Honor roll: Pop albums

Each of these Pop albums has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Album:Justified

Justified

Justin Timberlake

Common wisdom holds that debut albums have an autobiographical slant, so it’s hard to believe that Justin Timberlake’s first non-’N Sync outing doesn’t purloin much of its subject matter from the singer’s breakup with Britney Spears. Half the songs are about the abrupt severing of a romance and the singer’s rather hard-hearted stance. Sure, he may have been the wronged party, but that doesn’t excuse the inflexible emotional posture revealed in “Cry Me a River,” “Never Again,” and the sniping “Last Night.” But Timberlake apparently thinks it does, since he…

Album:The Eminem Show

The Eminem Show

Eminem

Any lingering doubts as to the depth of Eminem’s skills or his potential for raw yet compelling honesty are dispelled on The Eminem Show’s first track. Armed with a quicksilver flow and a thundering rhythm track (the record was exec produced by longtime mentor and partner Dr. Dre), “White America” finds Eminem ferociously mauling the hand that feeds him, lambasting his critics, the industry, and the racism that, in many ways, helped make Marshall Mathers more than just another rapper. “Let’s do the math,” Em sneers, “If I was black I would have sold half/…

Album:Home (Dixie Chicks)

Home

Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks aren’t old enough to remember when radio programmed pop records next to country, rock, folk, and beyond, but their Texas DNA tells them that’s the way music was meant to be heard. On Home, which they coproduced in Austin with Lloyd Maines, the father of lead singer Natalie Maines, they strip off the star-making gloss of Nashville and get down to the meat of the matter, turning out an acoustic record that gives a big Texas howdy to bluegrass. But that’s only the framework they use to salute all their influences, from the raggedy rock of…

Album:The Rising

The Rising

Bruce Springsteen

Although it seemed the Boss had put writing rock anthems behind him after Born in the U.S.A., his longtime fans knew if any artist could write anthems addressing September 11, 2001, and not make them sound jingoistic, it would be Bruce Springsteen. The numerous anthems on his much-anticipated first full-length album with the E Street Band in 18 years are subtler than those of the Born to Run era. But the elements are all there: the joyous rocking strains of “Countin’ on a Miracle,” “Mary’s Place,” and “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day”; the dark overtones of…

Album:All That You Can't Leave Behind

All That You Can't Leave Behind

U2

The foursome come roaring out of the blocks with their latest collection. The album's first single, "Beautiful Day," raced to the No. 1 slot on the U.K. singles charts and received a similar rapturous reception stateside. From its shimmering preamble to its sweeping, infectious chorus, it perfectly stakes out the middle ground between the anthemic U2 of the '80s and the more grounded group of the '90s. With Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno sharing production chores again after having taken a break with Pop, the U2 team enters the new millennium with their lineup--and mission--intact. --Steven Stolder

Album:La Vie En Rose: La Môme

La Vie En Rose: La Môme

Christopher Gunning

Official motion picture soundtrack to the film La Vie En Rose, the dramatic real-life story of French chanteuse Edith Piaf, starring Marion Cotillard and Gerard Depardieu. This release contains 27 tracks featuring 11 of Piaf’s most popular songs remastered including “La Vie En Rose”, “Hymne A L’amour” “Milord” and “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”, plus the original score by Christopher Gunning.

Album:At This Time

At This Time

Burt Bacharach

Album:Breakaway

Breakaway

Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson could have played her American Idol-propelled career much differently, languishing in the role of dippy ingénue or shunting her musical development by leaning too heavily on overnight stardom. Instead she dug in her heels and allowed good sense (or a good manager) to steer, and somewhere Simon Fuller and the rest of the TV gang ought to be smiling. Credit Breakaway, which couldn't be more aptly titled--the sophomore effort represents a seismic split from the thin if pretty debut, Thankful. Here we encounter Clarkson as…

Album:Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Paul McCartney

Sir Paul is an elder statesman now, but Chaos and Creation in the Backyard finds him in considered and tastefully restrained form, penning songs worthy of his finest hour. McCartney crafts this collection of songs with exquisite balance, lining up haunting chimes and heartfelt lyrics (“Riding to Vanity Fair”) alongside pounding “Hey Bulldog”-esque chords and eerily Beatles-ish multitracked vocals (“Promise to You Girl,” “Fine Line”) and, most impressively, distinctively new yet timeless gems of songcraft (“Anyway,” “Jenny Wren”).…

Album:Lonely Runs Both Ways

Lonely Runs Both Ways

Alison Krauss, Union Station

Nobody makes somber sound more exquisite than Alison Krauss. She’s come an awfully long way from her days as a teenage fiddle prodigy, as her glamour gown on this CD’s cover suggests and the bittersweet maturity of the music confirms. Krauss exchanges her bluegrass fiddle for the chamber strains of viola on much of the material, including four songs by Robert Lee Castleman (whose “The Lucky One,” “Let Me Touch You for Awhile,” and “Forget About It” were previously popularized by Krauss). Castleman’s compositions showcase the emotional intimacy and interpretive…

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