EW Staff
September 08, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Haven’t had any new albums tickle your fancy lately? Not your fault: There haven’t been any. That’ll change soon enough, as the traditional summer drought gives way to a torrent of big fall albums that the labels pray will make it through December. Speaking of Merle Haggard, yep, he’s on the schedule, as is everybody from Madonna to Manson to Master P. Quite a morass of music, and just to make sure you know what’s at stake as you wend your way through it, we’ve distinguished the comebacks from the comers, the kiddie-popsters from the critic’s faves, and the cash cows from the potential fall guys.

Kiddie Pop

Yearning to hear ”Genie in a Bottle” and ”I Turn to You” in Spanish? Capitalizing on the booming Latin music market and her own Ecuadorian heritage, Aguilera’s second album includes Spanish-language versions of songs from her debut disc, alongside several new tracks — one of which, ”Ven Conmigo,” will double as a Coke ad. Can you say ”eat my dust, Britney” in Spanish? 9/12

It’s been two years since Americans turned this Toronto pop band’s Stunt (with its smash ”One Week”) into a quadruple-platinum album. Can BNL bring the Canadian bacon home to America again? The jury’s still out, but the group did hype its new single, ”Pinch Me,” by posting it on Napster some weeks ago. ”It was just something fun we did for the fans,” says singer-guitarist Steven Page. Right, pal. 9/12

Critical Career Crossroad

The path to Love wasn’t easy, as it was beset at every turn by trouble: creative differences, fruitless sessions, and, finally, a pink slip to Osborne from her former label. But at last the follow-up to 1995’s Relish is here — bluesy, funky, and heartfelt. Osborne credits Love‘s labor to producer Mitchell Froom: ”Once I started working with Mitchell, it went very quickly.” 9/12

Critical Fave

Yes, it’s the soundtrack to Lars von Trier’s bizarro melodrama Dancer in the Dark, but this 32-minute disc features six new tracks, making it sort of a mini-follow-up to the pixie singer’s acclaimed 1997 Homogenic. Though they might leave the movie scratching their heads, Björk fans will dance for joy when they hear ”I’ve Seen It All,” a harrowing duet with Thom Yorke, and ”New World,” a soaring, orchestral classic. 9/19

These faceless Austin, Tex., pop-rockers are only too aware that lots of folks are poised to write them off as one-hit wonders (that hit being the ultra-catchy ’98 single ”The Way”). That’s okay with them. They’re betting that hooks, musicianship, and lyrical poignancy will help them hit another home run. ”We’re good songwriters,” says singer-guitarist Miles Zuniga. ”We’ll live and die by that. We’ve certainly got nothing else to offer from a marketing perspective.” 9/19

Buzz Record

Coming off the platinum-times-four sales of her electro-dance fantasia Ray of Light (1998), Mama Madonna has parked her bad self back on the disco floor for her eighth studio album. Recorded in London with production assistance from Light‘s William Orbit, Groove Armada, and French techno artist Mirwais, Music‘s siren songs pulse with the chilly throb of synth beats and Miss Thing’s vocal bleats. 9/19

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