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New Music Releases For Dec. 15, Including Alicia Keys, Robin Thicke, and the Nine Soundtrack

What to Download: New Music Today

I already gave you a peek at today's DVD offerings; now, let's take a look at some new music to liven up your iPod. Alicia Keys's new album made it on my list of December must haves, so I'm pumped for its release, but I found a couple of others that are worth checking out, too.

Don't forget that if you want to plead your case about a new album, you can head over to the Music Review Group. I may even feature your thoughts on the site!

Strong woman, strong sound: Alicia Keys's fourth studio album The Element of Freedom sounds like it comes from a heartbroken woman who refuses to give up. That's what makes this album classic Keys. As for what makes it fresh, she plays around with her usual piano-laden tracks, mixing in heavy drums and more hip-hop ("Love Is Blind" reminds me of Kanye West's 808s and Heartbreak). Keys is at her best on "Un-thinkable (I'm Ready)" featuring Drake and a fun collaboration with Beyonce titled "Put It in a Love Song." Also worth noting: an acoustic spin on "Empire State of Mind." Overall, Freedom is solid, but I sort of long for a hit like "No One," which seems to be missing here.

Not for the prudish: Robin Thicke knocks you over the head with overt sexuality in his new album, appropriately titled Sex Therapy: The Session. It's full of thinly-veiled euphemisms (and not so veiled, as with one song's chorus "I know you want to f***"). Once you get past the shock value and titles that use texting language (e.g. "Make U" and "2 Luv Birds"), it's surprisingly good. Thanks to catchy beats and Thicke's smooth voice, there are several times when Thicke channels Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds. I actually found myself humming along to Shakin' It 4 Daddy" (embarrassing, but true), and "Elevatas" with Kid Cudi is particularly excellent.

See one more release when you read more.

Musical fun: Rob Marshall's Nine made a killing at this morning's Golden Globe announcement, which made me even more excited to listen to the full soundtrack which hit iTunes today. It includes the Best Song nominee "Cinema Italiano," an upbeat, dizzying number sung by Kate Hudson, and Fergie's "Be Italian" which she nails (as many of you agreed). All of the actresses show off their pipes here, but I'm particularly impressed with Daniel Day-Lewis — who knew that Bill "The Butcher" could sing?!

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