The Black Eyed Peas

The Beginning |

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DANCE-POP

The Beginning-the Black Eyed Peas' fourth album since going mainstream with Fergie-picks up where 2009's The E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies) left off. Although not as fresh as its Grammy-winning predecessor-even with 12 cuts, it feels more like an addendum to The E.N.D. a la The Fame Monster-it demonstrates that the Peas (namely beatmaster will.i.am) haven't run out of steam exploring electro club sounds. Heck, they can even take a cheesy hook from the Dirty Dancing hit "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" and turn it into a party jam on "The Time (Dirty Bit)." Highlights include "The Best One Yet (The Boy)," one of several tracks that recall the euphoric vibe of "I Gotta Feeling," and the glam disco "Fashion Beats," with Fergie cooing like Deborah Harry on "Rapture."

Justin Bieber

My Worlds Acoustic |

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TEEN POP

You know you're hot when, barely a year after making your recording debut, you can do an unplugged album of your old songs. At 16, no less. And while these acoustic versions of faves like "Baby" and "U Smile" aren't exactly essential for anyone who already has My World and My World 2.0, they give Justin Bieber's artistic cred a boost. The tunes, seven of which he cowrote, hold up impressively well in these stripped-down settings, showing that the teen idol is more than a good head of hair.

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DR. DRE

Bumping back with G-funky new single "Kush" (with Akon and Snoop), Dre is finally due to drop Detox-the Chinese Democracy of hip-hop-in early 2011.

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE

Danger Days

After the grand ambitions of 2006's The Black Parade, MCR plays it looser on an album (subtitled The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys) spiked with punk-pop.

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EL DEBARGE

Second Chance

On this sumptuous, sophisticated set-his first in 16(!) years-DeBarge's famous falsetto remains remarkably intact. That croon will still make the ladies swoon.

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ROBYN

Body Talk

Robyn's third 2010 release combines highlights from Body Talk Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 with five new dance-pop tracks. The electro-infused results are seriously body-rocking.

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JAZMINE SULLIVAN

Love Me Back

This gritty R&B singer opens her second album riffing on Mary J. Blige's "Be Happy." And like old-school MJB, she brings plenty of drama to tunes such as "10 Seconds."

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HOLIDAY MUSIC

MARIAH CAREY, MERRY CHRISTMAS II YOU

On her second Xmas album, MC shows a gift for R&Bish originals and fresh arrangements. Extra diva points for when her opera-singing mom pipes in with a bit of the "Hallelujah Chorus."

GLEE, THE MUSIC: THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM

"Jingle Bells" big band-style? Matthew Morrison taking on Mr. Grinch with k.d. lang? Deliciously fun!

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INDIGO GIRLS, HOLLY HAPPY DAYS

It's a down-home Christmas for the duo, who turn yuletide faves into folkie toe-tappers and unwrap originals like the sensual "Mistletoe."

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SHELBY LYNNE, MERRY CHRISTMAS

She could even seduce Saint Nick with her sultry delivery, but Lynne also shows a playful side on this charmingly retro collection.

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THE PRIESTS, NOEL

These three Irish priests keep it reverent on this fine assortment of traditionals. Standouts include their ethereal rendition of "Away in a Manger."

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WILSON PHILLIPS, CHRISTMAS IN HARMONY

Twenty years after "Hold On," the trio reunites with producer Glen Ballard to make sweet harmony on this cozy affair.

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TAKE 6, THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

Whether it's pizzazz ("Sleigh Ride") or peace ("I Saw Three Ships"), the sextet is a cappella glory.

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SUSAN BOYLE, THE GIFT

This album may have hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart, but some of it-including a quasi-inspirational remake of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over"-might have you nodding off in your nog.

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KATHARINE MCPHEE, CHRISTMAS IS THE TIME TO SAY I LOVE YOU

The Idol alum puts on a glittering display worthy of a Fifth Avenue Christmas window.

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PINK MARTINI, JOY TO THE WORLD

Bringing the world to this party are "White Christmas" sung in Japanese and a Fela-inspired "We Three Kings."

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THE PUPPINI SISTERS, CHRISTMAS WITH THE PUPPINI SISTERS

Britain's swinging songbirds jazz up chestnuts such as "Winter Wonderland."

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ANNIE LENNOX, A CHRISTMAS CORNUCOPIA

With her rich, pristine vocals, Lennox brings a majestic splendor to these festivities. Songs like "Angels from the Realms of Glory" are indeed heavenly.

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BURLESQUE

Vamping it up and belting it out, Christina Aguilera is in her element, recalling her retro turn on 2006's Back to Basics. Whether igniting an Etta James classic ("Tough Lover"), a torchy original ("Bound to You") or a Marilyn Manson mash-up ("The Beautiful People"), she's smoking. Costar Cher sings two tunes, but this is Xtina's show.

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