February saw the release of several high-profile albums, five of which we profiled here — new efforts by the Streets, Bruno Mars, Jay Sean, Alexis Jordan, and Claire Maguire. So can March match up? Maybe! The fight for top pop contender in the first quarter of March 2011 is strong. Here are five records for which to watch out this month.
Few starlets have been so obsessively chronicles as poor Britney Spears, who suffered a very public meltdown by her early 20s. Still, pop culture loves a good comeback, and even after the middling quality of Brit-Brit’s last albums, 2007′s Blackout and 2008′s Circus, her millions of loyal fans are still rooting for her.
Femme Fatale is set as a comeback to the comeback, and Britney has a lot to prove. She may have it in her still, though. The new single, “Hold it Against Me,” is a rousing piece of dance-pop that even wanders into dubstep in the middle. If anything, it proves Britney’s sharp business decisions in choosing producers with a finger on the pulse, and she may rise to the top of the club and radio charts again.
Speaking of second chances, Chris Brown’s an artist who’s been lucky enough to be granted one as well. Brown’s battle, however, has been more uphill. Pop audiences are more likely to forgive a star who’s hurt him or herself, rather than someone else, and Brown’s vicious 2009 beating of then-girlfriend Rihanna blackened his public image for long afterwards.
Still, in the following year he seems to have expressed enough contrition and a change in outlook to be granted a career again, and F.A.M.E. (which stands for “Forgiving All My Enemies”) is a musing, somewhat, on the events of the past couple of years. Here, his R&B sound is updated with a heavy dose of synth-heavy dance beats.
On a semi-related note, since he recently collaborated with U.K. rapper Chipmunk on the single “Champion,” could more such team-ups come in the near future?
All You Need Is Now
Possibly most impressive about these originators of electro-pop is their refusal to get tired and lie down. Rather, Duran Duran has been going more or less continuously since their first heyday, in the ’80s, and continues to release musically innovative albums of new material. Their last proper studio album, The Red Carpet Massacre in 2007, saw them teaming up with Timbaland for an R&B energy infusion. Their latest, All You Need is Now, was released this past December on iTunes, but a deluxe physical version comes out this month. Produced this time by Mark Ronson, it brings in a bit of his signature soulful flair and makes Duran Duran truly funky again.
The Human League
Another ’80s revival? March is great for synth-pop lovers! The Human League — they of “Don’t You Want Me” immortality — are back with their first album in a decade. The disc features original member and producer Philip Oakey, as well as longtime distinctive female vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley. Recent new single “Night People” showed that the band hasn’t given up on the style in which it excels: funky electro-pop ready for the dance floor.