Eighteen-year-old r&b crooner Chris Brown appears in a total of 10 different outfits in the booklet that accompanies Exclusive, the follow-up to his hit 2005 debut. (Hot: slim-fit Bruce Wayne tuxedo. Not: oversized Cliff Huxtable sweater.) Dude’s sartorial multiplicity reflects an artistic sensibility no less catholic—Brown is unsatisfied with any single historical precedent on offer to an 18-year-old r&b crooner, so here he tries on each one to see how it suits him. In “Take You Down,” he’s a slow-hand loverman entirely willing to impersonate a virgin; in “Picture Perfect,” he’s a collector of Top Model chicks more concerned with status than sex; in “Hold Up,” he’s on the search for a wifey to call his own. The result is guaranteed to frustrate fans of R. Kelly, who bends historical precedent to his will, squeezing the vast contents of his sexual appetite into a unified randy-candy shop of the mind. Seekers of pop thrills—not to mention daffy Lil Wayne cameos—will fare just fine.
Twenty-two-year-old Trey Songz wears only one outfit in Trey Day‘s artwork (unless you count the disc-tray photo, in which he wears no outfit at all). As on Exclusive, the wardrobe design seems to work in concert with the music here: Songz is about as interested in demonstrating his ideological range across these 13 tracks as he is in performing a non- metaphorical lube job. In “Long Gone Missin’,” all he sees is “cuties’ booties bouncing all around”—and that’s a view you don’t give up just to impress the booty-less. Twenty-three-year-old J. Holiday comes in somewhere between Brown and Songz on his debut, whose booklet boasts eight distinct get-ups: He works a series of variations on a theme of bilateral lust best represented by the hit single “Bed,” in which he outlines his pro-foreplay position over a gorgeous talking-drum groove that echoes Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” According to industry scuttlebutt, songwriter The-Dream originally pitched “Bed” to Brown, but Holiday was the right man for the tune. The eldest of this bunch, he knows that romance requires a mixture of the novel and the familiar. Also: manners.