<p>R. Kelly wants to be Number One</p>

R. Kelly wants to be Number One

Allison Iraheta, The Bravery, R. Kelly lead Dec. 1 new album releases

Will Iraheta outsell fellow 'American Idols' Adam Lambert and Kris Allen?

Following last week’s Super Monday, releases slow slightly before picking back up the rest of December. However, the flow of major-label debuts from “American Idol” contestants continues unabated as we see the third effort in as many weeks with Allison Iraheta’s “Just Like You.” R. Kelly returns with his ninth studio album, full of slow grinds and salacious come ons, and Kanye West protégé, British singer Mr. Hudson, continues his quest for stateside stardom.
The Bravery, “Stir the Blood” (Island): After moonlighting on Shakira’s new album (co-founder Sam Endicott co-wrote title track, “She Wolf”), rockers release third full-length studio album, produced by John Hill. The first single, “Slow Poison,” peaked at No. 23 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart. The album also includes the song “Hatefuck,” which spawned the controversial video.
Enya, “The Very Best of Enya” (Warner): Available as a CD or CD/DVD, this collection highlights the greatest hits from the ethereal sounding Irish lass. The tracks span her 22-year career including “Orinoco Flow” and “Only Time.”
Allison Iraheta, “Just Like You” (19/Jive): “American Idol” runner up follows new releases from fellow season eight participants Kris Allen and Adam Lambert. See review here.
Juvenile, “Cocky & Confident” (UTP/Atlantic/E1): Rapper’s first album in three year features a number of special guests including Pleasure P, Bobby V and Rico Love.  Juvenile is now 34….we’re just saying.
R. Kelly, “Untitled” (Jive): Following this summer’s mixtape, “The Demo Tape,” scandal-plagued R&B singer returns with his much-delayed ninth studio album. First single, “Number One,” with Keri Hilson, reached No. 8 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Mr. Hudson, “Straight No Chaser,” (G.O.O.D. Music/Mercury): British R&B/hip-hop artist hopes to replicate his homegrown success with this set, executive produced by Kanye West (who featured him on “Paranoid” from “808s & Heartbreak.).

Bob Seger, “Early Seger, Vol. 1” (Hideout): New recordings from the Detroit rocker are few and far between these days, so fans will have to settle for this 10-cut collection that includes four previously unreleased tracks from the early ‘70s, as well as five remastered cuts from “Back in 72” and “Smokin’ O.P.’s.”


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<p>Allison Iraheta's &quot;Just Like You&quot;</p>

Allison Iraheta's "Just Like You"

Credit: 19/Jive

Review: Allison Iraheta’s ‘Just Like You’

'American Idol' showcases her potent pipes

At 16, the magenta-haired Allison Iraheta was the youngest contestant on “American Idol,” but she quickly proved more than capable of holding her own among singers much older than she. The confidence and bravado, the now-17 year old displayed on the reality show is amplified on “Just Like You,” her major label debut out Dec. 1.

Iraheta’s strength is her ability to plant her feet and belt out a tune, so it’s no surprise that most of the songs here are tailored to her big voice. Even the mid-tempo selections allow her flex her pipes. She comes across like a junior Pink or Kelly Clarkson on many of the tunes, including pop punky first single “Friday I’ll Be Over U”; her voice has the same huskiness.  (Speaking of, Pink co-wrote the mid-tempo somewhat bland “No One Else” here; Pink also co-wrote Adam Lambert’s new single, “Whataya Want from Me.”)
Iraheta has found her sweet spot: powerhouse pop/rock melodies that allow her go from a whisper to a scream as warranted. For someone so young, she already has a knack for finding the right phrasing and emotional level for each song. Her performance of Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby” on “AI” and her outsized vocals have lead to comparisons to Pearl, whom she adores, but that’s way, way too heavy a mantle to hang on anyone. However, it’s going to be a pleasure watching how her delivery and song choices develop as she gets a little more life experience under her belt.
Among the solid pop/rock songs here there are a few mixed messages: on girl-empowerment tune “Don’t Waste the Pretty,” she sings in a more restrained tone to great effect about not spending a minute on someone who’s not worth it. It could be her “Beautiful.” But then she turns around on the spiky “Beat Me Up,” singing about a guy who, if not physically abusive, runs her through the emotional ringer and she stays around nonetheless.   Not a good message to send to anyone, especially impressionable young girls. It’s a shame it’s such a damn catchy tune.
Other songs worth noting are “Trouble Is,” a gorgeous ballad that melodically is a little like Robbie Williams’ “Angels.”  The emotionally raw “Scars” showcases her vulnerability.
There are a few clunkers here, like “Robot Love,” which declares “technology sucks,” and is a rant against her beau’s fascination with his gadgets. Melodically, it’s a cross between Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part II” and, we’re sure this wasn’t intentional; Chili’s baby back ribs jingle. “D is for Danger” is a cute idea taken too far.
Iraheta’s the third season eight finalist to release an album, following winner Kris Allen on Nov. 17 and runner-up  Lambert on Nov. 23. Third-place finisher Danny Gokey has signed with 19/RCA Nashville and is expected to release is major label debut next March. Of the three releases so far, Lambert's disc is by far the most self-assured, confident set, followed by Iraheta and then Allen.
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<p>Susan Boyle and Eminem: Birds of a feather</p>

