Britney Spears is almost 20 years deep into her music career. A career that has seen the little girl from Kentwood, Louisiana become one of the most celebrated and recognisable artists of our time. With a career spanning almost two decades, what more does Britney Spears have left to prove? Her impact on pop culture and everlasting legacy on pop music are fully cemented in the general public’s psyche (whether they like to admit it or not).
While it is true that the megastar has achieved more than enough to warrant her regal status in pop music, there is something special about the upcoming release of Britney Spears’ latest album, her ninth, which has tentatively been called “B9”. Things are different this time round, well they feel like they are anyway from a fan’s point of view. Since her highly publicised breakdown in 2007, which saw Britney shave her head and attack a vehicle with an umbrella (amongst other things including custody battles and drug abuse), there has always been something missing in Britney Spears. She went from being a charismatic and confident performer to being a painfully shy and somewhat paranoid former shadow of herself, who seemed uncomfortable with any attention on her. The spark was gone. That fire you saw in her eyes every time she graced the stage to perform and that goofy humour that you couldn’t help but warm to whenever she sat down to talk- they were all gone.
Since 2007, and that performance at the MTV VMA’s, fans have made deliberate efforts to deem every album release since to be Britney’s real comeback, a return to form where she regains her rightful seat on the throne marked ‘Princess of Pop’. However, subsequent album releases have come across like a chore to the popstar, who seemed more interested in spending time with her sons and leading a perfectly “normal” existence. I mean, how “normal” can your existence be when you’re Britney Spears? When Britney did do interviews, fans watched them hoping a glimmer of her fun, confident and goofy self would shine through the shy and muted shell that seemed to consume her. More often than not, there was no glimmer at all.
But like I said, things seem different this time. Britney seems passionate about her career again, she looks engaged and is present in the room again. I feel like this is largely due to the Las Vegas Residency which has been going since the end of 2013. Perhaps it’s down to the art of repetition, but over the past few years Britney seems to have regained her confidence in performing again. She no longer just walks along the stage going through the motions, she is now in control and all eyes are on her in the centre of the ring, just like a Circus. With this reignited passion in performance, Britney’s confidence is the best it’s been since pre-2007. She is goofy and charismatic in interviews and is giving answers that go above and beyond “really cool” and “uh huh… yeah”. And for any fan of Britney Spears, this is the greatest victory we could ever ask for.
For many people, Britney’s ninth studio album is where everything (hopefully) comes full circle. Her performances are stronger than ever, her 2016 Billboard Music Awards performance was celebrated by everyone as a true return to form, and when she talks about her new album you get the feeling she’s the one calling the shots this time round. “Not so poppy” and “really chilled and vibey” are descriptions of what fans can expect from the new music. If we want to take it even further, Britney’s Instagram account is further proof that her personality is shining brighter than ever. A bizarre mix of photos with her kids, candid selfies showing off her incredible body, memes with inspirational quotes and the odd Angel baby sourced from Google collectively show a much happier and stable Britney that we haven’t seen in almost a decade. There have even been talks about her conservatorship being lifted giving her full control of her finances and estates, both of which her father currently controls and has done for almost 10 years.
There is no denying that Britney Spears is at her absolute best right now. I cannot think back to a time when she has been this comfortable and confident with herself. From a fan’s point of view, it’s a truly great thing to see and not enough people give Britney Spears the credit she is due for bouncing back from the brink the way she did. Where most people would have been left to self-destruct, Britney fought back and is an inspiration to anyone who deals with mental-illness on a daily basis or even someone has had a shit period in their life and isn’t sure they can come back from it. For a long time, it looked like she wasn’t going to make it, we were never going to see the same Britney Spears that I grew up with who commanded audiences with her performances and set stages alight with just her mere existence. What her new album has the potential to do goes far beyond music and her standing in the pop world, it has the chance to show people that things do get better. When you are at your worst, in the midst of your darkest days and when it looks like there is no coming back, there is hope and there is a chance to build yourself up again, stronger than yesterday.
A lot of people don’t “get” my love for Britney Spears and to be frank I don’t expect them to. Some people love and adore football players or religious figures; the chink in my armour is Britney Spears. I have been a Britney fan longer than I haven’t been a Britney fan and she has been the soundtrack to my childhood, teenage years and now adulthood. Seeing how far she fell only makes seeing how high she has bounced back that bit sweeter. And no matter how many copies this album sells or awards it garners or trends it starts, in my eyes, Britney Spears in 2016 has already fucking won.