She is living the American dream. Born in Hicksville, Britney Spears became a member of the Mickey Mouse club, had a skyrocketing pop career and is in love with one of the most eligible bachelors in the world ? of course she is the center of hatred.
However, is that to say that Britney is an overshadowed talent? Yes and no.
“Britney” opens with her most recent smash “I’m A Slave 4 U,” which is the catchiest the diva-in-training has ever been. However, the mastermind behind the throw-down beats of the sexy track is none other than the Neptunes, who are responsible for artist Kelis’ impressive debut effort. Merging Britney’s rather ailing vocal range with R&B pop songs is, surprisingly, not a failure.
The Neptunes also produce another standout track on the album ? “Boys.” This song has a convertible-cruisy feel. Of course the lyrics are a nursery rhyme gone wrong, yet the urban beats make it deliciously edible, if not the highlight.
Then you get to the part were Britney attempts to replicate other artist’s songs. “Anticipating” sounds like a drunken-karaoke version of Janet Jackson’s overplayed “All For You.”
Later on, Britney steals a rap bass line for “Bombastic Love.” But the complete disgust comes when she covers Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The result is a sorry attempt at credibility. You need true attitude to carry that tune. She should’ve learned that from her last album when she turned the Rolling Stones’ racy “Satisfaction” into pure and utter sleaze. Don’t mess with the classics, lil’ Brit.
Spears, who proudly boasts about her partial writing credits on this release, sings about the tumultuous life of being a poor little 19-year-old billionaire.
“Overprotected” is her way of stealing the car when her parents aren’t around and “Lonely” is her plea on being a hormonal teenager ? not exactly Alanis when it comes to penning numbers. Still, the sound is danceable.
All this comes to an end when Britney leaves the schmaltzy pop tunes that she does best and meanders into gross ballads to show that although shallow, she is deep.
“I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman,” the next single, works better than putting your finger down your throat. Britney is the queen of sap. Her crooning is even worse than on “Lucky” and “Sometimes” combined.
I do not expect her to burst into something as consequential as Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” but with all the green she makes selling pre-schoolers T-shirts and posters, she could’ve at least paid for an actual lyricist’s assistance. But that does not seem to be her priority.
“Britney” is saved when she returns to upbeat with the skip-hop of “That’s Where You Take Me” and the staccato “What It’s Like To Be Me,” a song co-written with her boyfriend Justin Timberlake.
There is an extra serving of R&B on this one, without the soul. The good thing about Britney is that although she sticks to the most generic pop templates, she can bust a move that will give a rather average dance song a facelift.
This album is like other Britney albums ? it has infectious dance uppers and dreadful downers. She is not a good vocalist or a gifted songwriter. Her talent is in her dancing, which is why most her songs make sense only after you see the video clip.
You might not want to listen to “Britney” after a long hard day at work, but fortunately you can always dance to it.
Al-Qatami can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.