UltimateDisney.com Presents:
Walt Disney Records - Summer 2007 CD Roundup

Eleven new albums reviewed including High School Musical 2, Hannah Montana, Pirates 3, Ratatouille, and Billy Ray Cyrus

This summer, hardly a week went by without Walt Disney Records sending a new album to stores. Even with Buena Vista Home Entertainment's schedule unusually sparse, many of the offerings still tied to new DVD releases. Sadly, almost of the new CDs were aimed at a specific audience, rather than the general public at large. There was fare for tots (Baby Einstein: Baby Mozart 2, Doodlebops: Get on the Bus!), tweens (the two-disc Hannah Montana 2/Meet Miley Cyrus and Cheetah Girls in Concert sets),
Our Summer CD Roundup includes reviews of Hannah Montana 2 / Meet Miley Cyrus, High School Musical 2, Ratatouille: What's Cooking?, the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End soundtrack, Billy Ray Cyrus: Home At Last, and six other albums recently released by Walt Disney Records.
and soundtrack collectors (largely instrumental scores to the well-attended Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Ratatouille).

More than a year and a half since High School Musical first aired, the music division did its part in the company's continued efforts to develop the hit Disney Channel movie into a franchise. May brought an album from the nationwide concert tour, July issued the label's first single in over 10 years (successfully forecasting the sequel's most popular song), and August brought the viewership-record-shattering High School Musical 2 complete with chart-topping full soundtrack.

In addition, Ratatouille got a kid-friendly "inspired by" compilation and "Hannah Montana" dad Billy Ray Cyrus followed his daughter's footsteps to a Disney CD of his own, a full 15 years after his "Achy Breaky Heart" made him famous.

While it's a safe bet that not all of the eleven CDs released by Disney over the past four months will interest you, the reviewers of this site have put in the time and effort to make sure that in the unlikely chance they do, even you will be briefed on what to expect in terms of content and quality. Enjoy at your own pace and have a terrific fall!

Click to jump to an individual review:
High School Musical: The Concert | Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Soundtrack)
Ratatouille (Soundtrack) | Ratatouille: What's Cooking? | Hannah Montana 2 / Meet Miley Cyrus
The Cheetah Girls in Concert: The Party's Just Begun Tour (CD + DVD) | High School Musical 2: What Time is It? (CD Single)
Billy Ray Cyrus: Home at Last | Baby Einstein: Baby Mozart 2 | Doodlebops: Get on the Bus! | High School Musical 2: Soundtrack

High School Musical: The Concert
High School Musical: The Concert
Running Time: 52 minutes (CD), 23 minutes (DVD) / Release Date: May 1, 2007 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
Disc 1: Audio CD
1) "Start of Something New"
2) "Stick to the Status Quo"
3) "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"
4) "When There Was Me and You"
5) "Get'cha Head in the Game"
6) "What I've Been Looking For" - Drew & Vanessa
7) "What I've Been Looking For" - Ashley & Lucas
8) "Bop to the Top"
9) "Breaking Free"
10) "We're All in This Together"
11) "Push It to the Limit" - Corbin Bleu
12) "Say OK" - Vanessa Hudgens
13) "Dance With Me" - Drew Seeley
14) "We'll Be Together" - Ashley Tisdale

Disc 2: Video DVD
1) "Start of Something New"
2) "Get'cha Head in the Game"
3) "Bop to the Top"
4) "Breaking Free"
5) "We're All in This Together"

Lovers of profit that they are, Disney has thought of an endless number of venues in which to market and exploit their High School Musical franchise. And what's wrong with that? Nothing, I say. If you can set your cynicism aside for long enough, the High School Musical movie and its ensuing multimedia world are enchantingly fun. Though it stands strong on some critical merits and falters on others, it's ultimately all about the joy of song and dance.
That's where High School Musical: The Concert comes in. Disney recorded their sell-out concert tour of the original movie cast singing the songs that made them famous on stage, presenting it both on DVD (see our review) and compact disc. The latter is the subject at hand.

