A Girl Like Me

Hip-hop and mall rock have all but replaced dance pop on American airwaves, but every once in a while a Euro-style club mash-up breaks through. Barbados-born emigre Rihanna's huge dancehall pop hit last year, "Pon De Replay," was savvy and sexy, and her new smash, "SOS," is even more so. Singing a snaky Destiny's Child-like melody around synth riffs and machine beats from Soft Cell's Eighties classic "Tainted Love," Rihanna proves America still appreciates clever pop when it hears it. Like her filler-packed debut album, this similar but superior follow-up doesn't deliver anything else as ingenious as its lead single: Lightweight dancehall and R&B jams lack the single's ear-bending boldness. But the burning rock guitar of "Kisses Don't Lie" and haunted strings of "Unfaithful" help make A Girl Like Me much more likable.