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Picks and Pans Main: Music

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Jason Derülo

Jason Derülo |


With Chris Brown still trying to resurrect his career (witness his latest’s flop), the time seems right for a new R&B-pop heartthrob. Enter 20-year-old Jason Derülo, who scored a No. 1 hit last fall with “Whatcha Say,” a space-funk jam that, for all its overzealous Auto-Tuning, proved ridiculously catchy. The song, like all of Derülo’s debut, was produced by J.R. Rotem, a hitmaker who has also worked with Rihanna, Sean Kingston and Leona Lewis. But while the disc delivers on other radio-ready confections—such as second single “In My Head,” another Top 10 hit—it comes up short taken as a whole in just 32 minutes.

Little Boots

Hands |


The latest dance-pop diva to follow in Lady Gaga’s platform-heeled footsteps is Little Boots. On her debut album, which came out in her native Britain last June, the singer (real name: Victoria Hesketh) keeps the party pumping with electro-pop grooves that shake and shimmer. The disc includes the U.K. hits “New in Town” and “Remedy,” two synth-driven standouts that suggest a giddier Gaga. But on tracks like the pulsating, Euro-disco “Stuck on Repeat,” Little Boots and her airy vocals can also bring to mind the second coming of Kylie Minogue.

Peter Gabriel

Scratch My Back |


It should come as no surprise that Peter Gabriel would not take the standard approach to a covers album. On Scratch My Back, the ever-arty adventurer does dramatic orchestral reimaginings of tunes by everyone from Paul Simon and Arcade Fire to Neil Young and Radiohead. Creating a haunting mood throughout, he pulls off the neat trick of making them all sound like Peter Gabriel songs. Highlights include his slowdown of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” which he transforms into symphonic splendor.


Smoke & Mirrors |


Lifehouse may not have the cool quotient of some other bands, but they’re still making hits 10 years after their double-platinum debut, No Name Face. Case in point: “Halfway Gone,” the first single from the quartet’s fifth CD, which is already a radio fave. Sure to follow is “Had Enough,” cowritten and featuring guest vocals by Chris Daughtry. There are no illusions of hipness on this or the rest of Smoke & Mirrors. It’s just solid pop-rock that delivers on hooks if not fresh style.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “It Is What It Is,” a resigned breakup ballad