Rant and Rave: Britney Jean

britney jean
Image courtesy of RCA Records

Just when you thought Britney would come out with another chart-topping, ground-breaking and earth-splitting album like Blackout, Circus and In the Zone, she makes a complete 180 and delivers something totally different yet keeping her distinct style very much alive. The princess of pop promised to give fans an album that was much more personal and as such, Britney Jean delivers just that, well almost.

Britney Jean starts with Alien, a folk and electro-pop hybrid that gives a nice opening to Spears’ eighth studio album. The hook carries a melodic chant of “Not alone / Not alone / Not alone,” that can be loosely interpreted as Britney feeling lonely and unable to relate to the real world. Alien has that hypnotic tribal feel to it that is not expected to be delivered by Britney, but then again that’s why she’s always exciting to watch.

The second track of the album is Work B**ch, the lead single in Britney Jean, produced by Swedish House Mafia’s Sebastian Ingrosso, Otto “Knows” Jettman and among others. Despite its repetitive lyrics and melody, Work B**ch is arguably the pièce de résistance of Britney Jean. Being heavily influenced by the EDM-dance trend, Work B**ch is out to tell the world that Queen Britney is back and is ready to show you all how it’s done.

Perfume is the second single of the album that has that power pop ballad reminiscent of Everytime. With lyrics like “Current girlfriend, ex-girlfriend / I’m trying to be cool,” and “By being paranoid / Am I seeing things / I’m just insecure,” tells the bitter tale of Britney’s recent breakup with ex-fiancé Jason Trawick. Perfume acts as the poster child of Britney Jean being the personal record that it claims to be.

After Perfume comes It Should Be Easy, another EDM dance hit featuring Surely one to be played over airwaves countless times, It Should Be Easy is a heavily auto tuned dance track that would have been great if had not been in it. Nonetheless, it is still a pretty catchy song that will probably be released as a single in the near future.

Tik Tik Boom featuring T.I. is by far the most provocative song in the album without being overly raunchy. Similar to If You Seek Amy, Tik Tik Boom also uses one of Britney’s carefully planned rhymes making “Tik Tik” sound like, well, you know what it sounds like. Tik Tik Boom is an explosive sexual confession presented in the most nonchalant way, just the way Britney does it best. Accompanied by solid instrumentals and the perfect touch of rap at the end, the track definitely delivers on Britney Jean’s claim to be the personal album that it is.

The slew of EDM songs continues in Body Ache, another dance track in collaboration with David Guetta. Unlike the previous songs in the album, Body Ache comes off as a sleepier EDM track which is a little disappointing to say the least considering Britney is known for her high energy songs and performances. On the other hand, it is very catchy and is likely to get stuck in your head even if you don’t want to make your body ache like Britney.

Til It’s Gone is a track that will definitely surprise people when they hear it for the first time. It starts off like a slowed down I Wanna Go but once the beat drops, it becomes raw, powerful and energetic. With the mid-tempo switch up from slow and steady to high intensity, Til It’s Gone is one of the stronger songs on Britney Jean that has the potential of being released as a single.

Passenger is a song co-written by Katy Perry and Sia and judging from the lyrics alone, it sounds as if it should have been on Katy’s Prism. Nevertheless, Passenger is one of those songs that you have not heard Britney done in a long time. With the rare occurrence of hitting high notes against the power pop melody, Passenger takes you back to the pre-meltdown Britney.

Chillin’ With You features Britney’s younger sister, Jamie Lynn Spears. The first duet by the Spears sisters was mildly entertaining but overall confusing. Chillin’ With You starts with an acoustic exchange between Britney and Jamie Lynn and then morphs mid-tempo into another EDM fiasco. While Chillin’ With You is a more playful song between the two sisters, it barely delivers on the personal theme of Britney Jean.

One of the more vulnerable songs in the album is Don’t Cry. It is in this song that we can hear Britney’s voice change as she sings the lines, “Hide your tears and dry your eyes / ’Cause I don’t wanna see you cry / Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry.” The song is an emotional ballad that reveals Britney’s struggle with moving on from a break up and ultimately her more human side that most people don’t see.

It is interesting to note that the deluxe version contains four more tracks that complete the Britney Jean experience. It’s a shame that none of them were included in the standard version because they really are the icing on the cake. The first of the bonus tracks is Brightest Morning Star, another refreshing pop ballad by Britney that should be more prevalent in her future albums. With all the crazy dance hits, we forget that Britney has what it takes to deliver beautifully on slower love songs.

Hold On Tight is another perfect example of a refined electronic ballad. With Britney’s signature vocal chops matching up to synthesizers in the background, it’s a dreamy love song that deserves more attention on the album.

Now That I Found You is the third bonus track on the deluxe version of Britney Jean. Another high-low tempo similar to Til It’s Gone, Now That I Found You is a more fun EDM-ballad hybrid and makes for a decent feel-good song.

To close the bonus tracks of Britney Jean is Perfume (The Dreaming Mix) which has a more electronic sound to the original version of the track. While Perfume in itself is a fantastic track, the hypnotic melody of the Dreaming Mix makes it sound ten times better.

The promise of a personal record may not have been fulfilled in Britney Jean but that is not really a huge issue. Sure, there may have been a few tracks that have lived up to the promise of it being the “most personal album” to date like Don’t Cry, Hold on Tight and Perfume but the compromise of having upbeat EDM hits like Work B**ch, Til It’s Gone and It Should Be Easy is necessary for the album to reach commercial success. Britney Jean may have had a few sleeper hits but is overall a solid album banking on strong ballads and electronic dance hits. Unlike her previous studio albums, Britney Jean is the transition from a smash hit pop record to the new era of Britney Spears. With a two year stint at Las Vegas coming up for the pop star, the next move of Britney is as good as anyone’s guess.

Rating: 3.0/4.0
Jeanne Marie Cornista

By Jeanne Marie Cornista

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