New this week—7/4/10

Eminem
“Love the Way You Lie” (featuring Rihanna), #2
” No Love” (featuring Lil Wayne), #23
“Won’t Back Down” (featuring P!nk), #62
“Cold Wind Blows”, #71
“Talkin’ 2 Myself” (featuring Kobe), #88
“25 To Life”, #92

I have no doubt that Recovery is a better album than Relapse 2 would have been, and it probably is Eminem’s best since The Eminem Show, but that isn’t saying much. His skills remain amazing: his rap on “No Lie” is a marvel of technique, so much so that Lil Wayne is left with little more to do than stand back and cheer. But his sense of humor has all but disappeared, he repeats himself endlessly (the lyrics read like daily affirmations for victims of Tourettes), his vocals are overloud and overbearing, and he ends up both boring and a boor. I realize he has a lot of crap to work out, and there are occasional flashes of the old Eminem in these songs, but if he keeps up at this rate he’ll need to call his next album Redundant. And after that, dare I say it, Retirement?

Selena Gomez and the Scene—”Round & Round”
#24

While Miley Cyrus makes a big to-do and madly flaps her CGI wings to break out of the Disney mold, Gomez does it effortlessly. My hesitations about anything Kevin Rudolf is involved in disappeared after a couple of plays, and I now think this may be an even better record than “Naturally”. It’s modern dance pop without the controversial bits, more Cascada than Lady GaGa or Ke$ha. I still don’t know what The Scene do, other than appear in her videos, but Gomez, once she shakes off her teen vocal phrasing, looks to have a great career as a disco diva in store for her.

Maroon 5—”Misery”
#44

The groove is tight, I admit, so tight you can barely breathe. But that’s not the same as being too funky, and, based on their previous records, it may be the only groove they have. If it weren’t for Adam Levine, I might mistake them for INXS. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t a great thing, either.

Sara Barielles—”King of Anything”
#59

Catchy and sarcastic is a great pop combo, but catchy is all the music gets, the lyrics are a rehash of “Love Song”, and when Bareilles isn’t being sarcastic she sounds bored, a feeling she passes on to the listener.

Miley Cyrus—”Stay”
#75

Can’t be tamed, maybe. But domesticated? Sure, why not?

Adam Lambert—”If I Had You”
#94

Lambert makes interesting records, but I’m not sure a mix of modern dance music and hair metal is a good idea, even if the results were more appealing than this. Do we really need an updated version of Journey? Isn’t Glee bad enough?