NEW YORK (Billboard) - Launch single "Lost" from Faith Hill's upcoming "The Hits" is as vintage a ballad as the long-lived songstress has ever served. As melodically entrancing as "Breathe," as mesmerizing a vocal as "Let Me Let Go" and as tailor-made for Hill as "It Matters to Me," she delivers a clever, consummate message of steadfast devotion: "You found me when I wasn't looking/I wanna stay lost forever with you." While Hill remains among the leading ladies of country music, her chart footing has slipped a bit this decade. This is the one to remind the masses that Hill had her first No. 1 when Carrie Underwood was barely out of her Underoos.
ARTIST: KAT DELUNA
SINGLE: WHINE UP
Talk about a summertime sure thing. Nineteen-year-old Dominican Kat Deluna is prepped to combust with a platinum-plated debut so certain you can practically smell the smoke emanating from its juicy one-spin hook and manic tempo. Accompanied by reggaeton queen Ivy Queen and dancehall staple Elephant Man, aka the Energy God, the bilingual crossover beauty -- who grew up in poverty in the Dominican Republic and the Bronx before studying music at the New Jersey School of Performing Arts -- combines Caribbean cadence with a novel mesh of hip-hip, R&B and merengue. Deluna's launch single offers ultimate seasonal sizzle -- over the airwaves, on the beach, down the highway and across dance floors. A "Whine" to be heard loud and proud the world over. Look for the album "9 Lives" in August.
SINGLE: DO YOU
The follow-up to Ne-Yo's top 10 Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs single "Because of You" is being branded as part two of 2006 No. 1 single "So Sick." The Stargate production in "Do You" creates a powerful tag team duet, where Ne-Yo asks a past love interest if she's still in the game. In the first verse, Ne-Yo confesses sorrow for making her cry, hoping she'll offer another chance. The plot thickens when we discover that Ne-Yo's love interest is not only currently involved but expecting a daughter. What seems to be a common topic on trash TV results in a clever story line showing Ne-Yo's songwriting skills. Stargate adds an ideal combo of hip-hop drum rifts and piano play to certify another hit in Ne-Yo's growing hit catalog.
ARTIST: JASON MICHAEL CARROLL
SINGLE: LIVIN' OUR LOVE SONG
Jason Michael Carroll's hit debut, "Alyssa Lies," dealt with the serious subject of child abuse. Here, he offers lighthearted fare in the engaging "Livin' Our Love Song," with its sweet, sticky melody and upbeat romantic lyric about "a backwoods boy and fairy-tale princess." This North Carolina native has a strong voice and an edge to his delivery that sets him apart from other male newcomers. Combined with his songwriting prowess -- "Love Song" is penned by Carroll with Tim Galloway and Glen Mitchell -- the track signals a bright future for this talented young artist.
With 2006 fifth effort "Black Holes and Revelations," Muse delivers an onslaught of progressive stadium rock hits, earning the Brit trio a lofty top 10 view on the U.S. album chart and second consecutive No. 1 U.K. album. On "Starlight," lead Matthew Bellamy's vocals effortlessly rip through an introductory barrage of percussion and bass and seamlessly glide atop heavily synthesized arpeggios and glimmering scales. Having already nearly topped the modern rock playlist, "Starlight," with its wave of refreshment, is primed for mainstream acceptance. Muse has hit its intergalactic stride.
ARTIST: AYLA BROWN
Ayla Brown may be a blip on last season's "American Idol," finishing at No. 13, but she has parlayed her nanosecond in the spotlight into numerous public appearances and indie release "Forward." Ironically, the track demonstrates a more soulful vocal stamp than the did pageant's top two finalists from 2006, with an adult-contemporary-ready signature that checks off all variables of a hit: an anthemic display of emotion, production and power ballad triumph, with a chilling, rafter-rousing chorus and inspiring lyric of taking forward steps.
Still largely unknown in the United States, London-based alt-rock quartet Razorlight scored a huge radio hit in Europe with this playful but serious anthem, which peaked at No. 2 on the U.K. singles chart and helped earn the band two Brit Award nominations this year. Musically, "America" -- the diary entry of someone glued to late-night TV, unable to sleep -- has a carefree party-rock vibe, but the lyric shows a deeper concern: "All my life, watching America/All my life, there's panic in America," singer/guitarist Johnny Borrell offers in the sing-along chorus atop jangly guitars and sunny harmonies. Less starry-eyed than Snow Patrol and sharper than Keane, Razorlight's simple, highly melodic, no-frills pop-rock hews closer to Crowded House and is most likely to succeed on adult top 40 or adult alternative album radio.