The Cheetah Girls

TCG

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Despite her appearance in the 2006 film Cheetah Girls 2, Raven-Symoné is nowhere to be found on the group's third studio album, TCG (nor was she on their live CD/DVD, In Concert: The Party's Just Begun Tour, released earlier in 2007), which is actually their first actual record, the first two being soundtracks to the accompanying Cheetah Girls films. That being said, the trio doesn't seem to have too much of a problem continuing its brand of super-produced, hook-driven suburban pop that's been thrilling Disney Channel viewers since 2003, and there's not much to distinguish TCG from any of the Girls' other releases. Which shouldn't bother fans too much, anyway, as most are probably looking for this same kind of strong, catchy radio-friendly music in the first place. The opener, "Fuego," while hardly "Latin" in any sense (the whispered "siempre" does not count), is upbeat and fun, while "Human" (written in part by hitmaker Kara DioGuardi) borrows heavily from Ode to Joy, bringing a contemporary, slick R&B feel to the single-keyed piano line and swirling strings. This may be an album marketed to the teen and preteen set, but there's nothing childish about it. The lyrics, although not explicit or inappropriate, hardly try to tone down the love-heavy themes to relate better to their younger audience. Of course, this is the kind of things kids are listening to, anyways, so the Cheetah Girls are hardly doing anything daring by singing "adult-themed" material, but it fits along well with the rest of the album, which doesn't try to break from the pop mold, following the prescribed mixture of synths, programmed percussion, occasional funk guitar chords, and plenty of clean vocal harmonies. TCG doesn't push any boundaries, but that's not what it's trying to do, anyway, which means that fans of theirs should be pleased with the results.

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