Single Reviews: Nicki Minaj, Miranda Lambert, Jason Mraz, La Roux, Dustin Lynch

Nicki Minaj

"Pills N Potions"

Young Money/Cash Money/Republic

After shoring up her core hip-hop base by leaking hard-charging street tracks "Lookin Ass," "Boss Ass Bitch" and "Chiraq," Nicki Minaj returns once again to the top 40 well on the Dr. Luke-produced "Pills N Potions," the first official single from her forthcoming third album, "The Pink Print." Co-written by Ester Dean, who also helped pen Minaj's 2011 crossover hit "Super Bass," "Pills" is an even more potent pop opiate punctuated by the line, "Pills and potions, we're overdosing/I'm angry, but I still love you." Opening with dulcet percussion and Minaj's almost startlingly sweet singing, "Pills" careens into a pair of barbed rap verses that target unnamed former allies, which helps bring home the song's bittersweet message. Demonstrating what makes Minaj one of ­hip-hop's most dynamic figures, "Pills" delivers more than just sugar and spice. -Reggie Ugwu

Miranda ­Lambert Featuring Carrie ­Underwood

"Somethin' Bad"

RCA Nashville

Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood posit themselves as a "real life Thelma and Louise" on the barroom brawler "Somethin' Bad," from Lambert's new "Platinum." The ominous harmonies of the hook give way to a briskly unfurling tale of wedding-day jitters, fistfuls of cash and a reckless trip toward New Orleans, with each country superstar selling the story with equally vigorous sass. -Jill Menze

Jason Mraz

"Love Someone"

Atlantic Records

Jason Mraz declares "love is a funny thing" at the start of the first single from his upcoming "Yes!," and the SoCal troubadour has certainly gotten grins out of that topic before. But "Love Someone" is a heartfelt paean, a summer breeze of a song subtly dressed with warm percussion and lush female backing vocals. -Gary Graff

La Roux

"Uptight Downtown"

Cherrytree/Interscope

Various struggles (voice issues, inter-band squabbling) delayed the follow-up to La Roux's 2009 self-titled debut, but if the rest of "Trouble in Paradise" shimmies as sprightly as this lead single, it will be worth the five-year wait. Elly Jackson's dainty voice floats aside a bouncy guitar riff, which gives the single a live-sounding disco vibe far removed from the compact synth-pop of past hit ­"Bulletproof." -Jason Lipshutz

Dustin Lynch

"Where It's At (Yep, Yep)"

Broken Bow Records

The first single from Dustin Lynch's second album boasts an airy melody and upbeat lyrics that tap into the rising country star's sensitive side. "Where It's At" showcases the growth of Lynch's muscular vocals, and perfectly marries his traditional sensibilities - check that steel-string acoustic - with the contemporary textures crucial for a hit these days. -Deborah Evans Price


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