More sparks please Jordin.
Sophie Bruce 2009-07-16
Battlefield is the second album from 2007 American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, the follow up to her self-titled debut from the same year. 17-year-old Jordin was the youngest ever Idol winner and public support showed in sales: a million copies in the US and a Gold certification in the UK. The question is, with two further Idol winners and our own Leona Lewis now in the market, is she still America's sweetheart?
As well as twelve new tracks, Battlefield contains 'bonus' tracks Tattoo and One Step At A Time from her first album. Interesting that there's room for those two but no space for her biggest UK hit thus far – the duet No Air with the now-notorious Chris Brown. The writing and production credits are stellar and include man of the moment Ryan Tedder - the One Republic frontman who wrote Leona Lewis' Bleeding Love and Beyonce's Halo.
The result is some unashamedly great pop songs. She shines on current pop rock single Battlefield while Let It Rain builds from a church organ to an unbelievably rousing anthem. There are echoes of LeAnn Rimes in the fantastic chorus on The Cure and a cheeky electro-ed sample of Shannon's 1984 hit Let The Music Play is about to win a whole new bunch of fans as SOS.
The most modern and edgy of the lot is Emergency (911) with super slick production under lyrics summing up the teenage obsession with love and mobiles: ''You know my ringtone, why don't you answer the phone / Emotional starvation, I need resuscitation''. She's like an unstoppable hybrid of Rihanna and JLS.
But that's a rare gem amongst a LOT of schmaltzy balladeering. The biggest offender being Was I The Only One which contains several shuddering breaths and seems to have borrowed its melody from Aqua's Barbie Girl, of all things. She is on tour with the Jonas Brothers so she clearly embraces cheese, but she did promise more upbeat dance tracks after her ballad-heavy debut.
What this album really needs is more edge and less sugar. Maybe a rumoured collaboration with Timbaland on his Shock Value 2 disc will help. Ultimately, this'll go down well with Sparkplugs (her official fanbase) but won’t hold its own alongside the diva talents of her rivals, e.g. Beyonce, Rihanna and fellow Idol star Jennifer Hudson. More sparks please Jordin.