Battlefield (album)

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Battlefield
Studio album by Jordin Sparks
Released July 17, 2009 (2009-07-17)[1]
Recorded January – June 2009[2]
Genre Pop, R&B[3]
Length 44:45
Label 19, Jive
Producer
Jordin Sparks chronology
Jordin Sparks
(2007)
Battlefield
(2009)
Singles from Battlefield
  1. "Battlefield"
    Released: May 12, 2009
  2. "S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)"
    Released: September 4, 2009
  3. "Don't Let It Go to Your Head"
    Released: January 8, 2010

Battlefield is the second studio album by American R&B and pop singer Jordin Sparks.[4] It was first released on July 17, 2009 in Australia and Ireland, July 20 in the UK and from July 21 worldwide, on Jive Records.[5] The album has debuted at number 7 in the US, number 11 in the UK, number 34 in Australia and top 20 in many territories.

The album is a mixture of contemporary R&B and pop although many critics have cited dance-pop and pop-rock influences. For the album Sparks was reunited with previous producers and hitmakers Harvey Mason, Jr. and Claude Kelly as well as experimenting new sounds with award-winning songwriters and producers such as Ryan Tedder, Dr. Luke and Lucas Secon. Upon its release, Battlefield received generally mixed to positive reviews from most music critics.

The first single is also called "Battlefield" and was produced and co-written by Ryan Tedder. The single was released in North America on May 12 reaching the top 5 in Canada and top 10 in the US, making it her fifth consecutive top 20 hit there. Internationally the single reached the top 10 in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, and the top 20 in most other territories. "S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)" is the second single. "Don't Let It Go to Your Head", a cover of the single originally by Fefe Dobson was Sparks' third single to be released from the album. It was only released in the UK on January 8, 2010. The album has sold over 600,000 copies worldwide.[6][when?]

Background and production[edit]

In several interviews Sparks confirmed that the album would take the themes from the first single "Battlefield". Then it was announced through the official press release that the album would be name after the first single Battlefield because it was central to the themes and other recordings for the album. Speaking of the lead song Sparks said

"To me, the title 'Battlefield' is about strength and perseverance, things can go from good to bad in an instant, it could be family, friendship or work; and my favorite line in the song is, 'you better go and get your armor,' because it's telling you to be prepared for that time so that you can overcome it."[5]

Sparks spoke to Billboard magazine about how the recording process was much different to that of her previous album. Her debut had been recorded in approximately 20 days due to the huge appetite that fans had for her music.[2] On the new album Sparks took her time meaning that not only could she write some of the songs but also had time to make the sound more mature or reject records which she felt unhappy with.[2] Writing for the album began in the middle of 2008.

Music[edit]

On May 18, 2009 it was revealed so far Sparks had recorded 30 songs for the album but would select songs that fit well with the first single "Battlefield" since that was now also the name for the album.[7] Later in May during an interview with Digital Spy,[8] Sparks revealed that she has been involved in writing songs for the album, in total contributing to about 12 of approximately 30 recorded songs. She also revealed that although the album had at that time produced no duets she was hopeful to collaborate with Leona Lewis for a powerful ballad. When asked who else she would like to collaborate with she said Fergie, Justin Timberlake, and Alicia Keys.[8]

None of these collaborations materialized although Sparks did confirm in an interview that she had made a pact to record a duet with Lewis for her future album as she believes the duo could be the next "Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey". The reason cited for no duets on this album was a lack of time and tight deadlines.[9] As mentioned previously there are no vocal guests on the album although Tedder can be heard single backing vocals and ad-libs on the album's title song "Battlefield". Originally the album was intended to feature one guest in the form of T-Pain who had produced and appeared on the song "Watch You Go" with his signature vocoder (singing autotune), but for unspecified reasons this version of the song was omitted and replaced with a solo version featuring just Spark's vocals.[10] Furthermore of the 12 songs she has penned four have made the final version of the album ("Emergency (911)", "Was I the Only One", "Faith" and "The Cure") whilst a further two are being used as promotional songs (bonus tracks "Vertigo" and "Papercut"). All together between 30 and 40 songs had been short-listed for inclusion in the album, from which the final track list was selected and mastered.[2]

