UltimateDisney.com's Fall 2006 CD Roundup
UltimateDisney.com Presents:
Walt Disney Records - Fall 2006 CD Roundup

Thirteen new Disney albums reviewed, including soundtracks to The Little Mermaid, Hannah Montana,
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, The Cheetah Girls 2 and The Nightmare Before Christmas

In addition to the usual gifts -- cooler temperatures and colorful, ground-bound leaves -- October has brought a sharp increase in the number of releases Walt Disney Records has given to stores. When it comes to output, WDR is once again on the same wavelength as Disney's home video department. Though both branches have been making the company's newest and hottest properties available, this time, the music division is quicker on the draw. Several companion albums (Cars karaoke, a pair of discs for The Cheetah Girls 2, a third release for High School Musical, and the debut "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" soundtrack) precede holiday season DVD releases, while others ("Hannah Montana" and two The Little Mermaid discs) coincide with release dates on the dot. The month's only new big screen production -- the 3-D version of The Nightmare Before Christmas -- also gets represented in a snazzy new two-disc special edition soundtrack. There are several additional audio CDs with no direct visual counterpart -- another Baby Einstein volume, more Radio Disney-branded teen pop, an indie rock-turned-Disney project for the Playhouse Disney crowd, and a new Muppets concoction for Christmas -- which makes this our biggest roundup yet, with a total of 13 subjects. With that said, let's get straight to the reviews!

Click to jump to an individual review:
The Cheetah Girls 2: Soundtrack | The Little Mermaid: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack | Disney's Karaoke Series: The Little Mermaid
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Songs From and Inspired By The Hit TV Series | Baby Einstein: Playdate Fun | Ralph's World - Welcome to Ralph's World (CD/DVD Combo)
Disney's Karaoke Series: Cars | Disney's Karaoke Series: The Cheetah Girls 2 | Disney's Karaoke Series: High School Musical
Radio Disney Party Jams (CD + Concert DVD) | The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack | Hannah Montana: Songs From and Inspired By The Hit TV Series (CD + Concert DVD)

The Cheetah Girls 2: Soundtrack
The Cheetah Girls 2 Soundtrack
Running Time: 42 minutes / Release Date: August 15, 2006 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) "The Party's Just Begun" - The Cheetah Girls
2) "Strut" - The Cheetah Girls
3) "Dance With Me - Drew Seeley featuring Belinda
4) "Why Wait" - Belinda
5) "A La Nanita Nana" - The Cheetah Girls with Belinda
6) "Do Your Own Thing" - Raven-Symoné
7) "It's Over" - The Cheetah Girls
8) "Step Up" - The Cheetah Girls
9) "Amigas Cheetahs" - The Cheetah Girls with Belinda
10) "Cherish the Moment" - The Cheetah Girls
11) "Cheetah Sisters" (Barcelona Mix) - The Cheetah Girls
12) "Everyone's A Star" - Raven-Symoné
13) "It's Gonna Be Alright" - Raven-Symoné

I'm afraid it's true: The Cheetah Girls are back. The pop group (if you can call them that) were spawned by a 2003 Disney Channel Original Movie and their newest album is the soundtrack to its sequel, The Cheetah Girls 2. That means that sometimes-member Raven-Symoné (a.k.a. Galleria) joins regulars Chanel, Dorinda, and Aquanette for the extra publicity and bigger paycheck, though those aren't their real names, as they perform in character here à la Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana. The group has earned itself an impressive reputation for releasing some of the most unappetizing music that this decade has seen. I'd accuse them of kicking mainstream radio when it's down, but they haven't had much of an impact outside the world of Radio Disney. The low expectations they've fostered thus far work to the advantage of this new soundtrack, which is comprised mostly of nauseating fluff and poor attempts at singing in Spanish but does surprise with a few intelligently produced pop jams. Those include "The Party's Just Begun", "Strut", and "Step Up." Raven-Symoné turns out a couple of decent solo songs -- "Do Your Own Thing" and "Everyone's A Star" -- as does Belinda with "Why Wait". The rest of the songs are utter tripe. I suppose they benefit from a second listen, but let's be honest; you're about half as likely to listen to it a second time as you are to listen to it the first. That brings us a total of six songs that score a "just okay" and seven more that don't score at all, which adds up to a CD that you can pass on and feel good about yourself.

UD Rating: ¾ out of 5

Buy The Cheetah Girls: Soundtrack CD from Amazon.com / Download from The Cheetah Girls - The Cheetah Girls 2 (Original Soundtrack)

Related Reviews: The Cheetah Girls - Cheetah-licious Christmas CDDisneymania 3 in Concert DVDDisneymania 4 CD
Related Preorders: The Cheetah Girls 2: Cheetah-licious Edition DVDThe Cheetah Girls 2: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack CD

The Little Mermaid: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack
The Little Mermaid: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack
Running Time: 72 minutes / Release Date: October 3, 2006 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
Disc 1:
1) "Fathoms Below"
2) "Main Titles" - Score
3) "Fanfare" - Score
4) "Daughters of Triton"
5) "Part of Your World"
6) "Under the Sea"
7) "Part of Your World (Reprise)"
8) "Poor Unfortunate Souls"
9) "Les Poissons"
10) "Kiss the Girl"
11) "Fireworks" - Score
12) "Jig" - Score
13) "The Storm" - Score
14) "Destruction of the Grotto" - Score
15) "Flotsam and Jetsam" - Score
16) "Tour of the Kingdom" - Score
17) "Bedtime" - Score
18) "Wedding Announcement" - Score
19) "Eric to the Rescue" - Score
20) "Happy Ending"
Disc 2:
1) "Kiss the Girl" - Ashley Tisdale
2) "Poor Unfortunate Souls" - Jonas Brothers
3) "Part of Your World" - Jessica Simpson
4) "Under the Sea" - Raven-Symoné

