Aerosmith

Music from Another Dimension |

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ROCK

Steven Tyler knew what he was doing leaving American Idol when he did. Turns out he had a badass Aerosmith album-their first of all new material since 2001's Just Push Play-which deserved all his focus and energy (much the better to conserve at 64). Forget that solo single he put out last year-the utterly forgettable "(It) Feels So Good"-which seemed to hint that Idol might have killed his rock-star mojo. "I'm a caching lover, I'm the cat's meow/ I ain't gonna stop, not never no how," he sings on "Luv XXX," the sledgehammer opener that suggests this old-timer can still "love three times a day." (You stud, Steven.) There are more hot sleaze rockers on Music from Another Dimension-a play on the old sci-fi shows, down to the spooky spoken intro-including the funky-strutting "Out Go the Lights" and the blistering, metallic "Lover Alot." The latter is one of many tracks that give Joe Perry a chance to play guitar hero (which helps make up for his two songs singing lead). Even on ballads like the blues-streaked "Closer" and the country-tinged "Can't Stop Lovin' You"-a duet with Carrie Underwood!-these dudes don't show any signs of slowing down.

Ne-Yo

R.E.D. |

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R&B-POP

Ne-Yo's fifth album, R.E.D. (not to be confused with Taylor Swift's Red, this stands for Realizing Every Dream), is his first for the legendary Motown label where he is now a senior VP. While his sound isn't especially reminiscent of the heyday of Hitsville U.S.A.-he's more Michael Jackson: the solo years-his crossover spirit is. On R.E.D. he smoothly breaks music and, indeed, color boundaries without disturbing his perfectly cocked fedora. He goes from sexy slow jams ("Lazy Love") and hip-hop bouncers ("Don't Make Em Like You" with Wiz Khalifa) to country-pop ballads ("She Is," a surprisingly well-matched duet with Tim McGraw). The heart of it, though, consists of soulful, sumptuous midtempos like "Cracks in Mr. Perfect" and such Euro-dance tracks as the euphoric hit "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)." Because of his strengths as a songwriter—lyrically and melodically—there's a cohesiveness that still makes it all sound like Ne-Yo.

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TAYLOR SWIFT'S MONSTER DEBUT!

You know it's pretty major when Taylor Swift manages to top her own numbers. After selling 1.04 million copies of 2010's Speak Now in its first week, the country-pop princess moved more than 1.2 million of her latest, Red, in its kickoff. Just to give you an idea of how ridiculous that is, it's the biggest debut in over a decade (since 2002's The Eminem Show), when album sales were much higher in general. We are never ever ever gonna doubt the power of Taylor. Like ever.

MY TOP 5 BOND THEMES

With Skyfall out now, here are the best tunes in 50 years of 007 films.

1 "Goldfinger," Shirley Bassey (1964)

Of Bassey's three Bond songs, this brassy gem set the gold standard.

2 "Live and Let Die," Paul McCartney & Wings (1973)

Sir Paul as Secret Service agent. Majestic.

3 "You Only Live Twice," Nancy Sinatra (1967)

A sweeping beauty. Plus Sinatra looked like a Bond girl!

4 "Nobody Does It Better," Carly Simon (1977)

If ever Bond needed a self-esteem boost, this would do it.

5 "A View to a Kill," Duran Duran (1985)

The only one to ever hit No. 1-and the most fun the spy ever had.

KENDRICK LAMAR

good kid, m.A.A.d city

Forget waiting for Dr. Dre's Detox: His protege sounds like the future of West Coast rap on a cinematic major-label debut that is the hippest thing in hip-hop.

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MACY GRAY

Talking Book

Forty years after Stevie Wonder's classic, Gray reimagines it from start to finish. But only a few revamps (a supercreepy "Superstition") are really worth messing with perfection. Just sayin'.

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DIONNE WARWICK

Now

She sang "Don't Make Me Over" on her debut single in '62, and now redoes her oldies to mark her 50th anniversary. Bonus: She classes up four other songs for the first time.

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KYLIE MINOGUE

The Abbey Road Sessions

Kylie as torch chanteuse? It's not as bad as you might think. Still, these orchestral overhauls of her hits from 25 years are really only for the hardcore.

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