Goodbye Lullaby |

bgwhite bgwhite   


It's hard to believe it's been nine years since Avril Lavigne crashed the scene as a 17-year-old punk-pop princess with 2002's multiplatinum Let Go. Now she's back as a 26-year-old divorcee, sounding as if she's hung up her skateboard on her fourth studio effort. Indeed, the sleepy Goodbye Lullaby lacks much of the feisty fun that we've come to expect from her. The album finds Lavigne, once a poster child for girl power, playing a more traditional romantic role on slow-to-midtempo tracks such as "Remember When"-a breakup ballad that is one of six cuts produced by the singer's ex, Sum 41's Deryck Whibley. Pairing with Pink collaborator Max Martin, though, Lavigne revs up, getting back in touch with her inner brat on the spiky "Smile" and the rebel anthem "What the Hell."

Sara Evans

Stronger |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  


"Even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger," sings Sara Evans on "A Little Bit Stronger," the emotional centerpiece of her first studio album since '05-and the scandalous split from her first husband that led her to drop out of Dancing with the Stars in '06. Certainly, Stronger is a potent country comeback, packing an understated power on ballads like the aching "Alone" and "What That Drink Cost Me," a drunk-driving tale. But faster tracks such as "Ticket to Ride," one of several bluegrass-tinged tunes, are pretty sturdy too.

AVRIL LAVIGNE, "Girlfriend"

Nothing on Goodbye Lullaby makes you feel like a giddy cheerleader as much as this 2007 No. 1 hit does.

RIHANNA, "Cheers (Drink to That)"

This Avril-sampling highlight from Loud is a party-girl anthem toasting to the weekend.

KATY PERRY, "Peacock"

You'll be shaking a tailfeather to this strutting standout from Teenage Dream.

FLORENCE + THE MACHINE, "Kiss with a Fist"

This punchy, punky rocker will have the ladies ready to hit the mosh pit.

PINK, "F**kin' Perfect"

An empowering message from the hella-bad mama-to-be.


With all of Xtina's recent troubles, here's hoping she'll get back to knocking the competition out with those powerhouse pipes.


As we await Femme Fatale, due March 29, this '00 jam still kicks.

LADY GAGA, "Born This Way"

In true Madonna fashion, this smash brings out the fierceness in every girl.



I'm a big Christian Bale fan. We first met at the Golden Globes, and at the Oscars I was like, "Let's keep running into each other!" And I never met [The Social Network star] Justin Timberlake until the Governors Ball [afterparty]-our careers have not been in the same corner of the music charts.


Every time I talk to him, it comes out as some sort of jingly children's song. I thought maybe I'm insane! As for my Nine Inch Nails songs like "Closer," the plan is to monitor his music. I don't think he'll know about the Internet till he is 12.


I'm scoring [The Social Network director] David Fincher's new film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And my other band, How to Destroy Angels [with his wife, singer Mariqueen Maandig], has almost completed a really substantial album.


We plan to do a record later this year. But some material isn't as relevant to me as when I wrote it. I don't wake up in the same place as I did when I was 25, and frankly I'm happy that I don't.


Live at Shea Stadium: The Concert

The hometown boy turns the now-demolished ballpark into a giant piano bar on this '08 farewell show captured on two CDs (plus one DVD). That "Piano Man" sing-along is probably still echoing across the heavens.

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  


Different Gear, Still Speeding

Liam Gallagher and his new, post-Noel band (including two other ex-Oasis members) salute the "Beatles and Stones" on one cut here. But really the whole thing plays like one terrific tribute to the godfathers of Brit pop and rock.

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



This-the best-selling debut album of 2010 in Goulding's native U.K.-will conjure visions of club strobe lights. But her airy, Kylie-esque dance-pop may leave you feeling a little empty once the disco ball stops twirling.

bgwhite bgwhite   


Never Say Never: The Remixes

Overload alert: Only those suffering from the most acute case of Bieber fever need invest in this harmless but pointless EP, although the Kanye remix of "Runaway Love" shows JB has some hip-hop cred.

bgwhite bgwhite   


As the A in A&M Records, the trumpeter, 75, helped some major artists blow up.


The Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie made him look like a cute kid instead of a rock and roller, but he was a great artist, a wonderful guitarist and a terrific guy.


We did "Diamonds" together. She was shy and out there at the same time. I think that's why she liked the spotlight-she fed into all the attention she got.


Her Tapestry album was recorded in our Studio B. It was put together like she was doing demos of the songs, so it was very unpretentious and very transparent.


Their first album tanked. People in my own company were looking at me like, "Man, why did you sign those people?" Then I gave them "Close to You," and that really broke them. Karen Carpenter was an innocent baby woman. I loved her.


They appeared at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles, and I was completely knocked out. There was always some drama between Sting and the drummer [Stuart Copeland]. I went backstage one time and they were duking it out at intermission. Two bulldogs!

LENNY KRAVITZ lets rock rule on the hard-hitting "Come on Get It," a preview of his ninth studio album, Black and White America. The follow-up to '08's It Is Time for a Love Revolution is due this summer. $0.99 at amazon.com.

DAVID COOK, having won American Idol in '08, can't exactly commiserate with this season's castoffs. Still, he'll sing 'em goodbye with his remake of Simple Minds'"Don't You (Forget About Me)." It's available for free at davidcookofficial.com.

CHRIS BROWN reveals some rapid-fire rapping skills alongside hip-hoppers Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes on "Look at Me Now." The song, already a Top 10 R&B single, is from Brown's fourth album, F.A.M.E., out March 22. $1.29 at rhapsody.com.

CHRIS YOUNG, striking a nostalgic note, remembers the sage advice of his elders on "Voices." The touching new single from the country crooner-a Nashville Star alum-is off his second album, The Man I Want to Be. $1.29 at napster.com.