Susan Boyle and Eminem: Birds of a feather

Credit: AP Photo

Susan Boyle outsells Eminem for best sales week in 2009

Just how high will her 'Dream' soar?


It’s one of those feel-good stories that comes along every few years that the media grabs hold of and squeezes out every last drop. Susan Boyle’s rags-to-riches tale started on “Britain’s Got Talent” when she astonished the judges with her made-for-Broadway pipes, despite her “Calling all K-Mart shoppers” looks. Her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” became a worldwide YouTube sensation.

The tale could have ended there, but it’s gone on: Boyle with an refreshing, yet awkward, confidence, submitted to a few cursory makeovers, but resolutely resisted losing weight or altering her appearance to suit the good fortune that supposedly only young, photogenic people deserve.

Now Boyle is prepped to enter the record books. Her debut CD, “I Dreamed a Dream,” will come at No. 1 on Tuesday, logging the highest first-week sales week of 2009, according to
Hits Daily Double. Boyle is on target to sell up to 675,000 copies of the CD, handily topping Eminem’s “Relapse,” which sold around 605,000 units its opening frame.

As we noted earlier, she is accomplishing this feat with virtually no radio play. Instead this is solely a TV and internet phenomenom.

Furthermore, according to Britain’s
The Daily Mail, “I Dreamed a Dream,” which came out last week in the U.K., is the quickest-selling debut album ever in England. The title sold more than 411,000 copies in the U.K., besting previous record-holder, Leona Lewis’s “Spirit.” It is also poised to debut at No. 1 on Canada and New Zealand.

Back to U.S., Boyle’s stunning feat robs another reality TV star, Adam Lambert, of debuting at No. 1. “For Your Entertainment” will sell around 230,000 copies, which would normally handily land him at the top.


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U2 slated to headline Glastonbury in 2010

Legendary British festival turns 40


U2 will headline Somerset, England’s famed Glastonbury Festival next summer in the group’s only UK/Irish date for 2010.
Glastonbury will mark its 40th anniversary in June. U2 will play June 25, according to the band’s website. Remarkably, it will be U2’s first ever appearance at Glastonbury and its first major festival show in more than 25 years.
Last year’s headliners were Neil Young, Blur and Bruce Springsteen.


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<p>Adam Lambert on &quot;The Early Show&quot;</p>

Adam Lambert on "The Early Show"

Credit: AP Photo

Interview with Adam Lambert: 'Whatever the cost, so be it'

He's here for your entertainment


Before he dragged a woman across stage, kissed a boy (and liked it) and simulated certain sex acts during his performance on the American Music Awards, Adam Lambert talked to us about sudden fame, making his CD, "For Your Enteratinment, and what life is like post-“American Idol.”
Below are tidbits we saved for Hitfix. For much more with Lambert, click here to read our interview from MSN.com. He reveals the strangest rumor he’s ever heard about himself, whether he’s dating fellow singer/songwriter Ferras, working with Lady GaGa and what was going on in his mind with that wacky album cover.
Q: I was talking to a fellow journalist who met you backstage in Washington, D.C., who was impressed with how kind you were to a terminally ill child who came to see you. Did you have a model for that or where did that graciousness come from?

