Jordin Sparks
Battlefield


3.0
good

Review

by Knott- EMERITUS
July 28th, 2009 | 23 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I guess you'd better go and get your armour.

Music is a sucker for appeals to popularity; the singles charts are hyped as a reflection of the best music available, selling out stadium gigs is a sign that you're musically talented and bands seem to get better and worse overnight depending on the success of their label's latest publicity stunt. But even inside music, there's one area where the idea of base-level popularity equating to talent is shamelessly celebrated and played upon, and that's the whole Idol fad. Acts compete for the momentary, diluted appreciation of a television audience and the person that comes out having offended or unsettled the least number of people tends to be crowned Winner Of All Music For The Coming Year. What this inevitably creates is the necessity to continue that initial, wide-reaching accessibility in order to be regarded as successful or profitable. Welcome to the world of Jordin Sparks, 19 years old and already releasing her second full-length album.

Sitting as a kind of halfway house between Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce, Sparks nevertheless seems unwilling to let the pressure created by her American Idol 6 victory and her more recent duet with Chris Brown take over the creative process. Lead single and title-track Battlefield doesn't give as much away, though, a massive, epic pop song which lives off its huge drums and distant piano. Sounding like a hybrid of the two aforementioned vocalists, her emphatic delivery is fitting for a song which sounds like a statement of intent, building and dropping through repeated pre-choruses and choruses, including the brilliant bridge line, "I guess you'd better go and get your armour." It's emotional, pristinely produced and way better than anything she's released to this point. Unfortunately, every copy the album sells off the back of its lead single will be a slightly confused first listen. While there are certainly other songs in the same vein, they're markedly less cinematic (Watch You Go) or less up-tempo (It Takes More), although both are still very passable attempts at RnB-pop writing.

More than that, though, the four songs here which Sparks co-wrote all sit right at the latter end of the album (discounting bonus tracks), and the later three of them take a drastically softer tone than the 8 previous tracks, which creates a strange lack of balance. To add to the multiple personality syndrome, there's the fairly terrible S.O.S, which sounds like something Britney Spears threw away and samples the chorus and subtitle of Shannon's Let The Music Play. Fortunately, it's the only track on Battlefield which fails to make any sort of impression. No Parade's music-box opening piano line is heartfelt and its chorus of, There was no parade; no lights flashing; no song to sing along the way comes across as a pre-cursor to the final quartet, and arguably is the record's stand-out. Sparks' cover of Fefe Dobson's Don't Let It Go To Your Head is well executed, typically percussion-heavy and straightforward pop delight. Even Emergency (911) boasts a brilliant beat, despite the song's overall generic RnB-dance feel.

It's a shame that the production of Battlefield's more tender moments utilises the same echoes and shiny finish that elsewhere make up for a lack of musical substance, because when the instrumentation behind Sparks is most sparse she sounds like she could easily handle it without being layered to infinity and back. Fortunately, it fails to truly mar the album's most affecting passages; Jordin Sparks herself makes sure of it, putting in performances as delicate as on Faith (over a picked acoustic guitar) and as powerful as on the lead single without seeming like two different people. The music that supports her is less consistent, sure, but if there's something holding Battlefield back it's not the vocalist, but rather the lack of direction and the desire to please everybody that comes with a record deal from American Idol. At the end of the day, her sophomore release is top-heavy with chart hits but actually largely bottom-loaded with its most impressive material, and that implies that Sparks' own music and ideas have a great deal of potential. There's no telling whether independence would see her struggle without a team of writers or flourish with the freedom, but Battlefield is at its best when it's not pretending.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
July 28th 2009


10204 Comments


pleasantly surprised by how much i enjoyed this.

Gyromania
July 28th 2009


25913 Comments


'tell me how i'm s'posed to walk with no legs, can't walk, can't run with no legs... there's no legs, no legs'

I pretty much HATE Jordin Sparks. However, good review :pos:

Knott-
Emeritus
July 28th 2009


10204 Comments


Lmao. I feel kinda sorry for her because the whole Chris Brown thing means that song doesn't get played anywhere any more!

I really didn't expect to like this but Battlefield struck a chord with me and so I checked it out - like I say, pleasantly surprised. I didn't know she was an Idol winner until I started writing this, haha.

&&thanks.

robin
Emeritus
July 28th 2009


4522 Comments


no AIR air air air air ella ella ey

nice review : )

Gyromania
July 28th 2009


25913 Comments


Lol, and I didn't know until you just told me. Still, that song sucked so much ass IMO. By the way guys!!! I improved on those lyrics so don't you all be stealing them!

Knott-
Emeritus
July 28th 2009


10204 Comments


Jive records will be all up in here robbing them.

Gyromania
July 28th 2009


25913 Comments


I should send it to Weird Al before it's too late.

cvlts
July 28th 2009


9493 Comments


goddang strikey, review was absolutely beautiful... you make me not wanna review anymore lol

pos

mvdu
July 28th 2009


760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

We don 't often agree on music based on our ratings, but good review here. The CD could have been better, though - I thought this was a slight drop from her debut.

Knott-
Emeritus
July 28th 2009


10204 Comments


thanky0u danteeee

In fairness i haven't heard her debut record so there's no way i can compare the 2. No Parade is absolutely awesome. It's nice to see I agree with someone like you who's rated so much pop, though; proves I'm not going insane when I decide this is good!

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2009


22485 Comments


Yeah, top-notch review Adam. Really well-balanced & informative. Pos.

I'll probably get around to his some time (read: the better half will probably make me get around to this some time), so it's good to hear there is just as much good as there is bad.

Paradux
August 3rd 2009


29 Comments


It's the Battlefield (game) logo font I swear!

ConsiderPhlebas
October 22nd 2010


6157 Comments


Liking this at the mo. Ace review, too.

Emim
October 22nd 2010


27657 Comments


Meh

ConsiderPhlebas
October 22nd 2010


6157 Comments


You love it

Emim
October 22nd 2010


27657 Comments


So much it hurts.

ConsiderPhlebas
October 22nd 2010


6157 Comments


Better go get your armour

Emim
October 22nd 2010


27657 Comments


BATTLEFIELD!
BATTLEFIELD!

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 22nd 2010


28370 Comments


i like the song "battlefield" but most of this is meh, which is to be expected

Digging: Julia Holter - Aviary

ConsiderPhlebas
October 22nd 2010


6157 Comments


That song makes me feel like the king of all heroes



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