It’s not hard to view “Listen” as uberproducer David Guetta’s vision for re-creating pop radio in his own image. The array of collaborators he’s enlisted as his mouthpieces include established hitmakers (John Legend, Sia, Nicki Minaj), a handful of European stars (Emeli Sandé, the Script’s Danny O’Donoghue), one legendary vocal group seemingly brought aboard purely for the prestige factor (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who don’t contribute in any meaningful way to “Lift Me Up”), and some unknowns who, if Guetta has anything to say about it, won’t be unknown for long. Sandé’s impassioned clarity works well on “What I Did for Love,” while “Goodbye Friend” may be the best thing O’Donoghue has ever done, with his earnestness a good match for Guetta’s signature throb. But that throb — so loud in its way that it almost loops back around to silence — is inescapable, overpowering almost every other song with a booming lushness that’s used seemingly by numbing default. “I’ll Keep Loving You” is the grand exception, a sleek, urgent club track sung by Jaymes Young and Birdy that ought to turn them into stars. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “I’ll Keep Loving You“Marc Hirsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @spacecitymarc.