Genie Magic

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While the target audience for Bratz albums would likely buy them regardless of whether or not they were actually any good, they are surprisingly well-crafted pieces of pop. Bratz: Rock Angelz was inspired by the rock-laced sounds of Avril Lavigne, Ashlee Simpson, and Hilary Duff, and had state-of-the-art pop songwriters and producers behind it. Its follow-up, Genie Magic, concentrates on the smooth, sultry sounds of urban and dance-inspired teen pop. As the title suggests, Genie Magic borrows some of the Middle Eastern flourishes trendy in teen pop since the hits of living Bratz dolls like Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" and Britney Spears' "Toxic." "Never Gonna Give Up" boasts a bustling, exotic rhythm, flutes, and a bass-heavy breakdown, while "The Way We Shine"'s zippy synth strings recall "Toxic"'s irresistible hook. Once again, nameless vocalists lend their pipes to the Bratz' hyper-real CGI images -- which, come to think of it, isn't all that different than, say, the Pussycat Dolls' approach to pop songcraft and presentation (Genie Magic's opening track "Me and My Girls" sounds like the Pussycat Dolls on a particularly girl-positive day). The album's best songs are nearly as well-crafted as the Bratz: Rock Angelz material; however, it's a little disappointing that Genie Magic isn't really a full soundtrack to the Bratz' second movie. Instead, it collects the new songs from the film, and tracks from the Bratz TV show. Just as the CGI production values are higher on the Bratz movies than they are on the series, the songs from the movies also have a bit more care and attention put into them than the songs from the show do. Tracks like "Only You" and "Rollin'" are just as slick as the Bratz movie songs, but not as memorable. Still, "Makin' It Happen," which sounds like a Rock Angelz outtake, and "All Together," a rave-up that's kissing-cousins with Destiny's Child or Aguilera's most upbeat moments, are still pretty fun. These plastic girls with a passion for fashion give their living, breathing competition a remarkably strong run for their money, and even though Genie Magic isn't quite as fully realized as Bratz: Rock Angelz, it definitely won't disappoint Bratz fans (fanz?).

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