I’ve spent the past two years since Femme Fatale mastering the art and science of global media and communication with Britney as my canon. I don’t really need to prove anything, and apparently neither does she; because Britney Jean founds and finds itself in that, it breathes … I appreciate Britney Jean.
Holding the thread close to a dream, while intelligence becomes the steal
For what if gold, showed token sold, while manners abright and rightfully bold
Make a wish, a princess dream, unfold the map, a small lil’ bean
To vanish the air and trace out the new, so scared to love, so soon who knew
Beautiful voice creeps in my head, only one person person can wear this red
Traces behavior, young and small; I see land, I must fall
Linger in the legacy… intelligence as the steal is Britney Jean – no, she is not Gaga, nor Madonna, nor is hers the aspired claim on their cerebral domain, that knowledge which detaches one from visceral humanity… that spark to light the first morning star. Yet, only one can wear the red, the Scarlet Letter Britney dons instead… And so seeing land, she must fall; that grounding rooting the human and iconic plight – from dust we came and to dust we return, no matter how high the peak flight.
This is the record of someone who’s already been where you want her to stay, but that’s the point: you can’t evolve, and still return to that place unchanged; but you’ll never see it that way, because you’re not she.
Revealing itself much like a sunset over the Hollywood Hills… we have an aural venture through lightly hued layers of majestic technicolor faded, ascending as a systematic rise within the naturally spectacular, muted neon chromatic escalating to the heavens, forever rooted in the Canyon, steady upon the capitalized moniker of America’s finest institution: studio stardom.
The Original Doll… picking up where the unreleased sonic utopia of Britney fandom left off, from Mona Lisa’s declaration of icon status amidst the coming wave of mass reproduced clone basics:
She’s the original, she’s unforgettable / She wants you to know: she’s been cloned
It’s kind of incredible, she’s so unpredictable / She wants you to know, that she’s home
to Alien’s declaration of self-awareness amidst the present wave of mass reproduced clone basics…
There was a time I was one of a kind / lost in a world, doubted me myself and I … was lonely then … like an alien
I tried but I never figured it out / why I always felt like a stranger in a crowd … but that was then … like an alien
Cross through the universe to get where you are / travel the night riding on a shooting star … was lonely then … like an alien
Had to get used to the world I was on, while yet still unsure if I knew where I belong … but that was then … like an alien
Stellar evolution… and evolutions involve apparent descent. No longer Britney the supernova, Britney Jean collapses into herself as the white dwarf amidst a pitch black expanse… even in its subdued glow, still and always the brightest morning star — because the stars in the sky look like home.
Chaos so tightly controlled that it becomes the constant, the standard, the quietest storm… Complexity bundled creates static, but if you listen closely it’s incredibly layered and quite beautiful in its systematic rise and fall… Always the elemental interplay between terrestrial percussion… rasp the hi-hat, snap the snare… cosmic synths, respiratory natural vocals, lightning vocoder effects, electric strings, coiled bass, atmospheric elemental convergence… and the digital landscape becomes increasingly present, and yet Britney welcomes it as a part of her being, because that’s what it means to be a rockstar — be a comet, a meteor, an asteroid, be the living convergence of spectacle and substance, light and heavy, fire and rock, it’s … I can’t … it’s Britney, she’s Planet Hollywood — the big bang.
Riding a shooting star through the night, she rode through the darkness on her own assassination attempt… Never flop, never forget… “I’ll never tell, I hide it well… the bad bxxch you’ll never know…” the most exposed and least revealed… every she, he, and we will always have the scent of Britney … on our sinuses, forever lingering when we inhale the new, now, fresh batch of pop tarts… and there’s always three… and that most unholy matrimony… since the forever summertime, blood on the leaves, the taste of strange fruit from the deep Delta Poplar Trees… red wine flowing while globetrotting across the sky, the intoxicating Spearit, consecrated on the breeze.
More than an album, a record of the epic living Eleusinian Mystery… nothing left to prove except that, “I told you so, that I am the bad bxxch, the bxxch that you’ll never know… because you’re dwelling on the high noon, as I ride into my planetary Hollywood sunset…” Don’t cry when the lone ranger waves goodbye along silver lines…
If Britney retires after Vegas, she will have completed what no other artist could — because her character never broke. Seamless emergence, rise, fall, renaissance, retirement — before 35, to live, to tell… show… at the very least: exist as proof that you can #intelligenceisthesteal
Hm, so … this one is tricky. I guess, in short, Britney Jean, to me, says one thing, and one thing very definitively: This is Planet Hollywood, I Am Planet Hollywood.
Half planet, half Hollywood, this album peaks and valleys, stratospheric heights and terrestrial depths. It’s a mood piece, and as such, did not make sense until I was in vehicular motion.
