I suppose this is fairly old news by now, but pop tart Britney Spears released a new, post-psychotic episode album entitled Circus on December 2, 2008. Normally, I would not comment on such things, but while reading a review of the album (my musical curiosity knows no bounds, including the limits of good taste), I discovered something interesting.
While I am no Britney Spears fan by any stretch, I will admit that a few of her songs are incredibly well-crafted pop tunes. “…Baby One More Time” is a hell of a catchy song, and the marketing guys behind that little jewel pulled off an amazing coup of the pop music industry, launching Britney’s career light years ahead of the boy bands that were dominating the pop music charts at the time, such as N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Following the success of that song were several other pop gems, such as “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” “Oops! I Did It Again,” and “Toxic.” Say what you will about Britney’s singing ability, dancing ability, or actual involvement in the crafting of these songs, but the truth of the matter is that these are excellent little pop tunes that helped her become one of the most talked about singers of her generation, easily eclipsing other arguably more talented female pop stars of her time like Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, and Jessica Simpson. One major factor in her success was Britney’s unique mix of presumed innocence and blatant sexuality; we got the Madonna and the whore in one pretty package.
Then, as we all know, the train jumped the rails and everything came to a halt in one of the more fiery flame outs that the pop world has witnessed in recent memory. I will not recount the details of the multiple marriages, head shaving, paparazzi attacking, hospitalizations, child endangerment, and cringe-inducing awards show “comeback” attempts. It was inescapable , and if you know nothing of it, consider yourself lucky, for it was not pretty.
After months of questionable behavior, cooler heads prevailed, and her parents finally stepped up to take care of their ailing daughter. For the last several months, Britney has remained largely out of the headlines, in a relative sense anyway, and it seems that she has been on the road to recovery. I’m assuming that Circus was meant to be her comeback album since last year’s Blackout failed to be that, despite it garnering her some sympathy MTV Video awards. From what I’ve read, Circus is probably not going to launch her back into the stratosphere.
So, not so interesting, you say? I agree. I wouldn’t necessarily say that no one cares anymore, but I will definitely say that the majority of folks, myself included, have probably had more than their fill of Britney Spears at this point, so her hopes for a true comeback are premature and perhaps misguided.
But the one thing that I found interesting while reading about Circus was the title of one of the tracks. There is a song on the record titled “If You Seek Amy.” Seems innocuous enough, right? Say it slowly. It took me a while, but listening to the song and the way that her voice is Auto-tuned spells it out rather clearly, even though it seems at first to make absolutely no sense: “All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if you seek Amy.” In case you haven’t figured it out, the title creates a phonetic acronym for “f-u-c-k me.” Clever. Yes, I’m being sarcastic.
Is this really the image that Britney wants to portray at this point? Doesn’t her father still have conservatorship over her? Didn’t someone think this was a bad idea? It basically eliminates any sympathy that listeners might have had for the girl over her recent struggles. Spears seems to be saying, “Yeah, I’m crazy, but y’all know you’d still do me.” While I can’t really argue that point, isn’t her core audience mostly young girls? Do we really want our young children listening to and even singing “If You Seek Amy” out loud at family gatherings? The whole thing is especially strange when you consider that also on the album is a song called “My Baby” which is apparently a sincere dedication to her young sons.
I think Britney missed an opportunity here to make a really honest and revealing record, a move that certainly would have garnered her some much needed respect and support from her audience and the general public as a whole. Instead, we get this, a lame and dirty throwaway novely tune that ignores the original core strengths of Britney’s appeal: the innocent front barely covering up the little minx lying just below the surface. I don’t think it’s unreasonable that she could have gotten that back, but it doesn’t seem that she or her handlers are interested in that. Instead, we get none of the (biblical) Madonna and all of the the whore. Or I suppose I could have said we get all of the Madonna, speaking non-biblically.