A: I actually think I learned that from being in the theater. I was working for a production of “Wicked” for almost four years on and off. I watched the women who were the leads in the show every night exit the stage door and there was a huge line of fans that wanted to take pictures that wanted autographs. I think that that really prepared me for the whole “Idol” experience and being on the tour this summer and meeting fans before and after the show. You really have to realize, “You know what? This is this person’s first time seeing you” or “This is their night to see you and they’re excited, it’s not about you.” it’s about them at that point.. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing, so we owe them a lot of gratitude …. Theater is a great teaching tool for that because you have to give the illusion of the first time every night.
Q:  You’ve been very open in your interviews, whether print or TV and usually say something that makes great copy, whether it’s coming out or talking about making out with women. Is there a point where you feel like you have to coming up with something shocking to say?  

A: You know what’s really funny about that is I’m not thinking, “Oh, I have to come up with something shocking.”  I really feel like I’m just standing there, being interviewed, answering a bunch of questions and I think it’s actually the journalists who can choose to sensationalize something that I say. I really feel for the most part I’m being 100% myself and just being candid and open and no secrets and it gets kind of turned around sometimes or maybe it’s blown out of proportion…Sometimes I’ll go back and read something and be like (laughs), “That’s an interesting way to interpret what I said, okay.”  It’s like what I’m saying being interpreted by somebody else. It’s actually kind of funny to me; I get a kick out of it.
Q:  You are very focused on what kind of image you want to present and what kind of music you record for an artist just starting out. Where does that come from? 

A: I’m a little older and I’ve been in the entertainment industry for a minute and I think that I just kind of have gotten clear on what I want I’d like to go for. It’s like someone gives you an opportunity and goes, “Guess what? You just got a major record deal. Now what?”  You have one of two choices: you can kind of be afraid of it and let someone else be in charge of it or you can step up to the plate and [say, “Okay, cool. Thanks a lot for the opportunity and here we go and this is what I want to do.”  You can either steer or let someone else steer and I like to steer (laughs).
Q:  So you’re not going to be one of those artists that comes back a year from now and says you didn’t get to make the album you wanted to make.

A: No, this is the album I wanted to make. Of course, there were some time constraints. There are some limitations considering I was on tour this summer and we only had a little while to put it out. I can guarantee you I will grow in the next couple of years and evolve, but for where I’m at right now, I’m very proud of this.
Q:  Working with Lady GaGa surprised no one, but what about Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo? Huh?

A: Yeah, it was random. The producer that I worked with on that song, he had a relationship with Rivers and they had begun to write this song together. He showed it to me and I said that’s a great song, I want to do that and at least that’s my end of it. I think Rivers did an interview saying they had written it for Weezer and Weezer didn’t want it, so whatever. I don’t even know what the story is anymore.
Q: What’s your last thought before your head hits the pillow at night?

A: Oh gosh, what’s next? What’s tomorrow?  Right now, I’m just focused on looking ahead and then also being in the moment itself, but at night after I go to bed after a long day, I go, “Okay, that was today, you digested it and what’s tomorrow, what’s next on the agenda.”
Q: What’s the hardest thing about someone has a schedule knowing where you’ll be for the next two years.

A: I guess the inflexibility of it all, but you now what? It’s all about how you look at it. I spent the last couple of years working on a show where it was a routine, eight shows a week and I kind of burned out on that lifestyle. I really love the adventure that I’m on now, I love that it’s all in support of my project. I feel like I finally have reached my full potential. On a personal level, I’m doing what I love and it feels good. So whatever the cost of that is, so be it.


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<p>The Grammys have once again honored James Brown.</p>

The Grammys have once again honored James Brown.

Welcome 'California Girls,' 'Riders on the Storm' and more to the 2010 Grammy Hall of Fame

Annual induction includes 25 classic songs


What do the Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” and the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” have in common? They’re all waltzing into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010.

