UltimateDisney.com's Holidays 2006 CD Roundup / Year in Review
UltimateDisney.com Presents:
Walt Disney Records - Holidays 2006 CD Roundup / 2006: Year in Review

Two new albums reviewed including two-disc, 50-track Disney: The Music Behind the Magic

With our Spring, Summer, and Fall CD roundups, UltimateDisney.com has managed to review over 30 new albums released this year by Walt Disney Records and its affiliated labels. That leaves just two subjects for this final article: a two-disc Special Edition soundtrack to the Disney Channel's The Cheetah Girls 2 and the infinitely more exciting Disney: The Music Behind the Magic, a fabulous two-disc collection housing 70 years of memorable Disney tunes. While many consider this holiday season the most wonderful time of the year (us included), for many, it is also the busiest time of the year (again, us included). With that in mind, we'll skip the small talk and jump right into the remaining reviews. Oh, and as a little treat for you, we've put together a Year in Review, which singles out the best CDs Disney has issued in 2006 with links to our complete reviews. It's one gift you definitely won't want to return. Season's greetings!

Click to jump to an individual review:
Disney: The Music Behind the MagicThe Cheetah Girls 2: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack2006 Year in Review

Disney: The Music Behind The Magic
Disney: The Music Behind the Magic - 2-Disc Anniversary Set
Running Time: 143 minutes (Disc 1) / Release Date: November 7, 2006 / SRP: $24.98

Track Listing:
Disc 1
1) "Mickey Mouse March" - Mickey Mouse Club (1955)
2) "Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf" - Three Little Pigs (1933)
3) "Someday My Prince Will Come" - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
4) "Give a Little Whistle" - Pinocchio (1940)
5) "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
6) "Baby Mine" - Dumbo (1941)
7) "Little April Shower" - Bambi (1942)
8) "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1946)
9) "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" - Cinderella (1950)
10) "So This Is Love" - Cinderella (1950)
11) "The Second Star to the Right" - Peter Pan (1953)
12) "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" - Davy Crockett (1954)
13) "The Siamese Cat Song" - Lady and the Tramp (1955)
14) "He's a Tramp" - Lady and the Tramp (1955)
15) "Once Upon a Dream" - Sleeping Beauty (1959)
16) "Cruella De Vil" - 101 Dalmatians (1961)
17) "Let's Get Together" - The Parent Trap (1961)
18) "It's a Small World" - 1964 New York World's Fair
19) "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" - Mary Poppins (1964)
20) "A Spoonful of Sugar" - Mary Poppins (1964)
21) "The Monkey's Uncle" - The Monkey's Uncle (1965)
22) "Winnie-the-Pooh" - Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966)
23) "The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers" - Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Too (1967)
24) "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life For Me)" - Pirates of the Caribbean, Disneyland (1967)
25) "I Wan'na Be Like You" - The Jungle Book (1967)
26) "Grim Grinning Ghosts" - The Haunted Mansion, Disneyland (1969)
Disc 2
1) "Home on the Range" - Children's Favorites, Volume 1 (1979)
2) "Ducks Dance, Too" - Mousercise (1982)
3) "Part of Your World" - The Little Mermaid (1989)
4) "Under the Sea" - The Little Mermaid (1989)
5) "Be Our Guest" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
6) "Beauty and the Beast" - Beauty and the Beast: A New Broadway Musical (1993)
7) "A Whole New World" - Aladdin (1992)
8) "What's This?" - Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
9) "Circle of Life" - The Lion King (1994)
10) "Hakuna Matata" - The Lion King (1994)
11) "They Live in You" - The Lion King: Broadway (1997)
12) "Colors of the Wind" - Pocahontas (1995)
13) "You've Got a Friend in Me" - Toy Story (1995)
14) "Bells of Notre Dame" - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
15) "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)" - Hercules (1997)
16) "Reflection" - Mulan (1998)
17) "Strangers Like Me" - Tarzan (1999)
18) "When She Loved Me" - Toy Story 2 (1999)
19) "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" - Lilo & Stitch (2002)
20) "Why Not?" - Lizzie McGuire (2002)
21) "Cheetah Sisters" - The Cheetah Girls (2003)
22) "Breaking Free" - High School Musical (2006)
23) "Find Yourself" - Cars (2006)
24) "Mickey Mouse Club Alma Mater" - Mickey Mouse Club (1955)

There are a lot of Disney music compilation CDs out there, but The Music Behind the Magic stands out for its uniquely comprehensive and chronologically-arranged playlist. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of what is now known as Walt Disney Records, this two-disc set delivers a stellar array of highly familiar tunes from the past 75 years.
As you'd expect, most tracks emanate from the animated features that usually come to mind upon hearing the word "Disney." But there are also songs from theme park attractions, live action movies, television fare, standalone albums, Pixar's modern masterpieces, and Disney's Broadway ventures.

