As the world continues snapping up Michael Jackson recordings of any stripe — a fact which stands as heartening evidence that people can still be compelled to purchase actual records given the right circumstance — there’s not much happening on the new release wall this week. Chalk it up to the July doldrums:


The “Idol” cabal is certainly having itself a kick-ass summer to here: Miss Kelly’s back with a spectacular album that has entirely eradicated the stench of the leaden effort which immediately precedes it in her discography; spunky li’l Jordan Sparks has blasted back to the foreground with her fabulous smash “Battlefield,” a brilliantly bombastic Ryan Tedder tune about which not nearly enough Buzz ink has been spilled (a situation that I’ll set about rectifying next week, when the full album drops); and my beloved Brooke White offers me the greatest birthday present fathomable next week with the release of her long-awaited post-“Idol” effort High Hopes and Heartbreak, which is teased by the bouncy sing-along track “Radio Radio.” And then there’s Chris and the boys from Daughtry, who have set top 40 radio ablaze all over again this summer with the fiercely melodic “No Surprise,” the terrific lead single from the band’s sophomore record Leave This Town. Even though he can be a tad too pompous for his own good, and his sideburns more often than not tend toward the bizarre, there’s no denying that Chris is one hell of an engaging performer, and because his debut was such a masterfully executed commercial triumph, there’s little reason to believe that album number two will deviate radically from such a winning formula. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (If you’re so inclined, pick Town up at Target, whose edition comes bundled with a bonus DVD containing the band’s six videos, including the new clip for “No Surprise.”)

On sale this week at Best Buy for the ridiculous bargain-basement price of $14.99 is the six-disc collection which contains the complete run — all twenty-one glorious episodes of it — of Aaron Sorkin’s utterly majestic 2006 failed masterpiece Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Possessed of the most competent ensemble cast — led by prime-time pros Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford — in recent memory, as well as what I continue to believe is the most dazzling and compelling pilot episode — anchored by a blistering opening tirade from the fabulously crusty Judd Hirsch, who received a hard-earned Emmy nomination for his brilliant work in the series’ introductory ten minutes — that I have ever seen for a drama series, Studio 60 hit the air riding a tsunami of this-thing-can’t-miss expectations and ended up getting trapped in its own swirling undertow when America seemed to decide that its riveting examination of the politics of television was too pretentious, too self-important to invest in week on week. A shame, that, since there’s so much more happening here — lovers reunite, fathers and sons attempt to reach a tenuous common ground, writers try to recapture their muses — but if you’re a fan of Sorkin’s inviolably pristine work on his previous series Sports Night and The West Wing — and if you’re not, have you lost your damned minds?! — take full advantage of this fire-sale-priced opportunity to acquaint yourself with a criminally misunderstood, grossly underappreciated television classic.

Also noteworthy this week:


  • She and Him’s cover of The Smiths’ “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” anchors the soundtrack for this summer’s much-buzzed-about romantic drama (500) Days of Summer.

  • Season two of AMC’s critically worshipped drama series Mad Men arrives on DVD.

  • Talk about your can’t-lose pedigrees: he’s named after a legendary performer with the first name of Bing, and he’s the progeny of a legendary performer named Kenny, and this week, Crosby Loggins unleashes his debut album Time to Move.


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