Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Britney’s “Circus” Makes Her The Ringleader Of The Greatest Comeback In Music History

There’s a lot that can be said about Britney Spears. The truth is that over the past ten years, we have all either taken a stance on loving her or loving to hate her. One thing that both sides cannot argue, however, is that she is an icon and a huge staple in the pop culture of this generation. From pop princess to train wreck, Britney is determined to regain her status as leader of the charts and the world’s most notorious superstar. In coordination with her 27th birthday on December 2nd, she is releasing her 6th studio album, “Circus.” Appropriately titled due to the whirlwind of craziness surrounding her in recent memory, this gem of a pop album is sure to have Britney reclaiming her crown and thrown as she proves that no matter what, she is the untouchable and reigning queen of pop.

Opening the album is “Womanizer,” the first single. Sounding like a mash-up of previous hits “Piece Of Me” and “Toxic,” Spears establishes the electro-dance fused pop sound for the “Circus” era. In true Britney fashion, the song comes along with a steamy and controversial new music video, making it her first number one single since she debuted on the scene with the forever classic “Baby One More Time.” It is a truly catchy song with an infectious chorus that makes it impossible not to want to bust out and dance to. Like the majority of the album, the lyrics are incredibly cheesy and uncreative. Unlike other pop artists (such as Lady GaGa), however, Britney doesn’t pretend to have substance to her lyrical content and isn’t ashamed to admit she doesn’t write it completely herself. The purpose of her music is to have fun and dance while listening to it. With “Circus,” this goal is beyond accomplished.

The following track is unarguably the best on the album, which is perhaps another reason why the record is named after it. “Circus” starts out as a mid-tempo song that builds up into a crazy and upbeat club friendly number. Intelligently slated to be the second single, it is not difficult to picture an epic and lavish music video to accompany it. With a killer hook, a dance break, and constant changes in pace, the song is produced by Benny Blanco and Dr. Luke, those responsible for Katy Perry’s recent hits “I Kissed A Girl” and “Hot ‘N Cold.” It is a guaranteed smash, as both radios and nightclubs will eat it up like candy. The song throws us back to Britney’s “In The Zone” era, as it goes back to the roots of pop that made songs like “Me Against The Music” so big, and draws upon them to create a more evolved and sophisticated mature sound.

One of the most refreshing things about this album is the fact that Britney actually allows herself to really sing on it. When you compare her “Baby One More Time” album to last year’s “Blackout,” you can’t help but wonder what happened to her voice? No, it was never on par with Christina or Mariah, but she still had something. Why then as time evolved did her voice slowly morph into what ultimately sounded like a computer doing her vocals for her? Regardless of the reason, “Circus” goes against this trend and allows Britney’s voice to overpower the AutoTune.

“Blackout” was also failed to include any ballads. With Britney not afraid to sing to her full extent again, “Circus” provides us with both of these missing factors. We hear the maternal glow in her voice with “My Baby,” an ode to her two children. On “Out From Under,” Britney really showcases the range of her voice, proving those who say she can’t sing completely wrong. It’s another bonafide smash, most likely to be the single following “Circus,” and will easily join the likes of other Britney ballad classics such as “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman” and “Everytime.” “So let me go, just let me fly away, let me feel the space between us growing deeper and much darker every day. Watch me now and I’ll be someone new. My heart will be unbroken, it will open up for everyone but you,” she croons with so much vulnerability in her voice, making the song seem that much more genuine and thereby even lovelier.

Britney is clearly no longer going after the 13-year-old demographic like in the olden days of her career. She understands that her fans have grown up with her and that she’s working to please a young adult to adult crowd now instead. Easily the catchiest song on the album, “If U Seek Amy” is also the most controversial. There is no way that this song would have ever made it onto a previous Britney album, due to its blatant sexual imagery. At first, it might be hard to decipher the word play it consists of, but after listening to it a few times, what is really being sung will hit you over the head like a ton of bricks. “All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if u seek Amy,” Britney sings. Huh? Rewind. “All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to F-U-C-K me.” Ooooooohhh. I get it now. Very, very clever Britney. It’s a play on words that may even go so far as allowing it to be played on the radio, while still being able to get away with the dirty talk she’s trying to accomplish. It’s an electronic club banger that makes me picture flashing lights, glow sticks, and disco balls coming at me from every angle in a dark room surrounded by the most high fashion of people in the East Village.

Other album favorites include “Shattered Glass,” the S&M friendly “Lace And Leather,” and “Unusual You.” These songs all showcase extreme sides of Britney that her music has never done thus far. In them, we get perspective on her outlook on divorce, sexual fantasies, and the sadness that is her confusion when people don’t leave her because she’s so used to it. However, her and her team has successfully been able to translate these emotions into upbeat dance numbers, making their inclusion make “Circus” sound more like a “Greatest Hits: Volume 2” record, than just a new album. There really are no filler tracks, as each one of these songs was handpicked to produce the best possible comeback record in music history, and guess what … it worked.

Unlike when “Blackout” was released, Ms. Spears is planning on doing heavy promotion for the release of “Circus.” A couple of weeks ago, she performed on stage with Madonna (whose recent album “Hard Candy” clearly heavily influenced “Circus”) during the L.A. stop of her tour. She is slated to go on a quick European promo tour which includes performances on television shows such as the UK’s “X Factor” and France’s “Star Academy.” On the day the album is released, she will be performing on “Good Morning America,” with the following day devoted to lighting the Rockefeller Christmas Tree at the annual ceremony. The biggest and most exciting news, however, is that for the past few months she has been in rehearsals for a worldwide tour, to kick off at the beginning of next year sometime. With a phenomenal new album and tour to follow it, Britney has proven that not only is she back, but she is ready and determined to conquer and dominate the world of pop music all over again.

Out Of 4 Stars: 3.5

Must Have Track: "Circus"

Like it? Buy it here


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