CD-ROM Components:
1) Music Video:
"Poor Unfortunate Souls" - Jonas Brothers
2) "Making of" The Music Video:
"Kiss the Girl" - Ashley Tisdale

In the spring of 1990, I was presented with an audio cassette of The Little Mermaid soundtrack. It immediately became a favorite of mine and probably helped spark my later enthusiasm for music. Oftentimes, soundtracks from Disney films are dismissed as being childish and silly -- not real music. Upon listening to the first disc of the new special edition soundtrack, I couldn't disagree more.
The songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman hold up even better than I remember. Sure, they are for the most part lighthearted and fun, but they also have an unforgettable quality that is rare. Moreover, Menken's instrumental selections work not only on a film level but also as successful musical compositions in themselves. And for those who are interested, the sound is better than ever here.

Sooner or later you'll probably put in the second disc, if only out of curiosity. What you'll find there are four re-tooled versions of some of your favorite Mermaid songs: "Kiss the Girl" sung by the perky Ashley Tisdale, "Poor Unfortunate Souls" by the punk-ish young Jonas Brothers, "Part of Your World" belted out by Jessica Simpson, and "Under the Sea" performed in the uniquely obnoxious manner of Raven-Symoné. None of these renditions can be described as downright horrible, but they definitely aren't good. But wait. There is more fun to be had when you pop your disc into the CD-ROM drive! Not only do you get to see the Jonas Brothers' "dreamy" 2 1/2 minute music video featuring a swimming pool, white-clad people, and beach balls, but you are also treated to a 1-minute making-of for Ashley Tisdale's music video, which ends up doubling as a promo for the concurrently-released DVD. There is even a direct link to Disney Online. Advertising has never been this good.

All in all, The Little Mermaid soundtrack is a must-own for those who A) like music, B) like Disney, and C) like music and Disney. The first disc of this set covers that category perfectly; the second doesn't. Still, no reason to let some silly teeny boppers ruin what is otherwise a great collection of music.

UD Rating: ¾ out of 5

Buy The Little Mermaid: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack CD from Amazon.com / Download The Little Mermaid: Special Edition Soundtrack from Little Mermaid - An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack

Related Review: The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition (DVD)
Related Page: Top 100 Disney Songs Countdown (featuring four of this album's songs)

Disney's Karaoke Series: The Little Mermaid
Disney's Karaoke Series: The Little Mermaid
Running Time: 51 minutes / Release Date: October 3, 2006 / SRP: $9.98

Track Listing:
Instrumental Versions:
1) "Part of Your World" (solo: female)
2) "Under the Sea" (solo: male)
3) "Les Poissons" (solo: male)
4) "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (duet: female)
5) "Kiss the Girl" (solo: male)
"Tracks from Ariel's friends":
6) "Home" (solo: female)
7) "Colors of the Wind" (solo: female)
8) "God Help the Outcasts" (solo: female)
Vocal Versions:
9) "Part of Your World"
10) "Under the Sea"
11) "Les Poissons"
12) "Poor Unfortunate Souls"
13) "Kiss the Girl"
"Tracks from Ariel's friends":
14) "Home" (Belle)
15) "Colors of the Wind" (Pocahontas)
16) "God Help the Outcasts" (Esmeralda)

By now, most people are familiar with the point of karaoke -- namely to find out once and for all that you don't sing quite as much like the original recording artist as you always thought you did. Despite this disappointing revelation, there still can be a lot of fun to be had, whether alone or with friends. On this disc, you can expect to find a selection of musical numbers from The Little Mermaid along with some songs which, so I hear, are sung by some of Ariel's most very best friends, which would be Belle (or at least the Broadway version of herself), Pocahontas, and Esmeralda. Yep, I didn't know they hung out either. In any case, the tracks are more or less of a decent caliber, with only a small amount of that dreaded synthesizer sound. The stand-in vocal performances do leave a bit to be desired, but you really aren't buying this CD to listen to those, are you? The accompanying booklet is helpful only in that it provides the lyrics. There is no notation of time signatures or how many measures you have before bursting into song, so those who are already familiar with the songs will have the easier time following along with the instrumental versions. For those of you who are itching to try out some Caribbean crooning or mermaid warbling, this may be the CD you've always been looking for.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Disney's Karaoke Series: The Little Mermaid on CD from Amazon.com

Related Reviews: The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition (DVD) • Disney's Karaoke Series: Disney Princess, Volume 2 (CD)
Related Page: Top 100 Disney Songs Countdown (featuring 6 of this album's songs)
Disney Banner

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Songs From and Inspired By The Hit TV Series
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Songs From and Inspired By The Hit TV Series
Running Time: 40 minutes / Release Date: October 3, 2006 / SRP: $9.98

