Nikki Cleary's eponymous debut arrives on Jive after a whirlwind flirtation with success that began with a novelty hit and facilitated a name change, all before the performer's 15th birthday. It started a few years ago with "I.M. Me," a ditty with lyrics derived from instant messaging slang ("LOL") and online inside humor ("This girl wide web is hot stuff"). Unsurprisingly, the song caused a sensation online, and its brief publicity spike landed the young singer a recording contract with Jive. But while she had been known as Brittney Cleary, the presence of a certain other Britney on Jive's roster encouraged a moniker shift. Nikki Cleary's full-length introduction is lighter than acne-free face wash, less damaging than the least damaging hair conditioner, and sweeter than Frosted Wild Magicburst Pop-Tarts®. She has a wide-open singing voice that isn't hidden behind hand-fluttering vocal histrionics, and while the album's persistent use of pitch correction and "robot Nikki" vocal processing is irritating, the singer's easygoing, high-school-musical talent still shines through. Chatty lyrics like "Called my girls on the phone" and "He's been sweatin' you all day" abound; a faux cell phone conversation lights up the intro of "Sorry for Myself." It's music made exclusively for the Radio Disney set, a fan base who likely won't notice the blatant indiscretions taken with a fizzy, mall-ready reset of the Grease classic "You're the One That I Want," since Cleary performs the duet with Dream Street dreamboat-in-training Chris Trousdale (who sounds almost exactly like Nikki). "Summertime Guys" and additional cover song "Walking on Sunshine" channel the Go-Go's through Pro Tools, while "1-2-3" and "The Game" are dance-pop lemon drops. The album has the staying power of ice cream on August asphalt. But Cleary and her people understand and endorse its fleeting, summertime crush quality, making the record read like the histrionic headlines of a high-school yearbook.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus
feat: Chris Trousdale