Each of the Disney Channel original movie's numbers is delivered in fine fashion and with excellent quality. Despite online claims to the contrary, the performances are clearly live and legitimate (at least in large part) and the CD offers a listener-friendly, polished presentation that strikes the right balance of atmosphere and audibility. Standing in for male lead Zac Efron is Drew Seeley, the up-and-comer who provided part of Efron's singing voice in the movie. Efron would have been preferable, but Seeley is an adequate and valid substitute whose presence is warmed to soon enough.

Seeley is one of four singing bonus solo songs. His "Dance With Me" is exclusive to this CD, as it was omitted from the concert's DVD release. On the other hand, Corbin Bleu's "Marchin'" was included on the DVD but was curiously scrapped from the CD. Ultimately, these aren't the songs you're buying the CD for and don't make or break the album.

The CD comes with a bonus DVD that includes five of the live performances that are featured on the Concert DVD. The audio is available in either stereo or 5.1 Surround Sound (even the stand-alone DVD didn't provide a stereo option). There's also an exclusive bonus feature, "A Closer Look" (9:30), which assembles backstage interviews with the cast and behind-the-scenes footage, providing an interesting glimpse at the touring process. All this boils down to an attempt to persuade purchasers to pick up both the CD and DVD, a persuasion I subscribe to myself. For the High School Musical fan, this concert is a blast and is well worth your time.

UD Rating: � out of 5

Buy High School Musical: The Concert from Amazon.com / Download from High School Musical Cast - High School Musical - The Concert (Live)

High School Musical CD Reviews: Soundtrack2-Disc Special Edition SoundtrackDisney's Karaoke Series
Related DVD Reviews: High School Musical: The ConcertHigh School Musical: RemixHigh School Musical: Encore Edition

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - Soundtrack
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - Soundtrack
Running Time: 56 minutes / Release Date: May 22, 2007 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) "Hoist the Colours"
2) "Singapore"
3) "At Wit's End"
4) "Multiple Jacks"
5) "Up is Down"
6) "I See Dead People in Boats"
7) "The Brethren Court"
8) "Parlay"
9) "Calypso"
10) "What Shall We Die For"
11) "I Don't Think Now is the Best Time"
12) "One Day"
13) "Drink Up Me Hearties"

Like the movie, the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End starts with melodious lyrics. That's just one of many ways in which the third score in the hit franchise sets itself apart from the first two. Hans Zimmer is back at the musical helm this time and so At World's End is more akin to Dead Man's Chest than Curse of the Black Pearl. However, a host of new characters promises a strand of new leitmotifs intermixed with returning favorites. Zimmer delivers, incorporating varied instrumentation to produce a sound that is clearly Pirates yet uniquely At World's End. There's even a little rock guitar thrown in to good effect, matching the on-screen arrival of a certain rock legend.

Like any great film score, this album allows listeners to relive the cinematic experience sonically. Though At World's End was the weakest of the three Caribbean flicks, the soundtrack holds its own with emotive and diverse compositions. The film's Oriental setting is reflected in a few of the tracks, something which requires some adjustment but never overwhelms the music. Best of all, the sequences that seemed jarringly eccentric and overly long in the movie yield terrifically fun euphonies.

The Curse of the Black Pearl remains my personal favorite of the Pirates discs, but without the excessive clashing and booming, the soundtrack to At World's End is nearly on par and perhaps more listener-friendly. Suffice it to say, this score is recommended. See the movie, buy the soundtrack, and enjoy. Savvy?

