Friday, May 15th, 2009

Jordin Sparks – Battlefield

All set for her second global smash?…


Matt Cibula: A confused and confusing song but it lingers in the memory like the time you were alone with that one girl and she was weird and cool and so what if her individual features didn’t quite go together perfectly because there she was and she liked you and the lights were low and “Flash Gordon” was on the VCR and it was okay to surrender just that one time to the night. Also the desperate breakdown at the end is cool, although I’m still not sure I’m talking about the song.

Edward Okulicz: Massive. Ryan Tedder’s first indication that he’s got any tricks left that weren’t used up in “Bleeding Love”, a huge tune delivered with enormous weight and seriousness by Sparks to superb effect.

Hillary Brown: Explosively lovely and repeatable. She doesn’t need Chris Brown at all.

Martin Kavka: This song assumes that singing about conflict over punchy drums is equivalent to authenticity. But the production and the singing are fine-tuned to an inch of their lives (focus on the drums here, shriek there) that it just makes me despair that there has never been authenticity in pop.

Ian Mathers: Far too many of the songs that come our way on the Jukebox bring to mind the lines from Macbeth about “a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.” But “Battlefield” is so aggressive at drilling its utterly pedestrian and uninteresting narrative/metaphor into your skull, and is so over-the-top (but not, sadly, ludicrous) in its stomp that I think I am finally going to deploy them.

Frank Kogan: Nonstop prettiness – better than prettiness – the arrangement going to full-force loudness early on and never letting up, thundering Bonham toms, a gutsy choice, but I think it’s the wrong one, the song trying to hold its own amidst the cannonades but getting lost.

Jessica Popper: When I first heard this song, I thought that the extreme difference between the quiet verses and the incredibly loud and intense chorus (particularly at the end of the song) was too jarring, but it didn’t take me many more listens before I was completely addicted. I spent the entirety of the next day trying to stop myself from shouting out “GET YOUR ARMOUR!” in public places. I don’t think that would have gone down too well in the middle of Waitrose! In terms of Ryan Tedder songs, I’d say it sounds more like “Halo” than “Bleeding Love”, but it’s much more poptastic than “Halo” and in fact makes “Halo” seem quite half-hearted. You wouldn’t expect a songwriter to give Jordin a better song than they gave Beyoncé, but it seems to have happened! This is the second 10 I’ve given this week, so I’m starting to feel very positive about the state of American pop music. I do hope it lasts.

Chuck Eddy: “Battlefield” is, well, suitably bombastic, in the sense that battlefields deserve big anthemlike whatevers to wave flags to. Better than the Field, possibly better than Battles (who I may well underrate, not that I care), not as good as “Love Is A Battlefield” (which wasn’t nearly Benatar’s best song anyway). Most interesting part, though possibly not the best, is the street gang singing gospel behind her. Also, the word “armor.” But I wish she did more actual battlefield reporting. Her singing is neither here nor there. Which is more than I can say for a good deal of her competition these days.

Andrew Unterberger: Undoubtedly this will be the one thing that all my co-writers harp on as well, but it’s just not something that can be tiptoed around: There was already a song that brought up the comparison between love and a battlefield, and it was kind of good and kind of famous. It wasn’t even a particularly great metaphor then, but the song was urgent and passionate and naive enough that it was more than excusable. This one is just overwrought, awkward and far, far too literal. I haven’t seen the video yet, but if it doesn’t include a segment where a father/lover/whoever threatens her with “If you leave this house now, YOU CAN JUST FORGET ABOUT COMING BACK!!!,” then Jordin Sparks = fail.

David Raposa: Even though it’s more than reminiscent of that song that’ll be mentioned about 28 times throughout this post, the belabored musings on love-as-battlefield seem less like Benatar lawyer bait & more like the songwriters’ publically working through the myriad intricacies of that OMG mind-blowing metaphor. And then they plant two hooks in the middle of this inert landscape like IUDs, and the song just explodes and lodges itself into your ears like so many pieces of OK I’m gonna stop that.

Alex Macpherson: Loud, even by the OTT standard set by “No Air”. Very loud. I guess it’s a sensible direction for Jordin, as she tends to fade into the background on anything less than full-blown wind-tunnel power ballads; but while this may well bludgeon its way into my affections eventually, for the moment it’s all bluster and not enough heart.

Martin Skidmore: I totally loved “No Air”, but the arrangement and structure on this kind of sounds like it’s fallen between a few stools: pop, rock, R&B. I am wondering if Ryan Tedder should have given this to Kelly Clarkson – I can imagine her bellowing it out over a hefty rock backing. Still, it’s very good by Jordin anyway, with dramatic flourishes that she is strong enough to rise above, and some well-judged moments where most of the music drops away and returns.

Rodney J. Greene: Keri Hilson’s “Energy” Xeroxed at grander scale. Not better, just bigger.

9 Responses to “Jordin Sparks – Battlefield”

  1. Seeing as how the most insightful part of my review was edited out, I guess I’ll put it here instead (to provide context to the rest of my review), ahem: “So…she was from some reality show, right? Oh wait, I know — she did ‘Tattoo’! (Hey, I keep up on these things!) I kind of liked that song okay in the laundromat and grocery store sometimes.”

  2. I agree with the people who said it ought to build a bit, earn its loudness, but I really do like loudness, so I’d have given this 8 or 9 easy.

    I’ve been listening to “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” a lot lately. It’s not as good as that, though.

  3. But it’s better than “In The Army Now” by Status Quo.

  4. There doesn’t seem to be any point to its loudness, though. It’s just…loud. And that’s it.

  5. I’d just like to publically thank WBS for chopping off the 2nd part of my write-up for this track, which made my “stop right there” claim in the first part seem more than a little disingenuous.

  6. Though HAHA I might’ve mixed up my invasive contraceptives with my roadside bombs, or IEDs.

  7. I’m pleasantly surprised by the mixed reaction, btw: maybe it’s cuz this was trailed to me with so many OMG BEST THING EVER exclamations, but I expected this to score much higher with everyone.

  8. Lex, loudness in music NEVER needs justification!

  9. For maximum effect, shouldn’t there have been a truck-driver’s gear-shift key-change at “you better go and get your armor”? Maybe even twice?