Selling his new single with the hashtag #tributetoMJ, Rihanna's beau engages in transparent image-doctoring on a song that channels the King of Pop, starting with the "Owwww!" that kicks it off. A generic, if well-built, R&B praise song to a woman, it rocks a squishy, Daft Punk-y synth line and bright string arrangements, while the chorus centers on Brown declaring, "I'm not dangerous" – a word choice he probably thought long and hard about, just as listeners will. | More »
"Come & Get It"
Call it Gomez's Justin Bieber breakup song if you want. The more accurate description, though, is "Rihanna-wannabe anthem." Stargate and Ester Dean, the team behind some of Rih's biggest smashes, have given Gomez the good stuff: an unimpeachably catchy big-pop stomp, with come-hither lyrics and a string of moody vocal hooks that eerily echo you-know-who. | More »
A soaring ballad by synth-pop scientist Anthony Gonzalez, belted by Sundfør, a shiny-voiced Norwegian pop star. Cut for the titular Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller, the song is capped with a jazzy instrumental section, just like M83's 2011 hit "Midnight City" – because if it ain't broke, don't fix it. | More »
"Wildest Moments (Remix)"
Rocky's collab with the U.K. electro-soul diva is the sound of a hotheaded lover taking a timeout. "We glow like sticks/Words thrown like fists/If your love is the sea/Watch it grow like kids," he rhymes, showing the tender side of a roughneck MC. | More »
"You a princess to the public but a freak when it's time," Mac Miller guest-raps on this linen-weight summer jam. Grande, a 19-year-old Nickelodeon star with Broadway chops, is more flirty than freaky, but her Mariah-esque vocals verge on ecstatic. | More »
"Bow Down/I Been On"
The artwork features a tiara-wearing Beyoncé Knowles, age 10 or so, in a room crammed with trophies. The lyrics make the message clear: "I'm the number-one chick, I don't need no hype." Musically, this Hit Boy-produced diptych is a homage to B's hometown, Houston, with a woozy "Bow Down" beat that segues into a chopped-and-screwed rap. In "I Been On," her voice is pitch-shifted to make her sound like a 400-pound thug as she gets in touch with her inner Pimp C ("Gold ever... | More »
"She Makes Me Happy"
Writing his 2012 autobiography inspired Stewart to pen 11 of the 12 songs on his forthcoming album, Time – his first to feature original material in nearly 20 years. The album might be an unexpected move for rock's greatest interpretive singer, but on this hearty, heartfelt ode to the transformative power of his third wife, Stewart radiates cornball lovability. "Over a striding beat and kilt-spinning fiddles and mandolins, Stewart sings, "Now I'm working out daily and I'm... | More »
Roy Orbison's classic is a tough chestnut to crack, an everlasting fusion of quavery emoting and plush instrumentation. Bethany, an early-rock fetishist with a normally dominating voice, comes off more bratty than stout in this low-fi acoustic version. Points for degree of difficulty, though. | More »
"Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe (Remix)"
"I'm looking to be the God MC," crows Lamar. To help with that lofty aim, he's teamed up with a rap deity and reworked his most mesmerizing track, jettisoning introspection for braggadocio. As for Jay: He plays the stoner, unleashing some slick rhymes about getting high and going to the White House. | More »
Will.i.am is the master of dopey-pop: HGH-injected dance hooks with lyrics so silly they bend toward the sublime. This solo single doesn't disappoint on that front: "I'm-a take it higher and high and high and higher/I stay and buy attire." Musically, though, it fizzles: just a wan melody warbled by Bieber over generic 4/4 beats. #FAIL. | More »
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