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Chris Brown

"Exclusive!" (Jive/Zomba) - 4 stars

Look out Michael Jackson: Chris Brown may be pop’s new king–or at least its new prince. Critics have referred to the 18-year-old heartthrob as a possible contender for the crown, and his new album, “Exclusive,” is sure to solidify his spot as musical royalty. With incredible vocals, catchy beats, and tracks featuring some of the music industry’s finest–including T-Pain, Big Boi and Kanye West–Brown looks like he has another double-platinum record on his hands. “Exclusive” is filled with potential chart-toppers; it seems that a coronation is impending.

Brown aims to move bodies, and the album opens up with “Throwed,” a Pharrell-ish beat sure to pack the dance floor. The first official singles off the album are just as catchy. The video for first single “Wall to Wall,” which has been out since May, was an homage to MJ’s “Thriller,” and perfectly captured the Gloved One’s danceable appeal. “Kiss Kiss,” featuring T-Pain, was released a mere seven weeks ago, and has unsurprisingly already claimed the number one spot on Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart. Who can resist a bouncy beat–or Nappy Boy, for that matter?

Aside from the typical bump-and-grind songs, a few impressive ballads are presented in the album as well. Brown’s ballad “I Wanna Be” proves to be one of his more moving efforts. Over a gentle piano melody, he sings longingly to a benefitless friend from whom he wants more. The subject matter makes the song easy to relate to and Brown does his best to evoke the listener’s sympathy. With lyrics like, “I wanna be the person that you dial when you open your eyes / Wanna be the one you run to / Wanna be the one that ain’t gonna hurt you,” Brown reveals his sensitive side. I almost—just almost—teared up.

Similarly, in his song “With You–which sounds a lot like Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable”–he relates to the listener’s experience with love. He sings, “And now I know I can’t be the only one/ I bet there’s hearts all over the world tonight / With the love in their life who feel the way I feel when I’m with you.” It’s a bit sappy, but Brown comes off surprisingly genuine. If you’re like me, you may actually fall in love with the teenage vocalist. Don’t judge me.

In his song “You,” Brown again sings directly to his listeners. “And I know you really wanna be my woman / Girl, I`m talking about you,” he sings. He repeats the word “you” twenty times in his chorus, which can only make me hope. I think it’s pretty clear I’m Brown’s target audience.

Although a couple of his songs prove to be a little cheesy (and grammatically incorrect), I find myself singing along. In “Lottery,” he proclaims, “I think I done hit the lottery” after scoring a girl’s number.

Similarly, “Picture Perfect” features a flurry of camera snaps and oohs and ahhs before Brown opens the song with, “You might have seen her on every cover of every magazine / But can’t nobody get her but me.” Despite the English errors and laughable lyrics, the songs don’t detract from the album.

With hip and infectious beats, easily-relatable subject matter, and a Michael-esque singing voice that could make any teenage girl melt, “Exclusive” is bound to be a hit record. It may soon be time to bow to Chris Brown as the newest prince of pop.
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