Thursday, January 17, 2008


Best of 2007

Song: Radar
Artist: Britney Spears
Album: Blackout

So 2007 gave me a true pop dilemma. First, one of my favorite pop artist, Kylie Minogue was set to release a new album, her tenth, after a public battle with cancer over the last couple years, and second… American pop-tart Britney Spears was releasing a new album; her first in a number of years, and her first since getting married (for more than 48 hours,) her first since giving birth to two children, her first since the public divorce, and her first since she sort of went crazy. Which release had the upper hand? Uh… advantage Kylie.

In both cases, the ladies basically went out and got the hottest producers and writers available, and aimed to build an album from these songs, something they both have done in the past.

Maybe it’s because, globally, they are two of the biggest female pop acts working today, but songs from both records, scratch that… sessions, were leaked to the internet months before release. In Kylie’s case, there were a full album’s worth of tracks, all serviceable Euro-pop dance tracks with a few true standouts. With Britney, initially the leaked songs were downright laughable. Insipid poetry-laced ballads and retro-sounding vague hip hop made it seem, when married to the increased public meltdowns, that Britney Spears had in fact lost it. Again… advantage Kylie.

Most surprising was that the leaked songs kept coming, around thirty from each pop princess. And this is where it gets interesting. Fans began to put the songs together, adding artwork, and distributing them like they were the album despite the fact that for both, no official track list were released for either. Amid the Britney tracks a few hard-core, modern club tracks emerged, and “Gimme More,” the official first single BLEW UP. It became Britney’s biggest hit since her first “Baby… One More Time,” and despite, or because of her increasingly strange public behavior, we were as a culture literally obsessed with Britney. Yet, she was doing almost nothing for the record… no pre-promotion, and the video for “Gimme More” was super lazy, something that you would never expect from Spears. Regardless, “Gimme More” was a huge single… becoming a top ten hit in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Holland, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, the U.K., AND went to number one in the U.S., Canada, and the Euro charts. Kylie on the other hand touted her initial single “2 Hearts” as “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” good, shot a flashy sexy video for the song and watched it… well sort of tank. The song did go to number one in Australia, Spain, and Taiwan, but only cracked the top ten in five other countries, and failed to hit the top twenty in many. Wow… this one is for Britney.

When both albums were released, we finally got the full vision each artist was intending for their album. And here is where things changed for me. Britney’s record consisted of twelve modern club-ready tracks that showed the former child actor finally shedding that image completely. It’s adult, catchy, and remarkably produced. I liked certain songs better than others, but there isn’t one bad one in the bunch. Kylie’s “X” on the other hand… is kind of a mess. Despite having what I consider a couple of Kylie’s best tracks (“In Your Arms,” “The One”) there are some really mediocre songs, and a few actually BAD (“Cosmic,” “Nu-di-ty.”) What is confusing is that there were so many other GOOD songs Kylie left off the record and by far beat out Spears for song-4-song quality. What happened? In the end while I tried to pick my favorite pop record of 2007 I just took a look at my iTunes play-counts and saw that by far I listened to Britney’s record as a whole more. It’s more consistent and actually feels WHOLE vs. Kylie’s all over the place. Winner: Britney

To be fair it should be noted that Britney had her hand in co-writing exactly one song off her record, where Kylie co-wrote seven of the tracks on her record. It’s debatable, from an artistic merit standpoint, that these records can be considered best of anything. When Goldfrapp can create and produce a killer electro-pop dance record all by themselves, and Madonna can mold a dance record with just three producers and co-write EVERY TRACK. But for me, a killer pop song is a killer pop song, and Kylie has pulled off the multiple writer/producer patchwork before. And while Britney may have come out on top (album wise) in 2007, I think the future is a bit brighter for Kylie, despite being much older. There’s a good possibility that this could be the last Britney record, and forget about a tour. Honestly, do we want an hour and a half of this?

“Blackout” might not be artistically noteworthy, but it’s a killer pop record and better, in my opinion, than Kanye West’s much touted new record, and sounds MORE forward thinking and modern. (For Kanye, “forward” means heavy sampling of a seven-year-old Daft Punk song.) If you can separate the public persona from the music, you’ll find Britney’s “Blackout” a true joy.



Piece of Me

Gimme More


2 Hearts

1 comment:

MikeM said...

Hmmm. The ladies of Pop music. Well written, but gay as I am, I still have a hard time with to much time being spent on the disposibles. It definately has it's place...i guess.