Somewhere in between "American Idol" winners-turned-superstars, such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, and the champion contestants who never quite caught on -- ahem, Taylor Hicks -- is season six's Jordin Sparks.
Sure, the bubbly "Tattoo" singer spent last year as an opening act for Britney Spears and the Jonas Brothers, and even earned a Grammy nod for her duet with Chris Brown, "No Air." But Sparks is still small-time enough to pull a Tiffany and perform a free concert at the mall now and then, as she did Thursday at The Grove in LA.
The 20-year-old previewed her summer tour, which she'll headline for the first time, for a few hundred very excited fans, mostly teens and tweens who sang along to the three songs she rocked: "One Step at a Time," "It Takes More," and, my favorite, the power ballad "Battlefield."
Onstage in a simple ensemble of jeans and a black top, the songstress showed a mix of the professionalism she undoubtedly gained on the road with bigger names, and the friendliness we loved in her on "Idol." She danced and struck a few Beyonce-like poses without missing a beat, but she also goofed around with the crowd, chatting between songs and having a band member snap a pic of her in front of the fans. Simon would have been proud.
And there were other signs, too, that our Jordin may not be so easy to catch at a gratis gig in the years to come. As the up-and-comer left the concert for a nearby meet and greet, a few overzealous girls shrieked and ran over to touch her. Luckily, mall security was nearby to whisk her away on the back of a golf court, but whew, that was a close one.
Perhaps Jordin should talk to her pals the JoBros about situations like that, because she's probably in for a lot more of them!
Check out Jordan's website for show dates and tickets.