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Jordin Sparks - 'SOS (Let The Music Play)'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:53 UK time, Saturday, 10 October 2009

Jordin Sparks

Nothing creative exists outside of its own time and place in the world. Or at least, if it does, it's only because it is old and the world has changed since it was first made.

Wait! Come back! I haven't finished! Here's an example: Much as we'd all like to pretend that the next single from, say, Madonna should be judged on its own merits and without a thought about how famous she is, the music she has made in the past, or whether she has legions of fans who will hunt down and attack anyone who does not love her or what she does, it's practically impossible to do.

This also applies to films, TV shows, paintings...any creative endeavour. And if you don't believe me, imagine that a celebrity you particularly hate has announced they're releasing a new single, a cover of your favourite song. Now tell me you're reserving judgement until you get to hear it.

No. You. Aren't.

(Here's the video. Never handle string while waiting for your nails to dry.)

And it's with that in mind that I say the following things:

1: 'Let The Music Play' by Shannon is a fine old disco relic, which deserves any of the attention this song will generate.

2: Any song which has to try and follow the trail along torn and flattened terrain which was carved up by a mighty juggernaut like 'Battlefield' is going to seem a little weedy. In much the same way that normal speech sounds a little odd immediately after a large balloon has popped next to your head.

3: Using the chorus from an old song in a new song tends to unbalance things: There are short-term gains, in that there is something familiar to hang on to from the first listen, like a kind of hand-rail for the data-pummelled modern mind.

But the long term risk is that people are going to conclude that the bits you have added to the original song don't quite meet the same standards. The worst example of this is probably Atomic Kitten's 'The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling)', which wasn't so much a coherent song as the musical equivalent of nailing a speedboat to a gravy-boat and calling it dinner.

4: The rules are a little different when working in a visceral, immediate medium like hip hop, because melodies take a little longer for the brain to process than speech - even heavily rhythmic speech. It serves a useful purpose to give the choruses of rap songs a head start, so that the whole song has consistent impact from the first listen. Also, rappers aren't necessarily good at writing choruses, so it's a win-win.

5: Luckily, Jordin's electropop verses are strong enough to stand apart from the chorus, and her foghorn bellow can carry the whole endeavour on beefy vocal strength alone. The shift from one bit to another is still a little clunky, but that's probably just a familiarity thing.

6: Seriously though, 'Battlefield'...UH-MAY-ZING.

Four starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: October 12th
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)


  • Comment number 1.

    Battlefield is immense! A friend once said they didn't like it and I just didn't understand!

    This song is a 4 starer, I agree and it's nice to have a bit more of a Dancey song from Jordin.

    Well done her.

  • Comment number 2.

    I honestly hated Battlefield. Mainly for the utterly mind numbing repetiveness of the corus.

    But I think this song is great. Much improved.

    \/ Fully expecting to get destroyed for this post.


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