UltimateDisney.com Presents:
Walt Disney Records - Summer 2005 CD Roundup


Nine new Disney albums reviewed, including Disneyland favorites, Karaoke Series, and Valiant Soundtrack

As Disney theme parks celebrate the 50th anniversary of their birth, Walt Disney Records has been issuing several relevant CDs throughout the summer months to mark the occasion. The highlight of these, for the most ardent of Disney fans at least, is the ultra-comprehensive 6-disc box set A Musical History of Disneyland, which has been available at the parks since May and will receive nationwide release on September 20th. We'll have a detailed review on that plus a report on last month's 50th Anniversary celebrations at the Disneyland Resort in the near-future.

For now, though, let's take a look at the other major CD releases of the summer season from Walt Disney Company's music division. Several of the releases focus on the songs of Disneyland and other Disney theme parks, but together, the slate runs a wide gamut from exciting compilations of longtime favorites to vintage material given new life, from Karaoke-tailored instrumentals to two soundtracks and a collection of non-Disney pop tunes which may result in dancing. Chances are you will find something of interest amidst the offerings, whether you were alive when Disneyland opened, can't remember life before Disney's Animal Kingdom, or, like myself until last month, have never visited a Disney theme park at all. Serious and casual fans, young and old alike, read on to discover more about some of Walt Disney Records' summer 2005 releases.

Click to jump to an individual review:
The Happiest Celebration on Earth | Wishes! | Julie Andrews selects her favorite Disney songs
Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland | Disney's Karaoke Series: Theme Park Favorites | Artist Karaoke Series: Hilary Duff
Radio Disney: Move It! | Valiant: Official Soundtrack | The Proud Family: Songs from the Hit TV Series and Movie

Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth

Running Time: 78 minutes / Release Date: May 3, 2005 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) "Walt Disney's Dedication of Disneyland"
2) "All Aboard"
3) "Meet Me Down on Main Street (The Mellomen)"
4) "Alexander's Ragtime Band (Rod Miller)"
5) "The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room"
6) "Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye"
7) "Tarzan Medley"
8) "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)"
9) "Grim, Grinning Ghosts"
10) "Bear Band Serenade"
11) "Splash Mountain Medley"
12) "The Great Outdoors"
13) "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh"
14) "Rainbow Caverns"
15) "It's A Small World"
16) "Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin"
17) "Star Tours"
18) "There's A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow"
19) "Space Mountain"
20) "Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters"
21) "Space Mountain (New Daytime Track)"
22) "Remember When" - LeAnn Rimes

2005 marks the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney's original theme park, Disneyland, and the whole world (at least in terms of Disney parks) is celebrating. Four albums have been issued to observe the celebration: the top-dollar, six disc, one to rule them all release, A Musical History of Disneyland; the first-ever 2-Disc Official Soundtrack releases for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World; and lastly, the single-disc Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth. This last release groups together some of the most memorable musical selections from Disneyland, past and present, and arranges them by the themed land from which they originate. Though the cover features artwork from all five Disney resorts, rest assured, everything on this album comes directly from Disneyland in California. There are none of the complete audio ride-throughs that one would find on A Musical History of Disneyland, but popular songs like "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)," "Grim, Grinning Ghosts," and "It's A Small World" (the only selection from Fantasyland) are present. Many of these titles need no introduction or explanation, but there are a few that stand out as welcome inclusions: the audio of Walt Disney's 1955 dedication of Disneyland, for example, as well as LeAnn Rimes' heartwarming theme song for the "Happiest Celebration on Earth" event. While there's nothing from Disney's California Adventure park, contemporary tracks like the new daytime track for Space Mountain join oldies but goodies like "Rainbow Caverns" from the Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland attraction. Executive Producer Randy Thornton has, as always, done the theme park and the fans justice with a compilation that appropriately surveys the rich history of Disneyland and sounds great. Whether or not what's offered here is enough for you, though, or if you'd rather spring for the slightly more expensive 2-Disc Happiest Homecoming on Earth Disneyland soundtrack (which includes all the tracks on Disney's Happiest Celebration on Earth plus a lot more) by visiting the park or contacting its mail order service is up to you.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy The Happiest Celebration on Earth on CD from Amazon.com

Related Review: A Musical History of Disneyland (6-disc 50th Anniversary Soundtrack)

Wishes!

