Rihanna, Rated R
Official release date: November 20
The verdict: The good news is, Rihanna's new Rated R (which leaked in its entirety last night) contains better songs than the too-slow, nothing-special singles "Wait Your Turn" and "Russian Roulette" that preceded it — "Stupid in Love" is a catchy enough middle finger to Chris Brown; the Will.I.Am-starring "Photographs" packs an awesome, spacey chorus; and the epic, gorgeous Justin Timberlake–penned "Cold Case Love" is a career highlight for all parties involved. The bad news is, though, the album features more worse ones: Ballads "Fire Bomb" and "The Last Song" do little but push her vocal shortcomings to the fore, and the swear-y gangsta fantasies in the mostly hookless "Hard," "Rockstar 101," and "G4L" make those tracks just seem to run together. R's not a dud, but it's not the triumph we'd been hoping for either.
Until Def Jam pulls it off of YouTube, here's "Cold Case Love":