Usher, Looking 4 MyselfWhenever an artist says they’re developing a “new type of music,” the proclamation is generally met with a collective groan. Usher may have come close with his seventh studio album, though. The sultry R&B singer brought in an eclectic group of collaborators, including Danja, Diplo, Empire of the Sun and Pharrell Williams, to weave together pop, electronica and R&B influences to create something unique.

Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel…Fiona Apple attained international acclaim with her 1996 debut album, but unlike most performers she hasn’t felt the need to regularly release new material. This marks just the fourth album in her 16-year career, and her first since 2005. Apple previewed three songs from the album in widely lauded performances at SXSW, which confirmed the quirky, gritty Fionna Apple we know and love is back.

Kenny Chesney, Welcome to the FishbowlChesney’s 13th major studio album tops off a storied career that has brought more fame and hit records than most country music performers can imagine. Chesney says this status allows him to not only produce the types of songs that allow him to sell out stadium concerts, but also make music he truly loves. The album’s lead single, the Tim McGraw duet “Feel Like a Rockstar,” is the second highest debuting country song in Billboard history.

Maroon 5, OverexposedMaroon 5 came to prominence with 2002’s Songs About Jane – though it took the album a while to catch on – becoming superstars with a fresh musical sound and cover model good looks. After two subsequent albums that have solidified the band’s fame and talent, while sounding largely the same, the quintet says they’re headed in a slightly new direction with a dance-driven album described as their poppiest. That remains to be seen though, since the lead single “Payphone” sounds much like the band’s previous work.

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