I had a different blog post planned for today, but instead of working on it yesterday, I ended up just listening to the leaked tracks for Britney’s upcoming Femme Fatale over and over again. So I thought, hey, why not write about the perpetual Princess of Pop? Because Femme Fatale is, simply put, utter bliss: a shameless sex kitten of an album, perfectly manufactured for sweaty, mindless grinding.
Today it’s apparently impossible for anyone to talk about pop music without mentioning the omnipresence of Lady Gaga in that arena, and while I’ll succumb to this, I do so because I think that only in a post-Gaga world could I finally appreciate Britney Spears. Whereas the Lady Gaga brand is cerebral and hyperintelligent, her image meticulously micromanaged down to her manicure, Britney’s persona is so effortlessly giddy and stupid. Have you heard her recent interviews about Femme Fatale? It’s like listening to a kid describe her fingerpaintings. And that is totally fine. I don’t listen to pop music to be intellectually stimulated or empowered. I just want to get fucked up and dance.
Furthermore, whereas Lady Gaga projects this sexual confidence that is overt and intimidating (it even ages her and makes her seem more mature than her 24 years, i.e. when her fans call her Mother Monster), Britney has maintained successfully balancing her sexuality with a childlike innocence and naivete. Her debut as a naughty Catholic schoolgirl established an image that she has kept – even shaving her head was an act of juvenile teenage rebellion. And at 29, Britney still sounds like jail bait, and yes, it’s hot. Sure, she tells her soon-to-be ex to “shut your mouth and turn me inside out,” but her Lolita voice still purrs the same way it did a decade ago. Femme Fatale is titillating, addictive, and – most important for a good pop album – nostalgic on multiple levels. Let’s break it down, song-by-song.
Till the World Ends – This song was just released, and I’m sure you’ve formed your own opinion of it by now. Definitely not the most original of lyrics, but when you compare it classic Britney, she has a good perception of how her audience has matured. A friend of mine commented that it sounds like a rave, and I agree: it has a euphoric chorus with vivid imagery. Clearly Britney knows that the generation that grew up with her now does a lot of E. A-
Hold It Against Me - Everyone and their gay grandpa has heard this song, but if you haven’t seen the video, click on the link. It’s dazzling fun. (I’ll admit it, I didn’t realize the title had a double meaning until my friend explained it to me; I didn’t expect a literary device like double entendre from Britney.) B+
Inside Out - First time I heard this song, I was listening to it on my iPod while working out at the gym, and I blushed so hardcore that I had to move away from the mirrors. It is a song about dick-matism and breakup sex, and how many times have you been in a situation where the relationship is shit, but the sex is amazing? And then when you finally end it, as Britney sings, you need to fight the urge to ask: “Even if we couldn’t last forever, won’t you give me something to remember?” I’m a former raver, so slower pop ballads tend to bore the shit out of me, but “Inside Out” is so erotically charged and fearlessly honest. Extra points for an homage to her first hit “…Baby One More Time.” A
I Wanna Go - The shining highlight of Femme Fatale, I am in love with this song. Sung with bedroom eyes and a sticky pout, “I Wanna Go” in many ways is an inspired departure from a lot of her other songs, with an interesting synthy beat and an infectious whistle. It is about masturbation, a girl lying in bed struggling to “keep both my hands above the blanket.” “Shame on me / To need release / Uncontrollably,” she purrs, each line ending with a girlish squeal. Considering that we’re so open about male masturbation, I still don’t understand why female masturbation is taboo, and this song is a total celebration of it. The best part? The climax of course, when the base drops, and she literally pants the chorus. A+
How I Roll – The cutest song on the track (also with the least autotuning of her voice, since it takes place in her only octave), Britney sings with a relaxed chill vibe, accompanied with a fun dubstep beat; I am a total sucker for dubstep. I like this song because it’s a pleasant break from the heavy sexuality of the previous three songs. It’s a great dance-with-friends song. Sample lyric: “I wanna go downtown where my posses’s at, because I got nine lives like a kitty cat.” She’s accompanied by Dr. Luke, who has a rich voice that drips like molasses. B+
(Drop Dead) Beautiful ft. Sabi - My second favorite track, because it is a song where a woman confidently worships a man’s beauty with an understood confidence of her own power over him: “Whoever said that beauty’s on the inside is a lie, because what I’m looking at right now would make a big girl cry, so fasten your seatbelt cuz it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” And to be honest, it’s a great gay club song. It easily could be told from a gay man’s perspective, which solves a sometimes mild annoyance for me (I really wish Rihanna would record “Only Boy in the World”). A
Seal It with a Kiss – One of the less epic songs on Femme Fatale, this slightly overproduced ballad is nevertheless catchy. The lyrics are a bit redundant, and while I don’t mind a few well-placed cliches, this song seems to have checked every one of them off. I think it’s about a guy and girl in the same group of friends who have a crush on each other, so that’s relatable for a lot of people. Sample lyric: “Say you’re just a friend, I’m a little liar. Come in closer, don’t be shy. Cross my heart and hope to die. Keep a secret, me and you. And seal it with a kiss.” B-
Big Fat Bass ft. will.i.am – “I could be the treble, baby, you could be the bass,” Britney chants in an airy, throaty voice in this song that is perfectly paced for some dirty grinding. I can see why some people are already drooling over “Big Fat Bass,” with the sexy collaboration with will.i.am, but I’m a bit disappointed with it. I was hoping for something more kicky and dramatic, and less hypnotic and repetitive, however it did grow on me eventually. Somewhat. B
Trouble for Me - This song is great and upbeat; Britney’s voice is autotuned to perfection, and the synthy interludes are lots of fun. “Me and you are a disaster and you are only a danger to me, but the party isn’t the same without you, that’s why you’re so good for everybody else, but you’re trouble for me.” It’s probably one of the best examples on Femme Fatale about the musical evolution that the Britney brand is undergoing. Plus it’s great to pump your butt to. A-
Trip to Your Heart -They don’t even attempt to make Britney sound like herself in this one, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a very trance/ravey song with a nice midtempo beat, sung with a breathy whisper. “Spread my wings up into the dark, I’ll fly away on a trip to your heart,” go the lyrics; it’s classic Britney when it comes to lyrics, but the music is wonderfully mixed and progressive. Even moreso than dubstep, I love me some trance, especially epic trance, so I can totally picture myself making out to this song in a dark corner. Hopefully with a person, as opposed to the wall or whatever. A-
Gasoline - The best thing about this adorably silly song is that I don’t think the titular gasoline is supposed to be metaphor for something. I don’t think she’s talking about alcohol. Hence she’s literally asking to be filled up with gasoline and then set on fire. Then she starts to moan like she’s getting it, so maybe she’s talking about… Ew, let’s not go there. Best lyric? “My heart only runs on supreme.” The 2:00 minute mark is glorious. B+
Criminal - This song kinda is like “Alejandro” for dummies; it even begins with South American pan flutes as well. I wish they hadn’t chosen to end the album with this track, which is really blah. A girl apologizes to mom for falling for a bad boy: “Mama I’m in love with a criminal. And this type of love isn’t rational, it’s physical.” Even Britney sounds bored singing it. Oh well. They couldn’t all be great. C+
This is how much I like this album: I have all the songs, but I’m definitely buying Femme Fatale when it drops on March 29th. Besides, there are four more songs in the deluxe edition that haven’t leaked, and considering the rest of the stellar track list, I’m sure they will be four more reasons to be seduced by this Femme Fatale.
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