There are a couple of things that the 50 selections hold in common. Outside of the last few tracks representing this decade, all are very, very good (and those that aren't tend to carry enough cultural significance to justify inclusion). And all were released through Disney's music branch at some point in the past 50 years. This second fact is underscored by the nifty booklet that comes attached to the swell-looking embossed Digipak. This 32-page staple-bound companion offers an introduction by film critic/Disney fan Leonard Maltin, several sentences on every single featured song, and the artwork of the albums on which all tunes originally surfaced.

The only shortcoming to this release is a minor one: there is a noticeable gap between the discs, as only three numbers hail from 1968 through 1988. Few would argue that Donn Tatum/Card Walker/Ron Miller/early-Michael Eisner years define an artistic apex for the company and in fact, there was a scarcity of new animation reaching the big screen then. Still, surely at least a couple of the obligatory opening credits themes from the era's live action comedies (starring the likes of Dean Jones, Kurt Russell, and Jodie Foster) belong here. If not, a selection from Bedknobs and Broomsticks or Pete's Dragon could aptly replace one of the three Disney Channel songs that serve this decade. Nevertheless, with only 50 tracks to cover nearly a century of memorable Disney music, this package does a pretty commendable job of representing as many of the high notes as possible.

Chances are that you already have some CDs that hold a number of the songs featured here. But the fifty gathered all together in such a nice set makes this pretty irresistible for a fan of the Disney company. While no sane person would limit themselves to owning one Disney CD, this fantastic compilation might just be the best choice for such a hypothetical slot. Anyone with a love for Disney -- especially those that skew towards the animated movies -- ought to be thrilled to find this under the Christmas tree.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Disney: The Music Behind the Magic 2-Disc CD Set from Amazon.com

Related CD Reviews:
A Musical History of Disneyland: 6-CD 50th Anniversary SetDisney's Happiest Celebration on Earth
Julie Andrews Selects Her Favorite Disney SongsDisney Wishes!
Related Page: UltimateDisney.com's Top 100 Disney Songs Countdown
Related DVD Reviews:
Disney Princess: Sing Along Songs - Once Upon a DreamSing Along Songs: Disneyland FunSing Along Songs: The Bare Necessities

The Cheetah Girls 2: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack
The Cheetah Girls 2: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack
Running Time: 49 minutes (CD), 30 minutes (DVD) / Release Date: November 7, 2006 / SRP: $24.98

Track Listing:
Disc 1 - Soundtrack CD:
1) "The Party's Just Begun" - The Cheetah Girls
2) "Strut" - The Cheetah Girls
3) "Dance With Me - Drew Seeley featuring Belinda
4) "Why Wait" - Belinda
5) "A La Nanita Nana" - The Cheetah Girls with Belinda
6) "Do Your Own Thing" - Raven-Symoné
7) "It's Over" - The Cheetah Girls
8) "Step Up" - The Cheetah Girls
9) "Amigas Cheetahs" - The Cheetah Girls with Belinda
10) "Cherish the Moment" - The Cheetah Girls
11) "Cheetah Sisters (Barcelona Mix)" - The Cheetah Girls
12) "Everyone's A Star" - Raven-Symoné
13) "It's Gonna Be Alright" - Raven-Symoné
14) "Route 66" - The Cheetah Girls
15) "Strut (Remix)" - The Cheetah Girls

Disc 2 - Video DVD:
1) "The Party's Just Begun" - The Cheetah Girls
2) "Step Up" - The Cheetah Girls
3) "Cinderella" - The Cheetah Girls
4) "Strut" - The Cheetah Girls
5) "Cheetah Sisters" - The Cheetah Girls

Like a recurring nightmare, The Cheetah Girls 2 is haunting the music world again just three months after its soundtrack's first release. The new 2-disc Special Edition adds a pair of bonus tracks, a DVD of concert footage, and some snazzy packaging. Why anyone would want to buy music from this Disney Channel movie once, though -- let alone twice -- is beyond me. Granted, the R&B-twinged dance tracks are catchy at times, but not in a way that sticks with the listener long after. Vocally, the girls are a mess. Raven Symoné (who only calls herself a member when there's a movie attached to the deal) is a talented singer, but the permanent trio are the epitome of the whiny strain that is the tell-tale sign of someone who doesn't deserve their record deal.
Sure, I can enjoy "The Party's Just Begun" or "Strut" for a short while, but there's little to make these songs stand out from all the others of their kind. Of the two new tracks, "Route 66" is definitely the best. Chuck Berry popularized the song and having seen him perform it live, I can safely say that The Cheetah Girls are no Chuck Berry. Still, their rendition is catchy. Like the rest of their music, though, it's not much more than that. A remix to "Strut" is the other addition and it offers little variation from the original, though it's only a downgrade when it does.

