Mariah Carey, E=MC2
Official release date: April 15
The Verdict: Not since writing the only Christmas song that doesn't send us into bouts of uncontrollable grinchery has Mariah Carey done anything to win a permanent place in our iTunes library; sadly, E=MC2, which hit file-sharing networks yesterday morning, does not end that streak. 2005's semi-entertaining The Emancipation of Mimi, bolstered by beats from Kanye and the Neptunes, was hailed as a miniature comeback after it failed to stink as badly as her two previous albums — this one isn't quite that good. Too many middling, mid-tempo R&B tracks make most of the record indistinguishable, and the mostly hookless, conservative melodies keep her from properly smashing upper octaves like she used to (only the not-bad piano ballad "I Wish You Well" rises above the tedium). Also, there are no Christmas songs.