IT'S Kylie as you've never heard her before. For her 12th album, the Australian pop princess has decided to forego the high-end production and fancy effects, instead relying on her voice and full orchestra for stripped-down versions of the biggest hits of her 25-year career. Her voice, which may sometimes be lost within the mainstream renditions, sounds amazing on these acoustic revisits, with stand-out tracks including an emotional Better The Devil You Know, a stylish take of first hit The Locomotion, an epic I Should Be So Lucky featuring dramatic strings, a poignant All The Lovers, a country-inspired Hand On Your Heart and a rich-sounding Can't Get You Out Of My Head. Recorded at London's legendary Abbey Road Studios, the record – which also includes the previously unreleased Flower – is a reminder of why Minogue continues to be top of the pops after more than two decades.
Macy Gray – Talking Book
AMERICAN singer Macy Gray has always been one to follow her own esoteric path, eschewing commercial success in pursuit of doing exactly what she wants to do, and it is no different with this tribute to one of her favourite albums, Stevie Wonder's timeless Talking Book.
Since first coming to international attention with her hit single I Try in 1999, Gray has failed to match its commercial success. Covering Wonder's material is a risky and brave move, particularly one of his most seminal albums, but to a large extent this works, with Gray's gravely tones reinterpreting the material to winning effect. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life, Superstition and Looking For Another Pure Love are the standouts.
Various – BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge 2012
RADIO 1 have once again collated a bunch of young hipsters to sing in their Live Lounge. This year's batch includes Emeli Sande, Lana Del Rey and Mumford And Sons belting out stripped-down versions of their hits, but more eagerly anticipated are the acts covering others. Conor Maynard's take on Nicki Minaj's Starships is beautiful, while Plan B adds his own edge to Cheryl's Call My Name and Usher offers his rendition of Foster The People's Pumped Up Kicks. The second disc features The Vaccines' version of Taylor Swift's break-up hit We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Florence + The Machine's take on Drake and Rihanna's duet Take Care and Maverick Sabre giving a mash-up of Ben E King's Stand By Me with Sean Kingston's Beautiful Girls.
Matt Cardle – The Fire
"IT'S a losing game that I won't play," sings Matt Cardle on opening track It's Only Love. The 29-year-old from Southampton, who won The X Factor in 2010, could almost be referring to his experiences on the ITV1 show that made his name. Being on a smaller label like SO What?, compared with Columbia Records which he left, suits him as he's had more creative freedom – he has co-written nine of the 10 songs and played most of the instruments. The follow-up to 2011's Letters has been inspired by his split from dancer Sarah Robinson, which can be heard on tracks like For Every Heartbreak, All That Matters, Lately and the emotional Water.