January 31, 2005 12:00 PM

BEAUTIFUL SOUL

TEEN POP

Now that Justin Timberlake is all of 24 and has permanently shed his bubblegum image, Jesse McCartney steps up as the fresh-scrubbed heartthrob most likely to take Timberlake’s pinup spot. The 17-year-old singer, a former member of the boy band Dream Street who also costars on the WB drama Summerland, makes tasty teen pop that updates the ‘N Sync sound (R&B-tinged upbeat cuts and sweet ballads) for a new generation of screaming girls. Indeed, the title tune on his solo debut, an irresistibly pretty guitar ditty, is destined to be dedicated to many a junior-high-school sweetheart.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Beautiful Soul”

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