Various Artists

On a recent episode of his film-rating program, Roger Ebert awarded the Usher-starring In the Mix the "wagging finger of shame" because its makers refused to let reviewers see it prior to release -- a sure sign that it bites harder than a half-starved gator with an extra row of teeth. If Ebert also analyzed CDs, he'd probably offer another digit to the disc's soundtrack, which isn't exactly a paragon of truth in advertising.

The Usher photo on the album's cover is guaranteed to excite his legions of supporters, who've been jonesing for new material for two years. But Usher actually appears on just one cut: "Sweat," a standard-issue Rico Love tune that features the Cuddly One on its chorus. The rest of In the Mix is listenable, with Keri Hilson's "Hands & Feet" being a bit better than that. Still, tracks by the likes of Ryon Lovett and Robin Thicke work far better as appetizers than the main course.

Wag that finger again, Rog. And make it the middle one.


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