Nicki Minaj’s alter ego takes center stage on her fiery new single. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj: “Roman in Moscow”

“Super Bass II” it ain’t: Minaj channels her menacing alter ego Roman Zolanski on the rapid-fire lead-off single from her Valentine’s Day release “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.”

Ernst Karel: “Materials Recovery Facility”

Earlier this year Karel became the experimental-music-world equivalent of famous for his field recordings of Swiss gondolas, “Swiss Mountain Transport Systems.” This excerpt from his latest, recorded at a Boston-area recycling plant, is just as stunning, and just as unexpectedly musical.

Sess 4-5 and Keedy Black: “I Luv Dat Boy”

Two up-and-coming New Orleans rappers unite for one of the season’s super-cheesiest and most undeniably great jams.

Cass McCombs: “Bradley Manning”

Sprawling and sympathetic, McCombs’s ode to the accused WikiLeaker is a throwback to the densely worded folkie protest ballads of the 1960s.

Cold Specks: “Holland”

The Canadian blues singer (real name Al Spx) sounds like the love child of Alan Lomax and Sister Rosetta Tharpe on her remarkable debut single