The History Boys, Mary J Blige, Il Divo, Gwen Stefani, Daphne Rubin-Vega, ¡Forward, Russia!, Sugarland, RBD, Lady Sovereign.
The History Boys
If you love the hits of the ’80s, you’ll enjoy this background music for the movie about Oxford undergrads. New Order, The Smiths, The Clash, The Cure, The Pretenders, and Rufus Wainwright contribute. From Rhino Records (www.rhino.com).
Mary J Blige
Reflections — A Retrospective
The Queen of Hip Hop Soul caps off a year that brought her a chart-topping album, a history-making number 1 single, galvanizing television appearances with Bono and Aretha, and a sold-out tour with this collection of greatest hits. From Geffen Records (www.geffen.com). More: www.mjblige.com.
Barbra Streisand herself bestowed eternal success upon this quartet by allowing them to open her recent tour. Produced by American Idol grand inquisitor, Simon Cowell, the CD contains soaring interpretations of “Nights in White Satin,” “Somewhere,” and more. From Columbia Records (www.columbiarecords.com).
The Sweet Escape
This CD is “perfectly titled,” Stefani says, “because the music takes you away.” Good — after a year dominated by Ted Haggard, Iraq, and Deal or No Deal, who doesn’t need a vacation? Coupled with Stefani’s DVD release. From Interscope Records (www.interscope.com).
This two-time Tony nominee comes off her stint as Mimi in the original cast of Rent with this vibrant and sophisticated collection of pop, reggae, rock, and Latin folk songs. But what the heck is “The Rainbow Connection” doing here? From Sh-K-Boom Records (www.sh-k-boom.com). More: www.daphnerubin-vega.com.
Give Me a Wall
Don’t assume, based on the inverted exclamation point preceding its name, that Forward Russia is a geographically-impaired salsa band. The debut album from this British punk foursome is far more math-oriented: Each song title is a number. From Mute Records (www.mute.com).
Enjoy the Ride
This double platinum-selling and American Music Award-winning country group hopes to hit big again with this, the sophomore release. With no connection to the Houston suburb of the same name, the CD does not contain that catchy, election-time ditty, “Vote Twice for Shelley.” From Mercury Records (www.mercurynashville.com).
RBD has sold more than two million copies of their Spanish-language albums here in the United States. This CD’s pop-Latin breakout hit, “Tu Amor,” penned by prolific tunesmith Diane (“Un-break My Heart”) Warren, is getting loads of national airplay, including here in Houston. From Virgin Records (www.virginrecords.com). More: www.rbdus.com.
Short in stature but not on talent, Lady Sovereign has the Brit lady-midget rapper market sewn up. Tight. In this case, size does not matter, with Hip-Hop giant, Missy Elliot, joining her on the closing “Love Me or Hate Me” remix. From Def Jam (www.defjam.com). More: www.ladysovereign.com.