Pitbull

Planet Pit |

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DANCE/HIP-HOP

Miami rapper Pitbull has been the go-to guest on recent hits by Enrique Iglesias ("I Like It"), Usher ("DJ Got Us Falling in Love") and Jennifer Lopez ("On the Floor"). So it's only fitting that his own album is filled with starry collaborations. The euphoric single "Give Me Everything," already a Top 5 hit, gets a vocal and songwriting assist from Ne-Yo. Marc Anthony, returning the favor for wife J.Lo, lets his golden pipes shine on "Rain Over Me." T-Pain lends his Auto-Tuned delivery to two tracks, including the pulsating reggaeton jam "Shake Senora." Also visiting Planet Pit: Iglesias, Chris Brown, Jamie Foxx and Kelly Rowland (on the only slowish number, "Castle Made of Sand"). Pitbull, making up for his lightweight lyrics with endless energy, presides over it all like the ultimate party animal.

Jill Scott

The Light of the Sun |

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

R&B

"I'm a queen on my throne/ I'm magnificent," boasts Jill Scott on "Shame," a funky-strutting standout on her fourth studio album. Certainly, this diva has been a regal presence in R&B since her debut, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1. And The Light of the Sun reflects that 2000 classic with its hip-hop swagger (Eve and Doug E. Fresh are guests) and spoken-word musings ("Womanifesto"), while also recalling the lush sensuality of 2007's The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3. But the most brilliant moment is the heartbreaking "Hear My Call." Wow.

BARRY MANILOW

15 Minutes

For his first set of original material in 10 years, Manilow concocts a concept album about fame (apparently influenced by Britney Spears). While the overall schmaltz factor might work in his Vegas show, only a few tunes cut it here.

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JUSTIN MOORE

Outlaws Like Me

"I can't hide my redneck side," sings Moore at the beginning of his latest. Then the country boy proceeds to do Jeff Foxworthy proud throughout Outlaws (featuring the hit "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away").

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BON IVER

Bon Iver

From Mumford & Sons to Fleet Foxes, it's been a very good year for alt-folk. Add Bon Iver-featured on Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy-to the list. The second album from Justin Vernon's outfit is an atmospheric dreamscape.

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FOSTER THE PEOPLE

Torches

There are echoes of Beck, Scissor Sisters and MGMT in the psychedelic-tinged dance-rock of this buzz band, which has scored a hit with "Pumped Up Kicks." But despite its charms, Torches won't exactly burn into your soul.

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TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS, "AMERICAN GIRL"

I wake up a lot to this. It puts me in a good mood and gives me a lot of energy.

GENESIS, "INVISIBLE TOUCH"

It brings me back to when I was a kid-when I first came to America from Spain and didn't really speak English [well].

PRINCE AND THE REVOLUTION, "PURPLE RAIN"

When I was a kid, I was more of a Michael Jackson fan because Prince was a little bit out there. As I grew older, I fell in love with his music.

MICHAEL JACKSON, "BILLIE JEAN"

My all-time favorite Michael Jackson song. It's just timeless.

KINGS OF LEON, "SEX ON FIRE"

There's something about this song that's sick! I remember [first] hearing it and thinking, "Oh my God, I wish I would've written that."

ADELE, "SOMEONE LIKE YOU"

I do love Adele! There's a darkness to this ballad that is compelling.

LUPE FIASCO, "THE SHOW GOES ON"

I like how he samples [Modest Mouse's "Float On"] because I used to listen to that song all the time.

LADY ANTEBELLUM, "NEED YOU NOW"

It's just straightforward beautiful. I love the line "I'm a little drunk and I need you now."

MISSY ELLIOTT

The hip-hop star, 39, talks health, childhood trauma and new music

She's largely been out of the spotlight for the past three years, but Missy Elliott hasn't been slacking off. Between writing and producing for other artists, she was privately battling a health crisis: In 2008 she was diagnosed with Graves' disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. "You live with it for the rest of your life," says the Grammy winner, the subject of VH1's Behind the Music: Missy Elliott (premiering June 29).

Her first hint of trouble came when she was driving one day and couldn't control her legs. "I was trying to put my foot on the brake, but my leg was jumping. I couldn't keep the brake down and almost crashed." Soon came more symptoms: dizzy spells, lumps in her throat, mood swings, hair loss, a fast heart rate and bulging eyes. She suffered creatively as well. "I couldn't write because my nervous system was so bad-I couldn't even use a pen," she recalls. Radiation improved her condition, but medication caused weight gain. "Right now," she says, "I'm 30 lbs. lighter because I've been exercising." Even better? "My thyroid is functioning, so I haven't had to take medication in about nine months."

Her health isn't the only deeply personal topic she has decided to address publicly: As a child, she reveals, she was sexually abused. "I remember it like it was yesterday," she says, but notes that with spirituality and music, "I was able to overcome [it]. I felt that I would be able to help other people."

Today she's healthy and happy to be making her own music again. "My imagination is still so crazy!" says Elliott, who's working with Timbaland. Despite her hiatus, she's confident she's still got it: "My ear ain't going bad yet!"