OVERALL GRADE: A-
There's no getting around the fact that "Pokemon" encourages fighting;: the TV show's plots revolve around kids capturing the creatures and winning badges for training them to battle one another. This album reflects that competitive sensibility, but it also has a lot of peppy, energizing songs that do wonders to wake kids up in the morning when they're moving slowly.
The hip-hop influenced "What Kind of Pokemon Are You," "2B A Master," and "The PokeRAP" all contain clever rhyming lyrics and a spirited sense of fun. The more melancholy "Pikachu's Goodbye" and "Misty's Song" have treacly verses performed by nasal young singers. But "Everything Changes" is a terrific angsty song reminiscent of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and "Together Forever" sounds like a Jefferson Starship prom dance theme.
Kids won't get bored listening to this CD. The "Pokemon" dance mix features a spectacular array of electronic sounds and space effects, while the hilariously funny "Double Trouble" permits villains Jesse, James and Meowth to chant their plans for world conquest. A great bonus on this enhanced CD is the "PokeRAP" music video, which can be played on most home PCs to the delight of young fans of the show who adore reciting the names of all the Pokemon.
Kids: Five-year-olds are a bit young for the concepts in many of the songs, but the series is a smash hit among kindergarteners nonetheless.
Adults: Anyone who grew up listening to '70s and '80s pop stars like Chicago, Bryan Adams, Journey, and INXS will enjoy this album; the rap is pretty watered down.
Parental Advisory: More than half of the songs on "2.B.A. Master" mention fighting or battles. "We can cause a riot in Sunday school," brag the villains in "Double Trouble." The lyrics incorporate a great deal of slang and the liner notes deliberately misspell words, which may confuse young readers.
A wide range of instrumentation, with dramatic contrasts between acoustic and electric instruments, makes this album more interesting musically than one might expect from a Nintendo product. Accompanying lyrics are predictable but entirely in sync with the musical genres represented.
Three- and six-year-old listeners jumped around the living room to several of these tracks. Many of the songs encourage rambunctious behavior.
1. Pokemon Theme - Play
2. 2B A Master - Party
3. Viridian City - Party
4. What Kind of Pokemon Are You? - Play
5. My Best Friends - Play
6. Everything Changes - Play
7. The Time Has Come (Pikachu's Goodbye) - Car
8. Pokemon (Dance Mix) - Party
9. Double Trouble (Team Rocket) - Play
10. Together Forever - Play
11. Misty's Song - Quiet
12. PokeRAP - Party
13. You Can Do It (If You Really Try) - Quiet