Hear Me Out
Kylie Minogue, Aphrodite
As if gay men haven’t already crowned Kylie Minogue the queen of dreamy dance-pop, her 11th studio album names itself after the almighty Aphrodite. That the Greek goddess is known for her sexual energy seems appropriate; so is Minogue, who gloriously sweeps us into the heavens with the fantastically airy and sensual first single “All the Lovers.” “Dance,” she sweetly chirps. “It’s all I wanna do.” And that’s reinforced by the following 11 songs, which seem designed for an all-night dance-a-thon with blissful European-inspired bait ceaselessly aligning its stars into connect-the-dots unity. For once, Minogue’s not hankering for hits in a scattershot made-to-please piece, like with 2007’s unremarkable X. The Aussie’s still bobbing for big crossover singles, though, and Aphrodite is powered with mainstream potential: the grrl-power title track sounds like her “Hollaback Girl,” while “Cupid Boy” is a levitating dance-rock wet dream. But it’s the irresistible “Better Than Today,” with its celebratory zest and funky-pop rhythm, that redefines Kylie’s dance dynamic. Even when all that glitters under her disco ball isn’t gold—like on the faltering filler “Too Much” and “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)”—she sustains momentum with music-maker Stuart Price and Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears’ non-stop hooks. The goddess of love—and gays—just might finally rule the stateside charts. Grade: B+
Jane Krakowski, The Laziest Gal in Town
Adored as a ditzy fame whore on 30 Rock, Jane Krakowski isn’t just her TV persona, Jenna Maroney. And she doesn’t just sing “Muffin Top.” But she’s surely got that saucy sense of humor kicking through her cabaret debut (recorded live in New York City), dropping “oh, snap!” innuendo, sharp quips and self-deprecating digs. With standards, show tunes and rarities, her nightclub gig pays tribute to Ann-Margret on the peppy ’60s song “Thirteen Men” and updates the Marilyn Monroe-popularized “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” with a hysterical rap outro. An original number, “‘Tweet’ Based on ‘Zip,’” comes courtesy of musical mavens Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman—with lines that poke at the passing of Prop. 8 and pop culture, from Whitney Houston to Neil Patrick Harris (“Tweet! Alec Baldwin wasn’t brilliant today. Tweet! Doogie Howser makes it hip to be gay.”)
is also the dirtiest—though her hypersexual sassiness may be too garish outside of Broadway. Kudos, anyway: Not many people can see the sex appeal in a Sesame Street song—“Rubber Duckie,” no less—like the wickedly charming Krakowski can. Grade: B
Enrique Iglesias, Euphoria
On his ninth album, the ooh-la-la Latino aims to please. Good thing he’s versatile: His bilingual latest has Enrique doing dance (synth-washed “I Like It” with Pitbull), suave roots riffs and pop love ballads (“Heartbeat” with Nicole Scherzinger). Almost all of it’s more cool than caliente. The heat rises when Usher shows up for “Dirty Dancer,” a spicy bump-and-grinder that, with two of the hottest men in music, almost makes a better fantasy than song.
You’ll almost wish Eminem were still a druggie, because his edge is lacking on his post-narcotic album. Hooks are few, even with Pink on board for “Won’t Back Down.” Rihanna, though, helps turn “Love the Way You Lie” into a winner, and single “Not Afraid” is sly empowerment. Otherwise, he’s stale (still knocking Mariah), immature (farting) and still dropping homophobic slams despite the big “go gay marriage!” hug we got from him recently.
Kevin Rudolf, To the Sky
Throw it on for some party pop, but otherwise, the NYC producer’s disposable made-for-clubs sophomore CD squanders its ghetto guest list—Three 6 Mafia, Flo Rida and Lil Wayne—on generic beats and cliché credos. It uses typical Top-40 tricks and manages to slam-dunk a couple of sticking melodies. But even the super-catchy cuts like “Don’t Cry” and “I Belong to You” sound like New Kids on the Block doing a one-man dance show. The world needn’t suffer more.
Reach Chris Azzopardi at firstname.lastname@example.org.