With Radio Disney's embrace of 2003's Accelerate, Jump5 successfully expanded into the secular dance-pop market, without sacrificing its roots in CCM positivity. With mixes of material from all three Jump5 albums, Mix It Up aims to further entrench Brittany Hargest, Lesley Moore, Libby Hodges, Chris Fedun, and Brandon Hargest as the happiest, most-dancin'est teen crew around. Mixing duties are handled by a host of gospel and CCM regulars, including Mark Hammond, Kene "Ghost" Bell, Robert "Aurel M" Marvin, and Chris Estes. Their work is pretty inspired, deploying energizing synth squeals, skittering percussion, and the occasional sample around Jump5's youthful exuberance on the mike. But Mix It Up's greatest trick is to reconcile the group's previous output with that of Accelerate, which was a great leap forward in terms of production and pop songwriting. Where the 2001 version of "Start Jumpin'" was a forgettable kiddy dance number, the Marvin-mixed version that kicks things off here quivers with cut-up violins, flutes, and clip-art hip-hop vocal drop-ins ("Holla!," "Everybody in the club!"). There's even a fellow counting in Japanese. It's right at home next to "Wonderful," "Pressure," and the fun "Do Ya," three of Accelerate's strongest tracks. "Spinnin' Around" is amped with a Christian-themed rap from the Heavy D-ish Lyle Day; "Bless the remix," he says at the beginning. Dan Muckala's work on "All I Can Do" might be the strongest remixing work here. Its big beat bump isn't very contemporary, and it owes a debt to Fatboy Slim's "Right Here, Right Now." But in relation to "Do"'s original version, his "Historemix" pulsates with cool. That's important for Jump5, for as admirable as their positive message is, cool tends to resonate more than Christ. This is not to say the group is shunning the Christian security blanket. They're still as squeaky clean as ever, as Mix It Up's hilariously clunky beatbox interlude proves. But it's nice to see their music's quality catching up with their addictive energy and faith-based positivity. Mix It Up tacks on Jump5's version of the Kool & the Gang classic "Celebration," which originally appeared on the Kim Possible soundtrack. In addition to Brandon's unfortunate beatbox attempts, the album features a funny interlude of the gang trying desperately to record an ID while fighting a severe case of the giggles.
Mix It Up Review
by Johnny Loftus