By EW Staff
Updated February 28, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH Hootie & the Blowfish (Atlantic) After a lackluster solo R&B stint, Darius Rucker is back in the fold for the group’s fifth album.

LIL’ KIM La Bella Mafia (Queen Bee/Big Entertainment/Atlantic) The Queen Bee’s first joint in almost three years will feature Missy Elliott, Styles P, and Twista, backed by the visceral rhythms of Timbaland and Swizz Beatz.

THROWING MUSES Throwing Muses and KRISTIN HERSH The Grotto (Beggars/4AD) Hersh vies to become the hardest-working woman in indie rock by simultaneously releasing her sixth solo record and her band’s eighth studio album.

THE DATSUNS The Datsuns (V2) D4 top critics’ lists, but this quartet’s debut should up the ante in the battle to be New Zealand’s prime revival-rock export.

ON THE SPOT Cool Songs From Commercials

The Tahiti 80-ish track in the clip about a duo making a Michelob Light-fueled love connection at an airport bar is, um, ”Bus” by New York City’s AM60.

That’s MOGWAI’s ”Summer” sweetly playing as a stampede of buffalo thunders toward a couple whose only protection is Levi’s Type 1 denim separates.

HOOBASTANK’s ”Crawling in the Dark” spurs Mountain Dew’s caffeinated commercial about two fast-and-furious guys in a stunt-filled quest for the beverage.

Saturn portrays its Ion as a means of waving goodbye to your childhood. So let’s hope the maturity-resistant out there don’t read too much into the title of the WALKMEN song heard in the background: ”We’ve Been Had.”