Running Time: 54 minutes / Release Date: May 3, 2005 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) "A Whole New World" - Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle
2) "Some Day My Prince Will Come" - Barbra Streisand
3) "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" - Elton John
4) "Your Heart Will Lead You Home" - Kenny Loggins
5) "You'll Be in My Heart" - Phil Collins
6) "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Jesse McCartney
7) "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" - Linda Ronstadt
8) "The Bare Necessities"- Tony Bennett
9) "Baby Mine" - Bette Midler
10) "You've Got A Friend in Me" - Randy Newman
11) "If You Can Dream" - Disney Princesses
12) "My Funny Friend and Me" - Sting
13) "Part of Your World" - Olivia Newton John
14) "Make A Wish" - Kevin Sharp
15) "Wishes" - Peabo Bryson and Kimberly Locke with Jim Brickman

Call it a tribute project, call it charity, call it Disneymania for adults. The truth is, Disney's Wishes! is really all of the above. As our devoted readers no doubt already know, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Disneyland. What they may not know is that it also marks the 25th anniversary of another organization that brings smiles to children's faces every day: the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The organization, which seeks to grant wishes to 12,000 children with life-threatening medical conditions each year, fulfills more requests involving Disney than anything else. The very first wish the foundation granted included a trip to Disneyland and this year, the Walt Disney Company welcomed the 50,000th Make-A-Wish recipient into their theme parks. As the loved ones of these children would likely attest, it's a match made in Heaven. That's worth celebrating, particularly in a year so filled with milestones, and that's just what the Wishes! project does. Stars of adult contemporary fame offer their own renditions of classic Disney songs in fifteen tracks that are sure to please. Some of these are familiar favorites (I dare say you've heard the radio originals of "A Whole New World," "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," and "You'll Be in My Heart"), but while only the last two tracks appear to be making their debut on this album, many are lesser known. These are artists and styles that an adult audience will likely appreciate, though they are certainly universal enough to appeal to a younger demographic as well. Throw in tracks by Jesse McCartney, Kimberly Locke, and the Disney Princesses, and you've got a wonderful CD for the whole family. The best part is that Disney Hand, the program that serves as a link between the Disney Company and Make-A-Wish, will donate the proceeds from each and every CD to this wonderful organization. Not only will your purchase bring an enjoyable addition to your musical collection, but it will help make a difference that you can feel good about.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Disney Wishes! on CD from Amazon.com

Julie Andrews selects her favorite Disney Songs

Running Time: 44 minutes / Release Date: May 10, 2005 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) "Beauty and the Beast" (Beauty and the Beast)
2) "Chim Chim Cher-ee" (Mary Poppins)
3) "Part of Your World" (The Little Mermaid)
4) "Some Day My Prince Will Come" (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
5) "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (The Lion King)
6) "The Bare Necessities" (The Jungle Book)
7) "He's a Tramp" (Lady and the Tramp)
8) "A Whole New World" (Aladdin)
9) "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" (Cinderella)
10) "Bella Notte" (Lady and the Tramp)
11) "Baby Mine" (Dumbo)
12) "You'll Be in My Heart" (Tarzan)
13) "The Second Star to the Right" (Peter Pan)
14) "Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)" (Mary Poppins)
15) "When You Wish Upon a Star" (Pinocchio)

You can very well just consider this a "Best of Disney Film Songs" album, since the 15 tracks which comprise Ms. Andrews' favorites are ones that would likely find places among most Disney or music fans' similarly-limited lists. (Almost all of the featured tunes placed near the top of UltimateDisney.com's 2004 Top 100 countdown from site visitors' votes.) The Oscar-winning actress' liner notes will be of interest to her fanbase, though some seem suspiciously congratulatory in a promotional way. Nonetheless, her selections are a wholly winning mix of numbers that inevitably conjure up some of the most indelible images from Disney's animated films. Two come from a part-live action film, which is of course the one which features Andrews' prolific performance for the studio, Mary Poppins. The rest of the songs, taken directly from the film versions (a route preferred to pop covers) are well-ordered and consistently excellent. They range from early Disney (Snow White's "Some Day My prince Will Come", Cinderella's "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", and the most memorable two tunes from Lady and the Tramp) to modern-day classics (one song from each of the late '80s/early '90s Renaissance "fab four" plus one from Tarzan). With very few "essential" songs registering as surprisingly excluded (only Sleeping Beauty's "Once Upon a Dream" and "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" from the supposedly controversial Song of the South really stand out as missing), the official ambassador for Disneyland's 50th Anniversary has hand-picked a practically perfect collection, and it is highly recommended for those who want a definitive Disney music disc or are fans of the elegant actress.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Julie Andrews selects her favorite Disney songs on CD from Amazon.com / Download from Julie Andrews - Julie Andrews Selects Her Favorite Disney Songs

