I knew that this week’s new releases had been moved up a day to 11/23/09, but I wanted to let the AMA posts stay on the front page for a while, so I’m technically hitting you guys up a day late. Forgive me. Anyway, this is Thanksgiving week, Black Friday is upon us, so the heavy artillery is coming out. Here’s what’s up with this week’s releases.

Rihanna “Rated R”: Rihanna’s been all over the press pimping this record, from Diane Sawyer interviews to award show performances. This is her first album since officially becoming a superstar, and also her first album since the Chris Brown assault back in February. This marks the introduction of a tougher, angrier Rihanna, as evidenced by the album’s “Parental Advisory” sticker. I’ve been unimpressed by the three singles I’ve heard so far, which is usually a bad sign, but I bought the album anyway. I hope to have it reviewed later in the week. We’ll see if I wasted my money. Guests here include Slash, Young Jeezy and will.i.am (also not a good sign).

Susan Boyle “I Dreamed a Dream”: Ms. Boyle caused an internet sensation earlier this year due to her appearance on Simon Cowell’s “Britain’s Got Talent”. An unassuming country woman from England, Boyle has a voice like an angel. She was quickly scooped up to a record contract and her debut album has broken pre-order records on Amazon.com. This will be the Josh Groban “Noel” of 2009. Never underestimate the dollar of the over-40 customer. These are the folks who don’t think that music should be free.

Lady GaGa “The Fame: Monster”: 2009’s breakout artist is re-releasing her debut album with a whopping EIGHT new tracks. Now, folks. Where I come from? Eight tracks is an album. Thankfully, GaGa is doing right by her fans and is releasing those eight tracks a la carte in addition to as a part of her wildly successful “Fame” LP, which includes the hit singles “Just Dance”, “Paparazzi”, “Lovegame” and the super-ubiquitous “Poker Face”.

Shakira “She Wolf”: I gotta admit, Shaki’s half-ass performance of “Give it Up to Me” at the AMAs officially turned me off of buying this record. And I actually really like the disco-infused title track. My issue isn’t so much with Shakira turning towards dance/pop, but that “Give it Up to Me” is a completely uncreative collaboration with Timbaland and Lil Wayne designed to make a hit, and it appears that Shakira totally phoned it in. The rest of the album contains collaborations with The Neptunes (which could feasibly be interesting, given Shakira’s offbeat lyricism) and a second partnership with Wyclef Jean, who saved her last album from Flop City with “Hips Don’t Lie”.

Boyz II Men “Love”: Here’s some laziness I can forgive. The pre-eminent R&B group of the past 20 years is releasing their THIRD consecutive album of covers (actually, it’s their third out of four, but the one non-covers album was only released overseas and through BIIM’s website). I can forgive this because, quite frankly, the last couple of albums of BIIM-written material were pretty mediocre. On “Love”, the trio goes straight for adult contemporary radio with covers of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (one of my favorite songs of all time), Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now”, and…”Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls? I gotta hear this one.

Also in stores and online this week: Beyonce releases her first live album, “I Am: Yours”, featuring a performance at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. She also releases another damn “deluxe” version of “I Am: Sasha Fierce”, featuring two new songs. Birdman takes some time off from tonguing down his “son” Lil Wayne to release “Pricele$$” in what will be yet another fruitless attempt to gain even a fraction of his protege’s success. Regis & Joy Philbin join the holiday fray with their album “Just You, Just Me” and hope to get some of that Susan Boyle money. Also in stores: future one-hit wonder Jay Sean, neo-soul stalwart Angie Stone and the debut album by the guy who made an ass of himself on network TV two nights ago and thus doesn’t warrant a featured spot in this column, Adam Lambert.

A full list of this week’s releases can be found here. Happy Shopping!