Michael Jackson

Michael |

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R&B-POP

Judging from the two songs that previewed Michael-"Breaking News," a pale "Scream" imitation, and the tepid Akon duet "Hold My Hand"-Jacko's first posthumous studio album seemed like it might be a desecration to his King of Popness. But while this will hardly make you forget Off the Wall or Thriller-what could?-it shows he wasn't done as a recording artist when he died. New-jack-swingish tracks such as "Hollywood Tonight" reunite him with Dangerous producer Teddy Riley. He's better, though, when playing it sweet on the doo-woppy delight "(I Like) The Way You Love Me" and ballads like "Best of Joy" that bring to mind the boy who sang "Ben."

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MADONNA, "HOLIDAY" More than 27 years later, it's still impossible not to celebrate when this comes on.

CEE LO GREEN, "BRIGHT LIGHTS BIGGER CITY"

The follow-up to "F--- You" makes every night feel like Saturday night. F--- yeah!

BRANDON FLOWERS, "JILTED LOVERS & BROKEN HEARTS"

A cathartic anthem from the Killer's underappreciated solo debut, Flamingo.

HELLOGOODBYE, "WHEN WE FIRST KISSED"

Smiths-esque jangle-rock bliss.

ROBYN, "CALL YOUR GIRLFRIEND"

A melancholy Body Talk gem.

PRINCE, "EROTIC CITY"

His recent Welcome 2 America shows give reason to revisit this insanely sexy 1984 B-side.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, "LOVESTONED/I THINK SHE KNOWS"

Enough with the acting-here's hoping JT comes back to music in 2011!

MARIAH CAREY, "AULD LANG SYNE (THE NEW YEAR'S ANTHEM)"

MC's rousing new rendition would turn the Times Square ball into one giant disco ball.

DIDDY-DIRTY MONEY

Last Train to Paris

Along with his new female duo and guests like T.I. and Drake, Diddy takes a cool journey through clubland that is more Gorillaz/Massive Attack than Puff Daddy.

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R. KELLY

Love Letter

On the cover of his latest, Kelly strikes a pose that evokes Ray Charles or a young Stevie Wonder. And he brings a classic R&B vibe to love songs like "Radio Message."

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CIARA

Basic Instinct

From crunk ("Gimmie Dat") to electro ("Turn It Up" with Usher) and reggae ("Wants for Dinner"), Ciara's instincts take her to the dance floor on her fourth set.

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CALLE 13

Entren Los Que Quieran

The Puerto Rican hip-hop brothers show why they have won 10 Latin Grammys on an ambitious album (translation: Everybody Is Welcome) that embraces muchos styles.

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ON HER 2008 GRAMMY FOR ROCKFERRY

I keep it in my manager's office. I don't have any accolades around my house. It would be like celebrating my 50th birthday when I'm 25!

ON RUGBY-STAR BEAU MICHAEL PHILLIPS

We're both Welsh, but he's 6'4", and I'm 5'3". He got so mad once because I painted his toenails when he was asleep, and I didn't have any nail-polish remover. So he had to play a match with pink toenails!

ON HER FAN PAUL MCCARTNEY

He asked me to do "Live and Let Die" with him for a charity album. Then at the Grammys, he gave me a big hug, and that made me look supercool!