"Hold My Hand"
When it first appeared, there was some doubt that this 2007 "collaboration" — circulated in a rough but near-identical version after Michael Jackson's death — really happened. (Members of Jackson's family are among the skeptics.) Musically, the controversy is much ado about little. "Hold My Hand," the lead single from the forthcoming posthumous Michael LP, is a modestly anthemic ballad about sticking by loved ones in hard times, with a melody faintly echoing Bob Mar... | More »
Rolling in the Deep
With the follow-up to her Grammy-snagging 2008 album looming, this London pop-soul singer made a surprising choice for the disc's first single: "Rolling in the Deep" finds the 22-year-old in bluesy gospel mode, sounding powerful but not particularly pop. Starting with a stroked acoustic guitar, this breakup-mourning track builds to a stomping, hand-clapping climax that affirms the English knack for rejiggering the sound of American roots music. "I can't help feeling we could've... | More »
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"
This version of the Thriller killer, cut by its producer for his new album, finds T-Pain splashing on the Auto-Tune like cheap cologne while Thicke channels Michael more straightforwardly. This at least beats Justin Guarini’s version from Season One of Idol. | More »
Our first taste of the Kanye-Jay collaboration album (due next year) celebrates some simple pleasures: a dusty Curtis Mayfield sample, a butter-dripping beat, and Jay waxing nostalgic about listening to his mama's shit when he was on his pajama shit. This isn't about conquering the world, just watching it spin. | More »
"Down by the Water"
Surprise! This isn't an 18-minute prog epic. Instead, it's a tight folk rocker from the Decemberists' forthcoming album, The King Is Dead. R.E.M.'s Peter Buck adds signature guitar chime, Gillian Welch contributes powerhouse backing vocals, and there's also a badass harmonica-accordion duel. It's not entirely clear what frontman Colin Meloy is going on about, but his imagery is evocative. About this "lash-flashing Leda of Pier 19," sir, we would like to hear more. | More »
"Not in Love"
"Not in Love" was a generic arena-rock tune by big-haired Eighties band Platinum Blonde. But with the help of the Cure's frontman, Canadian synth duo Crystal Castles have transformed it into an awesomely gothic, vocoder-slathered dance-floor monster. Shunning love but singing with lust, Smith wails as the bass line rumbles and the keyboards go from spookily churchy to magnificently claustrophobic. This is Smith's catchiest, most immediately satisfying record since "Friday I'm i... | More »
It's a match made in battle-rap heaven! On this single from Minaj's upcoming debut, two motormouths – both of whom know their way around a punch line, love goofy voices and suffer from severe cases of multiple personality disorder — team up for nearly five minutes of back-and-forth word-hurling. They rhyme like they're playing hot potato with a live grenade, and Swizz Beatz's hushed, chugging production throws the microphone viciousness into jarring relief. The... | More »
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