Before I even heard the album I was sure my inner stan for Britney Spears would have plagued this review of her eighth studio album ‘Britney Jean’ with favouritism and sweeping statements as to how forward thinking and generally flawless this album is.
But fortunately for anyone reading, this review won’t be plagued with sweeping statements of how great this body of work is and you know why? Because it is terrible. And for anyone who knows me must realise how hard it is for me to say that!
‘Britney Jean’ was touted as her most personal album and a ‘term of endearment’ to her fans. But it wasn’t always meant to be her most personal album ever, in fact last year before work even began Britney hinted that this album would be the long awaited sequel to her fifth studio album ‘Blackout’. Easily her best and most experimental album, the fifth offering from Spears predicted the EDM wave before it even happened all the way back in 2007. But I already expressed my absolute love for the album back in the summer which you can read here.
Now back to Britney Jean. It initially was meant to be ‘Blackout 2.0’ which got everyone on Twitter in a frenzy and when work began on the album the big name producers featured were Darkchild, Naughty Boy and Danja Hills. YASSSS!!! It was really happening!!! I didn’t even care that Will-I-Am was also involved because Britney and Danja were back together! All was right with the world!!
That was until all the aforementioned producers began suddenly being dropped from the project. Naughty Boy initially spoke out regarding the album saying it was going to change pop culture and that the sound was more ‘In The Zone’ than ‘Femme Fatale’ which got me even more excited for the album.
But then reports came that he wasn’t going to be on the album because he couldn’t get to L.A in time to work with Spears. It sucked but it wasn’t that much of a great loss. At least we have Darkchild and Danja!
Darkchild then confirmed via Twitter that he wasn’t going to be on the album either. Again a great loss but AT LEAST WE STILL HAVE DANJA HILLS RIGHT????
Then what everyone else assumed was confirmed via Instagram. Danja was not going to be on Britney’s eighth studio album.
So who was going to be on this damn album then? William Orbit who produced ‘Alien’ and newly appointed Executive Producer Will-I-Am. *siiiiiiiiigh*
The direction then changed from ‘Blackout 2.0’ to Britney’s most personal album ever. Were we going to hear songs about her breakdown? Her depression? Rehab? Well not quite.
The album has its moments where it gets personal or as personal as Britney will ever get these days. ‘Perfume’ refers to her breakup with Jason who she was engaged to. The song tells the story of a couple who seem to be happy together but Britney can’t help that ‘sometimes theres just threeeeeeeeee of us in here bayyyy beeee’. Did Jason cheat on Britney? Well as the song goes ‘I’ll never tell..’ So we still don’t know what the song is referring to but Britney seems to love it and believes its a song that everyone can relate to as some point.
Its her first ballad since ‘Everytime’ to be released as a single and it is pleasant enough and you can actually hear Britney sing in the song. There aren’t any audio edits or effects on her voice and personally its one of my very few favourites on the album.
Britney Jean’s lead single ‘Work Bitch’ is one of those songs where its up to interpretation whether it is really personal or not. On the one hand the song has Britney commanding ‘You wanna hot body? Wanna Bugatti? You Wanna Maserrtai? You beta work bitch!’ against a pulsating EDM beat which builds to a crescendo once the chorus begins.
So on the one hand you could say yes this is a personal song because in Britney’s 15 years of being in the game she has worked hard to get where she is today and basically if you want nice things you betta work bitch!
But then on the other hand it can easily be seem as a generic EDM song, a genre we all hoped she moved on from already ffs, which is apparently another ‘term of endearment’ to her gay fans.
I fail to see that but the music video for the song was Britney’s best in a very long time and saw her dancing once again which probably made me love the song even more. So yay for that!
The William Orbit produced track ‘Alien’ acts as a great opener to the entire album and really captures the dark and moody vibe the album carries throughout. But after rinsing the demo version of the song for the best part of a week, once I heard the final version I was kind of bored with the song but as a stand alone track its a great effort.
