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John Legend

Get Lifted (Columbia/Sony)

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John Legend's Get Lifted is a breath of fresh air in the sea of monotony that is R&B. With his Stevie-Wonder-meets-Jay-Z sound, Legend distinguishes himself with writing that vividly captures the nuances of love, commitment, and struggle.

On the unapologetic cheating song "She Don't Have to Know," for example, he sings, "Go to D.C. and hold hands publicly/'Cause they don't know you and they don't know me." Granted, his vocal abilities are slightly limited, but when the music sounds this good, who cares? -- especially when it comes to tracks such as "Alright," in which producer Kanye West collides bluesy horns with infectious percussion. And the piano ballad "Ordinary People" is destined to be a featured track on mixtapes exchanged between lovers everywhere.

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