I’ve mentioned before how much it confuses me when multiple superstar albums are released in the same week. After all these years, record companies still haven’t learned how to space their releases properly, and someone always gets left in the lurch with a flop album because during some weeks there’s this massive glut of records being released. This is one of those weeks when that glut exists, and while I can’t say there are many people who would buy each one of these records, it still seems like unnecessary crowding to me.

Probably the biggest of this week’s releases is Carrie Underwood‘s fourth album, Blown Away. Since winning “American Idol,” Carrie has established herself as one of the most popular artists in any genre-and she’s arguably second behind Taylor Swift for the title of most popular female country singer in the land. There’s no reason to think that her status will change with this album-country fans are pretty damn loyal.

While Norah Jones might not be able to sell 10 million records a pop like she did a decade ago with Come Away With Me (sort of the precursor to Adele’s massive success in the past year,) she remains a viable and interesting artist. She jumps genres the way…crap, I was going for a metaphor here, but it’s escaping me. At any rate, Little Broken Hearts is the name of her latest album, and it finds her collaborating with Danger Mouse, who rarely makes a bad record.

B.o.B.’s debut album was one of the more surprising successes of recent years. To quote a line from Kanye, he “was the gap like Old Navy” in terms of spanning genres. How many albums do you know that had Paramore’s Hayley Williams, R&B oddball Janelle Monae and T.I.? The rapper/singer/guitarist is attempting to successfully navigate the sophomore jinx with Strange Clouds. The diversity continues here, with guest appearances from the likes of Lil Wayne and Taylor Swift. Yes, Taylor Swift.

All three artists have scored #1 albums in the past, and they’ll be competing for the top spot this week with the 42nd installment of the venerable Now That’s What I Call Music franchise. Bruno Mars, Flo Rida and Taylor Swift (three mentions in one article!) are among the artists who will appear on this compilation.

Now that we’ve got the top of the charts out of the way, let’s take a look at a few other interesting artists with albums hitting stores today. In the years since her critically-acclaimed debut album was released, Santigold has collaborated with The Beastie Boys and Jay-Z, and has changed her name (slightly–from Santogold.) Master of My Make-Believe is the name of her long-anticipated second album. While Marilyn Manson‘s commercial catchet is nowhere near as strong as it was in the early Oughts, the band remains viable. Born Villain is the latest effort from them, and marks their independent debut after years on powerhouse Interscope Records. Meanwhile, flowery singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright is beloved by many (including several folks on the Popblerd staff.) I’ve never warmed to him (aside from his “Across The Universe” cover on the I Am Sam soundtrack) but if I was to ever jump on the Rufus train, it would probably be now–as his latest album, Out of the Game, is produced by Mark Ronson. Ronson’s involvement, much like Danger Mouse’s, ensures that I’ll at least give it a listen. Other releases hitting stores this week include new albums from punk stalwarts Pennywise, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (their first album release in thirteen years) and the soundtrack to the Katharine McPhee-starring TV vehicle Smash.

Reissues/Comps: There’s Early Takes, Volume 1-the companion piece to the new George Harrison documentary “Living In The Material World.” There’s also a series of new albums in Universal Music’s Icon compilation series, including volumes from DMX, LL Cool J (who desperately needs a proper career anthology) and the first-ever hits comp from Musiq Soulchild.

WTF Release Of The Week: Pat Boone Sings A Tribute To The Ink Spots Featuring Take 6. I wonder if the McKnight brothers in Take 6 played Pat the YouTube clip of their sibling Brian’s latest song.

More info about this week’s new releases can be found on Pause and Play. Check it out!!

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