To fully appreciate a [a]Britney Spears[/a] song, you’ve got to have seen the video about 15 times. You have to have first digested each piece of razor-sharp choreography, each flick of the lashes, each pop-genius hook and chord change. To realise the evil genius behind this pop phenomenon is frightening.
Against cynical opinion, the reason why [a]Britney Spears[/a] has sold 28 million albums across the globe is because she’s modern-day pop perfection realised in a, nearly, human form. Like it or not, the songs penned for Britney by Swedish producer Max Martin, the man behind the even more successful Backstreet Boys, get into your brain like ketamine. An all-encompassing, horrendously realised high – once it’s inside you, there’s little you can do to stop it, you must give in. In its own sick way, Britney is drug music.
Case in point is album opener and comeback single ‘Oops! I Did It Again’. Essentially a harder, carbon copy of ‘Baby One More Time’, it’s easily as good as her breakthrough single. You get your fix in a second of the song opening – the taut ’80s Michael Jackson riffs, the squeals, the killer chorus, the uplifting middle bit, it’s all in there. Did you really think she’d let you down?
There’s the deranged helium synth pop of ‘Stronger’ with the huge ABBA chord change in the chorus that sounds scarier and more robotic than the Backstreet Boys. The 21st-century R&B of Timbaland is bastardised, beaten and strangled to within an inch of its life with ‘Don’t Go Knockin’ On My Door’ while the Mutt Lange-penned ‘Don’t Let Me Be The Last To Know’ takes the riff from Iggy/Bowie‘s ‘China Girl’ and puts it over schmaltzy cocktail-hour bass and love film strings. It’s absolutely frightening.
So, the long-awaited – and ill-advised – cover of the Stones‘ ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ is a letdown, but soon-to-be-single ‘Lucky’ is perhaps Britney‘s finest moment. The ultimate mallrat, bittersweet teenage symphony. It’s Britney‘s ‘Where Did It All Go Wrong?’. A heart-rending tale of life at the top of the teen pop tree, transformed into an anthem for dramatic, moody 12-year-old girls everywhere by Max Martin‘s scary talent for teenybop lyrics. “If there’s nothing missing in my life/Then why do these tears come at night?” sounds pretty fucking heavy when you’ve just been dumped and Britney‘s [I]Mickey Mouse Club[/I]-trained falsetto is reaching its peak.
Sorry, but she’s done it again – the difficult second album proved to be a piece of piss. Whether the fickle world of the Top Ten will let it happen again remains to be seen, but in the absence of anything else (hello, Christina Aguilera) Britney‘s going to walk it.
On the sly, you know you love it.