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Album review: Allison Iraheta's 'Just Like You'

November 30, 2009 |  5:53 pm
Allisonu_240 On the cover of her new album, Allison Iraheta's signature red mane has been emblazoned with purple and fuchsia. That spitfire spirit carries over into the most electrifying moments of "Just Like You," a batch of tuff-girl tunes for the torn-fishnets set, but too much of it sounds impermanent, like so much Manic Panic rinsing down the drain.

The collection, which comes on the heels of efforts from "American Idol" winner Kris Allen and glam panther Adam Lambert, is too derivative of the Pat Benatar, Pink, Kelly Clarkson trifecta; by the time the 17-year-old Iraheta, the youngest of the final four contestants on the last season of "Idol," blows her deliciously husky voice into these songs -- written by a veritable city counsel of pop scribes -- there's not much left to stamp as her own. After all, what new depths can be plumbed in a song titled "D Is for Dangerous"?

To her credit, Iraheta is ever-present, ever-willing on every song, including a dud from "Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi, but especially on "Robot Love" and the Max Martin-penned single "Friday I'll Be Over U." Both are playful romps into the teen psyche, where the calendar week is as long as it takes to mend a broken heart, and the biggest bombs are dropped in 150-character texts.

Part of the pleasure of watching "Idol" is to see how the TV entertainment juggernaut shapes performers and what they, in turn, do with that persona. Unfortunately, Iraheta doesn't emerge with enough of a singular identity.

It's a sure bet that by next Tuesday, she will have herself a new boy -- but her own scrappy individuality might be harder to come by.

-- Margaret Wappler

Allison Iraheta
"Just Like You"
19 Recordings/Jive Records
Two stars (Out of four)