1998. Britney Spears unleashed what is the killer single to start her music legacy, "Baby.. One More Time".. what is in the future, no one know ? What is certain is that ,this is an overly ambitious , sweet american girl with a raspy voice, and a whole lot of attitude. Fully in control. Future looks bright....
2011. Britney Spears enters the chart arena with a killer single "Hold It Against Me". What is certain is that the production by Dr Luke & Max Martin, is flawless. The song resonating in originality & spectacle. The video, technically, one of the best of her amazing career. If the album is like this, she will not only displace Lady Gaga, but annihilate her position as 3rd to the throne (to her Madgesty and the Impossible Princess)..
So... in 2011, lets forget the 6 album legacy, the 2 bad marriages, record breaking, head shaving, award winning, lip synching, pioneer trailblazing, taboloid victim, gay super icon we already know. Lets review album number 7, on... the actual music. And the question everyone is asking..... IS IT ANY GOOD?
well, yes.. it is. Its no "thriller", but its not "invincible" either. Its more "Blackout" than "Circus". Four questions come to mind when reviewing a spears output? Is it any good? how much input does she have? How many hits ? Who will like it?
Three themes come to mind- sex, sadness and clubbing. There is some depth there, but really the main message is " come to the club, and we'll dance until you wanna have marathon sex ". Simple as that. If that sounds like you, you're in. The gays will love it. Office chicks will dig it (in time), & the fake war between Spears & ______(insert new female artist)_____ will be on.
The whole affair starts with the new hit "Til The World Ends" , written by the new pop dolly, Ke$ha. Its not a bad track, but really not worthy of a single release. One questions why, when you listen to the other hits on the CD (which there are MUCH stronger tracks). "Hold It Against Me" is genius from start to finish. It is her coolest track to date, and perfect pop in under 3:50.. "Inside Out" is her call back to the fan favorite "Breathe On Me", questioning her male lover to sort her out (sexually) before he leaves her for good. A very strong track, a sound she is obviously comfortable with. One gets the impression that if this were real life, she would be talking about K-Fed (as JT would have the sexual prowess of a fumbling 16 year old at a prom). "I Wanna Roll" is her gay bar electro moment. With the most addictive whistle melody & hook, this will be a HUGE single, crossing over to the suburbs back yard party. Its one of the funnest things she has done since "Oops..I did it Again". "How I Roll" is Bloodyshy & Avant having fun. Its an electronic escapade, that is reminiscent of the vibe circa 2002. "Drop Dead (Beautiful)" is the closest to her epic 2007 release "Blackout". Featuring L.A. Rapper Sabi, its drips cool. Sabi, though not really Nicki Minaj (or Lil Kim for that matter), does her best. Its cute. Thank god she's there & Kanye's not. "Seal It With A Kiss" is a Katy Perry cast off, as is "Gasoline". Which is a shame, as people have followed Britney and not the other way round. "Criminal" is a nice homage to "Intervention" by Madonna, but with a much better melody. "Trouble For Me " is a mixed affair, going from electro to pop, but not seemingly gelling. The chorus is hooked to the hilt, yet its the electro breakdown that is the killer. "Trip To Your Heart" is the hit Christina Aguilera wishes she had, beautiful and carefree, yet very Euro pop enough to be taken to the clubs. The shock of the album is "Big Fat Bass" , a collaboration with Will-I-Am (Black Eyed Peas). When news spread that this union was in fact happening, many people thought this was the end of her career. What could HE possibly give to her legacy? ...but... "Big Fat Bass" is amazing. Its the track the gays will love, the track the clubs will die over, and should be a single. Its a bold move for a calculated pop star, yet it will take her to a whole new level.
How much input does Britney have in this? Who really knows. She wrote nothing, yet she CAN write and play music. She has the ability to write, produce & play her music, so why does she not do it? What is evident is that Dr Luke is in charge, his promise of making her "Grimier" is only half done. He is too safe, too pop. But he will be replaced next record, with hopefully someone who takes Spears in a different direction. Much has been made of her voice being electronically altered with many effect. True, it is altered, most of the time, but it is utilized in such a way that it becomes an instrument in itself, rather than vocal trickery. The effects are really in your face. They aren't hidden. They are upfront. For that, they work. Autotune is utilized for effect, NOT correction, for that reason, Spears is forgiven. We know she can sing, but the result on "Femme Fatale" doesn't help her critics from hurling knives at her vocal ability (and to hurl those knives now, would be lazy journalism). What is remarkable is that millions will buy this record without any support from record execs & very little promo input from Spears herself(once the media darling, now slightly reclusive- media afraid -over protective mother of two). Is the power of her iconic status. Whatever happened to the work with Rusko, Jessie J, Tiesto etc..is anyones guess. Visually, the album is classic beauty, and not going down the "arty" vibe. Clever move to not do a Gaga (odd clothes & raw meat), or a Kylie (robots and silver hotpants).. Though the visuals are safe, it re-establishes her as a sexy woman. Don't expect the music heavy weights to give this record a positive review, nor should Spears expect a Grammy (they traditionally hate her). Music snobs need something to hold onto as their relivance becomes less obvious, and to rubbish this record will be to easy to do.
Its a 7 out of 10. A suggestion though for the next album. Harder dance, less pop.. More Daft Punk less Dr Luke. Or do it all yourself.. We know you can..