Leah Greenblatt
September 24, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

You’ll have to wait for their completed albums, but the artists below have already hit the ground running with these sneak previews.

Kanye West, ”Runaway”
Self-awareness, thy name is (surprise!) Kanye. The rapper’s raw, excoriating ”toast for the douchebags” — among other choice NSFW epithets — reveals the hurt and insecurity beneath his Taylorgate bluster, in a confessional made all the stronger by its plaintive keyboard line. A-

Willow Smith, ”Whip My Hair”
Will and Jada’s 9-year-old progeny brings a surprising amount of baby-diva swagger to this saucy, hypnotic ponytail-tosser. B+

Rihanna, ”Only Girl (In the World)”
RiRi’s driving, techno-flecked come-on proceeds directly to the dance floor, a near-180 from last year’s downbeat Rated R. But its strobe-light wattage doesn’t reach quite as far as it should. B-

Kings of Leon, ”Radioactive”
Tennessee-bred brothers Jared, Nathan, and Caleb Followill (with cousin Matthew) make like the sons of a preacher man they are on their spiraling, gospel-choir-assisted ode to Southern roots. B

Josh Groban, ”Hidden Away”
The pop-classical star, who usually sounds like he’s singing every note from some cliff top where eagles soar, is a model of (relative) restraint on this Rick Rubin-produced, ”Bridge Over Troubled Water”-esque ballad. B

You May Like