Corina (Cutting/Atco 91752)
Dance music singers aren't all faceless and interchangeable -they just sound that way. And it's no wonder, given the way producer-programmed beats dominate so many of today's dance hits. So why bother with an album like "Corina"? It certainly isn't the singing; close your eyes, and Corina could as easily be Saffire, Elisa Fiorello or a half-dozen other Latin hip-hop vocalists. No, the only real reason to listen are the songs -- which, fortunately, are first-rate, from the dark, moody groove of "Temptation" to the minor-key urgency of "Whispers."
Trisha Yearwood (MCA-10297)
Contrary to popular belief, country music isn't making comeback. Instead, what we're seeing is a host of light rockers dressing their sound in country-style arrangements, and finding a whole new audience in Nashville. Take Trisha Yearwood, for example. For all the fancy pickin' behind her, had "Trisha Yearwood" been released 20 years ago, she would have been pegged as another Linda Ronstadt, not a country star. Not that there's anything wrong with that; indeed, "She's in Love With the Boy" is a winner regardless of how it's classed, while Garth Brooks' "Like We Never Had a Broken Heart" is a better ballad than anything Ronstadt has sung recently.
MUSIC FOR THE PEOPLE
Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
If originality is what you look for in rap, odds are you won'have much time for "Music for the People" by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. If, on the other hand, you don't care where a groove comes from so long as it moves the crowd, you may want to listen up. When Marky Mark -- a k a Mark Wahlberg, brother of New Kid Donnie Wahlberg -- rides the rhythm, it's easy to forgive his derivative rhymes, particularly when the beat is as strong as it is on "Good Vibrations." But when he tries to turn serious, he just seems silly; his tough-talking "Wild Side" is obvious and ineffectual, while the romantic "Make Me Say Ooh!" is merely bad imitation L. L. Cool J.
BLUE NOTES IN THE BASEMENT
Ultra Nate (Warner Bros. 26565)
By now, most club veterans are familiar with the Chicaghouse sound and its off-shoots: New Jersey garage, London acid and Detroit techno. But are they ready for Baltimore basement? They'd better be, if Ultra Nate's "Blue Notes in the Basement" is any indicator. Produced by the Basement Boys -- the same team responsible for Crystal Waters' quirky "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" -- "Blue Notes" is both ominous and infectious, contrasting Ultra Nate's dark, jazzy vocals with the throbbing urgency of a house beat. Imagine Todd Terry producing Nina Simone, and you'll have an idea of just how irresistible this album is.