Jordin Sparks ft. Chris Brown - 'No Air'
Given that this song is currently at No.10 in the charts, this review may seem a little bit on the tardy side. And indeed it is - on behalf of ChartBlog, I hold my hands up. It slipped under our radar pre-release, but in my capacity as ChartBlog's resident American Idol obsessive (for those who don't know, Jordin was the winner of the 2007 season), I begged Fraser to let me review it anyway.
I first heard this song shortly after Christmas, when I imported Jordin Sparks's album from America, and became obsessed with this song fairly quickly. I played it to Fraser, and I think it's fair to say he was fractionally less enthusiastic about it than I am, because he thought the extended metaphor within the song (examples include "my world revolves around you it's so hard for me to breathe"; "when you ain't here I just can't breathe"; "you took my breath but I survived"; OKAY WE GET THE POINT) was overdone, and he wasn't wrong. And yet somehow this is a forgivable flaw, because the ridiculous overstatedness of this whole song is precisely why it works.
It's a song about teenage love, after all, and as a general rule, teenagers don't do things in half-measures. Teenage love, by its very nature, is melodramatic - if Romeo and Juliet had been in their early thirties, there would have been significantly fewer corpses littering at the stage at the end of that play, let me tell you. So while this song would sound risible in the hands of, say, Beyoncé and Kanye West, Jordin (18) and Chris (19) have the benefit of being young enough to make the emotional intensity sound credible.
So, yes, this song is intense. Overwhelmingly so. By the time the song hits the final stretch, the title actually seems rather prophetic, since Jordin and Chris are yodelling away at the tops of their voices to the extent that you wonder how they're concealing their need to gasp for big lung bucketfuls of precious oxygen every thirty seconds. But full credit to them for being earnest enough to make this work, because the whole thing is a tower of cards that depends on precisely that to maintain its foundations.
It's interesting that this song has been such a big hit over here - it's pretty much followed the pattern of Kelly Clarkson's 'Since U Been Gone', becoming a hit without widespread airplay or much of a promotional push, but instead seemingly by word of mouth. Obviously this is the way forward for American Idol alumni.
In conclusion, this song's flaws and its assets are one and the same - it's ridiculous, it's OTT, and yet if they'd tried to tone it down even a little bit, it wouldn't work at all. Contrary to the popularly-held belief, sometimes more is more.