U2 have made their current European tour a testing ground for new material. The best of the new live songs is "Mercy," cut during the sessions for 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb but not on the album. The band has reworked "Mercy" for the stage, turning it into a big bear hug of a ballad that almost sounds like it could have gone on Joshua Tree. "You're going to kill me, and I want to die," Bono sings against the Edge's spacey arpeggios. &qu... | More »
"Lord Lord Lord"
Kanye visits the chill-out lounge, delivering a seven-minute-plus opus that's languid in the extreme: Psychedelic-soul synths float on a groove that wouldn't sound out of place on your smooth-jazz station. The rapping is equally laid-back: Mos Def purrs abstractions ("Ecstatic patterns in the calendar design"); Swizz Beatz slurs boasts about cars and suede attire; Raekwon muses on weed-smoking. Kanye, meanwhile, is full of punch lines — "If I'm a douche, then put me in yo... | More »
"Def Surrounds Us"
After secretly planting vinyl copies in record shops across Europe, the master of surreal, sample-drenched electronica drops a digital version of this single, his first in four years. It's a time-warping combo of hand claps, video-game bleeps, Nineties jungle break beats and a slow-mo electric-guitar arpeggio, all unspooling amid snippets of the spoken phrase "Though we are alive, death surrounds us." (Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Brightside!) "I've Been Trying,"... | More »
Ever wonder what a Robert Plant reworking of Jay-Z's "99 Problems" might sound like? New Roc Nation signee Hugo has the answer. This mystic acoustic number feels a bit like a novelty, but the heavy, banjo-laden production hits hard. Photos: Hip-Hop Royalty: How Jay-Z and Beyonce Run This Town | More »
Chromeo feat. Ezra Koenig
"I Could Be Wrong"
On this magnificently cheesy synth-pop jam, indie rock's reigning Columbia grad (Vampire Weekend's Koenig) duets with electro-funk's reigning Columbia Ph.D. candidate (Chromeo's Dave 1), singing in falsetto about a mind-game-playing hottie. The real scene-stealer, though, is the scorching sax solo at the end. Video: Chromeo at Lollapalooza 2010 | More »
"Only Girl (In the World)"
"Love me like I'm a hot guy," begins Rihanna. Sadly, the rest of the lyrics are less gender-bendingly strange, and the trance beat won't keep you in the club unless someone else is paying for the drinks. Video: Rihanna Sings "Livin' On a Prayer" With Bon Jovi | More »
"Set the Right"
A just-surfaced outtake from 2003's American Life, "Set the Right" drops a simple, catchy tune over a blend of folky guitar and austere electronics. Less successful are Madonna's odd delivery (proper British vowels, casual Midwestern r's) and disingenuous claim that she won't take political sides. Photos: Celebrating Madonna: The Queen of Pop's 50 Most Iconic Moments | More »
"If It Wasn't for Bad"
Russell is an Oklahoma-bred singer who wowed John 40 years ago and later fell off the map. The lead track from their duets album is a wise-cracking lament, with John echoing Russell's distinct nasal twang. The song transitions to an Electric Light Orchestra-style fantasia, before the keyboards take it all back to the chorus. The end result is both masterful and gratifyingly odd. Photos: Random Notes: Justin Timberlake, Elton John, Bono, Gnarls Barkley | More »