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Coyote Ugly

Country or pop...it just doesn't matter

Jerry Bruckheimer specializes in chick flicks. First "Flashdance" and now, approaching 20 years later, it's "Coyote Ugly." At least this latest has five sweet little things--including the incredibly hot Tyra Banks (much better than Jennifer Beil!)--to gawk at when your girlfriend drags you to the theater.

Based on the story of an aspiring singer/songwriter in NYC, it is to be expected that a pretty decent soundtrack accompanies the film, and "Coyote Ugly" delivers...in that girl-pop way.

If you allowed the disc's chart success to be an indicator (it's spent the past several weeks atop "Billboard" magazine's "Hot Country" albums chart), you'd think this was, in fact, a "country" CD. Four new LeAnn Rimes tracks coupled with a favorite like The Charlie Daniels Band's "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" would seems to support that. And while Rimes' "But I Do Love You" and newcomer Tamara Walker's "Didn't We Love" should find a home at country radio soon, it takes more than three songs to make a disc "country." So don't be fooled!

"Coyote Ugly" is, at its base, a party CD--and not a country one. It deftly blends pop classics like EMF's chart-topping "Unbelievable." Snap's "The Power." Don Henley's "All She Wants to Do Is Dance," and INXS's "Need You Tonight" with original material by new acts as well. A likeable, if not overly inspired dance-influenced track by unknown Mary Griffin even closes that disc. Aside from the previously mentioned "I Do Love You." even Rimes' material proves this isn't country--it's pop through and through.

Since her appearance on the charts at the tender age of 13 with the Patsy Cline-styled "Blue," Rimes has been a country standard-bearer. She's racked up Grammy Awards and number one country singles, but her recent focus has seemingly been on cross-over success--including her current Top 20 pop hit "I Need You." The four Diane Warren-penned tracks found on the "Coyote Ugly" soundtrack continue this trend.

Rimes returns to more familiar territory, a Warren-penned ballad,

Rimes -- all grown up

on "Please Remember." Beautifully written and lush, as is to be expected from a seasoned pro like Warren (music's most tried and true writer), "Remember" allows Rimes to show her impressive pipes.

"How Do I Live," possibly the most successful power ballad of the last several years, placed Rimes in record books as the longest "Hot 100" chart run in history and spent weeks sitting at #2. Unless Rimes wants to be seen as a one-trick-pony, a country version of Celine Dion belting out moaner after moaner, she needs to break the precedent of her previous Warren collaborations. More creatively important, "Coyote Ugly" showcases Rimes on two uptempo tracks that could move her beyond such pop-balladeering.

"Can't Fight The Moonlight," which Rimes performs from atop a bar in a cameo at the film's close, is positioned as the first single. This "theme" from the film, "Moonlight" could establish the barely-legal Rimes as a bonafide cross-genre success the likes of Shania Twain.

The most irresistible track from the disc, though, is "Right Kind Of Wrong." Sounding like Shania meets Britney Spears meets 80s pop--meant in the nicest possible way--Rimes sells the song thoroughly. Add to the equation Rimes' impressive voice, and the song simply works. Instantly infectious and very radio-friendly, Rimes could easily push her way into the blond teen queen battles--and the Top 10.

LeAnn Rimes doing Britney Spears? Charlie Daniels and INXS side-by-side? Sure---it sounds scary. Then again, so did the prospect of five chicks tending bar. But "Coyote Ugly" had a balance of material for both sexes, and so does the soundtrack.

Admit it: You walked out of the theatre with a smile on your face. In fact, you begrudgingly liked "Coyote Ugly." You're going to like the soundtrack, too. Just don't admit either to your girlfriend, or you'll be at the next Meg Ryan movie so fast, you won't know what hit you.

Click here to purchase this CD from Amazon.com

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