Art O' Lindsay

Queens of tweenpop countdown stage stirring footrace in hopes of being next Hilary Duff

The Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen soundtrack is a complete non-starter for Lindsay Lohan's aspirations as the next Hilary Duff ( = actress as part-time rock star, starting with a movie soundtrack's mini-entry point). (Let's just call any future failed ones "wanna-Hils.") The two rock tunes ("That Girl" and "A Day in the Life") never ignite as songs, and the ballad "What Are You Waiting For" is just fingernail-chalkboard torturous.

A year ago, Linz had one of 2003's flat-out best rock tracks with Freaky Friday's lead/feature tune "Ultimate" (which has had a permanent high spot in kidpop's Top 30 weekly Radio Disney countdown ever since last summer). That whole 15-tune soundtrack was impeccably pieced together as a loud and plenty-distorted guitar-pop collection, with big gimme-five high points by the Halo Friendlies (a forgettable Southern Calif girl rock band covering "Me vs. the World," originally written and recorded by an utterly obscure recent Canadian retro new wave-y band . . . uh . . . uhhhh . . . ah, Weekend! . . . an act that actually covered Loverboy's "Working for the Weekend" on their last long-form release—ha, sometimes irony actually works); the great hard-pop tune "Beauty Queen" from the near-unknown Aussie all-girl band Lash (second single and a small Australian Top 40 hit from a producer-driven band now defunct after a mere Australian-only album and three singles, none non-LP); Ashlee Simpson (Jessica's younger sis—a rocking tune that sounds like No Doubt's "Ex-Girlfriend" turned inside out, muy cool!); hardly unknown but struggling yet talented young Canuckie band Lillix's terrific cover of the Romantics' "What I Like About You"; and the Freaky Friday movie-garage-band's House of Blues-audition-night fuzz-stomper "Take Me Away," sung by actress (in the movie, ditto in its band) Christina Vidal (the tune, whaddaya know, a cover of Lash's first single from waaay back, 1999 . . . see, I told you this was one curious and clever collection!).

And oh yeah, what garage-revival hatas worldwide could forget the immortal musical moment mid-script? Hunky cute-boy Jake and Lindsay Lohan (trapped, crush-inflamed, and frantically improvising inside the ancient, horrifying body of her mom, Jamie Lee Curtis) are musically bonding at a booth in the shop where Jake sells filled coffee mugs. I don't know what's up with Jake's incessant pushing of the Hives (he got free tickets or something), but Lindsay flips on her afterburner, and all of a sudden is hella-impressing Jake with her grasp and love of all things Ramones . . . and they are in quick unanimous agreement on rock band instrumentation. Lindsay: "What about the White Stripes?" Jake: "Can't stand 'em . . . " Lindsay: "Yeah—I mean, get a bass player!" Ooooover.

Lindsay Lohan slays her backup dancers.
photo: George Kraychyk
Lindsay Lohan slays her backup dancers.

At that very moment, the soundtrack's grandest, must-own cut, a hammer-down Bowling for Soup version of the eternally awesome " . . . Baby One More Time" Britney riff and tune—not tongue-in-cheek, but straight-on, pounding fuzz-rock played with love, respect, and actual inspiration—crashes onto the coffee shop's PA, and Lindsay and Jake immediately wax rhapsodic: "Yeah, wow! a cover song classic!" as if the BFS cover had, in Freaky Friday's universe, been a hit in 1989, indeed. Ha!

A curious Lindsay Lohan/Nikki Cleary cross-reference pops up back in the Teenage Drama Queen set. The second-best tune from Cleary's not-half-bad, self-titled summer 2003 album ("1-2-3," a middling kidpop hit) is resurfaced/resuscitated for the movie soundtrack. (The tune probably came cheap.) And sure enough, when I ponied up full retail cash for the Freaky Fridaysoundtrack last summer, unheard (so I could own the excellent " . . . Baby One More Time" blowout blasted loud and clear in the movie), I was also clutching in my grubby hands (at the same time the record industry was "collapsing," mind you, and the RIAA was suing the now legendary teen girl who'd downloaded 100 song files including a zillion Backstreet Boys tunes—Conan O'Brien: "My God, man! Hasn't she suffered enough??") a sealed retail copy of the Nikki Cleary album—just so I could own its one absolutely astounding rocking-pop tune (failed second single "Summertime Guys," not even a kidpop blip).

Only weeks later did I notice the common thread between Lindsay Lohan's golden one-shot rock moment "Ultimate" and the Cleary track—both were written (and the Nikki C. track even produced and entirely one-man-band played) by New York City Canadian transplant Jeff Coplan, formerly with the Berman Brothers recording crew, of Amber-Real McCoy-Baha Men fame. (And Jeff was also fully responsible for the defunct Edeltone label's terrific but disappeared-at-birth 2001 album by NY's Rubyblue . . . yep, he's the guy who took that act's "That's What Girls Do" single straight across town to Jive and No Secrets when the former act's label capsized, and retweaked the original track into one of the best pop singles of all 2002, said almost three or even four of Pazz & Jop's million pollees.)

Jeff! Lindsay! If the two of you aren't working together no more, then someone at least get Hilary Duff's people on the phone so future great tunes can be matched up to their proper recipients. (The guy's tracks rock—cranking guitars and real drum sounds "looped" in, etc.) Oops, gotta go, Jeff Barry's on the phone lookin' for the Archies. . . . Sure, Jeff, Hilary Duff's arena gigs this spring and summer could definitely use a low-budget low-maintenance well-behaved high-profile opening act for hella sure! Put Jug and Arch on the conference line, like, now!

 
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