Selena Gomez

Stars Dance |

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POP

After three albums fronting Selena Gomez & the Scene, the former Disney Channel star scored a quick hit with her first solo single, "Come & Get It," a frothy summer confection that, with its breezy tropical feel, casts her as the good-girl answer to Rihanna. It's not the only song on Gomez's solo debut that evokes lighter shades of Ri-Ri. There's also "Like a Champion," a reggae-style midtempo on which she unconvincingly plays the island rude girl. But Gomez also knocks off more pop starlets here. Other tracks find her mimicking Ke$ha ("Birthday"), Katy Perry ("Stars Dance") and Lady Gaga ("B.E.A.T."). Her lack of identity, though, won't stop you from twirling to "Forget Forever."

Court Yard Hounds

Amelita |

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COUNTRY-POP

It's been seven years since the last Dixie Chicks album, 2006's Grammy-winning Taking the Long Way, but a reunion will have to wait: Sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire have released their second set as Court Yard Hounds two months after Natalie Maines's solo debut. Thankfully the music on Amelita is a lot better than this duo's unfortunate name. There's an unassuming appeal coming from two women who are used to taking a backseat to the feisty Maines. Robison sings lead on most tunes but lends harmony to Maguire's tender comfort on "Gets You Down."

Marc Anthony

Marc Anthony 3.0 |

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LATIN

Although it was fun to hear Marc Anthony partying with Pitbull on "Rain over Me" (from 2011's Planet Pit), J.Lo's ex gets back to doing what he does best: salsa. In fact 3.0 is Anthony's first album of original salsa music since 2004's Valió la Pena, and you can hear the singer letting all that pent-up pasión loose here. The exuberance extends to the musicians—from piano and horns to the rhythm section—who succeed in creating an infectious live vibe on Spanish-language tracks like "Vivir Mi Vida" (translation: Living My Life), the No. 1 Latin single that is guaranteed to get the fiesta started.

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JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE

"Take Back the Night"

This summer jam from The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2, due Sept. 30, takes JT's MJ fixation to Off the Wall heights.

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KINGS OF LEON

"Supersoaker"

This guitar-drenched rocker, complete with thumping drums and bumping bass, lets Caleb Followill pour out his emotions.

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JANELLE MONAE

"Dance Apocalyptic"

Putting a funk-tastic female spin on Prince and OutKast, Monae will have you "dancing 'til the end" with this shimmying groove.

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PEARL JAM

"Mind Your Manners"

PJ is PO'd on this blistering preview of Lightning Bolt, their 10th studio album that's set to strike Oct. 15.

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IMAGINE DRAGONS

On hitting big with "Radioactive"

"I'm totally surprised," says frontman Dan Reynolds, 26. "I was just writing the song for myself. It's about my own struggle with anxiety and depression and trying to rise above that. It's mind-boggling that something so personal can relate to so many people."

On the secret behind their band name

"It's an anagram," says Reynolds. "We had a phrase we started with; we scrambled up the letters, and Imagine Dragons stuck. The original name is a secret. Not even my mom knows."

On Reynolds's best rock-star encounter

"Stephan [Jenkins] from Third Eye Blind invited me to come play 'Jumper' onstage with him. That was the first song I learned to play on guitar, and he didn't know that. Crazy!"

On living in Las Vegas

"Everyone thinks you bathe in the Fountains of Bellagio, walk the Strip every day and gamble, and it couldn't be further from the truth," explains Reynolds. "You learn very quickly that the house always wins!"

Ronald Isley

This Song Is for You

The lead singer of the Isley Brothers still knows how to deliver a slow jam with silky style. On songs like "Dinner and a Movie" and "The Boss," he can teach today's young lovemen about going for romance over raunch.

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Mayer Hawthorne

Where Does This Door Go

On his stellar third set, Hawthorne evokes such other soulful white men as Steely Dan, Jamiroquai and Robin Thicke. Highlights include the jazzy "Reach Out Richard" and the title-track ballad.

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Cody Simpson

Surfers Paradise

This 16-year-old heartthrob, now opening for Justin Bieber on tour, names his latest after a famous surfing spot on the Gold Coast of his native Australia, and beach ditties like "No Ceiling" make him out to be a junior Jack Johnson.

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Matt Nathanson

Last of the Great Pretenders

This singer-songwriter gives love to San Francisco on his solid eighth studio album. But perhaps the best moment here, "Sunday New York Times," has its aching heart in the Big Apple.

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