Welcome to a mighty big new release week. How big, you ask? Well, instead of albums coming out this week on Tuesday, they’re all being released on Monday. You can chalk this development up to the new album by the biggest female artist in history. Yep, Madonna’s back with a new album called MDNA. There’s been a flurry of Madge-related activity over the past six weeks, from the Super Bowl performance to the two (relatively unappealing) singles to snarky comments made to the press by Madonna regarding artists like Lady GaGa. MDNA is the first album of Madonna’s career to be released outside of the Warner Brothers family, and I’m sure there’s quite a bit riding on this.

Madonna’s not the only ‘80s legend releasing an album today. Lionel Richie has gone country, y’all! His new album,Tuskegee, is a homage to his Southern roots. He’s remaking some of his biggest hits with a lineup that includes Shania Twain, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker and Willie Nelson, to name a few. Lionel is joined on the covers record train by Macy Gray. Nope, the “I Try” singer and Grammy winner isn’t making a country album (and what kind of a trainwreck would that be?) but she is releasing an album with some very interesting choices in material. Covered features Macy tackling hits by everyone from Radiohead and The Arcade Fire to Kanye West.

Madge, Macy and Lionel are just the tip of the iceberg. The new albums are flying fast and furious, and there’s a good chance that all three of the aforementioned artists will lose out on the coveted #1 Billboard spot to a woman who’s extremely familiar with that position-Katy Perry. A reissue of the multi-platinum Teenage Dream, subtitled The Complete Confection, includes several new tracks, including the #1 hit “Part Of Me.” The original Teenage Dream album spawned five chart-toppers on it’s own, tying a record set by Michael Jackson in the late Eighties.

The All-American Rejects scored a handful of hits in the latter part of the previous decade. After a four-year layoff, Tyson Ritter and company have returned with a new album called Kids In The Street. They’re joined on the release schedule by “Like a G6” singer Dev (whose debut album features a guest spot from Enrique Iglesias,) and reality show staple/ridiculously creepy gay dude Clay Aiken. His new album, Steadfast, appears to be one of those standards-type albums. In other words—yawn.

There are also a ton of diverse releases on the rock tip this week, from the latest by singer/songwriter/troubadour Justin Townes Earle to a new one from prog faves The Mars Volta. Like a little weird electro-type stuff with your metal? Then you might dig the new one from Ministry. More of a rootsy kinda guy or gal? The new one from Joan Osborne might be a worthwhile purchase for you. Still playing your Jam records from the Eighties? There’s a new one from that band’s lead vocalist/main songwriter Paul Weller, and on the “they’re still around?” tip, you’ve got new albums from Shinedown (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised they’re still around; I heard “Second Chance” on the radio this morning) and The Used (seriously, I’m surprised these guys have lasted as long as they have-hell, who’d have thought their pop culture moment in the sun would last longer than The Osbournes (who gave singer Bert McCracken his most major dalliance with success.)

A regular viewer of this column? You know the deal. Check out Pause and Play for a complete listing of this week’s releases!

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