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Posted on


Current Status:
In Season
Walt Disney Records
Kids and Family

We gave it a B-

Cleveland’s Tower City Center doesn’t open until 10 a.m., yet fans started arriving two hours earlier one hot morning last July. Many had driven, some from as far as San Diego-but not most. They’re not old enough to drive; after all, they’re MMC fans. Hundreds of them stood inside the mall to see the ’90s version of that iconic gang from their parents’ childhood, the Mickey Mouse Club. Armed with cameras, flowers, and new white sneakers (to get autographed, of course), they waited. ”My mom was like, ‘Can’t you just wait until they come to Detroit?’ and I’m like, ‘NO!”’ said Amber Stewart, 16. By noon all three levels of the mall were lined with hundreds of antsy devotees-mostly teen girls. By the time the group finally ran on stage, pumping out the lyrics to ”Real Talk,” the first single from their first CD, MMC (Disney Records, $12.98), the crowd was screaming in the atrium. The reason for the pubescent riot: MMC, eight stars plucked from Mickey Mouse Club (now entering its sixth season on the Disney Channel) to record an album, had come to Cleveland to try out their act before starting a 10-city mall tour in October. In a brief stage show that only included eight songs, MMC played to the crowd with a mixture of upbeat dance routines and hip-hop freestyle. Annette and Bob this ain’t-today’s Mouseketeers have ditched the ears and name tags. Ranging in age from 14 to 18, with five boys and three girls, MMC sports an ethnic diversity and crossover style of music that are clearly designed for maximum pop appeal. The new CD, watered-down R&B, sprinkled with a few sanitized rap lyrics over an electronic-techno bass line, is a legitimate-sounding pop release that teenyboppers will surely find infectious. It’s unfortunate, however, that MMC never commits to one genre to take full advantage of the strong voices of Rhona Bennett, the lead singer on ”Real Talk,” or Matt Morris, the lead on ”Merry Go Round.” But that’s the problem with mass-appeal music like this: too much mass, not enough appeal. B-