EW Staff
December 22, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

1. Kevin Federline
Playing With Fire
Federline/Sony BMG
This monotonous set of faux-pimpsta hip-hop tracks doesn’t even have the good manners to be entertainingly bad. From name-checking Hennessy to referencing Scarface, K-Fed wallows in rap clichés that were already well-worn in his backup-dancer days.

2. Clay Aiken
A Thousand Different Ways
Sorry, Claymates — this turgid, toothless, mostly covers collection is, for us, a thousand different wrongs. Why gnaw so fruitlessly on gummy pop hits (hello, Mr. Mister’s ”Broken Wings”)? Next time, it’s Kelly who should put her hand over Clay’s mouth — and bring the duct tape, too.

3. Pharrell
In My Mind
Star Trak/Interscope
Inexplicably tinny, tedious beats abound on superproducer Pharrell Williams’ solo debut — and they’re the best part of the album. Whether clumsily rapping about his latest purchases or sharing sleazy fantasies in a strained falsetto, this Neptune shows he’s more like dwarf planet Pluto when it comes to mic skills.

4. Rascal Flatts
Me and My Gang
Lyric Street
Rascal Flatts’ dumbfoundingly successful fourth studio collection of country-pop is insipid even by their lame standards. Glutinous ballads predominate, although the title track (which gives a bad name to homaging Bon Jovi’s ”You Give Love a Bad Name”) proves they can stink at a faster pace.

5. Janet Jackson
20 Y.O.
Following Nipplegate and 2004’s oversexed Damita Jo, we were rooting for a Mariah-style comeback. But despite the contributions of co-producer / boyfriend Jermaine Dupri and longtime producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, 20 Y.O. is just another shameless study in carnal desires.

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