This album was meant to herald a return to Britney’s singing voice. Granted she isn’t a belter and can’t carry a note like Adele but its her tone and delivery which has made some of her songs so easily recognisable. So along with ‘Perfume’ you really get to hear Britney’s voice on ‘Passenger’ which was produced by Diplo (Usher ‘Climax’), or do we?
We haven’t heard Britney’s real singing voice in so many years thats its fair to say we don’t know what she is capable of as singer without the aid of auto tune but there is a part in the song which irks me because it sure as hell cannot be Britney. At the 1:54 mark of the song Britney unleashes a massive note as she sings the word ‘Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide’ which Britney has never ever done in that manner. This resulted in many people claiming that her back up singer Myah Marie actually sang that part of the song, Marie then went on record to say that it was ALL Britney but personally I’m not so sure.
And that is where the positive-ish comments about this album stop from me because the rest of the album is bloody awful. And this is coming from someone who at times believes the sun shines out of Britney Spears’ ass. Aside from the aforementioned tracks the only other song that gets an honourable mention is ‘Tik Tik Boom’ which features T.I. This is simply because its probably the only urban song on an album flooded with reductive and dated EDM production (Thanks for that Will- I-Am) and the only reason the song is half decent is because of T.I’s verse. Personally I think this is one of the songs which would have fit perfectly on ‘Blackout 2.0’ before Will-I-Am came along and ruined everything.
The only other features on the album are from Will-I-Am himself on the track ‘It Should Be Easy’ which put simply is the worst song Britney has ever been involved in and 15 years into her career she should NOT be making shit like this.
Her younger sister Jamie Lynn features on ‘Chillin’ and I guess for an album that is meant to be so personal it doesn’t get much more personal than having your own sister on your song.. even if she does sound 2840939203% better than you. On the track Britney sounds terrible and seems to be singing in some warped baby voice which reminds me of her cringey feature on Rihanna’s S&M while on the other hand Jamie Lynn sounds so smooth and clear and I am pretty sure she features more on the song than Britney does. WHAT A MESS!
I’d say on an album that is meant to showcase a more personal side to Spears is the bonus track ‘Brightest Morning Star’ simply because you can tell its about how much she loves her boys which is great and I am happy for her completely. After all she has been though and all she has had to endure its lovely to see Britney so happy as a mother to her babies. And this only adds fuel to the debate that Britney just doesn’t want to be a pop star anymore.
It is so pain stakingly obvious that there is nothing more Britney would rather do than retire and spend her time with her boys and the rest of her family and live the normal life she never got to growing up. And to be honest after hearing this album I really just want her to retire, call it a day, throw the towel in, whatever you wanna call it but it is time for Britney to stop.
She has built up such an enduring legacy with her music and performances that I really don’t think there is anything else for her to give. This album sounds lazy and she may say its her most personal and its close to her heart but with that you have to have people interested in what you have to say and she doesn’t have that anymore. The album charted just within the UK top 40 at #34, her lowest ever and it just about sold 100,000 copies in its first week in the U.S making it an all time low for her career.
I understand that the focus for this era is simply Vegas and her 100 shows over two year deal at Planet Hollywood and I guess it can be excused that the lack of awareness and interest of this album is because her and her team and focused else where but even so it doesn’t excuse how terrible this album is!
I don’t expect other Britney fans to agree with me here and a lot of them have taken to Twitter to make excuse upon excuse for how bad this album sounds and sold. But that is stan mentality for you. DELUSIONAL!
Having been a passionate and often stubborn fan of Ms Spears since 1999 for the first time in my 15 years of fandom for the woman she has made an album I don’t like. Not at all. Its always been guaranteed that where she lacks in her vocals she makes up in making PERFECT pop music and this time she just hasn’t.
After Vegas Britney just retire. Leave your legacy in tact and enjoy time with your kids and family. You made your millions. You’re good.