The biggest news of the week is the release of Beyonce’s imaginatively-titled fourth album, 4. Or is it? The fact that it leaked three weeks ago and the response to it has been muted (both critically and commercially-in the form of track sales) has to alarm Camp Knowles. Might this be the album that cracks B’s golden bubble? Maybe, maybe not. It can’t be good when 1/3 of your album has already made it onto iTunes with minimal reaction. However, all it takes is one attention-grabbing performance and we could very well be looking at yet another feather in the cap of a performer who’s definitely in contention for the title of Queen of (Current) Pop along with Lady GaGa, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Katy Perry, and…

…Alicia Keys. Folks like to count Ms. Keys out of the game, but she’s scored five consecutive platinum albums, a slew of huge radio hits and scored ginormous hits as recently as last year on the pop (“Empire State of Mind”) and urban (“Unthinkable”) side. She’s savvy enough to collaborate with Drake and still gets props from Jack White and John Mayer. She’s done all of this in the space of just ten years, and she’s decided to celebrate by releasing a brand-new version of her Grammy-winning debut, Songs in A Minor. Along with the major hits “Fallin'”, “A Woman’s Worth” and “How Come U Don’t Call Me” (and the minor hit “Girlfriend”), this new version will feature a disc of outtakes and previously unreleased tracks.

Mister and Missus Jesse call him “Cookie”, but we know him as David Cook. The Season 7 American Idol champ is going to try to avoid the sophomore jinx (good luck with that) with This Loud Morning. The rollout for this album has been suspiciously quiet. Let’s hope the Cook faithful come out and support their man, or else he will soon get tossed on the “American Idol” scrap heap alongside his homie stromie David Archuleta.

Beliebers watch out! Your Canadian honey’s GF has a record coming out today. Remember, Selena Gomez is a star in her own right, and she has a BAND!!! Take THAT!!! Her new album is called When the Sun Goes Down, and just THINK about it! All of her songs were probably written about her love affair with JUSTIN! YOU SUCK!!!

I will probably regret writing that someday, but moving on…

…Kanye West protege/Jimmie Walker lookalike Big Sean makes his debut this week with Finally Famous: The Album. Although he’s got assists from Yeezy and Chris Brown, it’s probably a bit brash to give his debut effort that title. After all, G.O.O.D. Music isn’t a guaranteed ride to the top. Y’all see what happened to Consequence, right? He’s joined (not literally) by Limp Bizkit (oh, are they not *limpbizkit* anymore?), who are back (yes, really. Why? We don’t know) with Gold Cobra, although after seeing the Fred Durst porno movie, I think they should’ve called the album Small Cobra! Ha! Where do I come up with this stuff?

There’s also new music from Billy Ray Cyrus, who gives us the “No Shit, Sherlock” album title of the week with I’m American. He might as well have called the album I Used to Have a Mullet or My Daughter is a Teenage Ho-Bag. Billy’s former duet partner, the effervescent (and buoyant) Dolly Parton has a new one called Better Day (on her own label, Dolly Records). Rock fans of varying stripes will dig the new albums by Queensryche and Taking Back Sunday, while folks looking for a little less tempo might want to check for Thievery Corporation’s latest, entitled Culture of Fear.

On the compilations tip, I’ve got my eye on Rave On: A Tribute to Buddy Holly. This hat-tip to the rock and roll icon features his songs redone by a motley crew of today’s artists including The Black Keys, Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket and Cee-Lo Green. Look forward to our review of this album a little later today!

As always, get a full list of this week’s releases over at Pause and Play. Happy shoppin’!

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