Pop quiz. So, the album that you planned to be a teen pop blockbuster to rival BMG's massive success with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera flops with nary a trace. What do you do? Well, if you're 550/Epic, faced with the flailing Mandy Moore debut, you shuffle the order of the songs, remix a couple of tracks, and shoot a new, sexy glamour shot of your underage diva so she looks shockingly like Britney. A crass marketing move, to be sure, but hey, tough times call for drastic measures like that. The thing is, the revamped, puzzlingly titled I Wanna Be with You [Special Edition] (thereby giving the impression that this is an extended EP release or that there's a "regular" edition of I Wanna Be with You, which there's not) works a lot better than its predecessor. Why? Because it's trashier, flashier, gaudier, and altogether more disposable: all essential ingredients for a good teen pop album, since it should be something that is of the moment, not designed for the ages. I Wanna Be with You is definitely, almost defiantly of the moment, and while there's more than its fair share of filler (let's face it, there was a reason why the album needed to be reworked), that filler glitters here where it was simply dull on the predecessor. And, most of all, it's pretty fun, whether it's on ballads or dance numbers. Moore still isn't as good as Britney or Christina, since she just doesn't have a comparable persona or material, but with this she vaults above Jessica Simpson and maybe, just maybe, captures the bronze for female teen pop divas in 2000 (Hoku being disqualified because she is pitched at a younger crowd).
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine