If Virginia Woolf Wrote About Jordin Sparks...
Note: The following blog post is an experiment. I wrote it in real time as I gave my first listen to the new single from Jordin Sparks. Though it has been edited for grammar and spelling, the post is otherwise a stream of consciousness reflection.
Please note the moment I lose all pretense of professionalism and start chatting about Jordin Sparks like she is my best gal pal.
Here's "Tattoo," the first single from Jordin Sparks' upcoming album.
My first impression? If Blake Lewis' album is influenced by the 80s, then Sparks is totally giving props to the early 90s. (Props! Remember that word?)
If it were 1991, "Tattoo" would be by Sweet Sensation or, frankly, Timmy T. It's pleasantly melodic but not very arresting, which means it's the kind of song you might hear in CVS.
But that's not bad, per se. First of all, I love early nineties pop music. And I appreciate that unlike Katharine McPhee, Sparks has not tried to ape the sassy-yet-horny sound perfected by Christina Aguilera. She at least can avoid claims that she's a trend-chasing puppet.
But is this the kind of debut single we want from an Idol winner? It doesn't grab me by the shirt like "Miss Independent" did.
Okay, let me play it again.
Hmm... is it growing on me? There's something vulnerable and sweet about her vocal. And that yelp they've got looped in the background--Jordin basically yells 'hey!' every four seconds or so--is kind of cool.
And the chorus invites sing-alongs. I can imagine myself at age 11, locked in my bedroom, intently swaying to the mid-tempo beat and relishing the lyrics that sound close enough to poetry for a fifth grader. (This song is certainly more literate than Fergie's moronic "Big Girls Don't Cry." We'll play jacks and Uno cards, will we? First, can we try writing above a second-grade level?)
So anyway... this song is earnest and pretty, and the chorus is catchy. I especially like the way Jordin sings the line "I can't waste time, so give it a moment": She puts a tremulous lilt on the word "moment," giving it about forty-five syllables. It's fun to sing with something like that. It encourages you to ball up your fist and squint your eyes, which totally proves that you're feeling it.
(third listen now)
Of course, the chorus also contains the phrase "Don't look back at a new direction."
Well... maybe I'm misunderstanding the lyrics. Like I said, though, they're generally pretty good. The song seems to be about moving forward with your life, even if people that know you want to protect you from mistakes you might make. In the first verse, she sings:
No matter what you say about life
I learn every time I bleed...
I gotta let my spirit be free
to admit that I'm wrong and then change my mind.
Sorry, but I have to move on
and leave you behind.
That's appropriate for a teenager to sing. Since Sparks is seventeen, this song could be about her parents. Even though she's leaving them to go be an adult, she says they're still "on [her] heart just like a tattoo."
Wow... so this song doesn't have to be about a lover! That surprises me. It's very "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac.
Now that I'm thinking about it, that's really sweet.
Oh my god! Am I getting emotional about "Tattoo?" Is it making me reflect on the bittersweetness of outgrowing your need for your parents' advice?
Did I just get chills from the big note Jordin sings in the bridge?
Am I calling her Jordin now?
Well, damn. Looks like this song is having its way with me. That's how these mid-tempo ballads operate. They seem like they're just sitting quietly in the back of the room, when all along they're worming into your brain. "Let the power ballads grab you with their bombast," they say, "We'll still be here, seducing you. That's how you came to love 'More than Words,' remember?"
So there it is... in the space of a single blog post, I've gone from skeptic to fan.
And yet... strangely... now that I've stopped the audio player on Jordin's MySpace page, I can't remember the song's melody. What is going on?!? What is this twisted magic? Can anyone explain?