For the second installment of its popular series, Girl Next followed the same formula that made it a success the first time around. Compiling a cross-section of the next generation of top pop female artists, the CD offers a satisfying non-stop musical feast for teen and tween listeners. The songs aren't completely new, but here they are packaged together in an innovative selection that feels exactly like a playlist that a teen girl would create for herself.
It's no surprise that the disc is so on-target with its listeners -- the series was created by Smackers, which specializes in that youthful female demographic. (As a result, there's plenty of product placement inside the CD booklet.)
The ultra-busy teen duo of Aly & AJ deliver "Chemicals React" to start things off. The teen queens also had the opening spot on the original Girl Next disc, and here they showcase the first hit single from their 2006 release, Into the Rush. It's a great example of their upbeat, well harmonized pop that immediately establishes this disc as something both girls and their parents can find enjoyable.
The play list continues with names that are quickly becoming recognizable to anyone in the teen listening set. Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame contributes "Come Back to Me" (from her debut album, V); Hayden Panettiere, who plays the indestructible cheerleader on the hit TV show Heroes weighs in with the light and frothy "Go To Girl;" and Keke Palmer, best known for her starring role in the film Akeelah And The Bee kicks the party up a notch with her dance-ready "It's My Turn Now."
Jordan Pruitt, whose 2007 debut album No Ordinary Girl established her as no ordinary singer, weighs in with a new track. Following the success of her singles "Jump To The Rhythm" and "Outside Looking In," Pruitt gives listeners another ear-pleaser with "Teenager." The song fits the tone of the disc perfectly, painting a portrait of teen trials and desires delivered with a funk-flavored beat.
A surprisingly sedate showing from The Pussycat Dolls provides one of the disc's finest moments. The R&B-tinged "StickWitU," from the Dolls' 2005 album PCD, is a smooth, easygoing ballad that swears undying love, and it's a surprising contribution from the girls better known for such dancefloor pop gems as "Don't Cha."
Samantha Jade's "Step Up" provides another of the disc's highlights. The track -- which was the theme song to the 2006 movie by the same name -- uses the dance floor as a metaphor for life and the relationship becomes the dance. The lively pop/R&B cut not only makes sitting still a near impossibility, but it sends a great message for girls as well.
For the most part, this an upbeat, fast-moving collection of pop that is designed for teen and tween girls, but gives some listening value to their parents as well. Even in its quieter moments, Girl Next Volume 2 is the perfect summer treat: It's light, it's refreshing and that means it's the perfect soundtrack for those endless sunny days.
By Paula Felps