Hear Me Out: Jennifer Lopez, Matthew Morrison, Kylie Minogue

Jennifer Lopez, Love?

On her first album in four years, J.Lo isn’t waiting for tonight – it’s already here.

There’s debaucherous drinking and dancing on the hyper-slamming first single “On the Floor,” leaning on the European dance craze with a shallow mind-taking melody that’s cut with laser synths and Ibiza beats. It’s totally ridiculous, especially Pitbull’s cheesy rap, but so are the best (of the worst) songs on the album – like “Papi,” an all-out house/trance track with a Latin vibe, and the vague-but-appropriately-titled “Invading My Mind.” But La Lopez is late to the party, and the actress/“singer”/_American Idol_-judge-with-a-heart follows more trends than she makes with songs that sound 10 years tardy. Everything about Love? is so safe it’s snoozy, from the cloned cuts to Lopez’s flat delivery (see: out-of-range “One Love”), and too superficial to compensate for its datedness, even with power producers Tricky Stewart and RedOne. And having Gaga pitch in “Hypnotico” only does J.Lo an injustice, begging one question: How much better would it be coming out of Mother Monster’s mouth? For someone who’s consistently boasted about her realness, the only time she’s Jenny from the block is on the mid-tempo saved-by-love song “Until It Beats No More.” It’s that authentic charm the rest of the album needs. Without it, Love?

Grade: C-

Matthew Morrison, Matthew Morrison

Being the hot teacher on a hit show has its advantages – you can record an album, and people will listen. Just ask Matthew Morrison, the affable Mr. Schuester on Glee. The Broadway star’s first solo CD sticks close to the series’ compilations, a frothy concoction of cheesy and tender that goes down easy. So easy, in fact, that after it’s down, it’s gone. Only a few tracks have staying power, and those all boast big names – he mashes up two Elton John songs, “Rocket Man” and “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” with the man himself; sings with Sting on his “Let Your Soul be Your Pilot”; and gets Gwyneth Paltrow for the exhausted ukulele version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It’s when Morrison, who never quite proves his pop artistry on this jumbled mishmash, is free to roam on his own that we’re left with, well, not much. Despite the breezy cuteness of “Summer Rain,” a Jason Mraz wannabe, Morrison’s likable, pure-as-rain tenor can’t ignite this fireless fare. So we get songs like “It’s Over,” too musical-theater for mainstream, and the tween-leaned, synth-swathed “Don’t Stop Dancing,” a horribly embarrassing keep-on-keepin’-on that recalls his days in a boy band. Someone’s gonna hafta do some extra credit.

Grade: C+

Also Out

Sade, The Ultimate Collection

Two whole discs and no condom? Since 1984, the smooth-operating chanteuse has romanticized our sexual romps with her songs – and 29 of them are here, from career-staple “No Ordinary Love” to last year’s “Soldier of Love” single. “By Your Side,” one of the English group’s timeless best, is included in its original form and with a Neptunes remix. And of the four new recordings, all which slip in nicely to the set, the beautiful gem “Still in Love with You” is yet another example of why we’re still in love with this class act.

Kylie Minogue, North American Tour EP

Oh, Kylie – you're such a tease. To hype her summer tour, the showgirl’s latest release – a digital-only, five-song taste – is live takes from a New York gig (“Better Than Today” and “Confide in Me”) and a semi-acoustic setting. Hearing her strip down during her biggest hit, “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” is an equally-as-sexy but dreamier lullaby. She does the same with two songs from her last studio release, 2010’s Aphrodite: “Get Outta My Way” and “All the Lovers,” beautifully built with piano and strings. Nevermind, Kylie. Tease away.

Reach Chris Azzopardi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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