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Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On
Pedigreed '90s pop sirens ride movie cameo and reality TV show into new prominence

By Kurt B. Reighley
Special to MSN Music

Last summer, moviegoers nationwide exited showings of the hit comedy "Bridesmaids" humming "Hold On" and wondering, "What are Wilson Phillips doing these days?" The answer: striking while the iron is hot. This month marks not only the release of "Dedicated," the vocal trio's first non-holiday album in eight years, but also the debut of "Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On," their new reality program for  TV Guide Network. There hasn't been this much buzz around Wilson Phillips since the early 1990s, when their multiplatinum eponymous debut spawned three No. 1 singles: "Hold On," "Release Me" and "You're in Love."

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Although Wilson Phillips co-wrote all three of their biggest hits, "Dedicated" is comprised exclusively of covers -- specifically songs made famous by the members' parents, Carnie and Wendy Wilson's dad, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, and Chynna Phillips' mother and father, John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas. (Sorry diehards, nothing by the Honeys, the '60s surf rock girl group featuring Carnie and Wendy's mom, Marilyn Rovell.) It isn't the first time Wilson Phillips have dipped their toes in this territory -- "Monday, Monday," "In My Room," and "Dance, Dance, Dance" all popped up on their 2004 concept album "California" -- but this time they immersed themselves completely in that famous gene pool. 

But choosing songs wasn't as easy as riffling through old greatest hits collections. "We love and appreciate every song that the Beach Boys and the Mamas & the Papas did, and felt like we had to do a few personal favorites," says Carnie. "Songs that resonated with us, but also songs that were hit records. How could you not do 'California Dreamin'' or 'God Only Knows'?" They also made room for less-familiar choices like "I Can Hear Music," a Brill Building classic that the Ronettes cut three years before the Beach Boys, and "Twelve Thirty," a lesser-known single off 1968's "The Papas & The Mamas" LP.
Compared to recordings from their first flush of fame, "Dedicated" sounds more organic and relaxed; at points, the poppy folk-rock arrangements and intricate harmonies recall the Bangles. The band credits producer Rob Bonfiglio (who is Carnie's husband) for crafting that atmosphere. "That's just Rob's personality," says Wendy. "He's a very organic, earthy guy and a true musician. He would never dream of making a record that sounds overproduced or slick."
"Wilson Phillips fans really want to hear the harmonies, the three of us singing together," she adds.

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