production is still too slick-this country-pop trio makes it all go smoothly on cuts like the breakup ballad "Easy."

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BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

The Boss being the Boss, his leftovers still pack a kick 32 years later. On The Promise, a two-CD, 21-track collection, he dusts off outtakes from the Darkness on the Edge of Town sessions. While it's clear why some of them didn't make the cut back in '78, Promise unearths gems like the soaring "Someday (We'll Be Together)." Plus it includes Springsteen's own versions of songs he wrote for others, like the smoldering "Fire." Also comes in a six-disc box set.

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GRAMMY NOMINATIONS

Chuck Arnold predicts who will make noise when the nominees are announced Dec. 1 on a CBS special at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

EMINEM

Recovery represented a massive comeback for the 11-time winner. Noms for Album and Record of the Year (for "Love the Way You Lie" with Rihanna) seem to be a lock.

SADE

After a decade away, the Empress of Elegance returned with one of 2010's bestsellers, Soldier of Love. The album and its martial title track should command some love.

MIRANDA LAMBERT

Fresh off three CMA wins, including Album of the Year for Revolution, she's primed to nab her first Grammy behind "The House That Built Me."

LADY ANTEBELLUM

It would be a real shocker if "Need You Now"-a hit that transcended country in a major way-didn't get tapped for both Record and Song of the Year.

LADY GAGA

The Fame Monster could follow The Fame with a second straight Album of the Year nod.

JANET JACKSON

In "Rhythm Nation" she was sexy, strong and mysterious. I always loved the jet black hair, especially the ponytail with the hat. That's how I tried to dress when I was little.

CYNDI LAUPER

The eye-catching, colorful, messy punk-rock hair in the "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" video inspires me.

SALT-N-PEPA

I love sneakers, jeans and bamboo earrings. When I was younger, I'd cut and tease my bangs like theirs.

NAOMI CAMPBELL

For her fierce walk and runway attitude. And I love her complexion and her accent. She is beautiful.

MARILYN MONROE

The epitome of sexy Hollywood glam. I love her bleach-blonde hair and mole, and in pictures, her eyes were low and sultry.