Monday, October 5th, 2009

Jordin Sparks – SOS (Let The Music Play)

Disco, disco, disco – I am going to buy Crisco…


Jordan Sargent: And here I was thinking that Kristinia Debarge was going to have no pervasive influence on pop music.

Frank Kogan: Shannon’s “Let The Music Play” may well be the greatest track in history to equate Dance As Yearning with Dance As A Religious Faith. This rewrite totally misses the point, layers a worthless “don’t let that bitch take your man” story onto it, the result being utter ordinariness, a bitch just being a bitch, a dance just a dance, and who cares?

Martin Kavka: On tonight’s episode of WWJD: What Would Jordin Do?, Jordin’s at the club and suddenly receives a text from a good friend who’s just seen her boyfriend dancing with some other woman. OMG! WWJD? Her wise response: “We gotta dance now/Time to show our weapons of choice.” In the video, as she sings “weapons of choice”, she looks down towards her breasts. Apparently, having a properly fitted bra –something that displays your assets at their best on the dancefloor — is the best thing you can do to keep your man immune to the temptations of other women. Tune in next week, when Jordin, with special guest Koda Kumi, solves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by showing women of the Middle East new trends in nails!

Jessica Popper: It may not be the best disco-pop song of all time, but the fact that a super-Christian American Idol winner is releasing a single that could be described as disco-pop is a huge breakthrough in itself. It’s a risky move considering the result of this year’s Idol, but it also shows that Jordin is now successful enough not to have to worry what her church will think.

Rodney J. Greene: While it’s nice to see Sparks stop acting so damn dignified, this lazy, sub-Pussycat chorus-jack hardly shows that she had any dignity to begin with.

Al Shipley: Presumably this is the kind of material Simon had in mind when he kept telling Jordin the songs she picked were “too old” for her. Only someone middle-aged with a completely condescending view of teenagers would think this is what their music should sound like.

Talia Kraines: While Shannon’s original is one of the few songs that will actually send me into pulling cover horror faces, it’s actually Jordin’s fingernails in the video that make me feel the most ill. It thinks it’s fun and cute, but it really isn’t.

Chuck Eddy: Shannon’s original is a stone-cold 10, obviously, but this doesn’t even interpolate the my favorite parts (which aren’t actually in the chorus). And even if it did, Jordin sounds like she’s singing two different half-songs that basically feel incongruous next to each other, and never meld into one record — the switches-back-and-forth are really disconcerting. On the other hand, I’m glad that “Let The Music Play” is the covered half and not Abba’s (or Rihanna’s) “S.O.S.” And the “S.O.S.” here wouldn’t have sounded all that horrible by itself, truth be told.

Alfred Soto: As much as I relish sacrilegious covers, treating the message in the chorus literally — as if a long line at the bar and not a man had broken her heart — can’t be what Sparks had in mind.

Martin Skidmore: The stuttery chorus is kind of irritating, and the squelchy synths don’t offer enough dance energy. I’m kind of a fan of Jordin, but this could be almost anyone.

Alex Ostroff: In today’s fragmented and chaotic world of pop, it’s vital for artists to be identifiable; to leave their mark on songs; to have a persona, a voice, a something. Jordin’s early singles (“Tattoo”, “One Step”, “No Air”) were unmistakeably her; unfortunately, while she remains optimistic, dispensing advice and Oprahisms, something ineffable is missing. Whether that’s the fault of vocal processing or overbearing arrangements, it’s a loss for which a moderately catchy single like “S.O.S.” can’t compensate.

John Seroff: Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” was an dark, understated and round-the-bend corny post-disco dance floor monster of congas, squelching keytars and deep diva delight. Sparks’ interpolation is overblown, slowed down, slightly pitch-shifted into chipmunk territory, oatmeal bland and utterly unnecessary. It’s better than Mariah’s absurd take on Foreigner, but not by much. Mark me down as _really_ not looking forward to Lady Gaga’s “Point of No Return”.

Kat Stevens: They’ve kept the awesome tapping-milk-bottles-with-a-spoon bit from the Shannon track, but this still manages to be only the 4th best pop song called “S.O.S”.

7 Responses to “Jordin Sparks – SOS (Let The Music Play)”

  1. Shannon would have been better served had Sparks covered “Give Me Tonight” or “Do You Wanna Get Away.”

  2. My slight overrating here is probably a result of me thinking wishfully this record is a harbinger of a return of dance music that actually sounds like dance music. Not that this record necessarily does itself. (Also, I don’t think Gaga covering Expose’ is such an awful idea, myself. And I’m pretty sure I don’t think I care about pop singers communicating “personas” all that much; lots of my favorite disco always struck me as entirely anonymous. Actually, come to think of it, I’m not sure even Shannon had a persona. Though right, as Frank says, she found meaning in this song that Jordin doesn’t — I always took “When the music changed/The plan was re-arranged/He went to dance with someone else” as as much a comment on the music changing as the guy dancing to it.)

  3. And right, she’s “pretending a dance is just a dance,” exactly like Shannon had warned not to. But I didn’t grade this on its faithfulness to the original; I graded it on whether I wouldn’t switch the station if it came on the radio. Which would probably be a first for Jordin, if I don’t. (Plus, I’d just given Mariah a 7 for her Foreigner cover, and I wanted to be fair!)

  4. The best part of Shannon’s song is the “we started dancing and love put us into a groove,” followed by the voice going up an octave in the next line. Goosebump-inducing. She has no persona but she’s got personality: she understands the song.

  5. Al’s comment above has made me imagine a version of “Give Me Tonight” by the Mael brothers.

  6. Chuck, I’d probably have given this a 5 or even 6 for its sonics, but I’m pissed not only at the song not doing something better with the concept, but at the drabness of r&b/dance over the last few months (I know, you’d say over the last decade) and so about this song being reduced to that.

    Jessica, I know little about evangelical Christianity in general or Jordin’s church in particular, but if there’s a prohibition against disco pop, I never heard about it, and it didn’t seem to inhibit Katy Perry back in her Christian music days, or Amy Grant in the ’90s, or Aly & AJ and Krystal Meyers now (none of whom have done disco per se, but then this song isn’t disco per se either, and surely if there were a prohibition it would extend to all of dance-pop, not just the dance-pop that sounds disco).

    By the way, Krystal Meyers’ “Beautiful Tonight” is eerie gothy dance-pop that lives up to its song title.

  7. Not to mention Jordan Pruitt’s beautiful version of “We Are Family.”