"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)"

by Beyoncé
(Music World)

You may have heard that Beyoncé is not one but two people on her new album, which even in its deluxe edition spreads a CD's worth of music over two, just in case you were wondering whose lawyers won the record-company contract negotiations. Too bad I Am... Sasha Fierce would boil down to a decent EP, this song being the clear, obvious standout. Where the album's other party tracks seem to strain to sound futuristic or even utterly right-now (as with "Diva," a wholesale rewrite of Lil Wayne's "A Milli"), the "Single Ladies" track just wows and flutters as giddily as any great bubblegum: clacking double-dutch jump-rope rhythm, depth-charge synth-bass, keyboard lines like pinwheels. And of course a lyric about how the good thing B's got is no longer up for grabs because you were too big a schmuck to nab it while the nabbing was good—this rich, successful, apparently happily married woman's greatest theme.

"Sandcastle Disco"

by Solange
(Music World)

Beyoncé's younger sister, Solange, emerged as a fairly cookie-cutter R&B diva earlier in the decade, but on her second album, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, she mines a far more appealing vein, collaborating with Raphael Saadiq, the Neptunes, Cee-Lo, and Mark Ronson on an album whose throwback sound evokes a more candy-colored variation on Erykah Badu's I-can-do-anything-I-want mission statement New Amerykah: Part One. On this summery single, Solange stretches a wonky metaphor ("Who would have known/The rain and the sunshine/Baby, baby, built up these walls of mine") over the Monkees' classic "Mary Mary" breakbeat, sounding every bit as strong as her big sis even as she purrs, "Ba-b-b-b-baby, don't blow me away."

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"So What"

by Pink

"I've got a brand-new attitude," she sings, "and I'm gonna wear it tonight." The attitude, in case you're wondering, is called "Pat Benatar"—only Benatar wished she had this kind of heavy, overbearing compression. Oh, wait—no she didn't, and neither in her right mind does anyone else. recommended