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Soundtrack from Amazon.com / Download from Hans Zimmer - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Related Reviews: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - SoundtrackPirates of the Caribbean: Swashbuckling Sea Songs
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: Our Movie Review & Tie-Ins GuidePreorder the 2-Disc Limited Edition DVDDVD Press Release

Ratatouille: Soundtrack
Ratatouille: Official Soundtrack
Running Time: 63 minutes / Release Date: June 26, 2007 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing: (Tracks #2-24 performed by Michael Giacchino)
1) "Le Festin" - Camille
2) "Welcome to Gusteau's"
3) ""This is me.""
4) "Granny Get Your Gun"
5) "100 Rat Dash"
6) "Wall Rat"
7) "Cast of Cooks"
8) "A Real Gourmet Kitchen"
9) "Souped Up"
10) "Is It Soup Yet?"
11) "A New Deal"
12) "Remy Drives a Linguini"
13) "Colette Shows Him Le Ropes"
14) "Special Order"
15) "Kiss & Vinegar"
16) "Losing Control"
17) "Heist To See You"
18) "The Paper Chase"
19) "Remy's Revenge"
20) "Abandoning Ship"
21) "Dinner Rush"
22) "Anyone Can Cook"
23) "End Creditouilles"
24) "Ratatouille Main Theme"

One can't really make the claim that Pixar is repeating themselves. Despite a track record that's free of any major blemishes, the pioneering computer animation studio continues to explore new universes and styles the way Walt Disney himself did in his period of great innovation pre-World War II. Ratatouille practically qualifies as a French film that's in English, so it's not much of a surprise that Michael Giacchino's score exudes a strong European flavor, complete with accordions and an excerpt of the setting's national anthem. That takes him about a full 180 degrees from his last Pixar effort (the hyper, retro The Incredibles) and from the consistently whimsical work of the oft-employed Randy Newman. There are lots of good cues here, but like the film, the album is more likely to please the adult (i.e. the soundtrack collector) than child. "Le Festin", the only vocal track, is a song that was written by Giacchino, translated into French, performed by French pop star Camille, and recurringly referenced in the instrumentals. Naturally providing an air of romance, it's the type of tune you'd expect to hear in a French film. Then again, it's not much of a stretch to call Ratatouille that.

UD Rating: � out of 5

Buy Ratatouille: Soundtrack from Amazon.com / Download from Michael Giacchino - Ratatouille (Score from the Motion Picture)

Ratatouille: Our Movie ReviewOur Guide to Tie-InsPreorder on DVDPreorder on Blu-rayDVD/Blu-ray Press Release

Related Reviews: Cars: SoundtrackThe Wild: SoundtrackValiant: Soundtrack
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Ratatouille: What's Cooking?
Ratatouille: What's Cooking? Musical Tour of Tasty Tunes
Running Time: 36 minutes / Release Date: June 26, 2007 / SRP: $12.98

Track Listing: (All tracks performed by Fred Mollin and the Blue Sea Band)
1) "Cheese Please" (featuring Chris Stapleton)
2) "Saturday Night Fish Fry" (featuring Troy Johnson)
3) "Chez Paris" (featuring Perry Danos)
4) "Taco Grande" (featuring Tim Buppert)
5) "Pizza Pizza Pizza" (featuring Tom Hambridge)
6) "Shoo Fly Pie" (featuring Kim Keyes)
7) "One Meatball" (featuring Johnny Neel)
8) "Save the Bones for Henry Jones" (featuring Chris Stapleton)
9) "French Fries" (featuring Troy Johnson)
10) "Hold Tight" (featuring Lari White)
11) "Banana Split for My Baby" (featuring Johnny Neel)
12) "Ma Maison" (featuring Mark Johnson)

Since Toy Story 2, most Pixar films have been treated to two CD releases from Disney Records: an official soundtrack and a thematic compilation of music "inspired" by the movie. The CGI pioneers' latest movie upholds that tradition, with the issuance of Ratatouille: What's Cooking?: Musical Tour of Tasty Tunes. This lightweight album enlists Fred Mollin and the Blue Sea Band, the little-known group behind the companion CDs to Finding Nemo and Cars. Each of the twelve tracks celebrates food, usually not the four-star haute cuisine of the film, but rather less healthy items that are more likely to be consumed by American kids. This is, after all, the album's target audience -- young children who aren't sufficiently excited by Michael Giacchino's instrumentals. Each number features an artist you're not likely to recognize by name or sound (among the more famous is a guy who briefly played keyboard for the Allman Brothers during a late-'80s revival).

