Sure, Jordin Sparks' sophomore album, "Battlefield" (Jive), was probably named after the overwrought title track where she sings "Get your armor!" a lot over the sleepy synth-tinklings of One Republic's Ryan Tedder.
But throughout the album, there really does sound like a battle brewing.
On one side is the Jordin that her handlers seem to want her to be - a vaguely sweet Stepfordish Everygirl with a lovely voice who sings interchangeable songs about surface-y stuff like battlefields and love-like things. On the other side is the actual 19-year-old Jordin who has actual feelings and can express them quite well, both vocally and lyrically.
You know who wins? Oh right, you've heard the title track. For those rooting for that side, there's also the blandly R&B "Watch You Go" from T-Pain and "S.O.S.," which sounds like a Britney Spears leftover and even cops the chorus from Shannon's "Let the Music Play."
It isn't horrible, but it seems like a waste - albeit a profitable one - after hearing the four songs Sparks co-wrote for the album. She gives a personal twist to "Emergency (911)" that makes the dance number work. But it's the big ballads - "Was I the Only One," "Faith" and "The Cure" - where her vulnerability and booming voice work best together, where she sounds like a true teenager with actual teenager problems and beliefs.
It's that side of the onetime "American Idol" who will eventually win out and that's when her career will really take off. On "Battlefield," she's apparently still readying her armor.
JORDIN SPARKS "Battlefield"
BOTTOM LINE Still a teen, Jordin tries to act her age