Various Artists: Wizards of Waverly Place

First, we’ll pause as everyone gets their ‘Disney kids suck’ jokes out of their system. All finished? Good, now let’s move on. Truth be told, we nearly deleted the email promoting this CD on sight, but took a cursory glance, then wrote the rep and said, “Send this pronto.” The reason? Cover versions, cover versions and more cover versions of songs having to do with, surprise, magic. Nothing here transcends the original recordings, of course, but some of them fare better than you might expect. Selena Gomez turns in a rather good performance of Pilot’s “Magic” (it is not coincidence that Gomez, the best singer here, gets the album’s first three tracks), and Meaghan Martin turns in a disciplined, if breathy, performance on the cover of Olivia Newton-John’s “Magic.” The boys, however, do not fare as well. Steve Rushton is completely overpowered by ELO’s “Strange Magic” (though producer John Fields assembles a nifty arrangement), as is Mitchel Musso by “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” Honor Society’s version of the Cars’ “Magic,” meanwhile, is as fluffy and throwaway as the original, and Drew Seeley’s cover of America’s “You Can Do Magic” is destroyed by an oh-so-trendy 6/8 beat and a pinched vocal. The end result is exactly what you’d expect from a collection of Disney-sanctioned covers: overproduced and kid-friendly, but not without its, um, charms. (Walt Disney Records 2009)