The 3-minute compositions most frequently can be classified as jazz, blues, or standards. They cannot, however, easily be labeled memorable. The songs which most stand out are those that have already been recorded, like the Mexican-flavored "Taco Grande" (Weird Al's parody of "Rico Suave"), "Shoo Fly Pie" (Ella Fitzgerald), and the novelty track "One Meatball." Even these fail to provide enough charm, without distinctive vocals or performances. What we're left with is a collection of upbeat, cheesy lyrics that may keep the kids quiet on a 36-minute drive but with no aftertaste or cries for an encore. In the unlikely event this disc does garner replay requests, some pity may be deserved; listening to this too much may lead to obesity or insanity. While this album fails to live up to the quality of the movie whose name it gets to boast, the observant will appreciate how its cover design parodies Chef Gusteau's signature cookbook. And all will agree that the liner notes provide some value. In lieu of lyrics, they serve up recipes for Remy's Macaroni and Cheese, Gusteau's Ratatouille, oven-baked French fries, an Eiffel Tower cookie sundae, and "pizza rats."

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Ratatouille: What's Cooking? from Amazon.com / Download from Chris Stapleton - What's Cooking? (Inspired By the Movie Ratatouille)

Ratatouille: Our Movie ReviewOur Guide to Tie-InsPreorder on DVDPreorder on Blu-rayDVD/Blu-ray Press Release

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Hannah Montana 2 / Meet Miley Cyrus

Running Time: 68 minutes (35 + 33) / Release Date: June 26, 2007 / SRP: $22.98

Track Listing:
Disc 1: Hannah Montana 2
1) "We Got the Party"
2) "Nobody's Perfect"
3) "Make Some Noise"
4) "Rock Star"
5) "Old Blue Jeans"
6) "Life's What You Make It"
7) "One in a Million"
8) "Bigger Than Us"
9) "You and Me Together"
10) "True Friend"
Disc 2: Meet Miley Cyrus
1) "See You Again"
2) "East Northumberland High"
3) "Let's Dance"
4) "G.N.O. (Girl's Night Out)"
5) "Right Here"
6) "As I Am"
7) "Start All Over"
8) "Clear"
9) "Good and Broken"
10) "I Miss You"

Being familiar with the music of Miley Cyrus or the half-baked but popular sitcom that showcases it isn't quite required for knowing what to expect here. Just look at the song titles, and you should have a pretty good idea of what's in store from the two CDs that showcase the songs of Cyrus and her Disney Channel persona Hannah Montana:
fluffy, feel-good kiddie pop-rock that's apt to delight children and not to aggravate parents listening along.

As Hannah, the nearly-15-year-old Cyrus doesn't sing about things that are relevant to people her age, but rather having generic fun, making easily-corrected mistakes, meeting dreamy boys. In other words, while she's gotten past the "I have two lives" mantra of the first soundtrack, she still sings primarily about issues of interest to those in the 8-12 demographic that buy her album or have their parents do it for them. That's no small target audience; the series' last soundtrack sold better than all but 7 albums released last year. This one has already obtained similar success, quickly achieving double platinum certification. As just plain Miley, the sound is similar, but with a slightly wider range and less of a manufactured-to-be-a-faux-hit vibe. Disc 2 also skews more towards boys, as a number of the songs involve Miley standing up for herself with the opposite sex. One exception is the too peppy for the subject matter "I Miss You", which according to the liner notes, she strangely wrote prior to her grandfather's death.

While I can't confess to being very impressed by the writing and music of these songs, I also can't level any complaints against them. The melodies are catchy, the singing is pleasant, and there isn't any of the reflection, awkwardness, or ambiguity that stems from more personal compositions. High art? No, she's just being Miley. And Hannah too.

UD Rating: � out of 5

Buy Hannah Montana 2 / Meet Miley Cyrus from Amazon.com / Download from Hannah Montana - Hannah Montana 2 - Meet Miley Cyrus

Hannah Montana CD Reviews: 2-Disc Special Edition SoundtrackSongs From and Inspired by The Hit TV Series
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The Cheetah Girls in Concert: The Party's Just Begun Tour (CD/DVD Combo)
The Cheetah Girls in Concert: The Party's Just Begun Tour
Running Time: 42 minutes (CD), 40 minutes (DVD) / Release Date: July 10, 2007 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
Disc 1 - Live Audio CD:
1) "The Party's Just Begun" - The Cheetah Girls
2) "Shake a Tail Feather" - The Cheetah Girls
3) "Together We Can" - The Cheetah Girls
4) "Route 66" - The Cheetah Girls
5) "Strut" - The Cheetah Girls
6) "Falling For You" - The Cheetah Girls
7) "Cinderella" - The Cheetah Girls
8) "Dance with Me" - Drew Seeley and Belinda
9) "Step Up" - The Cheetah Girls
10) "Girl Power" - The Cheetah Girls
11) "Cheetah Sisters" - The Cheetah Girls
12) "Amigas Cheetahs" - The Cheetah Girls
Disc 2 - Concert Performance DVD:
1) "The Party's Just Begun"
2) "Strut"
3) "Step Up"
4) "Dance with Me"
5) "Girl Power"
6) "Cheetah Sisters"
7) "Amigas Cheetahs"

God help us, the Cheetah Girls have returned. Their new concert album -- which is, at the very least, tolerable -- includes songs from last year's sequel The Cheetah Girls 2, tie-ins to other Disney films, and a couple of older pieces. An eclectic blending of techno club mixes and contemporary hip-hop, the instrumentals are really where the songs shine. As always, their reliable covers of songs like "Route 66" and "Cinderella" offer alternative though unnecessary interpretations, and I have to admit, their rendition of "Shake a Tail Feather" is growing on me. Still, if I were to recommend one song from this collection, it would definitely be "Dance with Me", the only one not performed by the Girls.

Even if I were to appreciate the girls' tenacity at making "music", their vocals are still just as grating and off-pitch in a live setting as in studio recordings. The concert kicks off with, appropriately enough, "The Party's Just Begun", in which the squeals of little girls in the audience are countered by a creepy voice's ten-second countdown. Nauseatingly bad songs follow, including "Falling For You", the group's laughable attempt at an inspiration love ballad, sung an octave too high. Following Drew Seeley's saving grace, we get a nice, hyperactive collection of dance songs. Each one is more erratic than the previous and by the time you get you to the "Amigas Cheetahs" finale, you may lose your ability to enjoy music. I nearly did.

On the count of 3, "1-2-3-CHEETAH!" "You gotta strut like you mean it!" Allow me to strut on over to the exit... Kiely, Sabrina, and Adrienne sit down and discuss their mind-bottlingly successful career in both the "Meet the Cheetahs" featurette and interstitials between concert performances.

In addition to the CD, the set includes a bonus DVD with seven concert performances from a California show and a brief featurette. In between the performances, we get quick interview snippets with the girls that are expanded in the 12-minute featurette "Meet the Cheetahs." Kiely, Adrienne, and Sabrina talk about various aspects of the concert tour, covering the praise that mothers and daughters give them, how their audience dresses, and how great they are. Disappointingly, "Dance with Me" is not performed by Drew Seeley and Belinda; instead, their recording is merely the background music for Sabrina and a random stagehand to dance to. The DVD is presented in a nice anamorphic widescreen transfer. Audio is offered in both plain stereo and full Dolby 5.1, the latter of which is the way to go for those wanting the full concert experience.

The Cheetah Girls are like a delicate souffl�: light, empty, and one wrong move in the baking process will cause it to fall completely flat. Their concert CD/DVD is just another fallen souffl�, as lackluster vocals and juvenile, cringe-worthy lyrics fail to stimulate any emotions besides apathy and contempt, at least from this reviewer. However, my opinion on this release probably doesn't matter much to unrepentant Cheetah Girls fans. If they haven't already bought this set, they likely will, no matter how strongly I discourage that. I commend them for sticking to their beliefs and refusing to be swayed by others' opinions. At the same time, I feel inclined to recommend some help, perhaps in a healthy dose of the emotionally educational Joni Mitchell.

