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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Where I Wanna Be

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2000 1 Jan
Where I Wanna Be

Christian music now has its own heaping helping of teen pop artists, which reflects the popularity of that sound in mainstream music — and it's happened in just the last six months. It's sometimes unfair to categorize an artist as a "Christian alternative" to mainstream. Some artists may sound a lot like a mainstream predecessor, but they're able to rise above the comparison with smart production and thoughtful Christian lyrics. Some recent examples that come to mind are Plus One, Rachael Lampa, and Stacie Orrico. Read the promotional biography for V*enna, however, and it's quickly apparent that this pop duo has no problem being labeled as a mere Christian alternative to teen pop. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with offering a sanitized alternative, except it often limits the creativity and the career longevity of the artist.

Where I Wanna Be often rides the line between slick, European dance pop and sounding awfully dated with its cheesy synthesizer effects. There are several moments in the album which recall the sound of World Wide Message Tribe or Raze. It only makes sense, because the songs were written by Mark Pennells and his longtime writing pal Zarc Porter of WWMT; Porter also produced the album and Ja'Marc of Raze even makes a guest appearance on one track. Lyrically, the girls don't offer anything new or clever, but they do communicate the message of the Gospel with plenty of hope, encouragement, and praise — this is music aimed at younger listeners, after all. The title track easily stands out as the best.

Though Where I Wanna Be is certainly not a bad album (it's better than Shine MK's debut), there are better Christian alternatives to this Christian alternative. V*enna lacks the vocal prowess of Rachael Lampa and Stacie Orrico, and girl trio Aurora has a much more aggressive sound to hold your attention. V*enna sounds more like an up-to-date version of the '90s group Ace of Base, which at the time was considered the next Roxette, who in turn was considered the '80s answer to ABBA … you get the idea. Still, fans of the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, and new Christian girl group ZOEgirl, should find something appealing in V*enna. But, someday soon, the teen pop style is going to lose its popularity just as it did in the late '80s. The question of when will probably determine V*enna's career longevity.