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Like her fellow talent-show judge Mariah Carey recently did with ''#Beautiful,'' Britney drops the zany-diva act and gets back to the business of delivering shiny sonic lollipops. Sure, the song is designed for children — she made it for The Smurfs 2, and even the preverbal set can sing that chorus — but plenty of adults will find themselves cranking it up ''for the kids.'' A-

Ray Rahman



Though the second part of their name becomes less accurate with each passing year, the Boys' ability to pour Voltron-tight harmonies over soaring synth hooks somehow seems as fresh as it did back when they were still wearing matching white suits in airplane hangars. B+

Kyle Anderson



IV Play

''I'm tired of talkin' 'bout it, let's do it,'' the man born Terius Nash says at the top of his latest. He doesn't mean it, of course; The-Dream is one of R&B's best talkers, and he flexes that weird, wordy, girl-crazed mind all over IV Play's lush love jams. When pals like Beyoncé and Jay-Z stop by, he makes it feel like a party — one you're actually invited to. B+

Ray Rahman

Originally posted May 24, 2013 Published in issue #1261-1262 May 31, 2013 Order article reprints