UD Rating: � out of 5

Buy The Cheetah Girls in Concert: The Party's Just Begun Tour from Amazon.com / Download from The Cheetah Girls - The Party's Just Begun: The Cheetah Girls in Concert

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High School Musical 2: What Time Is It (CD Single)
High School Musical 2: What Time Is It (CD Single)
Running Time: 3 minutes / Release Date: July 17, 2007 / SRP: $1.99

To temporarily satisfy those salivating for more High School Musical, whet one's whistle for the sequel's complete soundtrack, and clarify which track was designed to be the standout hit, Disney released a CD single for the first time in over a decade. Penned by Matthew Garrard and Robbie Nevil, the writers behind songs from the original movie and pop artists like Kelly Clarkson and Destiny's Child, the 200-second "What Time is It" evokes a film-opening group scene in which students at the fictional East High School celebrate the arrival of summer vacation. Repetitive and choral, the track is every bit as light and crowd-pleasing as those which filled the colossal best-selling predecessor's album. The CD booklet unfolds to a 14" wide x 9�" high poster of the series' six leads, which might spice up a bland locker but leaves the case cover-less. Inserting the disc in a computer provides a 90-second promotional preview of the song's performance in High School Musical 2 and a link to Walt Disney Records' recently-redesigned website.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy High School Musical 2: What Time Is It from Amazon.com / Download from High School Musical Cast - What Time Is It - Single

Scroll down or click here for a review of the complete High School Musical 2 soundtrack
Related Reviews: High School Musical: The ConcertHigh School Musical: RemixHigh School Musical: Encore Edition

Billy Ray Cyrus - Home at Last
Home at Last
Running Time: 51 minutes / Release Date: July 24, 2007 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) "Ready, Set, Don't Go"
2) "The Beginning"
3) "The Buffalo"
4) "Flying By"
5) "Brown Eyed Girl"
6) "Don't Give Up on Me"
7) "You've Got a Friend"
8) "You Can't Lose Me"
9) "I Can't Live Without Your Love"
10) "My Everything"
11) "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"
12) "Over the Rainbow"
13) Bonus Track: "Stand"

It's almost amazing to be reviewing a brand-new album from country singer Billy Ray Cyrus in 2007, just over fifteen years after his debut single, "Achy Breaky Heart", launched him to short-lived stardom. Cyrus has released nine albums in the years since (even taking a temporary trip through the gospel realm), meeting varying degrees of success along the way but largely dropping off the industry radar.
That changed in 2006, when the Disney Channel cast Cyrus as the father to his real life daughter on the sitcom "Hannah Montana." The series' popularity has enabled a minor comeback for the singer, whose newest album, Home at Last is distributed by Walt Disney Records, the same label responsible for his daughter's Radio Disney superstardom.

Daddy Cyrus' latest effort is a collection of new songs and countrified covers of popular ditties from the past. For the most part, it's the latter class that's most enjoyable, though even those aren't especially memorable. Cyrus' vocals are soothing and sometimes even impressive. But musically, the album is content to lackadaisically strum on a guitar to a simple, unremarkable tune. The new treatment given to Carole King's "You've Got a Friend", Jackie DeShannon's "Put a Little Love in Your Heart", Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl", and Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow" are all fun to hear, but not especially unique.

The CD's first single, "Ready, Set, Don't Go", has all the lyrical makings of a mid-sized country radio hit (which is exactly what it is) and stands out as the best of Cyrus' original contributions to the disc. Along with the aforementioned notable cover songs, that makes for a total of five tracks that are worth a few listens and eight that beg for the "Skip" button. Cyrus might not be the country clown that his dated claim to fame paints him out to be but at least in the early '90s, he wasn't boring. Home at Last can be summed up in three words: Billy Ray Sigh... pass on this one.

