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Britney Spears (FRED PROUSER/Reuters)
Britney Spears (FRED PROUSER/Reuters)


Essential tracks: Four songs you need to hear Add to ...

Hold It Against Me Britney Spears, exclusively through iTunes

As come-ons go, this twist on the Bellamy Brothers' If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body is a pretty lame lyric. But with its grinding synths and breathless beats, the track is lust made audible, which Spears's heavily processed vocal turns into perfect ear candy. J.D. Considine

Frosty the Snowman Fiona Apple, digital only ( myspace.com/fionaapple)

This 60-year-old novelty tune takes a slightly tragic twist in Fiona Apple's jaunty Western-swing version, in which Apple's tremulous voice drops to a wide-eyed murmur during the verse in which Frosty begins his race against time and ephemerality. Apple's sound and style have never sounded more like that of a big-band singer from the forties, and I mean that in a good way.

Sick Of You Cake, from Showroom of Compassion, Warner (view it here)

Cake is fed up with everything, and can't think of a better way to express it that to convert those feelings of cosmic satiety into the snappy first single from the band's new album, out Tuesday. The guys in bedraggled bunny suits in the parking-lot video have the right idea, especially when they start dancing.

Drop Names, Not Bombs Louise Burns, from Mellow Drama (Ruby Blue Music, streaming here)

No need to blame the boomer generation for mythifying the sixties and early seventies. Louise Burns is a 24-year-old West Coast singer with a huge voice and a jones for the music of the Vietnam War era, artfully renewed in this big-booted original tune that one can easily imagine issuing from the throat of Stevie Nicks.

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