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Alicia Keys Fires It Up!

November 27, 2012 2:14 PM ET

As most of us know, the past weekend -- beginning with the illustriously titled Black Friday and extending through the equally compelling Cyber Monday -- represents the single best selling opportunity today's record labels have all year long!

So what does it mean if you're an artist and your album comes out . . . a week later?

Well, maybe it means all those crates of CDs were accidentally locked in a back room in Terre Haute, Indiana, or Mexico, or wherever they make those things! Or maybe it means the kind folks at iTunes and Amazon had a hard time personalizing the albums' digital metadata so that if you decided to upload them later on the Internet they could come and arrest you!

Or maybe it means that somebody somewhere simply forgot about this stuff!

Luckily, New This Week is here to remind everybody about this week's hottest new product! Unfortunately, as a blog, it's an inanimate object and doesn't talk much!

Alicia Keys: Girl On Fire (RCA) It would be the height of snarkiness to say anything negative about the lovely Alicia Keys, particularly when her biography notes that she is "a 14-time GrammyÆ Award-winning singer/songwriter/producer, an accomplished actress, a New York Times best-selling author, an entrepreneur and a powerful force in the world of philanthropy and in the global fight against HIV and AIDS." OK, great! So is she any good? They didn't mention that! To be totally objective: She looks great on the album cover, her new logo is extremely cool -- I liken it to Hyundai's, maybe after a few drinks -- and admittedly, recording an album that features the artist literally being set afire at the album's climax is kind of kinky! Still, to my ears, her album is hampered by its being anchored by, in her bio's words. her "trademark piano" -- which, as most musicians realize, is kind of a nothing brand (I've never heard of it!) and seems to sort of rattle when it hits the high notes! The album of the year? I simply don't know!

Glee Cast: Glee The Music: Season 4, Volume 1 (Columbia) In these days when the likes of House Of Love see their albums re-released in deluxe editions, when Slowdive and Chapterhouse seem to have a whole new life, and Ride may, in many people's mind, now be declared the most prescient band of the shoegazing era, is it any wonder that Glee are now reaching their commercial peak? The Brit quartet offer up a unique concept album here fully sketching out a TV show apparently populated by morons -- whether from Ohio or Peru remains questionable -- and a batch of horrendous songs that borders on frightful sarcasm! With covers of Billy Joel, Coldplay and, God help us, Psy, the material on the new set is in its way as aggressively atonal as mid-career My Bloody Valentine and nowhere near as much fun to listen to in your car! But as the cover picture illustrates, the band has in irresistible knack for spotlighting today's most fashionable luggage, and that pink carry-on is to die for!

Rage Against The Machine: Rage Against The Machine -- XX (20th Anniversary Edition) (Epic/Legacy) If you're willing to accept that in any music fan's lifetime, there comes a precise moment when he or she raises his or her hands upward and says, "WTF," (presuming one speaks in acronyms!) "this crap is unlistenable!," then you might accept that I said exactly that, many years ago, when I heard this album, now celebrating its 20th anniversary, and cleverly renamed the band Kicking The Refrigerator. No one cared! Historical irony footnote: While I couldn't tolerate their horrendous lead "singer" Zack de la Rocha's style but sort of dug the band, and always thought Chris Cornell had been hampered by Soundgarden's limited chops, the notion of a merger of the two -- later to actually take place and be called Audioslave -- seemed it might in fact be good! I often mention this to my friends these days while listening to Loggins & Messina and yes, we laugh uproariously!

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