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Picks and Pans Main: Music

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Battle of the Sexes |


You can always count on Ludacris for some laugh-out-loud, oh-no-he-didn’t moments on his albums. On his seventh disc, the Grammy-winning rapper saves his best zinger for last: the bonus track “Sexting,” which, with its references to sex rehab and tawdry texting, hilariously lampoons Tiger Woods over a banging Neptunes beat. The golfer provides more lyrical fodder on another highlight, the thumping “My Chick Bad,” on which Ludacris boasts about a lady who’s “comin’ out swingin’ like Tiger Woods’ wife.” Elsewhere, Battle tackles gender issues on cuts such as “Hey Ho,” which addresses double standards about sex as only Luda can. But on slow jams like the Ne Yo assisted “Tell Me a Secret,” he is all about making love and not war.

Jamie Cullum

The Pursuit |


British piano man Jamie Cullum engages in many musical pursuits on his latest album. He goes from big band (a swinging rendition of Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things”) to house music (the pulsating original “Music Is Through”), show tunes (“Not While I’m Around” from Sweeney Todd) to a Rihanna cover (a torchy take on “Don’t Stop the Music”). Such eclecticism serves to help this jazz-pop crooner from being just another Sinatra wannabe. To his credit, Cullum also does more writing than, say, Michael Buble. Ten of 14 songs bear his pen, including “I Think, I Love,” which you could well mistake for a ’40s standard.

Danny Gokey

My Best Days |


Avid American Idol watchers will remember that Danny Gokey, last year’s third-place finisher, scored well with the judges when he performed Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most.” Still, it comes as a surprise that Gokey-who possesses the blue-eyed-soul voice of a Michael Bolton or a Michael McDonald- would go country on his debut album. The genre is just not a natural fit for him as it’s been for other Idol alums like Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler. But a good singer is a good singer, and Gokey remains one despite sounding like a stranger in Nashville.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “I Will Not Say Goodbye,” a defiant refusal to let go

Keke Wyatt

Who Knew? |


The best song on Keke Wyatt’s new CD is “Peace on Earth,” a remake of a tune by another soul sister, Rachelle Ferrell. The stripped-down setting, with gentle acoustic guitar strumming in the background, lays bare the raw emotion in Wyatt’s voice as she calls for peace in the home. The rest of Who Knew? offers few surprises, but it’s a solid set of R&B for grown folks.