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Singles: May 23, 2014

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Jennifer Lopez, ”First Love”
As both Paula Abdul and Steven Tyler have proved, it is nearly impossible to launch a successful single while sitting behind the artfully placed Coke cups on the American Idol judges’ table. But they didn’t have producer Max Martin (Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson), who boosts J. Lo’s bland delivery with a rising tide of champagne synths and a singsongy chorus that may or may not be a backhanded shot at her cavalcade of exes (“I wish you were my first love/’Cause if you were my first/Baby, there wouldn’t have been no second, third, or fourth love”). BKyle Anderson

Lil Wayne Feat. Drake, ”Believe Me”
Remember when Drake was one of Lil Wayne’s mentees? Oh, how things have changed. On this minimal, hypnotically loping track from Weezy’s slated “final” album Carter V (never trust a rapper’s “final” anything; looking at you, Jay Z and Tupac!), he wisely recruits Drizzy to take the lead — wise because, well, it’s basically a Drake song anyway. Still, even though Wayne’s prime may be behind him, lines like “Diamonds in my Rollie face/Cannot be exfoliated” show he’s got just enough clever spit left in him to steal back a slice of the spotlight. B+Ray Rahman

Linkin Park, ”Until It’s Gone”
Most everything about Linkin Park, from their embrace of technology to their fan interaction, is cutting-edge — except for their songwriting, which is frustratingly safe. The bold experimentation of 2010’s noisy, glitchy A Thousand Suns is long in the past, replaced by cookie-cutter loud-quiet-loud shout-alongs such as this one. Though the band’s sense of arena-ready melody remains intact, “Until It’s Gone” mostly just jogs in place. B-Kyle Anderson

La Roux, ”Let Me Down Gently”
The hot new dance move? Turning away so no one can see your tears. Four years after their smash “Bulletproof,” the Grammy-winning U.K. synth-pop act finally have a new single — a vulnerable stunner sure to sate all the Robyn-loving sensitive club kids. Driven by atmospheric thumps and Elly Jackson’s powerful vocals, the song feels like a promising preview of La Roux’s upcoming album, fittingly titled Trouble in Paradise. A-Ray Rahman

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