Unless you count the box sets and rarities packages sure to come, the “Sparkle” soundtrack contains what will be the last music ever released by Whitney Houston.
Houston co-produced “Sparkle,” a remake of the 1976 musical about three singing sisters and their single mom that now takes place in 1960s Detroit, and co-starred alongside clean-scrubbed and perpetually underrated “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks.
Most of the original “Sparkle” soundtrack was written by Curtis Mayfield and performed by Aretha Franklin, and it’s recreated virtually in its entirety here, bookended by several new tracks. Houston appears only on the gospel standard “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” which is so tentative and wan it feels like a demo, and as a muted, multi-tracked presence on “Celebrate,” a duet with Sparks.
Musical Instagram filter Cee Lo Green shows up on the opening “I’m a Man” (swinging and retro, like most everything here), one of only a few tracks on which Sparks does not appear, either solo or alongside cinematic sisters Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter.
Sparks, a knockout singer with the edgeless air of the perpetual ingenue, has long been a voice in search of a personality. She won’t find one here: “Sparkle” offers one mild, midtempo number after another, from Heaven-summoning rafter-shakers like “One Wing” to a generous handful of milquetoasty tracks written by R. Kelly, whose mastery of gooey fauxspirational ballads remains unchallenged.
“Celebrate,” “Something He Can Feel”