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What do you think of Britney Spears?
Bo - o - o - ring. 9%
Talentless. 14%
Fake-Christian slut. 43%
Best pop singer since Tiffany! 11%
Best pop singer since Lesley Gore! 9%
Who? 11%

Votes: 71

 Music Review: Britney

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Nov 04, 2001
Britney Spears' third album, cleverly titled Britney, appears in stores November 6. Pop music listeners everywhere must surely be awaiting this release with bated breath. It has, after all, been a year and a half since the release of her last instant classic, Oops!... I Did It Again. This review answers the question that surely must be on everyone's mind.

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The title Britney suggests a more personal, sincere album than the catchy but generic dance-pop of previous Britney Spears albums. This is borne out by some of the song titles, which include "What It's Like to Be Me" and "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman". It makes sense as a career move. The typical teen star fades because he doesn't keep up with his audience; as the kids mature, they lose interest in music aimed at kids, while the next group of media-hungry teens considers him old hat, and want new stars of their own. And Ms. Spears will shortly no longer be a teen herself; she will turn 20 in December. So it's a good time for her to grow up, or at least give the appearance of doing so.

Stylistically, Britney tries some new things, not always successfully. There is a distinct hip-hop vibe to several of the songs, but despite that, they still sound lightweight, borrowing the rhythms and studio techniques of hip-hop but not its intensity. The lead-off track (and first single), "I'm a Slave 4 U", with its sparse arrangement and Prince-like title, is the best example of this; "Bombastic Love", the worst. In another innovation, "Lonely" rocks out harder and more convincingly than Britney Spears has done in the past.

At its best, Britney sticks to what worked on previous albums, sometimes trying for a slightly more grown-up perspective in the lyrics. The sense is not so much of being more mature, but of being ready to consider the possibility of becoming so. Where earlier Spears tunes like "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart" wallowed in first-love melancholy, the new album's "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" looks forward, acknowledging that childhood is ending, and that adulthood will soon begin. It is a sappy but surprisingly effective ballad. Meanwhile, "Overprotected" pulls against the parental leash, and is a very good dance-pop workout. The second track on a Britney Spears album is always of that type, but this one is better than "(You Drive Me) Crazy" or "Stronger".

One of the more annoying characteristics of this album is that it overuses the cute trick of ending a music a beat or two early, and having Britney finish the song a capella. This first appeared in her bag of tricks with the hit "Oops!... I Did It Again", and worked there because it didn't happen again and again. On Britney, no less than three songs end that way (for the record, they are "Overprotected", "Let Me Be", and the closer, "What It's Like to Be Me"). A minor variation is to end a song very suddenly, without warning; this, too, is overused ("Lonely", "Bombastic Love", and the obligatory badly-done cover tune, Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n Roll").

This album's real weak spot, though, is its filler tracks. Every teen-pop album has them, since it doesn't make good business sense to waste a dozen hit-worthy songs on an album when three or four will do. But on ...Baby One More Time and Oops!... I Did It Again, the filler was enjoyable too; this time, most of it is pretty lame. Also, the filler is less carefully spread over the album on Britney. Rather than being carefully mixed in with the better songs, it's all in a lump in the second half, resulting in an album that opens with a bang, and ends with a very long and tiresome whimper.

So, to sum up, this is an album that tries some new things, and has a few of Britney's best tunes, but overall is a weaker effort than her two previous releases. Despite which, it will probably sell quite well.

It will be interesting to see what bonus tracks crop up on overseas releases. Historically, some of Britney Spears' best material has not been released in her home country. The Japanese edition of ...Baby One More Time included an above-average dance tune, "Autumn Goodbye", and a charming '70s-style disco song called "Deep in My Heart"; several foreign versions of Oops!... I Did It Again offered one of Britney's best ballads, "Girl in the Mirror", along with a nice cover of the 1986 Jets hit, "You Got It All". These tracks easily bettered at least half of the "official" tracks on their respective albums; one can only hope that foreign versions of Britney will continue this habit.

Buy Britney at


I agree with the poll option (none / 0) (#9)
by sdem on Sun Nov 4th, 2001 at 04:29:16 PM PST
B-O-O-ORING! Good God, find something to review that everyone else hasn't already reviewed to death. Hell, it's even been listened to death. I already downloaded the whole album the other day from my favorite FTP site.

I hear that Phil Collins is touring right now, maybe you could post a review of one of his concerts?

Why the f--- (none / 0) (#12)
by Mendax Veritas on Sun Nov 4th, 2001 at 06:51:51 PM PST
would I want to listen to a boring old has-been adult-contemporary singer like Phil Collins?