Related Reviews: Mary Poppins: 40th Anniversary Edition DVD The Princess Diaries: Special Edition DVD
Sing Along Songs: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious DVD Mary Poppins: Original London Cast Recording CD


Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland

Running Time: 35 minutes / Release Date: July 12, 2005 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) Overture / Main Street U.S.A.
2) Adventureland
3) Frontierland
4) Tomorrowland
5) Fantasyland

Long before "It's a Small World" and others became Disney park anthems, music was not a recognizable part of the Disneyland experience. For this reason, Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland features a medley of instrumental airs to represent each of the five original Disneyland territories. All the segments are introduced by Uncle Walt and largely prove to be products of their production era, as the debut album of Walt's Disneyland Records label. For instance, the musical interpretation of Tomorrowland most prominently utilizes Stravinski-like discordant melodies, in contrast to our current conception of future which would inevitably involve electronic keyboards and buzzing laser beams. The fifty-year-old sound recordings have been noticeably remastered to satisfying effect, and the packaging wisely replicates the original album artwork, complete with a vintage Disneyland map on back and photos and notes on each land inside. All things considered, this CD is strictly for the diehard Disney fanatic and those who appreciate the nostalgia of simpler times. The former group will likely be interested in mega-boxset A Musical History of Disneyland, which indeed includes this album...but only in the form of a 12" vinyl record. Those of the short attention span generation will probably need something a little flashier or substantial to get excited about and would be better off opting for one of the wide variety of contemporary park attraction soundtracks.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Walt Disney Takes You to Disneyland on CD from Amazon.com

Disney's Karaoke Series: Theme Park Favorites

Running Time: 49 minutes / Release Date: July 12, 2005 / SRP: $9.99

Track Listing:
Instrumental Versions:
1) It's a Small World
2) There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
3) Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life For Me)
4) Grim, Grinning Ghosts
5) Heffalumps and Woozles
6) Remember When
7) Bear Band Serenade
8) Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place
Vocal Versions:
9) It's a Small World
10) There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
11) Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life For Me)
12) Grim, Grinning Ghosts
13) Heffalumps and Woozles
14) Remember When
15) Bear Band Serenade
16) Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place

In theory, this CD sounds great. Think of all those catchy theme park songs to which you know some of the lyrics and now imagine yourself knowing all the words in a fun-filled Karaoke session. The actual effect isn't quite so swell; there are only eight numbers presented twice each (once with instrumentation and choruses and once with full vocals). Furthermore, these songs are primarily two-verse numbers meant to entertain you aurally for just as long as it takes you to get to the next portion of a typically fast-moving Disney theme park attraction. A few are full-fledged tunes, such as the Sherman Brothers' delightfully loopy "Heffalumps & Woozles" from the film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the Critter Country ride of the same name and "Bear Band Serenade" from the Country Bears attraction now extinct at Disneyland. There's also Disneyland's 50th Anniversary theme song, LeAnn Rimes' "Remember When" which you may not know as well or care to. But most of the tunes are drawn out repetitions of the parks' most memorable verses from "It's a Small World", "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life For Me)" from Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion's "Grim, Grinning Ghosts", and Splash Mountain/Song of the South's "Ev'rybody Has a Laughing Place." The real benefit will come for those who have a CD+G machine to display the animated lyrics in graphical format. For everyone else intending for use on a standard CD player, the tunes and accompanying lyrics booklet will provide some fun, but maybe not enough to justify even the low $9.99 price tag.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Disney's Karaoke Series: Theme Park Favorites on CD from Amazon.com


