Lady Gaga, ARTPOP
When it comes to ARTPOP, Lady Gaga serves her usual Madonna meets Ziggy Stardust with EDM flare. But there’s something more reflective about this project than some of her past work, as her focus seems to be less on liberation. On tracks like “ARTPOP” and “Dope,” for example, Gaga admits that she cares more about the music yet vices like sex, fashion, love and fame can also be addictive and destructive—same topics, different perspective. Overall, the pop superstar delivers a cohesive project with the exception of the out of place “Jewlez N’ Drugs,” a hip-hop-inspired ode to… you guessed it, featuring T.I., Twista and Too $hort. You can skip that track, but the rest of ARTPOP is sure to inspire head-nodding, flailing (if that’s your style) and vogue-inducing fevah.
Tamar Braxton, Winter Loverland
Tamar Braxton is usually more a fan of singing pop styled music along the lines of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. But her Christmas album reminds us that she is versatile. The baby of the Braxton Bunch presents her soft and pink side by covering sweet classics like “Santa Baby,” “The Chipmunk Song (Don’t Be Late),” “Silent Night” and more, with a pizzazz that’s all her own.
Jhene Aiko, Sail Out EP
Jhene Aiko went from the newbie known as “Lil Fizz from B2K’s cousin” to becoming the go-to guest for airy pop and R&B hooks. Jhene now has collaborations with J. Cole, Big Sean and Drake under her belt, but it seems like she’s ready to take center stage as a soloist. Sail Out is a seven-track collection of ethereal songs about love. The low-key album can best be described as “rainy day music” (sorry to be cliché but that’s what it sounds like); still, it’s a good teaser. Jhene has a bright future in music.
Various Artists, The Best Man Holiday Soundtrack
Harper Stewart, Lance Sullivan and crew are back for the second time around on the big screen, so it’s only right that a soulful soundtrack album (remember those?) follows suit. The Best Man Holiday features classics like New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain,” “This Christmas” (covered by Mary J. Blige), “Winter Wonderland” (covered by Emile Sandé) and more.
Starrene Rhett Rocque is a pop culture junky who often fantasizes about becoming a shotgun toting B-movie heroine, and aspires to save the world from the impending #ZombieApocolypse… In reality she’s a freelance entertainment journalist/blogger who muses about music, TV, movies and love. Follow her on Twitter @GangStarrGirl or at GangStarrGirl.com.