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Jordin Sparks stays sweet on debut album

Reigning ‘Idol’ champion Jordin Sparks's self-titled debut album is tame, upbeat, free from innuendo and loaded with slickly produced songs about boys.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Jordin Sparks is "Young And In Love" — and "Just For The Record," she's into that "Shy Boy."

Those are some of the song titles from Sparks' self-titled debut album, which oozes the earnestness that endeared the bubbly 17-year-old to gazillions of tween girls — and their mothers — as she sang to victory on "American Idol."

Sparks has the wholesome appeal of a Disney Channel star — clearly an asset, at a time when Miley Cyrus/"Hannah Montana" is selling out stadiums in no less than four minutes.

That's why it's slightly jarring when Sparks turns into a club vixen on the Britney-esque "Young And In Love," which is perhaps the musical equivalent of learning too much about your little sister. Granted, Sparks is nearly 18 — but still.

That said, this album as a whole is tame, upbeat, free from innuendo — something you might expect from the telegenic teen, who suggests original "Idol" Kelly Clarkson in terms of likability but lacks the Grammy winner's irresistible bravado.

The disc consists mainly of slickly produced songs about boys ("No Air," "Now You Tell Me") and feel-good empowerment tunes ("One Step At A Time," "This Is My Now"). But it takes a decidedly maudlin turn with "God Loves Ugly," which has the comely singer asking: "With all of my blemishes, how could somebody want me?" Come on! You're Jordin Sparks!

A standout is "Next To You." The sugary-sweet pop song, a perfect fit for Sparks' naturally soulful voice, gets better after several listens. "Maybe we're friends/Maybe we're more/Maybe it's just my imagination/But I see you stare just a little too long and it makes me start to wonder," she croons over smooth harmonies and crisp handclaps.

And that's enough to keep you wondering what else Sparks may have in store.

Check out this track: Guys hoping to woo Sparks — on the dance floor, naturally — should listen to "Shy Boy," her clubby shout-out to that low-key hottie sitting in the corner.