Artist Karaoke Series: Hilary Duff

Running Time: 28 minutes / Release Date: July 12, 2005 / SRP: $9.99

Track Listing:
1) "Come Clean"
2) "Why Not"
3) "The Math"
4) "What Dreams Are Made Of"
5) "I Can't Wait"
6) "Fly"
7) "So Yesterday"
8) "Our Lips Are Sealed"

The next time you find yourself singing along to a Hilary Duff song (yes, I'm talking to you), you can try it karaoke style, thanks to the latest low-priced, vocal-less album from Disney, which puts eight of Duff's songs in the spotlight, including a few of her most popular hits. This works like any other karaoke CD, in that only background vocals can be heard atop an instrumental track that sounds impressively like the real thing. There's also the use of CD+G technology, which, when inserted into an appropriate karaoke machine, will display colorful introductions and highlighted on-screen lyrics on a monitor for guidance. If you don't have such a machine, though, fear not. The disc works like any other when used with a standard CD player, and the lyrics are included in the liner notes. It's clear that Duff has some decent lyrics (not that she's written any of these songs herself), but there are also a few embarrassingly bad ones, such as "I'm calling you back, this is star sixty-nine" and the factually-questionable, "Let's go back... to when the earth, the sun, the stars all aligned." Still, embarrassment is half the fun of karaoke, and that should abound with this disc. The CD is well-done and comes at a low price, creating the potential for fun for fans of Duff or karaoke in general.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Artist Karaoke Series: Hilary Duff on CD from Amazon.com

Radio Disney: Move It!

Running Time: 51 minutes / Release Date: August 2, 2005 / SRP: $12.98

Track Listing:
1) "We Will Rock You" - Queen
2) "Move It Like This" - Baha Men
3) "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" - C&C Music Factory
4) "Le Freak" - Chic
5) "Cha Cha Slide" - Mr. C The Slide Man
6) "Macarena" - Los Del Rio
7) "U Can't Touch This" - M.C. Hammer
8) "I Got You (I Feel Good)" - James Brown
9) "BYou" - Sabrina Bryan
10) "Get Ready for This" - 2 Unlimited
11) "Kung Fu Fighting" - Carl Douglas
12) "Limbo Rock Remix (Miami Mix)" - Chubby Checker
13) "Who Let the Dogs Out" - Baha Men
14) "Y.M.C.A." - Village People
15) "Shout" - Isley Brothers

Move It! is part of Radio Disney's efforts to promote physical activity, but it feels more like a slightly tardy take on the ESPN Jock Rock and Jock Jams compilations of the 1990s. This 15-track CD is a mix of upbeat modern tunes and classics, comprised of the types of crowd-pleasing music you would find at any major stadium sporting event. It's not a totally even mix: the CD contains the short-lived fad "Macarena" and two songs by the Baha Men as well as perennial favorites like Queen's anthemic "We Will Rock You" and James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)", and two early '90s hits (by M.C. Hammer and C&C Music Factory) thrown in for good measure. Nonetheless, it is guaranteed to provide some high-spirited dancing fun, primarily for the Radio Disney sect, but also for parents and older siblings too.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy Radio Disney: Move It! on CD from Amazon.com

Valiant: Original Soundtrack

Running Time: 47 minutes / Release Date: August 16, 2005 / SRP: $18.98

Track Listing:
1) Valiant
2) March of the R.H.P.S.
3) "Wish Me Luck"
4) Meeting Bugsy
5) Arrival at Camp: (a) Drummed out of the Claw,
(b)In the Coop
6) Von Talon and the Bastion
7) Victoria and the Final Training
8) The Eye of the Mission (Adagio)
9) Mouse Division
10) Decoys
11) Re Grouping
12) The Rescue and Escape
13) Winged Heroes (Adagio and Fanfare)
14) End Titles - March of the R.H.P.S.
15) Shoo Shoo Baby

Certain soundtracks offer music which complement images and still stand on their own, while plenty achieve only the first goal. George Fenton and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's accompaniment to Valiant, Vanguard Animation's comedy about misfit World War II carrier pigeons, falls somewhere in between, landing closer to requiring witty visuals. The orchestration, loud and grand, recalls a time when fighting for one's country was viewed as utterly heroic and not something to question or lament over daily reports on cable news. Trumpets and fanfare are plentiful, as are drums, which together create music unusually ambitious and regal, but perhaps that's to be expected from Britain's first CGI film.

