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Jordin Sparks - Battlefield

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Rating: * * *

If you're going to rip off an 80s icon, the least you can do is credit them for the inspiration.

Surely Jordin Sparks and her management realised people might notice the similarities between her sophomore album's title track Battlefield - complete with the lyrics "why does love have to feel like a battlefield. Battlefield. Battlefield" - and Pat Benatar's smash hit Love is a Battlefield. It's not the most subtle of plagiarism. And no, not a single liner note mentions Benatar.

It's not just the lyrics. Sparks' adopts the same defiant, call-to-arms style of Ms B. throughout the track.

It's actually a welcome change from the crooning, melodramatic rhythm 'n' pop she so specialises in: the type of music that begs lovelorn teenage girls to grab a hairbrush and lip synch along.

But even the over-the-top power ballad Don't Let It Go To Your Head and heartbroken wallow of No Parade are preferable to the breathy R&B fillers used to keep this record afloat between the radio hits.

Tattoo, One Step at a Time and Battlefield have already hit the Top 40, with more sure to follow - including the wannabe-Lady GaGa synthpop number S.O.S.

But in between the hits, Sparks reverts to reliable but lacklustre R&B that will have you lunging for the skip button. It's as if the young songstress hasn't quite decided what she wants to be - a dance pop princess or an urban diva. And though the two aren't mutually exclusive, Sparks is yet to pose a serious threat to Rihanna's reign over the genre.

Joanna Hunkin


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