In addition to all the artists honored at the Grammy every year, governing body NARAS selects 25 tunes annually to be inducted into the hall for their historical significance. The Grammy Hall of Fame started in 1973. Songs are eligible 25 years after their initial release. The new group brings the total number of songs in the hall up to 851 (no idea where that one came from… they must have inducted 26 one year….)
Say hello to the class of 2010:
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<p>Susan Boyle performs on The Today Show.</p>

Susan Boyle performs on The Today Show.

Credit: AP Photo/Richard Drew

Who may be the first artist to surpass the 500,000 sales mark since Eminem?

Is it Rihanna, Adam Lambert or Susan Boyle?


Have you heard the one about the dowdy looking, middle-aged British singer who, with virtually no airplay and armed only with a great voice, rides not only to the top of the charts, but could possibly experience one of the highest sales weeks of the year?

If not, you will. As you may know,  Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream” set a record for pre-orders at Amazon.com, but Hits Daily Double reports that following one day after its release Nov. 23, Boyle’s collection is selling at three times  the estimated pre-release tally.  The tip sheet predicts that “I Dreamed a Dream” could sell more than 500,000 copies in its opening frame. In May, Eminem's "Relapse" sold more than 600,000.
Let’s look at this a little further. Boyle’s competing this week against new releases from Rihanna’s “Rated R” and Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment,” among many other titles. Music industry pundits would have you believe that every advantage should go to Rihanna and Lambert: they get more radio play and, most importantly, they’re younger—young enough to be Boyle’s children. Even though Boyle is on a major label, Columbia (only because Simon Cowell’s label goes through Columbia), no major label would normally come near someone like Boyle because major labels have utterly convinced themselves that artists over 40 don’t sell records, despite the RIAA stats that show that people 35 and up buy more albums than those 35 and under (this is a stat that held true even before rampant piracy started).
Rihanna, rightly or wrongly, has seen her stardom zoom into the stratosphere on the back of a tragic event. Lambert’s popularity has been propelled, in part, by his outsized personality and willingness to discuss his sex life...and simulate fellatio on national TV. I don't think we have to worry about Boyle doing that.
Another factor seemingly going against Boyle is although she was a fixture on U.K. television via being a contestant on “Britain’s Got Talent,” her main exposure in the U.S. has come through YouTube. You can count her U.S. television appearances on two hands. She hasn’t graced the cover of any major magazines yet.
Here’s what Boyle has that few artists today have: she has heart. And she wore her heart on her sleeve from the moment she walked out onto that ‘Britain’s Got Talent” stage and, amid snickers and rolled eyes because she didn’t fit the perfect picture (read: young, thin and conventionally pretty), she sang her heart out. She laid herself bare to ridicule because she had a dream and somewhere, somehow, her need to be heard outweighed her fear.  Regardless of whether you appreciate her voice, you have to admire her pluck: every message in society tells someone like Boyle that dreams are for younger, prettier people and she said no they aren’t. And if they her dream can come true, maybe yours can too.
That’s why people are buying “I Dreamed a Dream.” There’s no telling what kind of career Boyle will have, but there’s a lesson to be learned simply from what’s happening this week, if only the industry will listen.


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<p>Still from Paramore's &quot;Brick By Boring Brick&quot; music video</p>

Still from Paramore's "Brick By Boring Brick" music video

Watch: Paramore’s new video for ‘Brick By Boring Brick’

Does Hayley fall down the rabbit hole?


Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” movie doesn’t open up for a few months, but the Alice story is alive and well—with a twist—in Paramore’s new video for “Brick by Boring Brick,” the new single off its CD, “brand new eyes.”
The gorgeous looking clip, created by legendary video director Meiert Avis and Chris LeDoux (clearly not the late country singer) relies heavily on CGI and picture digitalization and is cast in a beautiful sepia tone.  It opens with a girl “who lives in fairy tales,” on a swing. Instead of angels’ wings, she sprouts butterfly wings. Paramore lead singer, Hayley Williams, now with light blonde hair, just like the little girl in the video. We see no other band members, by the way.
The little girl comes across a tea cup-bearing beastie, a Sophia Loren-looking creature holding a box of candy, and a scary hall of mirrors in a castle, all the while, Williams is seemingly undisturbed by the fact that she is singing as a grave digger (who may be a band member, come to think of it)  digs a grave mere inches away. There’s an ending that is a little disturbing, but remember, it’s only make believe. After several viewings, I still have no clue what the song or the video is about, but the clip sure looks great.

