PALOMA FAITH

Picking Up the Pieces (4:04)

Producer: Nellee Hooper

Writers: P. Faith, W. Hector, T. Powell

Publishers: various

Epic

"Picking Up the Pieces," off British songstress Paloma Faith's second album, "Fall to Grace", is a sweeping ballad that tells the tale of aching paranoia about a lover's lingering ex. With vulnerable words like, "Do you wish I was a bit more like her? Am I too loud?/I play the clown/To cover up all these doubts," Faith's attempt to balance a mega-ballad's big moments with a sense of intimacy ultimately succeeds because the singer manages to express those minuscule and epic moments with uniform emotion. Faith's lovelorn lyrics make for a gorgeous track-her voice soars above her contemporaries, across lush strings and a choir of echoing backing singers. It makes sense that "Picking Up the Pieces" is Faith's highest-charting single to date-and, perhaps, her proper introduction to the United States.-LW

MUSE

Madness (4:39)

Producer: Muse

Writer: M. Bellamy

Publisher: Warner/Chappell

Warner Bros.

The bass wobble that has become a defining characteristic of modern electronic music is a fickle thing: Those rattling pulses typically favor excess over the sensation of a subtle pulse. With the sound's ubiquity in EDM, it's no surprise that the wobble has entered the rock realm, most recently on "Madness," the first single from Muse's new album, "The 2nd Law". Though the bass here is a tad flatulent, Muse thankfully displays great tact with its core, letting the sound take center stage and settle. That bass wobble serves as the foundation upon which frontman Matthew Bellamy croons, a guitar ticks and those harmonies soar, leading to a "drop" that's less of a dubstep freakout and more of a U2-esque rock catharsis. If this is the brave new world of bass, Muse makes a solid case as to why, and how, rock can get involved.-JB

BRANDY

Wildest Dreams (4:28)

Producer: Tha Bizness

Writer: S. Garrett

Publishers: various

Chameleon Records/RCA

Where "Put It Down," the Chris Brown-assisted lead single from Brandy's often-delayed fifth studio album, "Two Eleven" (out Oct. 10), is a bit preoccupied with current trends, follow-up "Wildest Dreams" is a return to the vocal-driven, beat-conscious formula that made songs like "I Wanna Be Down," "Sittin' Up in My Room" and "Full Moon" some of her biggest and best hits. The song finds Brandy reflecting incredulously on a new love ("Never in my wildest dreams/Did I think someone could care about me") with a third-person reference thrown in for good measure ("Just wanted someone real to love me for me/Just Brandy"). Production duo Tha Bizness surrounds her with live drums, twinkling piano and even a few flutes for a warm, "What's the 411?"-era Mary J. Blige sound that suits her well. As a more fitting representation of "Two Eleven"'s '90s R&B sound, "Wildest Dreams" could be the single that helps re-establish Brandy's place on the charts, after 2008's underperforming "Human".-AH

DANCE

KRISTINE W.

Everything That I've Got (2:15)

Producers: Kristine Weitz, Lee Dagger, Marc Jackson Burrows

Writers: K. Weitz, L. Dagger, M. Jackson Burrows

Publishers: various

Fly Again Music

To kick off her forthcoming "New & Number Ones" best-of, one of Billboard's most-decorated dance divas (16 No. 1s on the Club Play chart) makes nostalgic reference to her own journey from a girl with a dream to a major-label recording artist. "Came here to the city/With nothing but my luck/Couldn't find my place/Couldn't make a buck," Kristine W. sings atop a rubbery dance beat that brings to mind Fedde Le Grand's "Let Me Think About It." Though the story is personal, the "Everybody say hey!" coda that caps off this brief but memorable single is universal enough for the dancefloor. With little trouble, "Everything That I've Got" may very well qualify as both "new" and "No. 1" in no time at all.-AH

ROCK

SMOKE & JACKAL

No Tell (3:38)

Producers: Smoke & Jackal

Writers: Smoke & Jackal

Publishers: McFearless Publishing obo Silent but Violent Publishing, administered by Bug Music/EMI Publishing (BMI)

RCA Records

Nashville rock quartet Kings of Leon sell out the world's biggest arenas while writing some of the downright filthiest songs in modern rock. "No Tell," the first single from "Smoke & Jackal" (a side project featuring KOL bassist Jared Followill and Mona frontman Nick Brown), is the musical inverse to KOL's white-hot Southern rock-it's minimal, fragile, almost innocent, with a lullaby-styled refrain and glistening layers of electric guitar chime. But those soothing textures are juxtaposed with lyrics more awkwardly sexual than anything KOL has ever attempted: "She only came to give some head," Brown sings with a surprising lack of machismo and his voice quivering soulfully. "She makin' messes in my bed...But now the sheets are red." It's a vividly painted picture, even if the details are fairly disgusting.-RR

HIP-HOP

DaVINCI FEATURING FREDDIE GIBBS

MYOB (3:12)

Producer: Al Jieh

Writers: J. DeVore, F. Tipton, A. Jieh

Publisher: not listed

SWTBRDS

Following the release of his solid "Feast or Famine" EP last year, DaVinci has drafted another rising underground star, Freddie Gibbs, for the first cut off of his forthcoming full-length, "The MOEna Lisa". "MYOB" (an acronym for "mind your own business") is blessed with a fluttering showcase of drums and a healthy smattering of bass from Al Jieh of Drums & Ammo. It's a thick, opulent beat, and both MCs pounce upon it, filling these three minutes with grimy rhymes and hard-nosed codas. Before Gibbs slides into view with his gangster slang, DaVinci lands the most memorable line: "Feel good to finally cash out/Pam Grier-looking bitches wanna pull my shaft out!" "MYOB" isn't a game-changing single for DaVinci, but it's another step in the right direction for the promising rapper.-JL

Edited by Jason Lipshutz.

CONTRIBUTORS: Jem Aswad, Jon Blistein, Phil Gallo, Gary Graff, Andrew Hampp, Jason Lipshutz, Kerri Mason, Deborah Evans Price, Ryan Reed, Lindsey Weber, Mikael Wood

All albums commercially ­available in the United States are eligible. Send album review copies to Mitchell Peters at Billboard, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90036 and singles review copies to Jason Lipshutz at Billboard, 770 Broadway, Seventh Floor, New York, NY 10003, or to the writers in the appropriate bureaus.