Album: Leona Lewis, Echo, (Syco)

Of all the talent-show turns unearthed in the past decade, Leona Lewis is the only one to have parlayed the opportunity, when it knocked, into a significant international career; and judging by this safe, careful follow-up to the multi-platinum Spirit, she's not taking any unnecessary chances that might prematurely derail that career. She might admirably refer to the original Greek myth – in which an unrequited lover pines away till just her voice remained – in explaining the album's title, but one doesn't have to be a complete cynic to place a more prosaic interpretation on Echo, so closely does it stick to its predecessor's formula.

Gaming news roundup: The one to Beaterator

Fancy yourself as the next Dizzee Rascal or Calvin Harris? Then the tools you need are on theway in the shape of Rockstar Studio’s musicmixing software Beaterator. What started life as a flash app on Rockstar’s website quickly became one of its most popular assets, making a retail version inevitable. What’s more, the music industry veteran Timbaland – involved with the project from its inception – has provided a whole cacophony of beats, loops and samples to mix into your songs. Rockstar plans to provide space on their online ‘Social Club’ for users to upload their masterpieces for theworld to hear. Beaterator for PSP hits shelves on 2 October for £29.99 with an iPhone and iTouch release to follow soon.

Album: Ashlee Simpson, Bittersweet World (Geffen)

Few acts epitomise the failings of corporate pop as completely as Ashlee Simpson, one of those insubstantial presences who seem to emanate from the industry like marsh-gas, shape-shifting to fit whatever trends briefly catch the public ear, then evaporating to leave only a lingering whiff of inauthenticity.

Sound of the urban underground

Urban artists are turning mainstream – but will popular success kill their credibility? Matilda Egere-Cooper reports

Album: Madonna, Hard Candy (Warner)

For the record, I'm neither ageist nor a prude. But when, four tracks into Madonna's 11th studio album 'Hard Candy', the 49-year-old Queen of Pop starts monotonously cooing "see my booty get down" while Pharrell Williams pants desperately over the top, my immediate reaction is sheer, hair-standing-on-end embarrassment.