UD Rating: � out of 5

Buy Home at Last from Amazon.com / Download from Billy Ray Cyrus - Home At Last

Related Reviews: Hannah Montana: 2-Disc Special Edition SoundtrackHannah Montana: Pop Star Profile

Posters, photos, and other items from thousands of movies, celebrities, bands, and TV shows

Baby Einstein: Baby Mozart 2
Baby Einstein: Baby Mozart 2Fun
Running Time: 38 minutes / Release Date: July 31, 2007 / SRP: $6.98

Track Listing:
1) Tune Up and Fanfare based on themes from "The Magic Flute
2) Serenade No. 13 in G, "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," K525, 1st Movement
3) Serenade No. 13 in G, "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," K525, 2nd Movement
4) Motette in D, "Ave Verum Corpus," K618
5) Flute Quartet No. 1 in D, K285, 1st Movement
6) Piano Sonata No. 12 in F, K332, 2nd Movement
7) Divertimento No. 1 in D, K136, 1st Movement
8) Clarinet Concerto in A, K622, 2nd Mozart
9) Serenade No. 9 in D, "Post Horn," K320, 6th Movement
10) Piano Concerto No. 26 in D, "Coronation," K537, 2nd Movement
11) Le Nozze Di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), Overture, K49
12) Le Nozze Di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), Voi Che Sapete, K492
13) Horn Concerto No. 3 in E Flat, K447, 2nd Movement
14) Andante in F for a small mechanical organ, K616
15) String Quartet No. 17 in B Flat, "Hunting," K458, 1st Movement

There's an unnatural comfort in the tinny sound of a music box, and for several years now, Baby Einstein has been treating the world to classical music adapted to a music box-like sound for the sake of toddlers' ears. With Baby Mozart 2, the empire's latest album, the music box sound is mixed with some, dare I say it, normal instruments. The result is a pleasing collection of some of Mozart's finest works, including his well-known Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute. The CD's liner notes point out that these selections were made in honor of Wolfgang's 250th birthday. I played this album a few times and tried to put myself in a baby mood, but I might have been too wound up and stressed to enjoy the soothing music that I'm sure a baby will enjoy. Whether or not their little minds actually develop faster (as people assume Mozart's music has that magical effect) remains to be seen, and has been disputed on occasion. Still, Baby Mozart 2 provides a slightly enjoyable Baby Einstein-ification of Wolfgang's music, and the low price is definitely right.

UD Rating: � out of 5

Buy Baby Einstein: Baby Mozart 2 on CD from Amazon.com / Download from Wolfgang Mozart - Baby Mozart 2

Related Reviews: Baby Einstein: Playdate Fun (CD) � Baby Einstein: Lullabies and Sweet Dreams (CD)
Baby Einstein: Discovering Shapes (DVD) � Little Einsteins: Musical Missions (CD)

Doodlebops: Get on the Bus!

Running Time: 42 minutes / Release Date: August 7, 2007 / SRP: $12.98

Track Listing:
1) "Tick Tock"
2) "I Can Dance"
3) "She's a Superstar"
4) "You're the Best"
5) "Hold Your Horses"
6) "More Fun"
7) "It's Up to You"
8) "Different Things"
9) "Get on Board"
10) "Jump Up"
11) "When You're Good At Something"
12) "You Betcha"
13) "My Hero"
14) "My Ukelele"
15) "Let's Get Loud"
16) "What You've Got"
17) "Your Favorite Color"
18) "You Are My Friend"
19) "Who Can It Be"
20) "Rockin' the World"
21) "Get on the Bus II"

