by Luke Baumgarten and Ted S. McGregor Jr. & r & Eminem & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941.468630593 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Curtain Call & lt;/a & ** & r & Hits! Glorious, pocket-padding, chart-busting, star-making hits! How I hate them - almost uniformly I hate them. Despite my love for Eminem, I hate them.

If you're an Eminem fan, you have these songs already. Likely, you skip past them on the way to the good tracks. If you're not a fan, it's probably because you think he's a wife-beating homophobe. The saccharine, insipid poem-to-my-daughter "Mockingbird" won't relieve you of those notions. At best, you'll think he's hopelessly schizophrenic. No, the gradients of character that make Eminem a powerful and compelling presence - and a complete human being, rather than a rap caricature - aren't on display here because nuance doesn't sell records. That's not to say there aren't good tracks on this album -- "Stan", "Guilty Conscience," "Cleaning Out My Closet" are great -- but on the whole, there's no depth.

Download the new cuts from iTunes if you must, but if you're craving some classic Mathers, go revisit the more introspective, essential parts of the LP. -- LUKE BAUMGARTEN

Madonna & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941.468630591 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Confessions on a Dance Floor & lt;/a & *** & r & When things aren't working, get back to basics. That's what Madonna Inc. has apparently decided with this new CD; it's pure disco and recalls her "Borderline" days. It's a smart move, as this will be a big hit for her. Disco has always been a producer's medium, and it's no different here -- Madonna, like Donna Summer in the 1970s, is really just the singer (although she supposedly "co-writes" all the songs here).

If you love heavy beats, you'll probably get addicted to this electronica-inspired brand of disco. It's hard for me to enjoy too much, as I can't help but think this is more about reviving a career (the package photos of her are highly desperate) than about any joyful love of the music. Still, don't underestimate Madonna's ability to set trends. The conditions are ripe for a disco revival (an ugly war and economic malaise were what people were dancing to forget in the '70s, too). In a couple years, people may point to this record as the moment it all started. -- Ted S. McGREGOR Jr.

Santa Express

Nov. 23-Dec. 20
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