Usher

Looking 4 Myself

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R&B-POP

"Walking with my head down/Counting every step/Hoping that the next one/Brings me closer to the man I was." So confesses Usher on the reflective title track of Looking 4 Myself. Could it be that, on his seventh album in 18 years, Usher Raymond IV is suffering from an existential identity crisis? Never fear, folks: The almighty star confidently displays various sides of himself, proving that he can be all things to all people with another R&B-pop blockbuster. He's the Ibiza-ready club kid on electro thumpers like current single "Scream" and the Swedish House Mafia-produced "Euphoria" that build on the success of "OMG," "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love" and "Without You" (with David Guetta). He's also the silky-smooth loverman on ambient slow jams like the hit "Climax" and the P.M. Dawn-esque "Dive," showing, as he lays on his creamy falsetto, that he's a better singer than ever (despite occasionally toying with Auto-Tune). Then he's the old-school soul man on the funky James Brown-ish "Twisted" and "Sins of My Father," which, produced by Amy Winehouse collaborator Salaam Remi, inspires Usher to look for the Marvin Gaye inside of him.

Josh Turner

Punching Bag |

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COUNTRY

On Punching Bag, Josh Turner comes "fighting out of the traditional-country-music corner," says a ring announcer in the intro. And he hits you with plenty of good old-fashioned hooks, from the classic weepie "Cold Shoulder" to "I Was There," on which he uses his authoritative baritone to adopt the voice of God. Meanwhile "Pallbearer," a funereal ballad, finds him channeling the spirit of Johnny Cash.

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3 THINGS I'M LOVING NOW!

1 RADIOHEAD ON TOUR When I saw the alt-rock gods perform the first of two sold-out shows in Newark, N.J., it was truly a mystical experience. A haunting "Give Up the Ghost" (from The King of Limbs) gave me chills.

2 DIANA ROSS ON DVD Perhaps the diva's most supreme moment, from 1983, is captured on Diana Ross Live in Central Park. After a massive downpour shortens the first concert, she storms back the next day. No wind, no rain can stop her, babe.

3 FLORENCE + THE MACHINE'S NEW VIDEO The clip for "Spectrum"-the latest single off Ceremonials-is a colorful spectacle codirected by David LaChapelle and featuring a troupe of ballet dancers with a mini-Flo lookalike.

GARBAGE'S SHIRLEY MANSON

ON GARBAGE'S SEVEN-YEAR RECORDING HIATUS

We needed to have a life and regenerate ourselves. I traveled a lot, bought a house, got married, adopted a rescue dog and was on a TV show [Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles]. And I learned how to drive at 40 years old. It was really exciting!

ON WOMEN IN MUSIC TODAY

What breaks my heart is there are very few women out there making a rebellious statement. It seems like all of today's female pop stars are really beautiful girls who have 10 million followers on Facebook. Nobody wants to hear from a provocative woman at the moment unless she is dressed in crazy costumes.

ON ROCKING IN HER 40s

It doesn't matter how many glasses of water I drink or how much moisturizer I put on my skin. I am going to age like everybody else. I try to concentrate on stuff that I can control-like having as much fun in my life as I possibly can!

EMELI SANDE Our Version of Events There's a reason why this Scottish singer-songwriter was tapped to open for Coldplay on tour this summer: Her album, which opened at No. 1 in the U.K. in February, is one of the year's best debuts. With shades of blues, jazz and gospel, she makes richly toned and textured R&B. Highlights include "Clown," a ballad that will make you cry until the makeup runs down your face.

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ED SHEERAN Like Sande, this Englishman is one of VH1's You Oughta Know artists, and the video for first single "The A Team"-a heartbreaker about a young woman dealing with drug addiction and prostitution-is in heavy rotation. Folkified tunes like this evoke James Blunt and Damien Rice, but the more soulful Sheeran also boasts a bit o' B-boy swagger, busting out some hip-hop flows.

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