Lindsay Lohan 

Speak (Casablanca)

I was determined to hate this record. After all, capable songwriters spend years dreaming their little dreams while pop tarts like Lindsay Lohan are handed five-album deals right out of the gate based on the sheer marketability of their overbronzed faces. But Speak actually kind of, um, rocks. Aside from the embarrassing first single ("Rumors"), the sugarcoated pop here has these enormous choruses -- subtle as a train wreck -- plus a hint of edge, courtesy of some strategically placed electric guitars. That Speak doesn't totally suck is thanks to Lohan's behind-the-scenes "collaborators," who're also responsible for Ashlee Simpson, Hilary Duff and J.Lo. Formulaic and mind-numbingly generic? Yes. Catchy? You betcha. The perfect soundtrack to an eighth-grader's first crush? Like, for sure. (Don't tell my indier-than-thou friends, but I already sneaked the lead track, "First," onto my iPod's "Workout Mix," right between Ashlee's "Autobiography" and Britney's "Toxic." I just lost all my cred, didn't I?)

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