Kelly Clarkson has garnered quite a few Pat Benatar comparisons since she laced up her rock boots back in 2005, but it looks like fellow American Idol winner Jordin Sparks is vying for the same fingerless-gloved market. Not only does the album title of her sophomore effort, Battlefield, evoke Benatar’s biggest hit “Love Is a Battlefield,” but the production of the title track is indebted to another one of the ‘80s icon’s power ballads, “We Belong.” Helmed by the Runaways and Ryan Tedder, the war metaphor- and digital siren-filled “Battlefield” is an anthem as immediate and catchy as predecessors “Bleeding Love” and “Halo.” Despite scoring a crossover R&B hit with her duet with Chris Brown, “No Air,” Sparks is a pop artist and makes no bones about it here. Much of the album’s running time is filled with the kind of soggy adult contemporary pulp that weighed down both the singer’s self-titled debut and Leona Lewis’s Spirit, and the addition of two paper-themed bonus tracks, “Papercut” and “Postcard,” on the deluxe version of Battlefield doesn’t help matters. “Don’t Let It Go to Your Head,” the first single from Canadian pop singer Fefe Dobson’s cancelled 2005 album, gets a deserved second life here, while the hook and whiplash sound effect of Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” are resurrected for “S.O.S. (Let the Music Play).” (Sparks reportedly hadn’t ever heard the ‘80s freestyle classic prior to recording her track—a reminder that, at 19, she is the youngest Idol winner to date.) As nice as it is to hear Sparks continuing to dabble in dance-pop, though, one wonders if it would have been a smarter move in terms of career longevity to try to build on the urban audience she started to cultivate with “No Air.”
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