Nearly one year after their Walt Disney Records debut, the Doodlebops are back with the album Get on the Bus!. This is not to be confused with the 2005 Canadian release of the same name, which Disney added two tracks to and called Rock and Bop with the Doodlebops.
This second album contains a different song selection along with a remix of the original "Get on the Bus" song. While many children's albums are cringe-inducing even from a child's perspective, the Doodlebops surprisingly uphold a higher quality. All three performers (Lisa J. Lennox as Deedee, Jonathan Wexler as Moe, and Chad McNamara as Rooney) are clearly talented and provide crisp vocals that don't pander in the way kid's songs tend to do. The accompanying instrumentals are also of a higher caliber that expected. Perhaps the best thing about this album is that is doesn't restrict itself to one genre. It tackles rock, pop ballads, blues, and R&B, to name a few; there's something for everyone here. The one flaw is that the songs aren't particularly memorable. That's not to say they aren't well-made, for in fact, they're quite enjoyable. They just don't stick with you after the listening experience is over. Annoyingly, the CD's booklet turns out to be a fold-out advertisement for Doodlebops merchandise. No lyrics are included at all. Still, this album should be enjoyed by most young children, and it's done tastefully enough that parents won't be given headaches.

UD Rating: � out of 5

Buy Rock & Bop with the Doodlebops on CD from Amazon.com / Download from Doodlebops - Doodlebops: Get On the Bus, Pt. 2

Related Reviews: Rock & Bop with the DoodlebopsMickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's TreatPlayhouse Disney: Imagine and Learn with Music

High School Musical 2 - Soundtrack
High School Musical 2
Running Time: 38 minutes / Release Date: August 14, 2007 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) "What Time Is It"
2) "Fabulous"
3) "Work This Out"
4) "You Are the Music in Me"
5) "I Don't Dance"
6) "You Are the Music in Me" (Sharpay Version)
7) "Gotta Go My Own Way"
8) "Bet On It"
9) "Everyday"
10) "All For One"
11) Bonus Track: "Humuhumunukunukuapua'a"

The soundtrack to High School Musical 2, this summer's super successful, record-breaking, musical tele-sequel, starts off rather promisingly. "What Time Is It" is an enthusiastic school's-out anthem that embodies all the fun of the first movie, reminding fans of why they've returned to the franchise.
From there, Ashley Tisdale is lyrically in-character in "Fabulous", a diva number that harkens back to the 1980s era of musical excess, and -- speaking of the '80s -- Corbin Bleu and Lucas Grabeel channel (in a good way) Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney in a competitive duet entitled "I Don't Dance." Zac Efron (singing entirely on his own this time, unlike the blended vocals employed for his character last time) joins Vanessa Ann Hudgens for a duet of their own, "You Are the Music in Me", one of the disc's better songs. Tisdale closes things out with a bonus track that turns out to be a lot of fun, in no small part due to the challenge of saying its name: "Humuhumunukunukuapua'a."

On its own, just about every song is pretty good -- not great, mind you, but good clean fun, a true scarcity in today's music market. A few tracks in, however, one notices a disturbing trend. The pop-flavored Broadwayesque tunes of the original High School Musical have given way to just plain ole pop. Abundant studio production, heavy bass, digitized voices, backup singers, and echoing make this sound a lot more like an hour of Radio Disney airplay than a soundtrack. Indeed, an unacquainted listener would likely be surprised that these songs stemmed from anything with "Musical" in the title. That's disappointing; there's plenty of pop music out there but people took to this franchise in large part because of the showtunes. I applaud the music for attempting to take a new direction rather than producing a song-for-song copy of the first (not that a little copy-catting isn't evident), but there's a distinction between difference and undue departure. This CD is clearly the latter. As a pop album, it works -- at least in 2007, when rap reigns supreme. As a soundtrack, though? Not so much.

UD Rating: � out of 5

Buy High School Musical 2 - Soundtrack from Amazon.com / Download from High School Musical Cast - High School Musical 2 (Original Soundtrack)

Related Reviews:
High School Musical 2: Buy the Extended Edition DVDBuy the Extended Edition Blu-rayDVD Review

Roundup published September 21, 2007. CD reviews written by Aaron Wallace, Kelvin Cedeno, Albert Gutierrez, and Staff.

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

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