Album: Shine (Atlantic/Homeschool)
In stores: Now
Why we care: Coming off a sweet gig opening for John Legend, this 29-year-old Brit is a kook — and I mean that swooningly. With a voice soaring from Kingston to Motown, a brain that ejects rat-a-tat zingers and a curvaceous body used as a wink-wink weapon, Estelle could be the lovechild of Eddie Murphy and Diana Ross.
Why we like it: "I'm so sick of singing this," Estelle half-pouted during a recent set at Ruth Eckerd Hall. She was talking about American Boy, her duet with Kanye West that just won a Grammy for best rap/sung collaboration. That hit is a perfect example of her style: retro soul, hip-hop smooth, dance-floor flair.
Reminds us of: Winehouse + sobriety = Estelle
Download this: More Than Friends
Album: Seduction: Sinatra Sings of Love (Reprise)
In stores: Now
Why we care: "He was . . . nothing less than the human embodiment of a curled beckoning finger that signaled only, inarguably: Come here baby …" Those are the liner-note musings of pop-culture scribe Bill Zehme, who sets the tone for this collection. Although Seduction culls only from the Reprise years, when Sinatra sings of love, you best shaddup and listen.
Why we like it: There's a great alternate take of My Funny Valentine here, which could come in handy if you totally missed the V-Day love train last night. (You did buy flowers, didn't you?)
Reminds us of: The Forever Fiancee and I probably should have picked a better relationship model than Frank and Ava. Ah, love . . .
Download this: My Funny Valentine
Buena Vista Social Club
Album: Buena Vista Social Club at Carnegie Hall (World Circuit/Nonesuch)
In stores: Now
Why we care: In Buena Vista Social Club, Wim Wenders' 1999 hit documentary, we (finally) met musicians whose art had long been heard only on their island country. The mambo, las charangas, those heart-stomping boleros — Afro-Cuban grooves baked in a politically constricting Havana. As part of that film's liberating finale, the world-weary troubadours, including singers Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo, traveled to NYC for a one-time gig. Here's the whole concert.
Why we like it: Full-tilt cha-cha! Music doesn't come much more life-affirming and blood-pumping than this. Se me sale la babita . . .
Reminds us of: Carne con papa!
Download this: El Cuarto de Tula
SONG OF THE WEEK
My Chemical Romance
Song: Desolation Row
Album: Watchmen: Music From the Motion Picture (Reprise)
In stores: Song on iTunes; album out March 3
Why we care: There are a couple of curious Dylan covers out right now. There's the unlikely, and yet strangely palatable, Pepsi ad pairing of Bob and Will.i.am doing Forever Young. And then you have those L'Oréaled scamps in emo-punk outfit My Chemical Romance taking on an abridged version of Desolation Row for the soundtrack of the Watchmen nerd-a-thon.
Why we like it: My Chem frontman Gerard Way can be an effectively snotty singer, but the kid is so darn guttural here that he growls all the nuance out of Dylan's sad, twisting lyrics.
Reminds us of: The commodification of Bob doesn't bother me. After all, he did a Victoria's Secret spot in 2004. Go get 'em, Zimmy!