I always say, if you want to feel fame — pilot up Mulholland Drive. As you coast and careen along the Hollywood Hills in a journey equally breathtaking in its aesthetic splendor and constant proximal fatality, you have to marvel at how something so juxtaposed and magnificent could ever exist within the capital of manufactured artifice. And right beside the splendor is the perpetual threat: that should you look over the vertiginous drop a split second too long, should you get lost for a spell in the Canyon’s star trail, should a twist of fate trigger the Achilles fall for no clear reason at all… your silent demise still reigns above the masses who never heard the autumn call — and that’s fame: and that’s what Britney Jean gives you in ten tracks.
Whether or not you can go to those Hills — Britney did: because she put in work, you got the soundtrack and a shotgun seat for fifteen years of fame – sonic fuel for the vehicular ones. This is for those who must move by natural compulsion: the troupers, the cosmic dancers, the runaways, the goers. Spears will always give the stagnant a catalyst glimpse, and forever will the critics judge from the pit, and a decade and a half later it is glaringly clear those who knew what to do with it — those who danced to the music of mysterious mentality, and the deaf who called it juvenile insanity. So now, she hands over the keys and we see who can play pilot.
“Passenger” reminds any Angeleno that this was the one who did traverse Mulholland, Doheny, and Laurel Canyon not six years ago at 100 mph — the one whose white CLK defined modern Hollywood mobility. Now, she eases down Sunset with you at the wheel… and it kind of feels alright.
One of Britney’s greatest capacities has been her ability to maintain control of the culture by pulsating the pneuma. It’s not the lyrics, or the production, or the context, or the sonic choreography and aural interplay alone — it is all of these elements coming together to project an atmosphere that goes deep into the individual psyche as it spans across the collective consciousness.
So here we have the alien, here we have the brightest morning star, here we have the most exposed, least revealed, most mysterious baby, baby … and she’s back for the first time. It’s like she never left, but it’s more like we never met — which is exactly how a princess is supposed to get it.
It’s subtle, but it is clear and present to those who open their ears and ride with the music. The delayed bassline, the boogie, evokes significance in negative space, the patience of a princess before taking the crown. The eight-count pinpointed kick drum on the second chorus of “Tik Tik Boom” hits your heart, and it hits you hard. The bubblegum riffs on the back of the palette to follow T.I.’s flow remind the listener who was first born to make you happy.
I love, the precision of this album, delayed basslines beautiful and simple. The rhythmic orbit between distant vocal undertones and wispy ambient synths croon to the cosmos. It’s familiar in its introspective solitude, and that odd foundation leads the way for this 36-minute trip down memory lane.
Let’s backtrack a taste though, and follow the breadcrumbs that led us to this space. This album, akin to every other, is as much a review of the media as it is of the music. And from the once-zoned brave new girl, where she defined independence as resistance against the music for the sake of the beat of the drum and the maintained bass, here she delves deeper into the sonic in civil resistance to the hype-heavy media marketplace.
The thing about this album is that it’s exactly what we wanted, and now that we’ve got it it’s like — what, this is what we wanted? Yes, it’s what I wanted. In the two years since Femme Fatale came out, I have mastered the art and science of global media and communication at LSE and USC with Britney as my canon — literally. This album, feels like the exhale. This album feels like a respiratory exodus after tracking, watching, waiting in the midst of something you don’t know is going to happen. It’s waiting for the approval you’ve had all along. It is a past due license to exist for the sake of yourself, finally, after engaging with your projection for the sake of the every other.
She has nothing to prove really, and it sounds like the anthem of a kid who redefined what it meant to be young royalty at the turn of the millennium. Lasers, arcade fires, beat drops, synth pitches, vocoders on parade, ambient climates beneath driven declarations.
This is an album about a breakup, for the fans. This album is Pop’s Yeezus from the lips of the holy grail. Everyone has to let go at some point. If you want the “crazy,” go back to Blackout — the beauty with Britney is that you can. You can always go back to the iteration you loved best because she gave you pure scene every era. This is the album from a 32 year-old woman who wants you to dance. This is the soundtrack of the rockstar, the post-princess, Hollywood embodied — neon, former fast life, now spectacular in its ability to still capture the world within its glow no matter how subdued.
Close your eyes, roll down the windows, feel the wind on your face as you escalate the tiers of spectacular fame. Know not a single person in the room, and be the most known of; know not an utterance of the local language, and be the first and last word on each tongue: be the native alien.
So, ask yourself: do you want her truth? Did you want the ugly truth of a single mother by way of child stardom at the peak of publicized privacy, or would you prefer the beautiful symphony of the spectacular blackout she projected. Did you want the bombastic resistance to stagnant security of second-hand access to excess, or would you rather the subtle precision of an introspective glance at the post-pop princesses’ confessional music box? Did you want “Blackout 2.0” or do you need Britney Jean?
Watch This Space
The most personal will always be flawed out of natural necessity. Britney Jean: because little red riding hood’s scarlett never pulsed the sunset.