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<p>Britney Spears sees her &quot;Singles&quot; collection drop today.</p>

Britney Spears sees her "Singles" collection drop today.

It's Super Monday with new releases from Rihanna, Adam Lambert, Britney Spears, Beyonce, Jay-Z and more

The holiday cavalcade continues


The record release bonanza unleashed last week continues as a cavalcade of new CDs hits online and brick-and-mortarl retailers. As we’ve noted, the traditional Tuesday release date seems to be falling by the wayside as more and more titles are released on Monday to take advantage of an extra day of sales in the Monday-Sunday Nielsen SoundScan charting week (plus, most stores will be closed for Thanksgiving). So instead of Super Tuesday, we have Super Monday this week with new titles from Rihanna, Adam Lambert, Susan Boyle, Beyonce and more.
Beyonce, “I Am…Yours. An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas” (Music World/Columbia):   A CD/DVD set culled from Beyonce’s concert earlier this year at the Encore Theater runs through the singer’s entire career ranging from her Destiny’s Child era through “I Am.. .Sasha Fierce.” Also out on Monday, Nov. 23, is the deluxe edition of “I Am…Sasha Fierce,” which includes the original album plus “Video Phone (Extended Remix)” with Lady GaGa.
Birdman, “Pricele$$” (Cash Money/Universal Republic): Rapper and Lil Wayne colleague has already charted two hits off “Pricele$$,” on Billboard’s Rap Songs tally: First single, “Always Strapped,” with Lil Wayne, reached No. 5.  Second track, “Written on Her,” featured Jay Sean, peaked at a more modest No. 17.
Susan Boyle, “I Dreamed a Dream” (Syco Music/Sony BMG): “Britain’s Got Talent” runner-up and internet phenomenon Susan Boyle serves up a collection of cover songs ranging from her anthem, the title track, to the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer,” the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” and Christmas perennial, “Silent Night.” The collection set a pre-order record on Amazon.com. See story here.
Jay-Z, “Greatest Hits” (Def Jam): Hova’s second best-of collection covers the latter part of his Def Jam tenure. It does not include any tracks from “The Blueprint 3,” including chart-topper “Empire State of Mind,” which was his first set on his new label deal.
Lady GaGa, “The Fame Monster” (Cherrytree/Interscope):  “The Fame” plus eight more tracks. Read review here.
Adam Lambert, “For Your Entertainment” (19 Recordings/RCA): “American Idol” runner-up brings on the glam rock for his major label debut. Will he best season eight winner Kris Allen’s opening week sales? Read review here.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “The Live Anthology” (Reprise): The best way to experience Petty and his band is live and there are 48 tracks/4 CDs here for the taking (a number of the cuts have been available through Petty’s website in an innovative download program). The set spans three decades. Best Buy will offer a special 5 CD edition.
Rihanna, “Rated R” (Def Jam): Led by singles “Russian Roulette” and “Hard,” Rihanna’s fourth studio album is a dark look from the formerly sunny girl. See review here.
Jay Sean, “All or Nothing” (Cash Money/Universal Republic): British urban artist has already scored numerous hits in his native UK and in Asia (his parents are Indian) with his two previous releases. Now America has embraced him with his No. 1 hit, “Down,” featuring his Cash Money label mate, Lil Wayne.
Shakira, “She Wolf” (Epic): One of Colombia’s biggest export s has struggled a little getting “She Wolf” off the ground after the title track flamed out fast at radio, but expectations are still high for her predominantly English set, which includes collaborations from producers RedOne, Wyclef Jean and the Bravery’s Sam Endicott.
Britney Spears, “The Singles Collection” (Jive): It’s been 10 years since an under-age Brit Brit fueled middle-aged men’s fantasy in her not-so-innocent school girl outfit with “Baby… One More Time.” Then she seemingly disappeared. 
Just kidding. A decade later, between all the drama, hospitalizations, custodial issues, marriages, births, etc., there has been some very fun dance pop. It’s all gathered here, along with her latest No. 1, “Three.”
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<p>Rihanna's &quot;Rated R&quot;</p>

Rihanna's "Rated R"

Review: Rihanna's 'Rated R' brings out the dark side of the previously sunny island girl

How do you rate it?


“Rated R” opens with “Mad House” as a spoken male voice—somewhat redolent of Michael Jackson’s tune “Thriller”-- advises “to those of you easily frightened, we suggest you turn away now.” So don’t say you weren’t warned when you enter Rihanna’s fourth studio album and discover she forgoes any shred of lightheartedness  displayed on such previous hits as “Umbrella” and “Don’t Stop the Music” for an often dense, turgid and violent collection.

The whole affair, out Nov. 23,  feels like any shred of innocence that allowed Rihanna to joyfully sing her past pop hits has been stripped from her very marrow. She’s 21 going on 35 here.

As anyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock the past year knows, it’s been a particularly painful year for the singer and all the understandable distrust and hurt that she feels from being abused by her ex Chris Brown seemingly plays out writ large on a number of the tracks here (given that she doesn’t write most her own material, she has to find others to voice her anger and frustration). It is impossible to listen to many of the songs on “Rated R”—such as “Cold Case Love” (a highlight co-written by Justin Timberlake)  or “Stupid in Love”-- and not filter them through that horrific context whether that is how they are meant to be heard or not.
For example, first single “Russian Roulette,” which we reviewed extensively here, for all its gunplay, is more about the psycho-sexual drama of being in a damaging relationship. The firearm motif continues on “G4L,” which apparently stands for “Gangsta for Life.” Rihanna sings “I lick the gun when I’m done because I know that revenge is sweet.” Like “Russian Roulette,” the song has a certain grinding, sensual mid-tempo rhythm that recalls a Shirley Bassey-era James Bond theme.

Yes, there is a world of difference between playing out some revenge fantasy in song and hitting someone in real life—and we are in no way suggesting otherwise-- but it can be a fine line to delicately walk between being both the totally innocent victim and the perpetrator, both of which she plays on “Rated R.”  On “Rude Boy,” she tells her lover, “I like the way you pull my hair.”  It’s tempting to give Rihanna a free pass in the name of expressing her rage and art, but it’s equally fair to call her out for sending, if not mixed,  slightly confounding messages. 
As much as Rihanna can bring the tough-girl swagger--- I wouldn’t want to face her in a dark alley, even with her in six-inch Louboutins—she’s equally convincing as the vulnerable, hurting half of a destructive duo on “Stupid in Love,” a stirring ballad in which friend after friend tries to wave her off a damaging relationship before she finds her own strength to walk away. Just as her appearance on “20/20” inspired many young women to come forth with their own upsetting tales of abuse, maybe “Stupid in Love” can give them the courage, as Rihanna did, to leave.   

Rihanna doesn’t have a particularly strong or broad range, but her voice is expressive and supple. One of her strongest suits is her delivery that often reflects her island upbringing. Instead of trying to sound like every other pop singer, on such tunes as “Wait Your Turn,” and “Hard,” she incorporates Caribbean beats and her patois into the songs, giving them both a unique feel.  

Much of the credit has to be given to her collaborators: Timbaland, Tricky Stewart, Timberlake and Ne-Yo. Plus, Young Jeezy’s rap on “Hard,” sharpens the fangs on the album’s most commercial cut. Will.i.am brings a touch of sweetness and complements Rihanna’s soft side on “Photographs.” Rihanna easily shifts to her inner heavy-metal side with “Rockstar 101,” on which she’s accompanied by every one’s go-to guitarist, Slash.  Her only real misstep is her toe-dip into Sappho soft-core on “Te Amo,” on which she heavily flirts before gently telling a Latin lovely that she doesn’t play that way. Maybe she felt that this was the one group she’d ignored in her often overtly sexual imagery.

All this drama plays out among a sonic landscape of hypnotic beats and layered rhythms, much of it intriguing, but for anyone looking for the escape from the daily doldrums that much of Rihanna’s earlier music provided, look elsewhere. “Rated R” is a lot of things, but fun is definitely not one of them.
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