Release and promotion[edit]

The album was first announced to be released on July 14, 2009 in America by Sparks herself through Twitter and by Amazon.com.[15] However it was then later confirmed through the official press release from Jive Records that the album would in fact be released a week later instead on July 21, 2009.[5]

On May 10, Sparks went ahead with a planned photo shoot for the album's cover and future singles.[16] A picture from the photo shoot was released in the aforementioned press release which shows Sparks wearing a partially buttoned denim jacket over a white dress, seen leaning against a big fan with stage lights shining through.[5]

Sparks released a two disc deluxe edition featuring two bonus tracks at the same time as the standard edition,[15] following in the footsteps of fellow label-mates Ciara and Britney Spears. In international markets, "Tattoo" and "One Step at a Time" from her debut album were included as bonus tracks to help promote the album; both songs were successful in their own rights, reaching top 20 in Japan, the UK and Australia with no promotion.

Singles[edit]

  • "S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)" was confirmed to be lined up as the second single by Jordin Sparks on a radio interview with New York's Fresh 102.7.[18] The song was released in Australia on September 4, 2009[19] and in the US on September 29, 2009.[20] It was released in the UK on October 12, 2009.[21] The video was shot[22] in Los Angeles, California on August 10, 2009, with Chris Robinson serving as the director. He also worked with Sparks on the "No Air" music video.[23]
  • "Don't Let It Go to Your Head" is the third single to be released from the album. It was released as a digital download on January 8, 2010 in the UK only.[24] It was released as a digital download with "Landmines (Main Version)" as the B-side.[25]

Tour[edit]

On March 15, 2010 it was announced that Sparks was going on her first headlining tour, the Battlefield Tour in support of her second studio album of the same name.[26] The tour kicked off on May 1, 2010 in Uncasville, Connecticut and saw Sparks performing at 39 intimate venues across the US such as theaters, ballrooms, amusement parks, and casinos. The tour ended on July 18, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[27]
Billboard favorable[28]
The Boston Globe unfavorable[29]
Digital Spy 3/5 stars[30]
Entertainment Weekly A−[31]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[32]
Los Angeles Times 2/4 stars[33]
Newsday B+[34]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[35]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[36]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number seven on the US Billboard 200, selling 48,000 copies in its first week. It charted three spots higher, but with lower sales than her debut album. By July 2010, it had sold 177,000 copies in the United States.[37] The album has sold over 600,000 copies worldwide.[6][when?]

Critical response[edit]

Upon its release, Battlefield received generally mixed to positive reviews from most music critics, based on an aggregate score of 63/100 from Metacritic.[38]

The Guardian writes "The 2007 hit 'No Air' gave you the breathy, cleancut gist; this second album employs the same tricks - almost literally, in the case of 'Let It Rain', which has a tremulous build-up and heroic chorus ("Let it rain, wash me clean," she commands). Squelchy electronics and a relatively earthy lyric ("Look in her eyes, she's mentally undressing him") give 'S.O.S.' an urban hue, and the clattering 'Let It Rain' is modern R&B worthy of Rihanna. Regrettably, though, Sparks sounds more comfortable with power ballads such as 'No Parade'; and there's an inner Pat Benatar struggling to get out on the title track. OK if you like this kind of thing."[39]

Slant Magazine writes "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. 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'."[40]

Entertainment Weekly said "Battlefield certainly delivers on the artistic end: It's packed with more hooks than a fisherman's tackle box, none better than on the gorgeous title track, which sports a soaring chorus. Resistance is futile when Sparks, showing heretofore unseen vocal dexterity, takes to the dance floor to ward off a vixen who's barking up the wrong boyfriend. There is actually enough potential hits to keep the singer in heavy rotation until well into Idol's 10th season."[41]

Digital Spy also gave the album a generally mixed review, writing, "Nothing here is as irresistible as the single, a brilliant update of the '80s arena rock sound that deserves better than its middling chart performance, but several tracks aren't too far off. 'Don't Let It Go To Your Head' [and] 'Let It Rain'... offers lots of soft rock bombast." However, the reviewer also criticized the album for "sentimental mush in its final stretch, with Sparks delivering a series of threadbare clichés over dull, dated arrangements...The result is an album that improves upon Sparks' debut – it doesn't try so hard to cover all of the bases, and Sparks sounds more comfortable on the uptempo cuts – but has the same Achilles heel: a paucity of really memorable songs. Then again, faced with some tough choices and release date approaching, it's hard to blame Sparks – still only 19, lest we forget - for sticking a little too closely to the middle of the road."[42]

Track listing[edit]

Standard Version
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Walking on Snow"   Frankie Storm, Jeremy Shaw, Lucas Secon, Olivia Waithe Lucas Secon 3:29
2. "Battlefield"   Louis Biancaniello, Ryan Tedder, Sam Watters, Wayne Wilkins Tedder, Watters, The Runaways 4:01
3. "Don't Let It Go to Your Head"   Josh Alexander, Fefe Dobson, Billy Steinberg Harvey Mason, Jr. 4:10
4. "S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)"   Ed Chisolm, Chris Barbosa, Mich Hansen, Keely Hawkes, David Kopatz, Lasse Kramhøft Cutfather, David Kopatz, Pilfinger 3:34
5. "It Takes More"   Andrea Martin, Carsten Mortensen, Secon Lucas Secon 3:34
6. "Watch You Go"   Joshua Coleman, Lukasz Gottwald, Benjamin Levin, Faheem Najm Ammo, Benny Blanco, Dr. Luke 3:52
7. "No Parade"   Anne Preven, Dapo Torimiro, Scott Cutler Dapo Torimiro, Scott Cutler, Anna Preven 3:31
8. "Let It Rain"   Lindy Robbins, Toby Gad Toby Gad 3:45
9. "Emergency (911)"   Gad, Robbins, Jordin Sparks Toby Gad 3:49
10. "Was I the Only One"   Christa Black, Sam Mizell, Sparks, Shane Stevens Sam Mizzell 3:21
11. "Faith"   Gad, Robbins, Sparks Toby Gad 3:23
12. "The Cure"   Carlos McKinney, Claude Kelly, Sparks Los DaMystro, Claude Kelly (vocals) 4:16
Total length:
44:45
Deluxe Version[46]
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
13. "Papercut"   Gad, Robins, Sparks Gad 3:37
14. "Postcard"   Vito Colapietro, Neely Dinkins, Walter Whitney, Brandon Williams, Shaunise Harris, Stephan Jones The Co-Stars 4:02
Total length:
52:19
Notes

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Battlefield adapted from Allmusic.[47]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Peak
position
Australian Albums[48] 34
Austrian Albums[49] 60
Canadian Albums[50] 10
Dutch Albums[51] 51
Irish Albums[48] 17
New Zealand Albums[52] 17
Polish Albums Chart[53] 39
Swiss Albums[54] 52
UK Albums Chart[48] 11
US Billboard 200[50] 7

Release history[edit]

Country Release date Label(s)
Netherlands[55] July 17, 2009 Sony Music Entertainment
Australia[1] Zomba, Sony Music
Ireland[1] RCA Records, Sony Music
United Kingdom[56] July 20, 2009
France[1] Jive Epic Records
Philippines[57] Zomba, Sony Music
Denmark[1]
Hong Kong[1]
Norway[1]
New Zealand[1]
Portugal[1]
Finland[1]
Colombia[1]
Costa Rica[1]
Czech Republic[1]
Canada[5] July 21, 2009 Jive Records, Zomba
United States[5]
Spain[1] Zomba, Sony Music
Sweden[1] July 22, 2009
Thailand[58] July 23, 2009
Germany[1] July 24, 2009
Austria[1]
Japan[59] August 12, 2009 Sony Music Japan
Belgium[1] August 24, 2009 Zomba, Sony Music
Poland[60] January 11, 2010 Sony Music

References[edit]

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