1. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
"Suit & Tie" grew on me, but this insta-grabber-with its lush, melodic splendor and stare-into-my-heart lyrics-reflects better on the prospects for The 20/20 Experience, due March 19.
2. THE JACKSONS
"Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)"
I saw Timberlake cover this 1978 jam during his post-Grammy show at the Hollywood Palladium, turning it into one big house party. Let's dance, let's shout indeed.
3. BEN HARPER WITH CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE
"We Can't End This Way"
A hand-clapping throwback to old-time gospel from Get Up!, Harper's full-length collaboration with the harmonica master.
4. THE LONE BELLOW
"Tree to Grow"
A rootsy, harmony-rich beauty from this alt-folk trio's splendid self-titled debut. It even sprouts echoes of U2's The Joshua Tree.
5. MIRANDA LAMBERT
"Mama's Broken Heart"
The latest single from Four the Record is my foot-stomping fave off the album. It's a badass breakup song, with Lambert snarling, "Sometimes revenge is the choice you gotta make."
6. HOLLY WILLIAMS
"Gone Away from Me"
Hank Jr.'s daughter gets an aching assist from Jackson Browne on this heartbreaker of a ballad from The Highway, an early contender for 2013's best country album.
7. FLEETWOOD MAC
It's all about Stevie Nicks on this enchanting reverie from their '77 smash Rumours, which celebrates its 36th anniversary with a new reissue before Fleetwood Mac launches a U.S. tour in April.
Yes, it may be icky to think that she's singing this about Chris Brown, but this spare piano ballad from Unapologetic is one of the most straight-up touching things Ri-Ri has ever done.
COMMENTS? WRITE TO CHUCK: firstname.lastname@example.org
MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE IS ...
Parents on the Internet. Luckily my mom is not on Facebook or Twitter yet.
MY GO-TO KARAOKE SONG IS ...
"November Rain" [by Guns N' Roses]. It has the most epic air-guitar solo. I always borrow an unlit cigarette to dangle from my mouth like Slash (inset).
THE LAST TIME I WENT TO THE OPERA WAS ...
Three or four months ago I saw my dear friend Renee Fleming in La Traviata. One of the great things about living in New York is being a subway stop away from the Met.
THE SECRET TO A GOOD HAIR DAY IS ...
Ketchup and baby tears! Have you seen my hair? This is basically whatever it decides to do.
THE NERDIEST THING ABOUT ME IS ...
I'm kind of a game freak: video games and antique board games. I like Dungeons & Dragons kinds of games.
THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT ME IS ...
That I can cook. People put on my music when they're making pasta, so they assume I'm just always having dinner parties. But I have a book called Microwave for One.
MY CELEB CRUSH IS ...
When I was 13, it was Christina Ricci. I was super into really dark, goth girls. When I saw her in The Addams Family, I was like, "My dream lady." So really I had a crush on Wednesday Addams.
THE BEST MAKEOUT MUSIC IS ...
A three-way tie between Fiona Apple, Portishead and D'Angelo. Or Nine Inch Nails if they're freaky. Definitely not Josh Groban.
When It Was Now
This Aussie quartet—two of whom are brothers-delivers synth-pop bliss on their debut album. Bouncy, jangly tracks like "Through the Glass" and the single "Trojans" may fall shy of genius, but they're still pretty damn irresistible.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE
m b v
It's been 22(!) years since the last studio album from this Irish alt-rock outfit, and though this set (available on their website) doesn't quite merit such a protracted wait-what could?-it's a dreamy tapestry of atmospheric noise.
This singer-songwriter is on Jack Johnson's own label, Brushfire Records. But while the two share some of the same folkie breeziness, Costa's smooth charms on his fourth album extend to retro-'60s songs like the horn-kissed "Early November."
Fiction Family Reunion
Switchfoot's Jon Foreman and Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins display the loose, easy camaraderie of musical kinfolk on their second joint album. Foreman takes the lead on two highlights: "Give Me Back My Girl" and "Up Against the Wall."