Genesis (none / 0) (#14)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Nov 4th, 2001 at 08:12:35 PM PST
I've been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn't understand any of their work. Too artsy, too intellectual. It was on Duke where, uh, Phil Collins' presence became more apparent. I think Invisible Touch was the group's undisputed masterpiece. It's an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums. Christy, take off your robe. Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. Sabrina, remove your dress. In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. Sabrina, why don't you, uh, dance a little. Take the lyrics to Land of Confusion. In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority. In Too Deep is the most moving pop song of the 1980s, about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as, uh, anything I've heard in rock. Christy, get down on your knees so Sabrina can see your ass. Phil Collins' solo career seems to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way. Especially songs like In the Air Tonight and, uh, Against All Odds. Sabrina, don't just stare at it, eat it. But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group, than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist. This is Sussudio, a great, great song, a personal favorite.

Plagarism (none / 0) (#15)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Nov 4th, 2001 at 08:20:56 PM PST
This quote is stolen from the film American Psycho. I bet the person who posted it is not even a real Genesis fan. For shame.

For the record, Genesis went through two phases, G.E., the (Peter) Gabriel Era, the high point of which was the concept album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, and P.G., post Gabriel, when the great Phil Collins, he-who-left-little-Aimee-Mann-weeping-with-envy-as-he-tree-surfed-off-with-the-1999-Best-Original-Song-Oscar, took over vocal duties. The zenith of P.G. Genesis' output is indeed Invisible Touch, a true pop classic.

Stolen (none / 0) (#33)
by Anonymous Reader on Wed Nov 7th, 2001 at 01:16:48 AM PST
This quote is stolen from the film American Psycho

How do you know that the Anonymous Reader is not, in fact, Brett Easton Ellis? Surely the word stolen in this case is redundant.

For the record: (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by CaptainZornchugger on Sun Nov 4th, 2001 at 05:28:44 PM PST
"I Love Rock and Roll" was written and originally performed by the Arrows in 1975. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts covered it in 1981.

Yes, but (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by Mendax Veritas on Sun Nov 4th, 2001 at 07:51:32 PM PST
Joan Jett's version is the famous one.

I'm worried about Britney's career (5.00 / 3) (#11)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Nov 4th, 2001 at 05:40:48 PM PST
So far Ms. Spears recorded output has been disappointingly samey, with only little things differentiating each song. The overuse of lame gimmicks referred to in the above review is further evidence of this trend. I'm sure the new album will have its share of great tunes, but it sounds like the filler/killer ratio is starting to weigh more and more to the former.

Furthermore, Britney's coy "I'm a bad girl/no I'm not" image is really starting to wear thin. Britney needs to differentiate herself from the Jessica Simpsons, Melanie Moores, and Aaron Carters of the world. She really should assert her identity by getting married, or pregnant, or at least laid, if she wants to take her place alongside Madonna or Cher in the immortal white girl diva lineup.

It would be a shame if the sassy vixen we all masturbated so heartily to while watching her classic "Hit Me Baby One More Time" video faded into a has-been. At least Christina Aguilera has the whole latin music thing going for her. Unless Britney does something to show she's not just singing T & A, she will end up another forgotten girl-pop icon, like Debbie Gibson or Exene Cervenka.

I wonder (5.00 / 1) (#16)
by zikzak on Sun Nov 4th, 2001 at 11:25:53 PM PST
Do you think Ms. Spears is a big fan of Bob Newhart?

What? (none / 0) (#17)
by motherfuckin spork on Mon Nov 5th, 2001 at 07:05:06 AM PST
I thought the whole point was to watcher her prance around in skimpy outfits during her videos and live performances (except that whole "sock on her arm" thing at the superbowl last year).

You trying to tell me that people actually listen to her?

I am astounded.

Oh, wait, unless you were referring to 12 year old girls...

I am not who you think I am.

sacrilege (3.33 / 3) (#18)
by nathan on Mon Nov 5th, 2001 at 07:48:59 AM PST
You don't get it, chum. Maybe you're content to pretend to high culture while swilling merlot, but the rest of us are actually enjoying the art of our contemporaries. Your highbrow arrogance is nothing but a symptom of your failure to get it.

Sorry, but your symphony orchestras and opera houses, with their connections to established money and power, have no place in the modern world. Britney's art is the art that people will remember. And if you don't believe me, look at the deserved obscurity of idiots like Babbitt and Carter. Ugh, what trash.

Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

what the hell are you rambling about??? (none / 0) (#19)
by motherfuckin spork on Mon Nov 5th, 2001 at 08:02:45 AM PST
dude: crack kills.

opera? symphonies? where the hell did that come from?

Allow me to list some samples from my CD collection:

  • Asia
  • America
  • Bach
  • Beethoven
  • Clapton, Eric
  • Collective Soul
  • CSN&Y...
  • ...Stravinsky
  • Tchaikovsky
  • Van Halen
  • Yes
  • Zappa, Frank

    Please note the lack of Mozart and Wagner. Rock opera, sure, no problem.

    Spears will be remembered as a skanky ho that strutted on stage like a cheap slut with absurd tatse in clothing. Her songs are drivel with cheesey formula-based hooks, including the less-than-thought-provoking lyrics (unless you are masturbating or thinking of an erotic session with the tramp).

    Before you decide to randomly respond to a post, please, give some thought as to what it is that you are posting.

    I am not who you think I am.

  • your list (none / 0) (#20)
    by Anonymous Reader on Mon Nov 5th, 2001 at 08:58:01 AM PST
    has an elision in the middle, where Mozart would be. Thus, we cannot tell from your list whether you have Mozart.

    my personal taste (none / 0) (#21)
    by motherfuckin spork on Mon Nov 5th, 2001 at 09:59:35 AM PST
    Mozart sucks.

    I am not who you think I am.

    I have to agree (none / 0) (#24)
    by Anonymous Reader on Mon Nov 5th, 2001 at 05:54:15 PM PST
    His music has no depth, or soul. It's just a bunch of empty tunes, deftly written, but void of all meaning. Aside from occasional ventures into early german idealism, Mozart seems to be catering to an aristocracy who have turned up their noses at anything that isn't completely shallow.

    His music is pretty, but stupid.

    Mozart (0.00 / 1) (#26)
    by nathan on Mon Nov 5th, 2001 at 07:28:25 PM PST
    sub -his music -she
    Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

    Mozart vs. Wagner (none / 0) (#37)
    by hauntedattics on Mon Nov 12th, 2001 at 03:02:06 PM PST
    I'm not really sure what you mean when you say Mozart has 'no depth, or soul.' If by 'no depth or soul' you mean, 'doesn't pack the chromatic and dynamic punch of Wagner' you're right. But judging Mozart by Wagner-lover standards is like saying Pushkin lacks the vibrancy of the Beat Poets. It's comparing apples to oranges, and it's stupid. Unlike Mozart's music, which is an incredibly fine representation of its time. And is not stupid.

    Wagner's 'depth and soul' is to my mind relatively putrid and rotten anyway. Beautiful music...crappy ideology. And, by the way, a real piece of shit of a human being. (Not that Mozart was any prize of humanity either, but that's another story.)

    human qualities (none / 0) (#38)
    by nathan on Mon Nov 12th, 2001 at 05:45:23 PM PST
    I'm not sure how meaningful it is to consider the human qualities of great men of the past. It seems to me as though the only reasons that we would say someone is 'polite' or a 'good guy' are normative reasons; we would want him to be polite and good to us. But most people who are polite, and good guys, aren't great artists.

    I think Mozart gave us more with The Magic Flute than any normal person could have, so I just take my hat off and try not to judge. My standards don't apply. If they did, it's not clear the music would be great.

    Or who knows, maybe there's just no connection between sociability and genius whatsoever, but then in that case genius still has to take precedence. I'll put up with Wagner being a jerk for that ravishing Tannhauser overture.

    Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

    You are right, of course (none / 0) (#39)
    by Anonymous Reader on Mon Nov 12th, 2001 at 06:04:56 PM PST
    (This is from hauntedattics, who is too lazy to log on from home.)

    You're right about not equating sociability and genius...most composers weren't exactly princes, though I'll admit that it's only Wagner who sets me off this way because he was so damn' flagrant about it. I should've just stuck to my original point, which is that comparing Mozart and Wagner is a pointless exercise without veering right off into the subjective.

    By the way, nathan, my husband is asking me why you're online and not practicing your Flesch scales right now.

    CARL FLESCH SCALE SYSTEM!!!!!! (none / 0) (#40)
    by nathan on Mon Nov 12th, 2001 at 06:08:18 PM PST
    It's because I'm grading papers, but fear not, for I'm off to work on Bytovetski, Dounis, and Korguyev right now (my early teachers had a heavy Russian prejudice, and I added the Dounis on my own.)

    This made my night, FYI.

    Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

    Any time, dear (none / 0) (#41)
    by hauntedattics on Tue Nov 13th, 2001 at 06:01:48 AM PST
    I'll remind you to go practice anytime I see an incredibly long and detailed nathan post.

    much obliged. (none / 0) (#42)
    by nathan on Tue Nov 13th, 2001 at 12:22:36 PM PST

    Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

    Mozart (none / 0) (#35)
    by First Incision on Sun Nov 11th, 2001 at 08:41:43 AM PST
    I didn't used to have too much love for Mozart. I enjoyed his operas, because they were fun, but not particularly deep.

    But I heard his Requiem last week, and was quite impressed. I still can't believe that the prissy wuss wrote something so moving.
    Do you suffer from late-night hacking? Ask your doctor about Protonix.

    depth (none / 0) (#36)
    by nathan on Mon Nov 12th, 2001 at 06:33:32 AM PST
    Don't worry, son, you'll grow out of it. A work doesn't need awkwardly "profound" themes to be moving and great.

    Anyone can write an opera about "the problem of evil," "free will," or some such crap. Not many can write Figaro. For my money, Mozart trumps the hell out of that overwrought Wagner, profound, world-historic subjects or not.

    Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

    now I'm even more confused. (0.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Anonymous Reader on Mon Nov 5th, 2001 at 10:24:21 AM PST
    First you say that cheesy pop music has no audience. Then you identify yourself as a member of its audience! What are you trying to say?<P>Nathan

    you let some real crap sneak in. (none / 0) (#25)
    by linuxrulez on Mon Nov 5th, 2001 at 06:22:41 PM PST


    Dude, do you have any Journey records?

    well.. (none / 0) (#30)
    by motherfuckin spork on Tue Nov 6th, 2001 at 01:41:37 PM PST
    Indeed, both Journey and Asia had a slew of top 40 hits in the 80's. however, one cannot deny that their songs also have staying power, and some (though admittedly not all) of their material has some significant artistic merit, be it in the musical or lyrical department. And in both cases, the bands provided their own material to be performed on their albums.

    contrast this to current corporately produced shiny-happy pop. yes, there is a form of musical merit, in the catchy-hook department, but no real attempt to innovate, especially not in the lyrical department.

    indeed, Asia was a "pop" group, consisting of heavy 70's art-rock/prog-rock players. it was an experiment. and the band lives on, only in a much changed formula with different personnel (with the sole exception of Geoff Downes).

    So, do I have Journey albums? Why the hell not? Neal Schon is a kick ass guitarist, Steve Smith is an incredible drummer, as was Aynsely Dunbar (who played for Zappa). And the pre-Steve Perry material is very innovative and not at all like where the band ended up in '87 (of course there have been 2 albums since then, one with Perry and one with Augeri [sic?], but that's beside the point).

    I am not who you think I am.

    naive (2.50 / 2) (#31)
    by nathan on Tue Nov 6th, 2001 at 02:33:13 PM PST
    contrast this to current corporately produced shiny-happy pop. yes, there is a form of musical merit, in the catchy-hook department, but no real attempt to innovate, especially not in the lyrical department.

    I have to take issue with this. What we've seen in the last decade is the professionalization of pop music. Amateurs like Journey and Asia look completely unpolished and naive next to the sophisticated, virtuositally choreographed, and lapidarily produced of Britney Spears.

    Your nostalgia for amateurism is the lowest form of reverse snobbery. It's like a Sam Adams drinker condescending to a Bud drinker - in Belgium.

    Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

    please ignore (0.00 / 1) (#32)
    by nathan on Tue Nov 6th, 2001 at 02:34:48 PM PST
    spelling/grammar - I'm far too drunk to take care of it.

    Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

    Truth in Advertising? (4.00 / 2) (#22)
    by specom on Mon Nov 5th, 2001 at 10:14:01 AM PST
    So much for "News for Grownups". Unless you're some 40 year old pedophile who subscribes to "Tiger Beat" and "Sassy".

    Arguing on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded.

    What's wrong with that? (none / 0) (#29)
    by Anonymous Reader on Tue Nov 6th, 2001 at 01:20:43 PM PST
    Just wondering.

    --Patrick Naughton

    Nah, I liked the story (none / 0) (#34)
    by Blue Aardvark House on Thu Nov 8th, 2001 at 08:13:41 AM PST
    Intelligent and well-written, the text would not appeal to the average teen-age reader, if this site we're geared for such a crowd.

    Like her or not, she's at least a fead in our pop culture, and maybe something more.

    britney (0.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Anonymous Reader on Mon Nov 5th, 2001 at 10:42:52 PM PST
    Britney is a horrible role model for young girls... Encouraging them to dress up as skanks. I hope she receives anthrax in the mail.


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