The bonus DVD offers five songs (a complete concert from the looks of it) performed by The Cheetah Girls at the Disneyland Resort. Interwoven between each song is a brief interview session with the girls, which is actually far more interesting than the songs themselves. They do seem to be truly performing, though relying heavily on pre-recorded supportive vocals and cheesy choreography to pull it off. The mostly pre-teen audience randomly breaks into thunderous applause at the strangest times, indicating either some sketchy editing or general confusion on the part of The Cheetah Girls' fans (I suspect that the latter must be the case). The video quality is about one would suspect; it looks fine in casual viewing but exhibits softness and has the appearance of digital video throughout (whether that's because it is digital video or it's just mimicking a conventional music video, I don't know). The footage is presented in fullscreen and stereo sound. Inside the packaging, there are liner notes with all the lyrics (except "Route 66") which double as a fold-out movie poster. There's also an offer for a free cell phone ringtone download: "Amigas Cheetahs".

Those who liked the music of The Cheetah Girls 2 enough to own it will naturally be pleased that there's now more to be had, though the amount added doesn't warrant the increase in SRP from the original release. Only hardcore fans will need to upgrade to get the new song, new remix, and five performances on DVD. For everyone else, the standard release (and its lower price) is probably satisfying enough. If by any chance, however, you're thinking of making a blind buy on The Cheetah Girls; think again.

UD Rating: ¾ out of 5

Buy The Cheetah Girls 2: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack from Amazon.com / Download from The Cheetah Girls - The Cheetah Girls 2 (Original Soundtrack)

Related Reviews:
The Cheetah Girls 2: Cheetah-licious Edition (DVD) • The Cheetah Girls 2: Soundtrack (CD) • High School Musical: Remix 2-Disc Special Edition (DVD)
High School Musical: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack (CD) • The Cheetah Girls: Cheetah-licious Christmas (CD) • Disneymania 3 in Concert (DVD)
Disneymania 4 (CD) • Chicken Little (DVD) • Chicken Little: Soundtrack (CD) • Radio Disney Party Jams (CD + Concert DVD)


Not Submitted for Review:
The Fox and the Hound 2: Soundtrack
The Fox and the Hound 2 Soundtrack
Release Date: November 21, 2006 / SRP: $9.98

Buy The Fox and the Hound 2: Soundtrack from Amazon.com / Download from Fox and the Hound 2

Related Reviews:
The Fox and the Hound 2 (DVD) • The Fox and the Hound: 25th Anniversary Edition (DVD)
The Little Mermaid: 2-Disc Special Edition SoundtrackBrother Bear 2 (DVD) • Bambi II (DVD) • Bambi II: Soundtrack

2006: Year in Review














 
Best CD + DVD Combo:
DEVO 2.0 - DEV2.0

A DEVO tribute band made up of five kids aged 10-13? Probably not something you would expect from Disney and while it's no substitute for the original, it's one of the rare musical acts that both young kids and their parents can appreciate together. No mere selling gimmick, the DVD holds 87 minutes of content, from featurettes on DEVO and its young emulators to music videos and surreal animations.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com / Download from iTunes


Best Preschool CD:
Rock & Bop with the Doodlebops

Don't let the bright coloring from head to toe throw you off. The Doodlebops produce a pop/rock sound with blues, jazz, and hip-hop influences that youngsters should deem funky and parents won't mind.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com / Download from iTunes


Best Karaoke CD:
Disney's Karaoke Series: The Little Mermaid

You can't go wrong trying to copy some Caribbean crooning or mermaid warbling. As a nice bonus, the disc includes enjoyable tracks sung by three Disney heroines of the '90s.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com


Worst Overall CD of the Year:
That's So Raven Too!