Track Listing:
1) "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Theme" - They Might Be Giants
2) "Mousekedoer" - Mickey
3) "Mickey's Countdown" - Mickey
4) "Daisy Bo Peep Has Lost Her Sheep" - Mickey and Pals
5) "Donald Went A-Courtin'"
6) "Your Library" - Ludwig Von Drake
7) "A Mouse Like Me" - Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie
8) "Oh Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Dog Gone" - Mickey, Goofy, and Pluto
9) "A Bicycle Built for Two" - Donald and Daisy
10) "Party at Mickey's House"
11) "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" - Goofy
12) "Beautiful Dreamer" - Minnie and Daisy
13) "Blow the Man Down" - Mickey and the Gooey Fish
14) "Muffin Man" - Minnie and Daisy
15) "Clubhouse Birthday Party" - Mickey and Goofy
16) "Technology" - Ludwig von Drake
17) "Mousercise"
18) "Hot Dog!" - They Might Be Giants

We've complained when Disney has taken Winnie the Pooh's near-universally appealing world and marketed it purely for toddlers, so a similar reaction might have been expected here. Gladly, that's not the case, since Playhouse Disney's series "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" seems like a great way to find new fans for the company's iconic mouse and his still-relevant gang of 45-to-80-year-old pals. Ensuring approval from multiple generations is that this kid-oriented treatment respects the characters' rich pasts, from faithful computer-animated renderings to this debut soundtrack's allusions to the original "Mickey Mouse Club" and the early '80s "Mousercise" workouts. There's a pleasant amount of variety in the 18 never-before-released tracks here: alt-rockers They Might Be Giants further their Disney alliance with the opening and closing themes; Mickey and company cover traditional kids' classics like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", "Blow the Man Down", and "Muffin Man" with the occasional new spin; Ludwig Von Drake gets two wonderful numbers set to Offenbach's "Can Can" and Bizet's "Carmen"; and still other original tunes offer more upbeat diversion. Some educational values are imparted, but never at the expense of spirited entertainment, which benefits from the fact all personalities retain the voices they've had for decades. In short, "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" seems like an appropriate extension for Disney's enduring cartoon characters and this soundtrack should delight even those who don't watch the show.

UD Rating: ¼ out of 5

Buy Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Songs From and Inspired By The Hit TV Series on CD from Amazon.com

Related Reviews: Little Einsteins: Musical Missions (CD) • Mickey's House of Villains (DVD)
Related Preorder: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mouseketales DVD (Press Release and Discussion)

Baby Einstein: Playdate Fun
Baby Einstein: Playdate Fun
Running Time: 35 minutes / Release Date: October 3, 2006 / SRP: $6.98

Track Listing:
1) "Baby Einstein Theme, Weisbach"
2) "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider"
3) "Where is Thumbkin?"
4) "Did You Ever See a Lassie?"
5) "Contradance No. 1, Beethoven"
6) "The Wheels on the Bus"
7) "If You're Happy and You Know It"
8) "The Easy Winners, Rag, Joplin"
9) "B-I-N-G-O"
10) "Here We Go Loopty-Loo"
11) "Pop Goes the Weasel"
12) "Yummy Yum, Snack Time!"
13) "Pineapple Rag, Joplin"
14) "Do Your Ears Hang Low?"
15) "This Old Man"
16) "Baa Baa Black Sheep"
17) "Wellington's Victory, medley, 'Fanfare', Beethoven"
18) "Wellington's Victory, 'France', Beethoven"
19) "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain"
20) "Contradance No. 8, Beethoven"
21) "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"

With this unobjectionable collection, the Baby Einstein empire proves it's not oblivious to what its target audience used to listen to (and the unconverted still do): familiar nursery rhyme-type songs with simple lyrics and melodies that are easy to recite to memory. True to tradition, the instrumentation is baby-friendly, while the vocalists (a children's chorus of three credited individuals) sound comparable to any other well-produced kid's music CD. To give this uncharacteristic compilation the Baby Einstein touch, a few of those supposedly development-aiding, verse-free compositions -- from Beethoven and Joplin -- are included. Bolstering the value of this low-priced album is a booklet which devotes four pages to specific suggested activities parents can engage in for each lyrical song to stimulate their little one(s).

UD Rating: ¾ out of 5

Buy Baby Einstein: Playdate Fun on CD from Amazon.com / Download from The Baby Einstein Music Box Orchestra - Baby Einstein - Playdate Fun

Related CD Reviews: Baby Einstein: Meet the OrchestraBaby Einstein: Lullabies and Sweet Dreams
Related DVD Reviews: Baby Einstein: Baby's First MovesBaby Einstein: Meet the OrchestraLittle Einsteins: Mission Celebration!

Ralph's World - Welcome to Ralph's World (CD/DVD Combo)
Ralph's World - Welcome to Ralph's World (CD/DVD Combo)
Running Time: 37 minutes (CD), 15 minutes (DVD) / Release Date: October 3, 2006 / SRP: $12.98

Track Listing:
Disc 1 - CD:
1) "Fee Fi Fo Fum"
2) "Puppy Dog"
3) "Dance Around"
4) "The Coffee Song"
5) "The Mighty Worm"
6) "Things That I Like"
7) "With a Friend (The Pooh Song)"
8) "Dinosaur Rumble"
9) "Peggy's Pie Parlor Polka"
10) "All I Want to Do is Play"
11) "At the Bottom of the Sea"
12) "Animal Friends"
13) "Surfin' in My Imagination"
14) "Happy Lemons"
15) "Riding with No Hands"

Disc 2 - Video DVD:
1) "Things That I Like"
2) "Dance Around"
3) "Dinosaur Rumble"
4) "Surfin' in My Imagination"
5) "The Mighty Worm"
6) "Puppy Dog"

