Modern pop done well is one of the smartest, wittiest and most addictive forms of music. But sadly it doesn’t happen too often. Xenomania are usually a safe bet, as is the most recent Britney Spears stuff, and occasionally even Shakira plays a blinder – her new single She Wolf, for example, is a masterclass in how to combine compelling eccentricity with clever arrangements and a catchy chorus. Jordin Sparks, however, has proven to be pretty hit or miss so far, and it’s business as usual with Battlefield.
The American Idol winner can always be relied on for hard-hitting power ballads, and the title track here is a perfect reminder of that early on with its huge, punch-the-air melodies. Don’t Let It Go, No Parade, Let It Rain and The Cure are similarly awesome; all four undeniable highlights of this second effort and the kind of soaring and epic examples of songwriting designed to make you forget the rest of the record is made up mostly of filler, or failed attempts to musically diversify.
But they are simply unable to mask clangers like the insipid It Takes More, Was I The Only One, Faith (Sparks’ blatant attempt at a Christina Aguilera style Beautiful-esque anthem) and Tattoo, the latter featuring some truly painful lyrics with the Phoenix, Arizona singer warbling “You’re on my heart just like a tattoo, I’ll always have you” at one point. Cringe. Urban electro sing-alongs S.O.S. (Let The Music Play) and Emergency (911) admittedly provide some brief respite, but all in all Battlefield is a thoroughly average listen.
Of course, there was talk at one time of this young singer possibly collaborating with Leona Lewis, Alicia Keys, Aguilera and Justin Timberlake on duets to be featured on this record, but nothing came of it and the music really suffers as a result. It’s all far too samey and in some places just plain plodding, and much like her peer Kelly Clarkson it would seem that there just isn’t enough to Sparks to make for an interesting 14-tracker. Probably best to stick to the singles then.