Previewing new albums from Usher, Aaron Carter, the Isley Brothers, and more.
The 11th-hour termination of an album release can set off all kinds of bells and whistles. But Napster leaks and rumblings about misguided material aside, Usher has bounced back from the "All About U" firestorm (the album was originally set for a February release) with an R&B/pop crossover single ("U Remind Me") that spent four weeks at No. 1 on both The Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. The accompanying Arista album, "8701," hits stores this week.
"8701" is a revamped project that retains seven songs from the earlier effort: "U Got It Bad" (being considered for the second single), "If I Want To," "I Can't Let U Go," "Can U Help Me," "Hottest Thing," "Good Ol' Ghetto," and "U Turn."
"This record allowed me to go deeper into myself," the artist says of the set, which features production contributions from the Neptunes, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Babyface, and Jermaine Dupri, among others.
Boy Oh Boy
Teen pop sensation Aaron Carter returns this week with "Oh Aaron," his second Jive album. The set's title track features a guest spot from Aaron's brother, Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter. Newly signed Jive girl group No Secrets also make guest appearances on the set.
Carter's Jive debut "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)" entered The Billboard 200 at No. 16 last October, leaping as high as No. 4 in April on the strength of the title track and second single "That's How I Beat Shaq," featuring Shaquille O'Neal.
Nickelodeon is sponsoring Carter's current U.S. tour, which runs through Aug. 30. On Nov. 11, he will headline the 2001 version of the Bogart Backstage: On Tour for a Cure family fundraiser in Santa Monica, Calif. In addition, Carter will also appear on the first release from Nick Records, the soundtrack to the Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Movies film "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius." The soundtrack will be released Nov. 6.
Hope Springs 'Eternal'
If the response to the new Isley Brothers song, "Contagious," is any indication (it's currently No. 6 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart), the act's appeal definitely hasn't waned after 40 years. And this week, brothers Ronald and Ernie Isley have something else to "shout" about: their DreamWorks debut, "Eternal," the follow-up to their 1996 album, "Mission to Please."
The cast of "Eternal" collaborators reflects the Isley's diligent planning. The list includes producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Steve "Stone" Huff (Joe), and Raphael Saadiq, as well as singer/songwriters Jill Scott (who guests on "Said Enough," which she co-wrote), Avant (who co-wrote "Secret Lover"), and Angela Winbush (Isley's wife, who co-wrote "Move Your Body").
In addition to a host of original songs, Ronald's instantly recognizable vocals and Ernie's distinctive guitar chords reinterpret Chicago's 1976 classic "If You Leave Me Now." The 14-track set also reunites the Isleys with R. Kelly, who worked on "Mission to Please" and this time around wrote, produced, and arranged "Contagious." The track reprises Isley's Mr. Biggs alter ego, who appeared in Kelly's 1996 video for "Down Low (Nobody Has to Know)."
Additional titles hitting stores this week include the debut album from rap outfit Philly's Most Wanted, "Get Down or Lay Down" (Atlantic); pop group Youngstown's, "Down for the Get Down" (Hollywood); female pop act P.Y.T.'s, "P.Y.T." (Epic); R&B vocalist Toya's "Toya" (Arista); modern rock veterans Better Than Ezra's "Closer" (Beyond); Canadian country artist Carolyn Dawn Johnson's "Room With a View" (Arista); singer/songwriter Freedy Johnston's "Right Between the Promises" (Elektra); electronic artist Uberzone's "Faith in the Future" (Astralwerks); the soundtracks to the films "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" (Universal) and "Osmosis Jones" (Warner Sunset); hard rock act Karma to Burn's "Almost Heathen" (Spitfire); a four-disc box set from U.K. post-punk greats Joy Division, "Heartandsoul" (Rhino); and a concert disc from late reggae legend Peter Tosh, "Live and Dangerous: Boston 1976" (Columbia/Legacy).