My introduction to Ralph's World came seven weeks ago at Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World. Though well aware that I was out of the target audience for "Playhouse Disney in Concert", I'm one of those who insist on taking in as many of the shows and attractions offered by the parks during a never-long-enough stay. I endured about ten minutes before deciding to check out the other entertainment the park could provide me on my next-to-last day in Florida. Most memorable about the brief time spent there: talk of shaking one's booty, parent-aimed allusions to classic rock icons, and the cast member who politely apologized for the show as he escorted me out. Welcome to Ralph's World offers none of those things, but that's partly because most of its contents predate Ralph's current union with the Mouse which has music from the kid-friendly rock band showing up on Playhouse Disney and now comprising the Disney Sound label's third release. "With a Friend", which commemorates Winnie the Pooh's 80th birthday by discussing the Hundred Acre Wood gang, is the lone new track; all others appeared on one of Ralph's World's six pre-Disney albums.

Typically, musicians who perform primarily for kids have an uncool nature about them which goes undetected by audience members until a certain age, when nostalgia tends to forgive it. Ralph's World seeks to break with tradition; the band is headed by Ralph Covert, of the adult indie rock band The Bad Examples, and he brings sensibilities from his other universe to the table. In response, many critics have lauded the act as revolutionary or even an answer to parent's prayers. I can't agree, but it's tough to pinpoint why, aside from the fact that Ralph's World seem too "cool" for this type of thing. Still, the music, filled with repetitive and often silly lyrics, may be good enough to win over children who buy into its interactive design. Familiar ground is covered in plenty of songs about animals, some word-spelling, and the obligatory child reinforcement vocals. While musically sound, the marriage of alternative rock with meandering childish lyrics just doesn't do too much for me.

Animation and the real world come together in the "Welcome to Ralph's World" bonus DVD. Ralph Covert, the man behind Ralph's World performs "Dinosaur Rumble" while a blue dinosaur lurks above. Crossover to kids' music and these are the kind of groupies you get!

The 15-minute DVD included finds Ralph performing six songs in animated environments for ridiculously (and exaggeratedly) enthusiastic young ones. He is occasionally accompanied on stage by his dancing daughter. It is presented in fullscreen and two-channel stereo.

Notes: 1) Amazon.com's version of the CD includes an exclusive bonus track. 2) Since the beginning of this month, the band has spent its weekends performing around the eastern United States; the tour's final stop will be Chicago on December 3.

UD Rating: ¼ out of 5

Buy Ralph's World - Welcome to Ralph's World on CD from Amazon.com / Download from Ralph's World - Welcome to Ralph's World

Related CD Reviews: DEVO 2.0 - DEV2.0Playhouse Disney: Imagine and Learn with MusicJoJo's Circus: Songs From Under the Big Top!
Related DVD Reviews: Sing Along Songs: Happy Haunting - Party at DisneylandPooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin

Disney's Karaoke Series: Cars
Disney's Karaoke Series: Disney/Pixar's Cars
Running Time: 55 minutes / Release Date: October 10, 2006 / SRP: $9.98

Track Listing:
Instrumental Versions:
1) "Real Gone" (solo: female)
2) "Life is a Highway" (solo: male)
3) "Find Yourself" (solo: male)
4) "Behind the Clouds" (solo: male)
5) "Our Town" (solo: male)
6) "Route 66" (solo: male)
7) "Sh-Boom" (group: male or female)
8) "My Heart Would Know" (solo: male)
Vocal Versions:
9) "Real Gone"
10) "Life is a Highway"
11) "Find Yourself"
12) "Behind the Clouds"
13) "Our Town"
14) "Route 66"
15) "Sh-Boom"
16) "My Heart Would Know"

As the first Pixar movie soundtrack to crack the Billboard Top 10, Cars seems like an obvious choice for the Disney's Karaoke Series treatment,
even if more than half the tracks of that gold-selling album were vocal-less Randy Newman compositions. Still, nine were not, which means that all but one have been ported over to fill the line's eight-track quota. Sadly, the casualty is Chuck Berry's "Route 66", though the song still surfaces in its end credits cover by John Mayer. With Newman's score removed and inferior vocalists standing in for the movie's performers, the music of Cars definitely doesn't sizzle like the official soundtrack did. There's a prominent stretch in the middle of this album's repeated lineup that feels especially stuffy. But it's far from all bad; the lively doo-wop "Sh-Boom" is probably the highlight of the disc, while "Life is a Highway", Sheryl Crow's "Real Gone", and Mayer's "Route 66" also serve up fun for those not cozy to country crooning. The karaoke angle isn't the most satisfying, however, since the occasional vocal reinforcement on the instrumental tracks is a little unnecessary and, at times, jarring. Also, most of the tracks here do not lend themselves to singing along with or on your own. A CD+G-enhanced player would prove especially useful since the lyrics aren't always the easiest to discern in their genuine form and pacing on the less familiar tunes can be a mess relying on your own wits. While it can't guarantee proper timing, the booklet with lyrics is still worth something; try gathering the verses online and you'll end up with inaccuracies and probably a fair amount of spyware.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Disney's Karaoke Series: Cars on CD from Amazon.com
Preorder Cars on DVD (50% off!) from Amazon.com

Related Reviews: Cars SoundtrackLightning McQueen's Fast TracksDisney's Karaoke Series: Chicken Little
Related Reports: Cars World Premiere: Red Carpet CoverageGuide to Cars Tie-Ins, with Product ReviewsCars Road Trip '06

