Friday, 18 December 2009

11: Jordin Sparks - Battlefield

Here's a list of winners of UK and US Pop Idol/American Idol/X Factor/Popstars series this decade: Hear'Say, Girls Aloud, One True Voice, Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen, Will Young, Michelle McManus, Steve Brookstein, Shayne Ward, Leona Lewis, Leon Jackson, Alexandra Burke, Joe McElderry. Safe to say that barring a small handful, reality TV pop stars haven't exactly set the pop world alight.

It seems apt to visit this topic right now, partly because of the ongoing battle for the Christmas #1 spot between Joe McElderry and Rage Against The Machine, but also because of my inclusion of the winner of Series 6 of American Idol on this list. The issue raised by the Rage campaigners is that the Christmas #1 slot has become monopolised by the X Factor winners over recent years, usually singing a cover version, and rarely adding anything different to the original.

But Kelly Clarkson, Girls Aloud, Will Young, Leona and, most recently, Jordin Sparks have proven that a reality-made pop star can have a successful career singing original material, without the need for gimmicks.

Jordin, for those of you unfamiliar with her work, won American Idol at the tender age of 17. She's from Arizona, and her style is a hybrid of Kelly Clarkson's pop-rock with Beyonce's R'n'B. But 'Battlefield' is into Tina Turner/Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey territory - a love song that relies on Ms. Sparks' impressive set of lungs and ability to belt out a tune with maximum force. She really sounds like she's giving this everything as she sings "why does love always feel like a battlefield?"

I fell in love with this tune earlier in the year. She changes the pitch of the chorus effortlessly and there's a heartbreaking menace to her vocals as she advises "so you'd better go get your armour." If only reality TV could produce more Jordin Sparks' and fewer Shayne Wards', the world would be a much happier place.

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