SINGING SOAP opera stars aren't easy to take seriously, and Jack Wagner is no exception. It isn't that he's deficient as a musician. On "Lighting Up the Night," his second album, he comfortably holds his own against some of the slickest studio talent in Los Angeles. But a listener's enthusiasm has to be dampened by the nagging suspicion that Wagner's record deal was more the result of his role as Frisco Jones in the soap "General Hospital" than of his vocal abilities.
Overall, there's an almost generic feel to the material, as if Wagner could as easily have been replaced with any of a dozen other singers. His best work -- "Too Young" and the title track -- is upbeat in a way that closely recalls Kenny Loggins, but that seems more a stylistic trick than a declaration of identity. By and large, Wagner is pleasantly anonymous, coasting across the carefully manicured arrangements with the unflappable confidence of a seasoned bit-part player.
Corey Hart is another master of meticulous soundscaping. His "Boy in the Box" is state- of-the-art fluff, full of ear-catching detail yet utterly lacking in content. Although Hart is clever enough to know how to sell a hook line -- it's impossible to hear his "Never Surrender" without guessing the title -- his music is ultimately little more than aural wallpaper, salvation for those who feel that silence, like blank walls, is too boring to be borne.
JACK WAGNER -- "Lighting Up the Night" (Q-West 25318-1); appearing Saturday at the Warner Theater.
COREY HART -- "Boy in the Box" (EMI America ST- 17161-1); appearing Sunday at DAR Constitution Hall.