BY Advocate.com Editors
December 18 2009 1:00 PM ET
Stronger With Each Tear by Mary J. Blige —We've heard very little about Mary's ninth studio album, which worries us (as does a song titled "We Got Hood Love"). Regardless, the R&B queen almost always brings it, so it's worth a try (or a preview on YouTube). Out Monday.
The Element of Freedom by Alicia Keys— It's hard to differentiate Alicia's hits, but that may be because they're always good in a familiar way. "Doesn't Mean Anything," the first single off Keys's new album (her fourth) follows the same pattern: soaring vocals and piano over a message of love being bigger than material possessions. But when Alicia picks up the pace, she thrills. On songs like "Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart" and "Wait Til You See My Smile," Alicia takes listeners up in the air with her. Released Tuesday.
Glee: The Music, Volume 2 — This is a must-have for Gleekers. Supporting characters like Mercedes and Artie get to shine on this soundtrack sequel, with standout songs like Lily Allen's "Smile" and Van Halen's "Jump." Released Tuesday.
Sex Therapy by Robin Thicke— A poor man's Justin Timberlake, or a pop maestro in his own right? Thicke probably won't convince many he's the latter with his new album's title track, a cheesy take on Marvin Gaye/Al Green soul. We're not ready to dismiss this whole album outright, though — Thicke has produced some knockout songs before ("Magic") and on Sex Therapy he gets assists by old pros like Snoop Dog and Jay-Z, along with upstarts like Kid Cudi, Jasmine Sullivan, and Estelle. Released Tuesday.