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SINGLES

BRITNEY SPEARS

”OOH LA LA”

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

BACKSTREET BOYS

”PERMANENT STAIN”

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

ALBUMS

THE-DREAM

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

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