Various artists, “Sparkle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (RCA Records)
Curtis Mayfield and Aretha Franklin’s union for the soundtrack of the 1976 musical drama “Sparkle” made for an instant soul classic, so the 2012 remake already has a lot to live up to. The burden for greatness is shared among the main cast, which includes Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter and Cee Lo Green. Sparks emerges as the leading lady of the album. She shines bright on various collaborations and her three solo tracks: It’s another winning moment for the former “American Idol” champ.
With that said, Houston has become the focus of the film and soundtrack since she died earlier this year. Her songs here should have served as a high note for the icon, but unfortunately her swan songs — “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” and “Celebrate” with Sparks — falter as the singer struggles to find her once sparkling, soaring voice. Perhaps choosing a gospel tune that requires a melodious voice and a song that shares a performer who outshines her wasn’t the best way to seal Houston’s legacy.
Four Mayfield-helmed originals make the 11-track album (“Jump,” “Hooked on Your Love,” “Something He Can Feel” and “Look Into Your Heart”), while R. Kelly gets in on the action by writing and producing a few funky, but too-modern sounding contributions (“Love Will,” “Jump” and “Celebrate”). Mayfield’s compositions stand the test of time as the most vibrant and nuanced: Kelly doesn’t deliver, and at times his contributions sound cheesy.
While the record is adequate enough in reproducing the sound and cheerful naiveté of 1960s, the period in which the film is set, it ultimately fails to linger in one’s heart, mind or feet past its last note.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: “Something He Can Feel,” sung on the original soundtrack by Franklin (and also covered by En Vogue in 1992), has the shoo-bee-doo potential to be something you can feel.