Disney's Karaoke Series: The Cheetah Girls 2
Disney's Karaoke Series: The Cheetah Girls 2
Running Time: 55 minutes / Release Date: October 10, 2006 / SRP: $9.98

Track Listing:
Instrumental Versions:
1) "The Party's Just Begun" (group or duet: female)
2) "Strut" (group or duet: female)
3) "Dance With Me" (duet: male and female)
4) "Why Wait" (solo: female)
5) "Do Your Own Thing" (solo: female)
6) "It's Over" (duet: female)
7) "Step Up" (group or duet: female)
8) "Cherish the Moment" (group or duet: female)
Vocal Versions:
9) "The Party's Just Begun" (as performed by The Cheetah Girls)
10) "Strut" (as performed by The Cheetah Girls)
11) "Dance With Me" (as performed by Drew Seeley featuring Belinda)
12) "Why Wait" (as performed by Belinda)
13) "Do Your Own Thing" (as performed by Raven-Symoné)
14) "It's Over" (as performed by The Cheetah Girls)
15) "Step Up" (as performed by The Cheetah Girls)
16) "Cherish the Moment" (as performed by The Cheetah Girls)

Disney's Karaoke Series: The Cheetah Girls 2 takes all of the songs that actually appear in the Disney Channel sequel aside from the Spanish-sung "A La Nanita Nana" and "Amigas Cheetahs" (for seemingly obvious reasons) and strips them of their lead vocals, making them prime for some sing-along fun. Those eight songs are then followed up by vocal versions, but a word to the wise: these vocals are not the original recordings but rather new renditions by even less talented performers (and boy is that saying something). As usual, the disc is enabled with CD+G technology so that those using a properly equipped karaoke machine can view on-screen graphics and lyrics. Everyone else can consult the lyrics conveniently included in the CD's liner notes. The Cheetah Girls 2 soundtrack didn't win me over but those interested in this release likely already know what they're getting into and should therefore be pleased with this release if a few nights of karaoke strike their fancy.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Disney's Karaoke Series: The Cheetah Girls 2 on CD from Amazon.com

Related Preorders: The Cheetah Girls 2: Cheetah-licious Edition DVDThe Cheetah Girls 2: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack CD

Give Stock For The Holidays!

Disney's Karaoke Series: High School Musical
Disney's Karaoke Series: High School Musical
Running Time: 53 minutes / Release Date: October 10, 2006 / SRP: $9.98

Track Listing:
Instrumental Versions:
1) "Start of Something New" (duet: male and female)
2) "Get'cha Head in the Game" (solo: male)
3) "What I've Been Looking For" (duet: male and female)
4) "When There Was Me and You" (solo: female)
5) "Bop to the Top" (duet: male and female)
6) "Breaking Free" (duet: male and female)
7) "We're All in This Together" (group: male and female)
8) "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" (duet: male and female)
Vocal Versions:
9) "Start of Something New" (performed by Troy and Gabriella)
10) "Get'cha Head in the Game" (performed by Troy)
11) "What I've Been Looking For" (performed by Ryan and Sharpay)
12) "When There Was Me and You" (performed by Gabriella)
13) "Bop to the Top" (performed by Ryan and Sharpay)
14) "Breaking Free (performed by Troy and Gabriella)
15) "We're All in This Together" (performed by High School Musical cast)
16) "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" (performed by Troy, Gabriella, Ryan, and Sharpay)
17) Bonus Girl Solo: Start of Something New (Sing-Along with Troy)

Disney's Karaoke Series: High School Musical just might be the most unnecessary release in media history. The hit Disney Channel movie has already seen an original soundtrack release and a rapidly reissued 2-Disc Special Edition, the latter of which already contains every track on this new karaoke disc and then some, including all the karaoke cuts on their own disc. The new release features eight songs from the film (they still didn't add "Stick to the Status Quo" -- go figure), first in instrumental form and then featuring vocals. Unlike most Disney's Karaoke Series releases, these vocal versions do showcase the original vocals, making this essentially an inferior soundtrack substitute. Those using a karaoke machine can make use of the CD+G technology that puts lyrics on screen, but that was included on the 2-Disc High School Musical soundtrack as well. Alternatively, lyrics can again be found in the liner notes. The only "addition" is a "bonus" track that adds Troy's vocals to "Start of Something New" but not Gabriella's (so that little girls can pretend that they're singing with Troy, you see). There's nothing inherently wrong with the album itself. The content and presentation are all in fine form; they're just in finer form elsewhere. The Karaoke release comes at a much lower SRP than the 2-Disc soundtrack does, but once they make it to your average retailer, the price difference is minimal. Therefore, any interested consumer should look to get much more bang for their buck with the Special Edition lest they be duped.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Disney's Karaoke Series: High School Musical on CD from Amazon.com

Related Reviews: High School Musical: SoundtrackHigh School Musical: 2-Disc Special Edition SoundtrackHigh School Musical: Encore Edition DVD
Related Report: High School Musical DVD Launch Party at Disney's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood
Related Preorder: High School Musical: Remix (2-Disc Special Edition DVD, coming December 5, 2006)

