Justin Bieber
MY WORLD 2.0 3/23

LOWDOWN: Just four months after releasing his debut, teen phenom Justin Bieber is rolling out the follow-up. The new disc leans R&B, from its influences (Boyz II Men, Usher, Anthony Hamilton) to its theme.


LOWDOWN: Drake’s LP is a reflection of how the upstart Toronto MC has become hip-hop’s new leading man. “I tried to capture every great moment I’ve had in the last year,” he says. “It’s triumphant.” To wit: He raps about a presumed love affair with Rihanna and his friendship with mentor Lil Wayne on “Fireworks.” Drake mostly eschewed big names in favor of home-town producers (Boi-1da, Noah “40” Shebib) and a collaboration with New York indie rockers Francis and the Lights. “It’s gonna be interesting,” he says. “I hope it’s pleasing to the ear.”

Maroon 5 

LOWDOWN: Maroon 5’s last album — 2007’s double-platinum It Won’t Be Soon Before Long — wasn’t exactly a bomb, but singer Adam Levine says he wasn’t happy with it. “It sounded more like other people than us,” he says. To switch things up, the band traveled to Switzerland to work with legendary AC/DC and Def Leppard producer Robert “Mutt” Lange. “There’s never been a more Mutt-friendly band than us,” he says. “He’s into pop, he’s an amazing rock producer, and he pushed us — really kicked my ass.” The result: a purposely eclectic third album that borrows from Motown (“I Can’t Lie”), country music (“Out of Goodbyes”) and Amy Winehouse-style throwback soul (“Give a Little More”). “This is more like our debut,” says Levine. “We’re less interested in moving the machine and more concerned with writing music naturally.”

Christina Aguilera

LOWDOWN: On her fourth LP, Christina Aguilera didn’t want to sound like herself. “I’m not interested in giving it this ‘Christina’ sound,” she says. “I want to make my voice more relaxed, less soulful.” So Aguilera invited synth-punk trio Le Tigre, Ladytron, singer Sia and M.I.A. producers Hill and Switch, among others, to her L.A. studio, where they cut tunes packed with futuristic synths and singsong chants. Aguilera got sentimental on “All I Need,” a ballad written for her two-year-old son: “It’s a sweet, sweet song.”

Katy Perry

LOWDOWN: “I want to evolve like Madonna,” says Katy Perry. “If I had to be the fruity pinup girl another day, I would jump off the Hollywood sign.” Perry’s follow-up to 2008’s smash One of the Boys has her re-teaming with hitmakers Dr. Luke and Max Martin and delivering more hypercatchy pop in the vein of “Hot N Cold” and her Number One single, “I Kissed a Girl,” while also delving into deeper matters: “My faith, my conviction and awe of the supernatural world.” And thanks to her recent engagement to Russell Brand, the album also boasts its share of love songs — 50 percent, by her estimate. Still, the pop tart hasn’t gone totally chaste. In the Prince-influenced “Dressing Up,” Perry coos, “You wanna pet my kitty?” “You’re such a dirty doggie” and “My cookie monster wants a taste,” of which Perry says, “I think those lyrics are cute!”

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