The headline-grabbers here are two Whitney Houston songs, her last-ever recordings. They're also this soundtrack's low points. "Celebrate" is forgettable disco pop, and on the gospel standard "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," Houston sings – and croaks – in a voice octaves lower than in her prime. At times the song has a ravaged magnificence, but mostly it's painful. Otherwise, though, this is a delightful record, from Cee Lo's soul-funk "I'm a Man" to Jordin Sparks' torch-y "One Win." Sparkle revives four soul chestnuts and includes three originals written and produced by R. Kelly. It's the second-most-satisfying retro-soul album of the year – after Kelly's Write Me Back.
Listen to 'Sparkle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack':