"Whataya Want from Me"

by Adam Lambert

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(RCA/Jive)

Not two months after I compared this guy unflatteringly to Eddie Money, he goes out and turns, however briefly, into Lou Gramm. You know, the guy from Foreigner, as well as the immortal solo "Midnight Blue," whose voice had enough real-sounding wear to make his clichés ring. On this very typical star complaint, every turn of which is right in the title, Lambert sounds engaged in the lyric enough to stay out of its way: The way he shouts, "There might have been a time when I would give myself away/Oh, once upon a time/I didn't give a damn" is startlingly authoritative. And while the chorus is dressed in the usual fairy-dust production compression, the clanking guitar riff that provides the hook makes for a welcome counterpoint. Rick Springfield should be proud, seriously—on the fade-out, Bonnie Tyler, too.

"Soldier of Love"

by Sade

(Columbia)

At first, the line "I am at the hinterland of my devotion" put me off this song—it's an overreach, distracting in a track that had so much else going for it, from the tongue-in-cheek semispoken "Wild, Wild West" (Kool Moe Dee says thanks) to the military snares—snazzy, unexpected, stirring. But I got over it eventually, especially when I noticed the killer line that opens it: "I've lost the use of my heart/But I'm still alive." Wonder if she's seen The Hurt Locker?

"Sex Therapy"

by Robin Thicke

Support The Stranger

(Star Trak)

At my girlfriend's folks' for New Year's Eve—her brother threw a party while Mom and Dad were out of town—we caught this blue-eyed soul man on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. "Who is that?" she asked, and started giggling as he minced his way through his newest hit. I told her: R&B singer, Alan Thicke's son—"Alan Thicke," she squealed, and the giggle became a laugh. "No, no," I said, "people take him seriously, he's on his fourth album, he's got cred"—none of it was any use against her endless peals of laughter. Every time she's seen or heard his name since then, it triggers the same helpless, uninhibited laughter. This wasn't a good song anyway, but now I start snickering when he comes up, too. Especially when I recall what might generously be called his "dance moves." recommended