The Cheetah Girls (2003)…a DCOM we can quote, a soundtrack we can sing. Nearly two decades later, I still love the movie and the music. Based on Deborah Gregory’s book series, The Cheetah Girls was executive produced by Debra Martin Chase and Whitney Houston (these legends also produced The Princess Diaries).
Debra Martin Chase told the LA Times back in ’03, “I thought it was really important that visually all girls saw that they were included in the Cheetah Girls. It’s a state of mind. It’s an attitude. Everybody, no matter the color of your spots, can be a Cheetah Girl.” Message received. This movie and its music combined to deliver an aesthetic I adored. Cheetah spots were fashionable, but they were even cooler when four fabulous young women put them on and sang their hearts out. I grew up singing in choirs at school and at church. Pop music was my outlet. Third grade Allison would stick a disc in the purple boom box, grab a hair brush, come up with a few dance moves, and sing along with my favorite artists. What better album to sing along to than The Cheetah Girls? I called this one “short and sweet” on Instagram because it weighs in at eight songs. Four of them are sung by The Cheetah Girls:
Pensive by the piano or ramped up for the finale, “Cheetah Sisters” perfectly captures the sentiment that people who look different can still be family and achieve big dreams. “Someone’s always there behind to catch us if we fall,” and in today’s world, I think we can all be inspired to stand behind someone and do the catching.
I stumbled upon some interesting research on this song one night. Growing up, I always thought this track was original to Play, the Swedish girl group that also sang “Us Against the World” (which you heard in a Lizzie McGuire episode and in Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Holiday in the Sun film). You should read an EXCELLENT Twitter thread by Jordan Brown explaining that a group called i5 (“International 5”) actually sang the song first. A few years after i5 brought it into the world, “Cinderella” made the perfect talent show audition piece for the Cheetahs.
“I’ve made mistakes before, but I know I’m not perfect. It’s okay ’cause who could ever be?” I’m so glad that message played throughout my childhood and teen years. Hannah Montana told me “Nobody’s Perfect.” A Christian artist named Natalie Grant told me “there’s no such thing as perfect people, there’s no such thing as a perfect life.” But The Cheetah Girls first told me that it was okay to be imperfect. I can still “throw [my] hands up” and “know that [I’m] a star.” The girls had to bring their A-game to that meeting with Jackal Johnson, and with this song, they certainly brought it.
“Together We Can”
I think this was such a strong way to open the movie. “Together we can shoot the moon, stop the rain, even ride a hurricane.” I can’t help but sing the lyrics every time I see the title in print. Don’t forget that this song makes a resurgence when The Cheetah Girls serenade Toto while the pooch is being rescued.
The Cheetah Girls needed a few other songs for their first Disney Channel story. You’ll remember “C’mon” as Sonic Chaos’ talent show rap. “Girlfriend” by Char is the backdrop for Chanel and Galleria’s spontaneous dance in front of the record store. Then we’ve got “Breakthrough” for Chanel’s huge shopping spree, sung by Hope 7 (you know, the ones who “grab the brassy golden ring” on “I Want Everything”?). And of course, we’ve gotta have a sad montage song, which brings us to Christi Mac’s “End of the Line.” That one tugs on the heartstrings.
I don’t think I can pick a favorite song out of the whole soundtrack. The Cheetah tunes are all so special, and the additional music helps move the movie in important ways. After singing all of these masterpieces in my head, I’m due for a Cheetah rewatch. Probably will spend an afternoon on all three! Thanks for reading–I’d love to hear how The Cheetah Girls soundtrack impacted you.