On the whole, Valiant's score does not work tremendously well. There are a couple of nice highlights: the whistle-laden "March of the R.H.P.S." may be the catchiest arrangement of the bunch, and "Arrival at Camp" nicely weaves in some jazzy swing interludes. But there are not many surprises; "Von Talon and the Bastion" lazily feels as if it could cue a generic villain from any animated film, standard romance is suggested in the whimsical "Victoria and the Final Training", and the 13-minute track "The Rescue and Escape" is a series of crescendoing punctuation marks which seems interminable and doesn't bare too well for the film's second act. At its best, Valiant's soundtrack is able to echo Danny Elfman's scores for Tim Burton (as it does in the Von Talon theme) or remind you of the work of John Williams (the Star Wars composer, not this film's producer). The fifteenth and final track, "Shoo Shoo Baby", is the only one which contains vocals. It is a bearable pop/dance lullaby performed by "Mis-Teeq" (who isn't even credited on the CD). If instrumental albums are something you'd even consider for young ones, they're likely to find this one too jarring and tough to map.

One can appreciate that this soundtrack mostly distances itself from Randy Newman's trademark Pixar work and the ironic fairy-tale score alternatives attached to most CGI cartoons, but the distinction could use a bit more variety and a considerable amount of detectable originality.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy the Valiant Soundtrack on CD from Amazon.com
Related Reviews: Valiant DVD The Wild Soundtrack CD Chicken Little Soundtrack CD

The Proud Family: Songs from the Hit TV Series and Movie

Running Time: 39 minutes / Release Date: August 16, 2005 / SRP: $12.98

Track Listing:
1) "The Proud Family Theme Song" - Solange featuring Destiny's Child
2) "Blowin' Up the Spot" - Omarion
3) "Right Here" - Jhene
4) "Fallin" - Alicia Keys
5) "Throw 'Em Up" - Lil' Romeo
6) "Together Makes It Better" - L.P.D.Z.
7) "If I Ruled the World" - Dr. Carver
8) "Boom, Boom, Boom" - G-Nomes
9) "Respect" - Aretha Franklin
10) "Good Times" - Chic
11) "Enjoy Yourself" - L.P.D.Z.
12) "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" - Buckwheat Boys
13) "Bobby's Jam (Dysfunkshanal)" - Cedric the Entertainer
14) "Use ta Be My Girl" - The O'Jays

The new "Proud Family" soundtrack, updated and re-released in conjunction with the upcoming movie based on the Disney Channel Original Series of the same name, should be subtitled "Best of Kid-Friendly Rap" to give consumers a clear idea of just what they're getting. After passing the show's theme (presented here in uncut form, proving more doesn't always mean better), one will encounter a hodgepodge of unpleasant music that takes itself too seriously (or is it not seriously enough? - it's difficult to decide). There are a few enjoyable tracks, three to be exact -- "Respect," "Good Times," and "Fallin," but I'll wager that you weren't introduced to these songs by "The Proud Family." Other tolerable tracks include "Together Makes It Better," "Bobby's Jam," and the show's relentlessly infectious "Peanut Butter Jelly Time," but even these wear thin quickly. The rest is a collection of aggressively corny music that will appeal to only the smallest of audiences. Unless you consider yourself to be a lover of rap but a dissident to its typically crass lyrics, and if you aren't a true-blue, die-hard "Proud Family" fan, then it's safe to say that this soundtrack isn't for you.

UD Rating: out of 5

Buy The Proud Family Soundtrack on CD from Amazon.com

Related Reviews: The Proud Family Movie DVD That's So Raven Too CD

CD reviews written by Aaron, Luke, and Renata.

Roundup posted August 19, 2005.

Related Links:

UltimateDisney.com's Top 100 Songs Countdown - Summer 2004
CD Review: Disneymania 2
CD Review: Disneymania 3
Coming to Theaters: Upcoming Disney Movies
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