(Emmylou Harris)

In a 30-year career filled with countless albums and collaborations, country-rock harmonizer Harris has written only two of her own albums. Her second, "Red Dirt Girl," glides between Harris's Americana roots, appreciation of surreal-yet-subtle production and spare folk balladry. Her stellar voice takes on new depth when tied to songs this personal. No one sings it like Emmylou. (Sept.)

(Boyz II Men, 98°, Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys) The revenge of teen idols who aren't sponsored by McDonald's, yet their respective albums--"Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya," "Revelation," "Mi Reflejo" and the yet-to-be-titled Backstreet Boys release--will likely prove the musical equivalent to Happy Meals (kid tested/parent approved). Spicy sauce: Miss A and 98º add South-of-the-Border flavor via songs en espanol. Roll your eyes, but in no time you'll be mindlessly ingesting these tunes like cold fries off the car seat. (Sept., Nov.)

(Madonna) She's back, dressed like a pimp daddy and stuffing a stripper's bikini full of cash money in her new video single, "Music" (her new album's title track). Techno-savvy and dance-floor friendly, "Music's" packed with repetitive choruses that refuse to be ignored. A master pilferer, Madonna continues to stay just ahead of the curve and dodge the dreaded "has-been" factor. (Sept.)

(Wallflowers) "Breach," the band's new album of salt-of-the-earth rock and roll, won't win Jakob Dylan any prizes for ingenuity, nor any favorable comparisons to his legendary dad. But he's found a sweet spot in the middle of the road, so why move? (Oct.)

(Radiohead) "Kid A" is the year's most highly anticipated underground pop album. Enigmatic, arty and brooding enough to be deemed 2000's answer to "The Wall," it's a sure winner for the "Lie in Bed, Stare at the Ceiling, Contemplate Life" album award. (Oct.)

(Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash) Willie croons blues standards on "Milk Cow Blues" (guests include B. B. King), Merle almost gets happy on the unplugged "If I Could Only Fly" and Johnny rasps renditions of Tom Petty, Neil Diamond and Nick Cave tunes on his yet-untitled collection of spare ballads. Three good albums by three great voices. (Oct.)

(Ruben Gonzalez) "Chanchullo," the second U.S. solo album by Cuba's eightysomething Gonzalez (Ry Cooder calls him "the world's best pianist") is a passionate and graceful mix of Latin jazz and sweet Cuban balleros. A remedy for those youth-obsessed, pop-culture blues. (Oct.)

(Everlast) "Eat at Whitey's" combines this former House of Pain member's rap roots with his current penchant for blues-based songwriting. Bastard offspring Limp Bizkit will likely grab more attention, but this soulful album makes Everlast the true white boy to watch. (Oct.)

(Limp Bizkit) Cuss words, ample disrespect for anything slightly P.C. and a quasi-nasty album title ("Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water") make this rap-rock record a sure hit for self-loathing Oxy-10 users. (Oct.)

(PJ Harvey) After wooing indie-rock fans mid-decade with her cathartic "Rid of Me," the Brit artist's "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea" proves a spooky, deep and contemplative reprieve. Not a comeback, but more a soul-jostling visit from a dear-yet-dysfunctional friend. (Oct.)

(Erykah Badu) After rejuvenating the stale likes of R&B with her '97 debut, the soul singer makes a welcome return with "Mama's Gotta Gun." The title belies the multifaceted appeal of Badu's voice, and the urban mysticism in her lyrics. Turbans are in this fall. (Oct.)

(Ricky Martin) The eloquently titled single "She Bangs" finds Martin still basking in la vida loca. With hips this flexible and teeth this white (and the music, of course), he will likely inspire a second round of bon-bon shaking. (Nov.)

(Fatboy Slim) The British DJ gained U.S. fame the first time round by lending his songs to just about every commercial jingle on American TV (Mercedes, Lexus, etc.). "Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars" threatens to pull Fatboy into the foreground. Coming to a radio near you? (Nov.)

Editor's Pick
Meghan McCain on Legacy Admissions

Meghan McCain Ridicules Trump for Attack on Her Father

“If I had told my dad, ‘Seven months after you’re dead, you’re going to be dominating the news and all over Twitter,’ he would think that it’s hilarious that our president was so jealous of him,” John McCain's daughter said.