NEW YORK (Billboard) - The second single from Taylor Swift’s top-selling CD is a beautiful, understated ballad that showcases her skill with a lyric and shines a spotlight on her signature tender, heart-on-her-sleeve vocals. Musically and materially, this is the antithesis of her previous single “Love Story,” with its upbeat melody and happily-ever-after ending. On this poignant ballad, Swift looks at what happens when the fairytale falls apart, singing, “I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairytale/I’m not the one you’ll sweep off her feet/Lead her up the stairwell.” Sparse production places the focus on Swift’s vocal and she makes the pain and disillusionment palpable. Her previous hits have explored the joys and disappointments of love from a decidedly youthful perspective, but this angst-ridden effort is something everyone can relate to. Heartbreak has rarely sounded as compelling.
And the hits just keep coming, as Rihanna mines her now greatest-hits opus “Good Girl Gone Bad” for an amazing eighth hit single. Here, she taps Justin Timberlake to co-star in a hot video that showcases the addictive chemistry between the two sexually charged performers. While “Rehab” has always been a highlight on the album, it does sound a bit dated, 18 months after its debut. That said, there’s no doubt Rihanna is spitting fire on the charts and this will be no exception, with its slinky, Timberlake-assisted background vocals and tension-filled production, contrasting strings and guitars. Another fine entry that radio is sure to show the love. With no signs of burn yet, a word to the label: “Breaking Dishes” could break records as the next single.
Three years after his surprise hit “Unpredictable,” Jamie Foxx returns to the microphone for his third studio album “Intuition,” due out before year’s end. For the first single “Just Like Me,” he enlists help from T.I. and sings about being in a relationship with a woman who has the same difficulty with monogamy that he does. But rather than expressing sadness or anger, he just comes to terms with how something they have in common is keeping them apart. Foxx’s smooth vocals are complemented by a stellar instrumental, and T.I.’s rhymes are strong as usual. Although not as powerful as their first collaboration — 2006’s “Live in the Sky” — “Just Like Me” proves that Foxx and T.I. continue to make beautiful music together.