For the last few days Britney’s new album is all I’ve been listening too, so I was thinking about writing a review for it. But the more I listen to it, the harder I find writing about it. Anyway, I’ll try.
I don’t remember when I became a fan of Britney Spears. I started listening to her because all other kids were, and MTV didn’t stop showing her videos. And I started to think I liked her, because the whole world did, why shouldn’t I?
But to really be a fan of her, to not just like her because everybody else does but because she deserves the liking, to care enough to start enjoy her music in my own way, and to pay more attention to her than just the horrible fashion…
A few years back, the first breakout in my journalistic career was an article I wrote to defence Britney, in which I argued that all the new generation solo female singers should thank Britney for changing the world’s point of view toward teenage solo female singers and opened up countless opportunities for girls who wanted to sing to be heard. I didn’t even like Britney that much back then, I wrote the article only because that was the first idea popped up in my head when my editor asked for an original piece.
What I didn’t know then was, once you’ve entered the Britney’s world, you will not/do not/can not go back.
Cirque de la Britney part 1: from a Slave to a Ringleader – always Entertainer
For me, the moment Britney started to really exist was I’m A Slave For You. That was the moment the girl, who was totally lost and confused in the first two albums (especially when fashion was concerned), realized what she was capable of, and what she was becoming: The Entertainer. Ever since, she has been any thing and tried every way to entertain the world. This time around, though, I believe it’s her masterpiece, and it’s gonna be huge:
I’m like the ringleader
I call the shots
I’m like a firecracker
I make it hot
then i put on a show
That’s what she sings in her next single Circus, and boy she has every right to be so sure. I used to think Blackout was the most incredible disco album ever made, but after listening to Circus (album), Blackout starts to sound like the very first raw draft of what Circus delivers. All the dance tracks on the album are so finely produced, somewhat tamed and smooth, totally contrast to the loudness and aggression of Blackout. Gone is the synthesizing ear-thumping bass and Britney’s vocoder voice. The excitement of these new tracks lies in smarter beats (and hook-lines), creative arrangmements, and the unexpected use of Britney’s more natural voice (although ‘more natural’ and ‘natural’ are two different stories).
Among these dance numbers, my favourites are Shattered Glass, Unusual You, Radar (the very Radar that was also in Blackout-though branded “Circus mix” sounds exactly the same, probably my favourite Britney’s track of all time), and amazingly, the three bonus track Rock Me In, Amnesia and Phonography (these tracks are better than half the album tracks).
Shattered Glass is an upbeat but dark and bitter song about a betray lover. This track is genius, the beat is super simple, the arrangement is also a far cry from anything complicated, yet it hooks me in after five seconds, and I couldn’t stop listening. What even better is it’s very short, it stops in less than three minutes which just makes you yearn for more. Genious!
No less superb is the mysterious almost-90s-melancholic-disco track Unusual You. The name is unusual, the lyrics are unusual (“Didn’t anyone tell you / You’re supposed to break my heart? So why haven’t you?”), and Britney sounds sweet and sincere. One of the best (and unusual) things she’s ever done.
One song that’s got great circulation all over the internet at the moment is Kill The Lights. It’s a good one, almost like Piece Of Me. Nothing really special though. Not on my favourite list.
Phonography is my favourite from the bous tracks. That doesn’t surprise me, as it’s got same producers as Do Something, Toy Soldier, Unusual You, Radar and Toxic a.k.a all of Britney’s best tracks (not to mention Madonna’s How High and Like It Or Not). Bloodshy & Avant are bloody avant-garde musically.
Cirque de la Britney part 2: Yes She Can!
What amazed me the most watching Britney all these years is that, she could actually show how much she has grown up/changed through her voice, even when it has been put through a vocoder.
Let’s make a few comparison first:
Madonna (miraculously) manages to sound exactly the same after 25 years, although she practically experiences another style of music on each album.
Rihanna sounds worse after every album, or single. She used to sing like a girl, now her voice is like a cat meow. The music flactuates. And she can’t choose a style.
Kylie sounds, erm, I don’t know. How does she sound? I never paid much attention to her voice. The only time I actually paid attention to her voice was for the song Nudity on her X album, which I swear to God sounds like a rip off from Britney’s In the Zone (Bloodshy & Avant produced, no wonder why), and I laughed so much I almost fell off my chair when I realized how pathetic she sounded in comparison to Britney while singing the same style
(The reason why I mention Madonna, Rihanna and Kylie is because they happen to release some biggest pop hits this year)
Britney. Her music style doesn’t change much since Britney (album), however, she sounds different in every album. Take all the personal-related songs in every era for example:
Stronger (Oops I Did It Again)
My Pregrogative (In the Zone – Greatest Hits)
Piece Of Me (Black Out)
Kill The Lights (Circus)
I’m not talking about the lyrics or the music, just her voice. You can see very clearly how she went from a simpler, more naive and happier voice to a darker, cooler, blunter one through the time. There are more examples but I’m a little too tired to list more, duh.
So, she’s back on number 1. WTF? Womanizer is not even a good song, she’s done so much better. This life is just wrong. And next I don’t expect any other song from the album make it to number 1, just because they are all better!
Enough said. Who cares about numbers anymore. There’s no doubt Britney has made the best pop album of this year. I hate to say this, but Britney’s Circus kicks Madonna’s Hard Candy straight in the ass. Don’t even mention Rihanna anymore, that’s a bad joke (I was stunned when people still danced to Umbrella the other day, in fact, I was amazed more that people still played it). Now all I do is enjoy this little piece of disco heaven until Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s next album (and from what I’ve heard so far, it’s a yummy piece of disco cake too)
Final note: I only mention the dance tracks but not the ballads on Circus, because I had never been, and probably would never be a fan of Britney’s ballads.
Final note 2: God I haven’t written anything for so long I was really struggling writing this piece of sh*t. Dropping my journalistic career is probably my best decision in life so far!
Final note 3: This blog will go back to fashion tmr!