Multi-racial female vocal quintet i5's self-titled debut album uses just about every cliché of contemporary pop music circa 2000, including synthesized dance beats, multiple lead vocals, Latin rhythms, harpsichords, and mannered singing with plenty of moaning. The lead-off single, "Distracted," a girl's account of how her daily routine is interrupted by thoughts of her boyfriend, refers to the radio "playing a song like this," and no more telling admission could be made of this music's slavish attempt to copy the sounds that were earning airplay in the year leading up to the album's release. The song also finds the narrator watching MTV's Total Request Live, and it isn't hard to imagine her encountering an i5 video there, which, of course, is the idea. The album begins with "Ladidi Ladida" (produced by the ubiquitous teen-pop team Cutfather & Joe), which steps over the line of double entendre with its repeated demand, "I want to see you come," only occasionally followed, after a lag, by "into my life." "Scream Shout" is the Latin number that sounds like a Ricky Martin or Mark Anthony track, while "Sweet n' Sassy" is a thinly veiled rewrite of Santana's "Smooth." "First Kiss" is the obligatory harpsichord track, and "If I Ever See Heaven Again" the obligatory ballad. Most of the songs are just dancefloor entries of varying tempos with little on their mind but teen romance. Yet "Cinderella" actually promotes heightened self-esteem in its rejection of the knight-in-shining-armor myth of young girls' fairy tales. "I'd rather rescue myself," goes the lyric. If i5 is fated to join the teen-pop ranks as a successor to the Spice Girls, it is to be hoped they do so with this "girl power" anthem rather than the album's more generic selections.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann