-- Michael Buble, "To Be Loved" (Reprise Records)
Canadian crooner Michael Buble projects a strange dichotomy in his eighth studio album, "To Be Loved." It combines old and new, happy and blue, romance and more romance. His evident penchant for the golden standards, which he covers with aplomb, is what saves the record from sounding too modernly hollow. It's also the reason it sounds uneven, meandering from harried contemporary pop like "Close Your Eyes" to the smooth, seductive Dean Martin tune "Nevertheless (I'm in Love With You)."
The four originals on the 14-track album were all co-written by Buble, but apart from his joie de vivre and emotive voice, they mostly fail to capture the imagination. Not even the Bryan Adams collaboration on "After All," or Buble's deceivingly upbeat single, "It's a Beautiful Day," can save it from a big yawn chain.
Buble is at his best when reclaiming beloved classics as his own. Frank Sinatra's "Come Dance With Me" becomes playful and electric in his interpretation. Some songs, like the unexpected duet with Reese Witherspoon on "Something Stupid," are wild cards that can bring down the house.
Yet it's Buble's love for middle 20th-century music that keeps this album in the middle of the road: As an artist, Buble needs to become his own man.
Follow Cristina Jaleru on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cristinelle7
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Jan. 28 - Local Natives - Hummingbird
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"Early 2013" - Pusha-T - My Name Is My Name
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Feb. 12 - Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste
With a title that fits her generation like a silken, thrift-store glove, Banks looks to turn mixtape hype into studio album sales. She made her name by blending rap and hip-hop sensibilities and swagger with an electro house sound, but come February, she won't be alone. We'll be looking to see if she stays dominant in a field that's already starting to be a bit more crowded (we see you, Angel Haze).
Feb. 19 - Major Lazer - Major Lazer Frees The Universe
Diplo's dancehall project got bumped from November to early in the New Year and includes collaborations with the likes of dubstepper Flux Pavillion, Wyclef Jean, Vampire Wekend's Ezra Koenig, Shaggy (yes, that Shaggy), Bruno Mars, Amber Coffman, Dev, Wynter Gordon and -- wait for it -- Tyga. Look for this release to quickly make its way toward the top of your tuned-in friend's dance party playlist. To Jamaica, and beyond!
Feb. 25 - Atoms For Peace - Amok
When Radiohead's Thom Yorke and the Red Hot Chili Pepper's Flea announced their side project, the collaboration seemed like something out of a music video game (Kobe and Jordan on the same team? Why not!). Early single "Default" has us thinking this will be much more Radiohead than RHCP.
Feb. 26 - 50 Cent - Street King Immortal
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March - Mariah Carey - TBA
The year 2012 was a rough one for the "All I Want For Christmas" singer. She signed on to judge "American Idol" (consider where Paula Abdul was at with her singing career when she did the same thing), was subsequently out-diva'd by Nicki Minaj and released a single that no one remembers ("Triumphant (Get 'Em)"). Her upcoming studio album will be the fourteenth of her career. Whether it's a big comeback or a swan song remains to be seen.
April - Black Sabbath - TBA
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No Date - Backstreet Boys - Link
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No Date - Cher - TBA
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No Date - Beyonce Knowles - TBA
Queen B's post-Blue Ivy return to music is shaping up to be quite a project: Jay-Z, The-Dream, Pharrell Williams and a host of other hitmakers have all been spotted in the studio with her. She's also turning the Super Bowl into a Beyonce concert with a side of football, so the stakes are pretty high. But if anyone who can pull it off …
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No Date - Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday: The Pinkprint
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Karen O takes a break from penning "psycho operas" and finds some time to hang out in the studio. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/james-murphy-arcade-fire-yeah-yeah-yeahs_n_1949283.html">James Murphy either is or isn't helping out</a>, but in either case, we're ready for this wait to be over.
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