Gym Class Heroes

The Papercut Chronicles II |

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REVIEWED BY JESSICA HERNDON

ALT HIP-HOP

After breaking out in 2010 with solo hit "Billionaire," Travie McCoy is back with his original band for their fifth outing. It's no surprise they take a page from McCoy's solo book and embrace a bigger, more pop-friendly sound: "The Fighter," featuring hitmaker Ryan Tedder, is a Coldplay-esque rocker, while Adam Levine drops by for "Stereo Hearts." Unlike his urgent, comical delivery on the band's early records, McCoy now explores mature themes of love and optimism. Even though a bit of his MC luster is gone, the song "Holy Horses--t, Batman!!" proves the band's funny hasn't totally fizzled.

A cheat sheet to the finest tracks from the group's career-capping greatest-hits set R.E.M.: Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011

MOST GROUNDBREAKING SONG

"Radio Free Europe" (1983) Frontman Michael Stipe may mumble his lyrics, but the band's fresh sound was a clarion call for an indie-rock revolution.

BEST ROCK-OUT ANTHEM

"The One I Love" (1987) The soaring chorus alone-with the drawn-out holler "Fire!"-made for R.E.M.'s most stadium-ready moment ever.

BEST APOCALYPTIC ANTHEM

"It's the End of the World ..." (1987) Twenty four years later, the tongue-twisting list of political and environmental grievances still rings true.

BEST BUBBLEGUM TUNE

"Shiny Happy People" (1991) With the B-52s' Kate Pierson doing backup, this sugary song could have been in heavy rotation on Radio Disney.

BEST TEARJERKER

"Everybody Hurts" (1992) A mood-stabilizing gem for when you're down in the dumps.

BEST MAKEOUT TUNE

"Nightswimming" (1993) Stipe gets romantic with this nostalgic tale of skinny-dipping.

BEST CONFESSIONAL

"Losing My Religion" (1991) Over chiming mandolins, Stipe opens up about faith and unrequited love. It remains the group's biggest hit to date.

MOST TOUCHING TRIBUTE

"Man on the Moon" (1992) R.E.M. honor late comedian Andy Kaufman with a twangy, country-rock number.

BEST SONG, WORST ALBUM

"At My Most Beautiful" (1999) Up may have been a dud, but R.E.M. sound inspired on this lush homage to the Beach Boys.

FAITH HILL previews her next studio CD, due in early 2012, with a beautifully countrified cover of OneRepublic's "Come Home," which she debuted at the CMAs. $1.29 at iTunes.com.

COMMON's sharp lyrical skills are anything but ordinary on the emo/hip-hop fusion "Blue Sky" from his ninth album, The Dreamer, The Believer, out Dec. 20; $1.29 at zune.net.

MONICA samples the Spinners' gem "I Don't Want to Lose You" for the moving R&B ballad "Until It's Gone," from her sixth CD, New Life, due in February. $0.99 at amazon.com.

JAMES MCCARTNEY does dad Paul proud with the infectious folk-tinged alt-rock of "I Only Want to Be Alone," from The Complete EP. $1.29 at rhapsody.com.

DRAKE

The Canadian artist, back with Take Care, reveals what inspires his emo-rap style

First rap record

Queen Latifah's "U.N.I.T.Y." I was allowed to listen to this because there wasn't any swearing in it.

Album that made me want to pursue music

OutKast's Aquemini was a big one for me. Gangsta rap was popular then, but OutKast were the first people I heard using music and compositions to tell stories. I felt so close to it.

Artists who inspired me to sing

I always knew I could sing-I used to sing on girls' voicemail greetings in high school-but I always wanted to be a rapper. As I got older, my tastes matured, and I started getting into soulful music like Jodeci and Aaliyah.

Father-son bonding song

The Spinners' "Sadie." My dad [Dennis Graham] is cool, but it stirred up feelings in him. I'm trying to make music like that.

Music for dark days

F-Action are these series of mixtapes by OG Ron C. They sound so gutter and the voices are all low. You could listen to this on the way to a murder!

Favorite new artist

I love James Blake. His attention to each song is incredible. There are sounds coming out of nowhere and it adds so much substance.

Musician who pushes me

The Weeknd's Abel Tesfaye. He sounds like Prince or Sade. He's from Toronto too, and to see my city embrace someone else? I'd never seen that. I was always the guy! He's so gifted.

Newest discovery

Little Dragon. I went to see Zoe Kravitz's band Elevator Fight and she told me to listen to them. They're a Swedish band and the singer [Yukimi Nagano] is incredible.

MY 5 FAVORITE TOUR MOMENTS

1 After a show in Washington, D.C., my guitar player, fiddle player, one of my dancers and I went to the Lincoln Memorial and then to the top of the Washington Monument to look all over the city. It was one of the coolest experiences.

2 Nicki Minaj sang "Super Bass" with me at the Staples Center [in L.A.]. She'd been across the street at the VMAs, so nobody [in the audience] expected her at my show. She walked out and absolutely rocked it.

3 At the end of every show, I get on a balcony and kind of fly around above the crowd singing "Love Story." I love the gown I wear-it's long, princessy, sparkly and dramatic.

4 Before I go onstage, I quickly write a quote on my arm. My favorite is still my friend Selena [Gomez]'s lyric "You've got every right/ To a beautiful life."

5 I like when people wrap themselves in Christmas lights and I can see them jumping around. Then there are funny signs. Sometimes I get scared that if I'm reading them I will forget the lyrics!

SUSAN BOYLE

Someone to Watch Over Me

Pop's ultimate late bloomer delivers her best on this set of mostly covers. Her takes on Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" and Tears for Fears' "Mad World" are sublime.

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ROMEO SANTOS

Formula Vol. 1

The ex-frontman for boy-band Aventura makes a solid solo debut with a mix of ballads and up-tempo jams, including "Promise," a hit duet with Usher.

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BRIAN WILSON

In the Key of Disney

The Beach Boy brings granddad charm to songs from famous kids films. Some can't replace the originals, but "The Bare Necessities" from The Jungle Book is pure fun.

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DAVID NAIL

The Sound of a Million Dreams

The country star scores on this follow-up to his 2009 debut. Highlights: the rock-tinged "Desiree" and the heartfelt ballad "That's How I'll Remember You."

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