Strip Me (Phonogenic/Epic)

Of all the post-Britney pop starlets, Natasha Bedingfield seems like the most grounded. She doesn't sing about puking in Paris Hilton's closet, wear slabs of meat, or expose her cooter in public. The nice-girl image has made her an unassuming but sorta-blah chart presence over the past five years. The British singer's third album doesn't bust this bubble. Despite its lascivious title, "Strip Me" is more up-with-me than down-and-dirty-with-you. "I'm only one voice in a million, but you ain't taking that from me," Bedingfield sings in a voice that sounds, well, like a million others. But Strip Me is loaded with big and busy production by a small army of hitmakers who coat the album in glossy extravagance. Bedingfield drops a "bitch" in one song, but it comes as a promise of something she says she'll never be. Reputation saved, she and Strip Me continue along on their safe-pop way. Michael Gallucci