The American Idol product machine picks up steam with this set of familiar pop tunes covered by 11 of the 12 finalists from the Fox-TV show (conspicuously absent is finalist Vanessa Olivera).

The American Idol product machine picks up steam with this set of familiar pop tunes covered by 11 of the 12 finalists from the Fox-TV show (conspicuously absent is finalist Vanessa Olivera). Fans will note that many of the songs were the singers' initial audition material, which they perform here with maximum passion—despite tepid arrangements that were largely produced by James McMillan. Only Ruben Studdard's soulful version of Leon Russell's "Superstar" and Kimberly Locke's jazzy take on "Over the Rainbow" inspire repeat listens. Also featured are group renditions of Burt Bacharach's "What the World Needs Now" and Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A.," which recently had a top five debut on the Hot 100. Its instant success proves that America's interest in this season's crop of "idols" is unwaveringly strong. Look for this interest to quickly transfer to this uneven set.—LF