Josie and the Pussycats – Music from the Motion Picture (2001)

Today’s pick is the soundtrack of a music-movie taken from a comic: Josie and the Pussycats. The album was released on March 27, 2001, with Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds serving as executive producer. Even though the movie underperformed at the box-office, the album went on to sell more than 500,000 copies, hence, receiving gold-album status.

“3 Small Words”, track 1, was used as a promotional song for the movie, as well as the intro track of the movie. A solid pop-punk song, typical of that era, produced to be played as a rock-trio with guitar, bass, drums, one lead singer and two backing vocals singers. A fun uptempo song, easy to cover for high-school bands, and with a length of 2:53 perfect for radio airplay.

“Pretend to Be Nice”, track 2, is a good follower to the opener; a mid-tempo song with a shuffled groove and clever lyrics. A fictional music video was created in the movie for this song. A smart way to make the song stick with the viewers and give it a special place in the movie – and therefore, on the soundtrack.

“Spin Around”, track 3, is again an uptempo song, similar to track 1, but with less anthem character. The lyrics match the uplifting spirit of the music and are a good bridge to the obligatory ballad of the album.

“You Don’t See Me”, track 4, comes in a typical end-of-90s/early-2000s teen-rock ballad manner, depicting heartbreaking scenes like the ones in Dawson’s Creek or Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Definitely a very strong song on this album.

“You’re a Star”, track 5, picks up where “Spin Around” left the listener. An uptempo song with loads of backing-choir and a very pregnant message that motivates every young and (hopefully) upcoming musician to practice harder and harder to eventually become a star someday.

“Shapeshifter”, track 6, has one of the stronger hook lines on this album. Also, the production of the song is stronger than most songs on here. Clever instrumental lines and breaks, as well as smarter lyrics. One of my favourite tracks.

“I Wish You Well”, track 7, is a good mid-tempo song that breaks down the high-energy context of the album – which after 6 songs is a welcomed and refreshing change. Which doesn’t mean that the song is not energetic. Again, strong backing-vocals and smart musical production.

“Real Wild Child”, track 8, is a cover of a 1958 rock and roll song written by Johnny O’Keefe. Fun, solid, and contemporary.

“Come On”, track 9, is a good song to fill the gap to the last song of the band on this album. It has a catchy hook-line, but somehow the production of the song does not justice to the song. In addition, I don’t understand the fade-out at the end. In my opinion, this should have been the last song of the band on the soundtrack. Then, maybe, the fade-out could have made sense.

“Money (That’s What I Want)”, track 10, is the second cover song on this record and the last official song of Josie and the Pussycats on the record – not counting the last track, which is again the Josie and the Pussycats theme song. Originally released in 1960 by Barrett Strong and covered by artists such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Doors, fits perfectly in the context of the movie and the album, since the topics fame and money are continuously discussed.

Tracks 11 and 12 are two dance-pop songs performed by the fictional band DuJour, who in the movie are portrayed as a successful-but-clueless pop-act. I won’t consider the songs in this review, since the core of the album is the 10-song performance of Josie and the Pussycats.

“Josie and the Pussycats [theme song]”, track 13, is a remake of the original theme song from the 1970s with the new band and produced to fit the sound of the other 10 songs. A completely legitimate song on this record that, I guess, would have been missed by hardcore Josie and the Pussycats fans form the early days.

I like this album a lot and have been listening to it very often since I got it for myself back in 2001. The band sounds very good and strong in regard to musicianship – which often is not the case in this kind of genre. Kay Hanley, former singer for Letters to Cleo, is the perfect choice for singing the Josie parts. I love her voice and her singing style. She provides Josie with the necessary young-nice-but-kick-ass attitude needed to make this soundtrack work.

The production of the 10(+1) Josie and the Pussycats tracks is high-quality, which can be expected and should be provided for a film of this stature. There are a few glitches every now an then in regard to arrangements, which, of course, is a subjective matter. The lyrics might be too cliché in many instances, but given the target audience of the movie – and therefore, this record – they are nothing less than adequate. My only bigger issue is the 2 DuJour songs that have nothing in common with the other songs on the record. They disrupt the flow of the album. Of course, I can just delete them from my playlist, but since I like listening to music from CD (and even more vinyl!), I want to receive a ‘perfect’ album from the start, and not having to fix is in a mix-tape. Just sayin’.

If you like uplifting, female-fronted pop-punk, and might have been a teenager in the late 90s, this is definitely a record for you. I kept enjoying it to this day.

Album grade:
Lyrics 7/10
Musicianship 9/10
Production 8/10
Concept 6/10
Total grade: 7.5/10

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer