All of Me |
There's nothing on Estelle's new album that is as ridiculously catchy as "American Boy," her Grammy-winning hit featuring Kanye West. That's the main reason the Brit's latest doesn't sparkle as much as '08's Shine. Still, All of Me succeeds in revealing the many facets of the singer and occasional rapper, from smooth hip-hop-soul ("Break My Heart" with Rick Ross) and street-edged bangers ("The Life") to jazz-kissed pop ("Love the Way We Used To") and chill club grooves ("Cold Crush"). Ne-Yo cowrote and coproduced one highlight: "Do My Thing," which finds Janelle Monae joining for a giddy you-go-girl anthem that would make the Spice Girls jealous.
THE 10 BEST ALBUMS OF THE CENTURY! (SO FAR)
1 KANYE WEST
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
Since releasing his debut in '04, West has built arguably the best catalog of the century. But this ranks as his masterpiece, an audacious vision of truly fantastical proportions. It's the hip-hop Sgt. Pepper.
A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
If anybody's output since '00 could rival West's, it's Coldplay's. With a grandeur that goes from quiet to cosmic-even in the same song-their second set made them rock royalty, heirs to Radiohead and U2.
Kid A (2000)
Exploring electronica on this mystical, otherworldly journey, Radiohead delved deeper into the experimental. Taking titular cues from "How to Disappear Completely," you can sure melt into this.
SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below (2003)
Even taken separately, Big Boi's Speakerboxxx and André 3000's The Love Below would be major achievements in hip-hop funk. Together as a double disc, the effect is outrageously outsized.
5 ADELE 21 (2011)
Just over a year since its release, Adele's second album has already established itself as a classic. Boasting a timeless appeal, it feels like it could have come out 40 years ago-and blown your grandparents away too.
6 ERYKAH BADU
Mama's Gun (2000)
An intricate tapestry seamlessly weaving songs with the bewitching voodoo of the neo-soul priestess. This mama knows best.
The Blueprint (2001)
Blue Ivy's daddy at his rap-ruling peak. Cuts such as "Song Cry" reveal soul to go along with all that Jigga swagger.
8 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
Before he went all thespian on us, JT took the sounds of Prince into the future.
9 AMY WINEHOUSE
Back to Black (2007)
Making a powerful impact in a sadly short career, Winehouse (right) turned her darkness into retro-soul gold.
10 VINCE GILL
These Days (2006)
For sheer ambition alone, this four-disc, 43-track opus-so much more than just a country album-is tough to beat.
MY SPRING BREAK PLAYLIST
RIHANNA "We Found Love"
It's got that techno-y thing, makes you want to dance. Spring break is about dancing and having fun.
FLO RIDA "Good Feeling"
I'm loving that song. That's our intro before we come onstage on tour right now. It's just awesome.
JASON ALDEAN "My Kinda Party"
A big ol' rockin' party song. It gets you going.
TOBY KEITH "Red Solo Cup"
Spring break is a time where there's a whole lotta cups filled with beer—and God knows what else!
FREAK NASTY "Da' Dip"
That's one from my day. I remember [dancing to] that a lot in college.
ERIC CHURCH "Drink in My Hand"
If you want to have a big ol' time, you definitely need Church.
LADY GAGA "Bad Romance"
You got to have a little Gaga in your playlist. Heck, I've covered that song.
BLAKE SHELTON "All About Tonight"
The kids on spring break are all about whatever night they're currently wrapped up in. Plus, it reminds you to have a hangover remedy ready!
On their first studio set since 2001, these Irish alt-rockers still make dreamy atmospherics that can sometimes feel like petals caressing your ears. Best is "Tomorrow," the jangly, Smiths-esque single.
Careless World: Rise of the Last King
A protege of Lil Wayne and a cousin of Gym Class Heroes' Travie McCoy, this rapper displays all-conquering ambitions on his sprawling second album, rising more than he falls.
Voice of Ages
Guests such as Bon Iver, the Civil Wars and the Decemberists (along with producer T Bone Burnett) help the traditional Irish band celebrate their golden anniversary-and prove they're still hip 50 years later.
This power-pop trio received the Glee stamp of approval when their hit "We Are Young" was covered on the FOX show last December. They bring plenty of New Directions pep to Some Nights, but it can all get a bit precious.