Raven clearly has a voice and her two chief co-stars aren't bad either, but with immature lyrics and an unsophisticated sound, these songs are hardly a showcase for their talent. One show soundtrack was plenty.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com / Download from iTunes


Best Box Set:
A Musical History of Disneyland

True, this delightful 6-disc set came out last year, but the Disney Parks carried their 50th anniversary celebrations well into this year and we didn't get to review it until this past summer. With that out of the way, this pricey but potent collection is sure to delight any Disneyland aficionado again and again.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com


Top 10 Overall Disney CDs of 2006:
10) Disneymania 4

Though the series continues to drop in quality (this one doesn't live up to volumes 1-3), four standout tracks and seven decent ones make it a worthwhile installment.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com
9) Tarzan: The Broadway Musical

Tarzan hasn't been the hit that past Disney toon-to-Broadway ventures were, but this stage mix of new and reused songs from Phil Collins still swings high.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com / Download from iTunes
8) The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas

It's been too long since the Muppets were at their best. This new outing doesn't reach the heights of holiday classics like Muppet Family Christmas, A Christmas Together, and Muppet Christmas Carol. It does, however, deliver 37 minutes of seasonal fun that could have been the core of a good hour-long TV special.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com / Download from iTunes
7) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: Soundtrack

Disney's all-time highest-grossing film has a score which suits it, as Hans Zimmer takes over and captures the world of piracy with wave-like rhythm, crescendos, and respites from the dark and brooding.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com / Download from iTunes
6) Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Soundtrack

The iconic mouse's leap to preschool television is an amicable one, and this winning compilation conveys what's right about this Playhouse Disney hit. Between new spins to classic kid's tunes, nods to Mickey's storied past, and bookending tracks from They Might Be Giants, there's lots to like here.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com
5) High School Musical: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack

You're probably as sick as we are of the list of shattered records that inevitably arises upon mention of High School Musical. Still, this Disney Channel phenomenon will go down as one of the company's biggest and least expected hits of 2006. The second of three CDs the telemovie spawned, this one offers just about everything found on the others, serving up bubble gum pop, some Broadway flare, and an entire disc designed to let you sing along.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com / Download from iTunes
4) Cars: Soundtrack

While unquestionably a warmly-received blockbuster, Pixar's seventh feature film didn't completely measure up to its predecessors in critical acclaim, box office reception, or, thus far, DVD sales. Cars did, however, leave its studios' six earlier computer-animated movies in the dust when it came to soundtrack sales, becoming the first of its kind to ship gold. That's probably because this album ups the vocal quotient and the star power with tunes from Sheryl Crow, Chuck Berry, Brad Paisley, John Mayer, Rascal Flatts, and James Taylor complementing another fine Randy Newman score. This may bring Pixar dangerously close to mainstream cinema, but the satisfying result justifies it.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com / Download from iTunes
3) The Nightmare Before Christmas: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack

The Tim Burton-produced stop-motion cult classic turned thirteen this fall and was kindly treated to both a 3-D big screen release and this 2-disc album. Five covers by performers hip with the Hot Topic crowd (among them, Marilyn Manson, Fall Out Boy, and Fiona Apple) may have raised interest from a certain demographic, but it's the rest of the package that's truly appealing. Danny Elfman's typically rich instrumentals evoke the movie's enduring imagery; his off-kilter lyrics and vocals complement them. Four song demos and 3-D packaging merely sweeten the set for those who have managed to go 13 years without this soundtrack.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com / Download from iTunes
2) The Little Mermaid: 2-Disc Special Edition Soundtrack

After nearly a decade of waiting, fans of the charming musical that helped spark the rebirth of animation had reason to celebrate, as the beloved Little Mermaid resurfaced in just about every way this year. Arriving alongside the movie's unsurprisingly best-selling Platinum Edition DVD, this double-disc Special Edition CD doesn't much differ from its original 1989 counterpart; Disc 2's pop covers and music videos are largely disposable. But Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's first collaboration for Disney remains probably their best. Their spirited compositions are likely better than you remember and make this music essential to any collection.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com / Download from iTunes
1) Disney: The Music Behind the Magic

No single slice can measure up to the whole pie taken together. Paying tribute to the remarkable 75-year legacy Walt Disney and the company he left behind have contributed to the musical landscape, this 50-track, two-disc set pleases verily with next to nothing in the way of sour notes. From Three Little Pigs to Cars, cartoons, live action movies, plays, theme park attractions, and standalone albums all get recognized in an aptly-choreographed way. Throw in an excellent set of liner notes from Disney buff Leonard Maltin, and there's little question that this is the best Disney album of 2006.

Read our Full Review / Buy from Amazon.com











































 

In the words of *NSYNC, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Roundup and Year-in-Review posted December 16, 2006. CD reviews written by Aaron and Luke.

Related Links:

UltimateDisney.com's Top 100 Songs Countdown - Summer 2004
Coming to Theaters: Upcoming Disney MoviesUD's Latest ReviewsDisney CD Review IndexDisney DVD Review Index

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