Radio Disney Party Jams (CD + Concert DVD)
Radio Disney Party Jams (CD + Concert DVD)
Running Time: 31 minutes (CD), 36 minutes (DVD) / Release Date: October 10, 2006 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
Disc 1: Audio CD
1) "BFS Birthday Song" - Bowling For Soup
2) "Pumpin' Up the Party" - Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana
3) "We're All in This Together" - High School Musical Cast
4) "Wake Up" - Hilary Duff
5) "Rush" - Aly & AJ
6) "What's Your Name?" - Jesse McCartney
7) "Shake a Tail Feather" - The Cheetah Girls
8) "Real Wild Child" - Everlife
9) "Let's Groove" - B5
10) "Birthday Song" - Truth Squad
Disc 2: Video DVD
1) "Who Said" - Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana
2) "Best of Both Worlds" - Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana
3) "Find Yourself in You" - Everlife
4) "Real Wild Child" - Everlife
5) "Rush" - Aly &A J
6) "No One" - Aly & AJ
7) "The Party's Just Begun" - The Cheetah Girls
8) "Cheetah Sisters" - The Cheetah Girls
9) "Right Where You Want Me" - Jesse McCartney
10) "Beautiful Soul" - Jesse McCartney

The words "Radio Disney" suggest a very specific kind of pop music. That is, hyper-produced songs that are bigger on beat than substance and typically sung by youthful artists on the rise. It's proven itself to be a formidable presence in the industry and accordingly, another compilation CD from the network has arrived: Radio Disney Party Jams. It gets off to a sour start with the uncharacteristically pathetic "BFS Birthday Song" from Bowling For Soup but moves on to the slick Hannah Montana tune, "Pumpin' Up the Party." The next four tracks feature acts who have proven themselves significant in the mainstream: Hilary Duff, Jesse McCartney, Aly & AJ, and the cast of High School Musical, all of them enjoyable enough. No one breaks a winning streak like The Cheetah Girls, though, and they show up just in time to spoil everyone's fun with "Shake a Tail Feather." Two classic songs get covered at the disc's end: "Real Wild Child" by Everlife, who do a pretty good job, and "Let's Groove" by B5, who actually plus the song with added bass but otherwise make a mess of things. Closing on the same note that it began, the CD wishes its listeners a happy birthday with Truth Squad's forgettable version of "Birthday Song."

Aly and AJ claim their share of the quick-changing animated Main Menu of the "Radio Disney Party Jams" concert DVD. Those big screens aren't quite live, as the Cheetah Girls' quick moves keep them a split-second ahead of their visual support. Jesse McCartney proves himself to be very sweaty in his disc-closing performances.

Knock off the first and last track along with The Cheetah Girls and B5 and listeners have themselves a halfway decent sampler, but then that leaves only six songs, which hardly justifies the price. That's where the bonus disc -- a DVD -- comes in. Live performances from Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana (different from those included on her own release this fall, by the way), Everlife, Aly & AJ, The Cheetah Girls, and a very sweaty Jesse McCartney are featured in order to sweeten the deal. To Disney's credit, though Miley Cyrus and The Cheetah Girls rely on a supporting vocal track, all of the performances are clearly recorded live. The concert can be heard in either 5.1 Surround Sound or 2.0 Stereo and viewed in only 1.33:1 fullscreen video (whether it was recorded in a wide ratio or not, I don't know and can't tell, but concerts are almost always better captured in widescreen). Ideally, it should add a little value to the handful of decent songs on the CD and to the Radio Disney devoted, it probably does just that. To everyone else, there's simply not enough here to warrant a purchase.

UD Rating: ¼ out of 5

Buy Radio Disney Party Jams CD/Concert DVD combo from Amazon.com

Related Reviews: Radio Disney Jingle Jams CD • Radio Disney: Move It! CD •Disneymania in Concert DVD

The Muppets - A Green and Red Christmas
The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas
Running Time: 37 minutes / Release Date: October 17, 2006 / SRP: $9.98

Track Listing:
1) "'Zat You, Santa Claus?" - Electric Mayhem Band
2) "A Red and Green Christmas" - Kermit & Miss Piggy
3) "The Christmas Party Sing-Along" - Rowlf
4) "Merry Christmas Baby" - Pepe
5) "The Man with the Bag" - Floyd, Animal & Zoot
6) "Santa Baby" - Miss Piggy
7) "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" - Gonzo & Rizzo
8) "North Pole Comedy Club" - Fozzie, Statler & Waldorf
9) "Run, Run Rudolph" - Electric Mayhem Band
10) "Christmas Smorgasbord" - Swedish Chef
11) "The Christmas Queen" - Miss Piggy
12) "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - Kermit

Since buying the Muppets in February of 2004, Disney hasn't done much with them. Last year saw an unpopular TV movie, a Season One DVD release of the gang's best-known primetime series, and new DVD versions of four of their films.
This year was supposed to bring a new TV series, but instead it has brought...nothing. Until now, when the Muppets' new holiday CD reached stores with very little fanfare. A Green and Red Christmas offers a mix of original compositions and new takes on familiar holiday staples. Most performances are quite inspired, although Jim Henson's two oldest characters, Rowlf and Kermit, sound noticeably off-pitch without a visual aspect to distract. Even without Frank Oz, Miss Piggy sounds on-character, but her version of "Santa Baby" is a bland marriage of an annoying song and sometimes annoying character. (Naturally, the same is true of Pepe's disposable "Merry Christmas Baby.") Piggy's "The Christmas Queen" is more enjoyable, introducing back-and-forth banter underscoring the porcine's dual graceful/oafish nature. Most of the other tracks are really good, too, including an energetic appearance by Animal on "The Man with the Bag", a couple more solid turns by the Electric Mayhem Band, Gonzo and Rizzo's terrific "It's the Most Wonderful Times of the Year", and Kermit's closing take on the always-good "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Even without the typically impressive visuals on display, you can deduce so much about these enduring characters, such as when, per tradition, Fozzie gets heckled during a holiday-flavored standup act with a musical bent. While it doesn't appear destined to become a Christmastime essential the way that A Muppet Family Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and the John Denver-collaborated A Christmas Together album have, this CD offers some short-term fun and probably should have been the groundwork for a new holiday TV special.

UD Rating: ¾ out of 5

Buy The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas on CD from Amazon.com / Download from Kermit the Frog - The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas

Related Reviews: The Muppet Christmas Carol: Special Anniversary Edition SoundtrackThe Muppet Show: Season One DVD
The Muppet Christmas Carol: Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition DVDMuppet Treasure Island: Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition DVD

The Nightmare Before Christmas: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack
The Nightmare Before Christmas: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack
Running Time: 94 minutes / Release Date: October 24, 2006 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
Disc 1 - Original Soundtrack:
1) "Overture"
2) "Opening" - Narration by Patrick Stewart
3) "This is Halloween" - The Citizens of Halloween
4) "Jack's Lament" - Danny Elfman
5) "Doctor Finklestein / In the Forest"
6) "What's This?" - Danny Elfman
7) "Town Meeting Song" - Danny Elfman and Cast
8) "Jack and Sally Montage"
9) "Jack's Obsession" - Danny Elfman and Cast
10) "Kidnap the Sandy Claws" - Paul Reubens, Catherine O'Hara, and Danny Elfman
11) "Making Christmas" - Danny Elfman and the Citizens of Halloween
12) "Nabbed"
13) "Oogie Boogie's Song" - Ken Page with Ed Ivory
14) "Sally's Song" - Catherine O'Hara
15) "Christmas Eve Montage"
16) "Poor Jack" - Danny Elfman
17) "To the Rescue"
18) "Finale/Reprise" - Danny Elfman, Catherine O'Hara, and the Citizens of Halloween
19) "Closing" - Narration by Patrick Stewart
20) "End Title"
Disc 2 - Bonus Tracks:
1) "This is Halloween" - Marilyn Manson
2) "Sally's Song" - Fiona Apple
3) "What's This?" - Fall Out Boy
4) "Kidnap the Sandy Claws" - She Wants Revenge
5) "This is Halloween" - Panic! At the Disco
6) "Making Christmas (Demo)" - Danny Elfman
7) "Oogie Boogie's Song (Demo)" - Danny Elfman
8) "This is Halloween (Demo)" - Danny Elfman
9) "Kidnap the Sandy Claws (Demo)" - Danny Elfman

Danny Elfman is to Tim Burton what John Williams is to Steven Spielberg. It therefore makes sense that Elfman would deliver some of his best compositions in scoring what some consider to be Burton's flagship masterpiece, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Like the film itself, Elfman's soundtrack captures the spirit of both Halloween and Christmas, relying more heavily on the former. The instrumentals immediately evoke the cult classic's rich imagery and they, along with the songs' vocal performances (mostly given by Elfman himself as Jack Skellington) and memorable lyrics (Elfman-penned as well), have made the soundtrack a perennial favorite. The disc kicks off with the film's overture, sure to ground any listener in a Nightmare mood, and, Patrick Stewart's opening narration (deleted from the film, but thankfully retained here). It then marches on to "This is Halloween," an anthem for the season that is later countered by "Making Christmas." Both are delightful but outdone by "What's This?", a festive song of discovery that is one of the album's two best -- the stirring "Jack's Lament" is the other, and perhaps the most recognizable. "Oogie Boogie's Song" deserves mention too, as a villain's theme that stands beside the greats. The weakest moment comes in "Sally's Song," the pace-slower obligatory of the female lead in a musical, but it's far from unbearable. Everything else is essentially fantastic and the album exists in perfect harmony. Patrick Stewart returns for the closing, followed by Elfman's "End Title."

Not a conventional film, The Nightmare Before Christmas is something of an acquired taste. It's not so abstract, however, that the average viewer can't find plenty to appreciate. Nevertheless, it seems to have been most embraced by a very loyal gothic following often referred to as "the Hot Topic crowd" (a reference to the niche retailer that sells plenty of Nightmare merchandise and apparel). To coincide with the film's limited theatrical re-release in Disney Digital 3-D, Walt Disney Records reissued the soundtrack in the form of a 2-Disc Special Edition with that very fan base in mind. While the first disc (profiled above) retains the original release's content, the second adds five covers by rock acts hip with the target demographic and four demo recordings by Danny Elfman. Fiona Apple and She Wants Revenge do a great job of butchering "Sally's Song" and "Kidnap the Sandy Claws," respectively. On the other hand, Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco don't exactly thrill, but do bring a fresh perspective to really enjoyable songs. Elfman's demos are all a treat to listen to for those interested in hearing these songs in an earlier form which really showcase his talents.

The real shocker in this second disc, however, is found in the very first track, a cover of "This Is Halloween" by... Marilyn Manson. Yes, you read right -- that's the drug-promoting, Jesus-bashing, violence-obsessed, over-sexed, and all-around creepy Marilyn Manson at the top of an album clearly labeled "Disney." When one thinks of all the things Disney shies away from to protect its family-friendly image (Song of the South on DVD, "SFX" in The Lion King, a priest's knee in The Little Mermaid, the list goes on and on...), it's more than a little surprising (and given Manson's repertoire, disappointing) that they've made an exception for Marilyn Manson and even invited him to the El Capitan for the film's 3-D premiere. The rendition is every bit as overdone and scary-sounding as expected and should have reminded Disney that this CD will be available to families outside of Hot Topic too.

