Testing the waters with new singles

Testing the waters with new singles

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Many current, classic and aspiring divas wisely chose to sit out the glut of holiday releases and instead released singles to tease us while we await their new albums. And if these singles are any indication, it’s going to be an interesting year.

High on the anticipation meter is the eternally sexy siren Sade, who is about to release her first studio album since 2000’s “Lover’s Rock.” How many artists can spend the better part of a decade out of the spotlight and still have a rapturous following waiting and salivating for a new album?

It’s good to see Sade doing what she does best and not leaning toward the gimmicks and styles many of her contemporaries are adopting. The title track from the upcoming “Soldier of Love” album is a sparse but ultimately satisfying track, short on synthesizers, electronics and strings but thick with distorted guitars and percussion. The result is a surprisingly urgent but still sexy track that is more aggressive and peppery that what most have come to expect from the soulful icon. Holding everything together is Sade’s voice, which sounds as sultry and effortless as ever. Welcome back!

Given the recent ups and downs in her personal life, we can forgive the always-interesting Kelis for not putting anything out since 2006. But it seems as though new motherhood and a recent divorce from rapper Nas hasn’t dulled her edge.

Kelis gives Sade some stiff competition in the realm of avant-garde R&B. Her new single, “Acappela,” is a pulsating, electronic-trance rump-shaker made infinitely better thanks to Kelis’ delicate and irresistible vocal harmonies.

Her new album, tentatively titled “Flesh Tones,” cannot arrive fast enough.

Singer, dancer, actress and all-around marriage carousel Jennifer Lopez gets back into the game with “Fresh Out The Oven,” a bouncy track with overpowered car speakers in mind.

Anything that keeps her off the movie screen is OK with us.

This spare and convincing bid for club-level credibility is helped by an energetic guest appearance by Cuban rapper Pitbull. It’s far better than the other recently released (and poppier) single, “Loubotinis.” And for those of you still hung up on “Waiting For Tonight” (has it really been 10 years?), “Oven” translates very well into a plethora of electro-dance remixes.

You’ve probably heard pop-star-in-training Ke$ha a bunch of places and didn’t even know it. She sang the hook on Flo Rida’s smash single “Right Round” and has done backup vocals on songs with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. She also co-wrote a song for Miley Cyrus.

Now with a record deal and an album due out soon, Ke$ha is pushing her way to the front as a solo act. But from the sounds of her first single, “Tik Tok,” it seems being around so many superstars didn’t rub off on her enough. All the ingredients are there — party lyrics, superfluous A-list cameo (P. Diddy), Autotune, etc. — but the result struggles to be more than the sum of its parts.

“Tik Tok” is a step or two behind the pop-music curve, as many have taken this kind of club-leaning pop to the next level. You can tell Ke$ha has superstar aspirations, but this song is more a stab at being a Pussycat Doll than it is at being the next Lady Gaga.

Larry Nichols can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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