- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
Jump5 is a group of five kids who were banded together through an open casting call in their hometown of Nashville. Chris, Brandon, Lesley, Libby, and Brittany (Brandon's sister) all grew up on the competitive dance circuit, so they knew each other for many years as both colleagues and competitors before becoming group-mates. Ranging in age from 12 to 15, the five were chosen for vocal talent (which they began studying at a young age) and dance skills - all five went the extra mile by perfecting gymnastics to enhance their choreography and endurance.
Based on their background, age, and skills, you have a good idea of what to expect from Jump5. This is music that's obviously geared to the younger crowd, the sort of stuff you'd expect from Kids Incorporated, Nickelodeon, and Radio Disney (or for that matter, the Mickey Mouse Club, which was the alma mater for Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera). Indeed, Jump5 will be touring with fellow teen acts Aaron Carter, A*Teens, and Baha Men for the Radio Disney Live tour, which only reinforces the group's target demographic of 6-12 year olds.
I would describe Jump5 as Avalon for kids. Yes, there's an element of the highly produced pop / r&b sound that Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears are known for, but a lot of it's more simplistic than that. It's sometimes so positive and bubble-gum sounding, I could swear I was listening to a young Debbie Gibson or any number of mid-to-late-80s dance-pop one-hit wonders. What goes around comes around, I guess. Of course, recent signs that the teen pop phenomenon is waning cannot be good news for Jump5's long-term career. In the meantime, their debut offers an album filled with well produced, upbeat dance pop songs designed to get your kids' feet moving. In fact, only 2 of the 10 tracks are remotely ballad-like, which says something about the album's peppy energy as well as the sameness of the music. "When I Say Your Name" is probably one of the more interesting tracks on the album with its electric guitars and programmed beats. But for the most part, this is all familiar stuff.
This is definitely an album that needs to be critiqued in context. For those who need depth to their music, this is cheese-flavored bubble-gum. However, I do believe a "marketing creation" can be used to entertain, inspire, and minister to a certain demographic, even if such a marketing creation has little to offer in terms of artistry and originality. If your "tweenagers" are into the young teen-pop sound (i.e. Aaron Carter instead of N'Sync), they're probably going to like this a lot, and you'll be happy they're listening to something other than the sexually explicit lyrics of Christina and Britney. However, I don't think this compares to the likes of Stacie Orrico, V*Enna, or Joy Williams, nor do I think it's meant to. This is a subtly different kind of teen pop that exists for kids. In that sense, Jump5 succeeds in delivering an energetic, positive, and well-intentioned debut for 6-12 year olds.
As for older listenersƒwell, unless you're into the teen pop scene, consider yourselves warned...