The so-so bonus songs and Manson's appearance aside, The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack is a masterpiece and belongs in every fan's collection. Elfman's demos are an added plus, as is the holographic 3-D cover that accompanies the new release, so the Special Edition earns a recommendation even if a few of the bonus tracks weigh it down.

UD Rating: ¾ out of 5

Buy The Nightmare Before Christmas: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack from Amazon.com / Download from The Citizens of Halloween - Nightmare Before Christmas (Special Edition)

Related DVD Reviews: The Nightmare Before Christmas: Special EditionJames and the Giant Peach: Special Edition
Hocus PocusHalloweentown & Halloweentown IITwitchesThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Related Report: An Interview with Don Hahn - Disney's legendary producer talks about The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D
Related Countdowns: Top 50 Disney Heroes & Heroines Countdown (Jack Skellington) • Top 100 Disney Songs Countdown ("What's This?")
Related CD Review: A Musical History of Disneyland (featuring Danny Elfman's Haunted Mansion Holiday score)

Hannah Montana: Songs From and Inspired By The Hit TV Series (CD + Concert DVD)
Hannah Montana: Songs From and Inspired By The Hit TV Series (CD + Concert DVD)
Running Time: 43 minutes (CD), 18 minutes (DVD) / Release Date: October 24, 2006 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
Disc 1 - CD:
1) "The Best of Both Worlds" - Hannah Montana
2) "Who Said" - Hannah Montana
3) "Just Like You" - Hannah Montana
4) "Pumpin' Up the Party" - Hannah Montana
5) "If We Were a Movie" - Hannah Montana
6) "I Got Nerve" - Hannah Montana
7) "The Other Side of Me" - Hannah Montana
8) "This is the Life" - Hannah Montana
9) "Pop Princess" - The Click Five
10) "She's No You" - Jesse McCartney
11) "Find Yourself in You" - Everlife
12) "Shining Star" - B5
13) "I Learned From You" - Miley Cyrus and Billie Ray Cyrus

Disc 2 - Concert DVD:
1) "Just Like You"
2) "Pumpin' Up the Party"
3) "Who Said"
4) "The Other Side of Me"
5) "The Best of Both Worlds"

The Disney Channel has landed another mega-hit with "Hannah Montana" and its multimedia franchise has taken off like no other before it. Its title star, Miley Cyrus (daughter of one-time country music superstar Billy Ray Cyrus, who also plays her father in the TV show), records and performs under the name Hannah Montana on-screen as well as off, adopting it as an alter ego for at least the time being. Her songs are usually sung in character, so the lyrics tend to deal with the double-life of a teenaged pop star (for that is the series' premise) and the music falls into the pop category but is heavily influenced by both traditional rock and her father's cosmopolitan country. In the vocal department, Cyrus isn't a powerhouse but manages not to annoy as much as some others of her ilk. Hannah Montana: Songs From and Inspired By the Hit TV Series is the show's first soundtrack and features all of her most popular songs to date beside other selections from Radio Disney. "The Best of Both Worlds" (the show theme), "Who Said", and "Pumpin' Up the Party" are all pretty catchy while "If We Were a Movie" is corny and the other Montana tunes are more or less forgettable. B5's "Shining Star" cover is predictably atrocious and there's nothing special about Everlife's "Find Yourself in You". Fortunately, they're countered by Jesse McCartney's "She's No You" and The Click Five's "Pop Princess", both of which have had enough going for them to strike a chord with mainstream audiences.

The lone menu is the only thing 16x9-enhanced on the Hannah Montana Concert DVD. Wake up, Hannah Montana - you've got a concert to give! As Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus has a built-in audience thanks to the Disney Channel.

A bonus disc is included, this one a DVD featuring five "live" songs by Hannah Montana on stage. The quotation marks appear because the veracity of these performances looks and sounds highly suspect. She's performing in character, though, so somehow lip-synching seems a little less offensive in this case, and the packaging doesn't come right out and call them "live" in the first place. The animated DVD menu is difficult to navigate, the video is in 1.33:1 fullscreen, and the sound is presented in stereo alone. There's not much else to say about it, other than that most of the performances have been featured regularly on the Disney Channel and aren't likely to amaze anyone. Still, they work nicely as a bonus to the soundtrack, which is exactly what they are intended to be.

Obviously, the "Hannah Montana" soundtrack is tailored for a certain demographic. With a handful of pop numbers that will invite one's toes to tap and some extra concert footage to boot, those inside that demographic should be pleased.

UD Rating: ¼ out of 5

Buy Hannah Montana: Soundtrack CD + Concert DVD from Amazon.com / Download from Hannah Montana - Hannah Montana

Related Reviews: Hannah Montana: Livin' the Rock Star Life! (DVD) • That's So Raven Too! (CD) • Disneymania 4 (CD)

Roundup posted October 30, 2006. CD reviews written by Aaron, Luke, and Renata.

Related Links:

UltimateDisney.com's Top 100 Songs Countdown - Summer 2004
Coming to Theaters: Upcoming Disney MoviesUD's Latest ReviewsDisney CD Review IndexDisney DVD Review Index

UltimateDisney.com Top Stories: