The soundtrack for the 2012 remake of 1976's Sparkle is an enjoyable if muddled affair. The 1976 soundtrack doubled as a fine Aretha Franklin album -- one written, arranged, and produced by Curtis Mayfield. Led by Jordin Sparks (who succeeds Irene Cara as Sparkle), the 2012 soundtrack features faithful and decent covers of four songs from the original. When it comes to "Something He Can Feel," it would be an understatement to say that the deck is stacked against Sparks and her vocal partners, Carmen Ejogo (Sister) and Tika Sumpter (Delores). Both the Franklin original and En Vogue's 1992 version rightly topped the R&B chart. Sensibly, there's no effort to out-power them; this version has its own light and breathy touch. Sparks also fronts the gospel-tinged ballad "One Wing" and the midtempo "Love Will," both of which were built and helmed by R. Kelly and have his peculiar "old but new" feel -- composed with a bygone era in mind but executed with modern means. On the neo-disco "Celebrate," another R. Kelly production, Sparks is joined by Whitney Houston (Sparkle's mother Emma), the latter of whom is showcased on a piano, organ, and choir rendition of "His Eye Is on the Sparrow." Houston sounds as commanding as one can expect from a later recording. Cee-Lo Green (Black) contributes the rollicking "I'm a Man," seemingly made in the mould of Edwin Starr's 1969 single "25 Miles." Ejogo takes the lead on the bouncy "Yes I Do," one of three songs involving songwriter and producer Andrew Wansel (whose father, Dexter Wansel, was in full flight as a soul artist, songwriter, and producer in 1976). Lastly, "Running" is a similarly bright and energetic Supremes/Vandellas-style showcase for veteran R&B singer Goapele.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman