It takes a special type of self-involvement to release an album that cannibalizes the already popular work of your peers and then to declare, "Don't want to be like every other girl." And, man, Lindsay Lohan is special.
Lohan's debut, Speak (Casablanca), is as certain as death and taxes, as predictable as American cheese and just as fulfilling. This, of course, means it will be a huge hit.
In the crowded girl-pop field, Team Lohan is positioning her as tougher than Hilary Duff, but not as "edgy" as Avril or Ashlee. Sure, Lohan draws from the pop successes of all three on the 11 tracks of Speak, but in order to carve out a niche, she will, no doubt, focus on the differences between her and her rivals. Never mind that "First" sounds like Ashlee Simpson's "La La." Or that "Symptoms of You" is a rip-off of Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You," down to the piano tinkling and clunky lines like "I'm not ill, I don't need to take a pill." Or that "Very Last Moment in Time" opens like Simpson's "Pieces of Me."
What saves Speak is the strength of the production, especially Tommy Mottola's steady hit-making hand over the project. Though Lohan's voice is average, the danceable title track is still a good time. The lyrics to the Britney-ish first single, "Rumors," are ridiculous, with Lohan probably becoming the first singer in history to complain about all the attention she gets on her debut single, sighing, "Why can't they back up off me? Why can't they let me live?" It's a hit because it's a got a hot beat. Lohan would've had a hit with it if she sang the phone book over it, which frankly would be less annoying.
If Mottola gave this gold-plated treatment to a more worthy singer, he could have launched a new star. Instead, he simply adds another line to Lohan's resume -- and, unfortunately, the final product sounds like that's what it meant to her.
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Speak (Casablanca) **