Omarion

O (Sony Urban Music/Epic)

It's not exactly a mystery why Sony is pushing O. After all, Omarion Grandberry's got a kiddie-soul pedigree (he was in B2K), an acting background (he played Reggie in Fat Albert, a fact he might want to keep to himself) and the sort of look that appeals to teens raised on the mean streets of suburbia. In other words, he has all the attributes to make him the new Usher -- except for an album as strong as Confessions.

The suits certainly pushed all the right buttons, bringing in trendy producers and guest stars such as OutKast's Big Boi. But while the Rodney Jerkins-helmed "Drop the Heater" is a certified finger-popper, "Touch," overseen by the Neptunes, feels slapdash; it's the sorta thing Chad and Pharrell probably knocked off while checking their phone messages. The title cut, meanwhile, is about as generic as a slow jam gets, which hasn't prevented it from becoming a hit but will make it difficult to remember a month from now. Like its name, O looks good, but its center is hollow.

 
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