Let everyone else dwell on the post-Ginger Spice Girls. Here's a more vital question: Who's the next Hanson? Madonna and her label cohorts at Maverick would like us to believe it's Cleopatra, three sprightly teen sisters from England. The Hanson comparisons are as glaring as acne. Cleo, 16, has a keening, vivacious voice that pole-vaults over those of her sisters Zainam, 17, and Yonah, 14, as is the case with Taylor and brothers. Like the Tulsa kids, the siblings are inordinately confident: "Get a pen and paper/Write down our name!" they command on "Cleopatra's Theme." And if Taylor's voice brings to mind Michael Jackson, check out Cleopatra's deft (if redundant) cover of "I Want You Back."
And like Middle of Nowhere, Cleopatra's debut, Comin' Atcha!, is an irresistible confection. With their sugar-rush harmonies and kicky melodies, the sisters will have anyone with a pulse mmmbopping to "Thinking About You" and the funk-lite "What You Gonna Do Boy?" They also invest gauzy ballads like "A Touch of Love" with real heart. Not even Cleo can redeem the occasional goopy, synthetic arrangement, and the state-of-the-world ditties feel like social-studies class. But in the land of candy girls, Cleopatra truly are the new edition. B+