Friday, September 07, 2007

Gimme More

Song: Gimme More
Artist: Britney Spears
Album: Currently Untitled

“It’s Britney bitch.”

And with that we have the return, err… “comeback” of Britney Spears, the eighth best selling female artist in American music history. Yes… that is correct. (She’s sold over 31 million records.) “Gimme More” is the official first single from Spears yet to be titled fifth studio album set to be released in November. Speculation is high as the album comes a full four years after her last record “In the Zone” was released in 2003. (Not counting a greatest hits and a remix album.) What will Britney be giving us? Will she pull it off? And more importantly… will anyone care?

Ms. Spears has been one of the most talked about young woman in the history of pop music with every move she’s made since her debut almost ten years ago both criticized and herald… to the point of over-exposure. I have spent WAY too much time defending Britney in the past mostly from sexism, the results of over exposure (that she arguably did not or DID ask for,) and even her music. Despite the emptiness of much of what Ms. Spears does I have always been a bit fascinated by her… for reasons that are not totally clear to me. The last time I defended Brit JUST after the hair cutting incident I wrote what I thought was a pretty concise state of affairs for the singer… once again defending her. (you can read it here.) Days later she attacked a car with an umbrella and went into rehab. Oh Britney… how you disappoint thee.

But again I am reminded at how much the media has played into how I feel about Britney. Nine years ago we were told (and shown) just how big this girl was going to be, and then once she was, and had the money and record sales to back up the claims, it was time to tear the girl down. No matter that she was in her early twenties. She was asking for it. (And yes, I allude to, and connect the media attacks on her, and other female media magnets, as a form of rape.)

I honestly don’t want to get TOO into Britney and guess, ad nauseam, about what her life is really like, what she’ll do next, etc. “Gimme More” is a pretty good club song. I’ve been listening to it all week and think she may have another hit on her hands. But I also thought this about “Me Against the Music,” which didn’t do so well in the U.S. (but did like, everywhere else, including number 1 on the world charts.) It’s more of what we expect from Britney at this point… sexy breathing vocals, hard beats, basically something you can whip your hair and pose to. And while I will wait for her album to come out to completely judge her new work, I am still waiting for Britney to give ME more. And at this point I am not sure this is going to happen.

I have now resided to the fact that Britney, while an amazing performer and personality, isn’t that bright or artistic. While Christina has gotten a bit more control of her career and been writing and developing her records (to mixed results) Britney has simply gotten either the hottest or up and coming producer and writers to create her material. And when she DOES write (see “Everytime” from “In the Zone”) the results are disastrously embarrassing. Since the pretty straight forward dance-pop and ballads of her first two records (which you couldn’t really call ALBUMS) she’s had a hard time balancing her new sexuality and making a coherent anything. While “In the Zone,” her last, is her best in my opinion… it’s really just a random collection of songs. She hired the best people and got a bunch of songs with singles potential. It sounded like a greatest hits records. But empty, and disjointed.

Madonna is really the touchstone that all female pop stars should look to. Despite what you think of her… the woman is the unquestionable queen of pop music. She has reinvented herself countless times and when she “fails” those failures often beat in both sales and dollar values lesser artists totals that are considered hits. (“American Life” her last true disappointment sold 5 million records, Gwen Stefani’s “Love, Angel, Music, Baby” sold 3.5 million.) She’s a lot like Britney… not a great singer, not a great dancer, and lyrically she’s been all over the place. BUT what Madonna has always done is write ALBUMS. Each new record, especially post her artistic breakthrough that was “Like a Prayer” has been its own thing with a different sound, theme, and concept. With each new record (or “period”) she has come up with a new look and feel to everything that is connected with that record. Videos, tour, etc. You can question her artistic abilities, but you can not question how smart she is… she simply makes good albums. The reason I will always be a fan.

With Britney Spears, “Gimme More” sounds like it could have been on her last two records… there is nothing connecting anything with her work. And I have always questioned why someone as successful as Britney doesn’t have SOMEONE to make this happen. What Britney does have is her record label, that wants hit songs. They don’t care if her records are critically maligned… as long as she has the hit singles. Which she has… EVERY step of her career. Madonna, Gwen Stefani, and most recently Nelly Furtado, Fergie, (and yes, Paris Hilton,) have worked with multiple producers to create ALBUMS that have a cohesive vibe to them. There are exceptions within them of course, but none have done this as well as Madonna, and Britney has NEVER done it. But Gwen had with No Doubt, and Nelly, despite the shift in sound had before with her two previous records. (Paris is, and will continue to be, an enigma.)

Well forgive me… I have already gone on too long. There is just something about Britney that gets the words flowing from me. Is she the best example of everything that is now flawed about the American Dream? Could be. And while for now I have resided to the fact that I will never get what I truly want from Britney, I’ll enjoy “Gimme More” for the dumb slice of fun it is, and wait for the next media sponsored breakdown and/or public hanging.

For now… enjoy. And rest assured I will do my best to resist going on any more about Ms. Spears.

Until the next time…

No comments: