By the time the 12th volume of the Kidz Bop series was released, the collections of kid-enhanced covers of pop hits were being released just as frequently -- and featured most of the same songs -- as the Now That's What I Call Music! series. Kidz Bop, Vol. 12 is especially on point when it comes to timely hits -- the cover of the summer jam of 2007, Rihanna's "Umbrella," arrived while the original was still topping the charts. True to the Kidz Bop formula, Kidz Bop, Vol. 12 features a handful of songs that aren't destroyed by having a chorus of kids singing along with them, and a lot more tracks that hold up a freaky funhouse mirror to the sexuality, materialism, and other very grown-up traits in most pop music. Covering Fergie's "Glamorous" -- which starts out with the rallying cry "If you ain't got no money take your broke self home!" -- is in questionable taste, as is the slew of brooding breakup songs like Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around Comes Around"; what was originally a lovelorn, slightly whiny ballad is more than a little unsettling with the Kidz Bop Kids singing "I know that you're livin' a lie." As with the other collections, Kidz Bop, Vol. 12 also has more than its fair share of earnest songs that aren't exactly inappropriate, but just sound wrong coming out of the mouths of babes; this time, it's Nickelback's "If Everyone Cared," the Fray's "How to Save a Life," and not one but two DAUGHTRY songs, "It's Not Over" and "Home," that get the Kidz Bop treatment. Even fellow American Idol alumnus Kelly Clarkson -- whose "Since U Been Gone" led to one of Kidz Bop's most genuinely joyous covers -- provides more fodder for dark and dismal covers on Kidz Bop, Vol. 12: her "Never Again" sounds bad coming from another singer, and even worse with the Kids backing her up. The collection isn't all doom and gloom, however; there are a few of the "what the -- ?" moments that have made the Kidz Bop series just as popular with some adults as with kids. The version of Gym Class Heroes' "Cupid's Chokehold/Breakfast in America" approaches the deeply weird alternative rock covers that pop up in Kidz Bop's world from time to time, like Modest Mouse's "Float On." The Kidz Bop-ified "Beautiful Liar" is even stranger on a completely different level; the song is popular largely because it's Beyoncé and Shakira singing it, and replacing two of pop's most distinctive divas with two faceless ones is just plain odd (needless to say, the poor Kidz Bop Kids are even more superfluous than usual). Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" and Gwen Stefani's "Sweet Escape" are two among a handful of tracks that actually work as songs that children could cover well and appropriately.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares