It's hard to be a Britney Spears fan these days. But I guess that's nothing new, she has almost made it her mission in recent years to get people to stop being interested in her so she can get off the pop star merry-go-round.
What do I mean by that you say? My mind first goes to a performance she did at the American Music Awards a few years ago where she blatantly waited for the CD to start, before performing "Till The World Ends." Or how about her use of a dance doubles in two music videos only for the dancing to still end up not being all that great. Or how about on the Femme Fatale Tour when the epic dance break begins for "Hold It Against Me," and she actually has the nerve to SIT DOWN on a shiny metal throne until it was over.
Ms. Spears added further salt in the wound this week with the release of her eight studio album, Britney Jean. I was counting the days till this CD dropped, especially because it was advertised as a sequel of sorts to Blackout. However, the tea leaves started reading death and despair when key songwriters/producers like Danja and Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins announced ahead of its release that they didn't make the cut.
Another dark omen was the near lack of promotion, especially in comparison to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, who were on anything and everything except cereal boxes ahead of their CDs' release dates. She didn't do a single live performance this promo cycle if you can believe it. When Britney Jean dropped, I waited until I was on the treadmill before I pushed play, expecting a dance masterpiece with some hard beats. What I got was a whole bunch of mid-tempo songs that were auto-tuned to the point where Britney's already thin voice sounded worse, not better.
There was even some random track with her long-forgotten younger sister Jamie Lynn. I guess she is trying to be a singer now or something. I couldn't tell you if she sounded good or not because the NASA level technology used on the track made their voices near indistinguishable. But I believe she did the second verse, and if that's the case, she should stick to whatever she was doing before she jumped on this CD.
The elder Spears also claimed this would be her "most personal" album ever, and you could tell from the tracklist alone that was a down right lie. A truly revealing CD from Ms. Spears would likely include such tracks as "True Life: I'm Under Conservatorship" or "I Need To Ask My Dad Before I Buy A $50 Pair Of Jeans."
Was it a surprise that the CD was terrible? I guess not. Both Lady Gaga and Katy Perry were also stricken with "the listen once and never again" disease this fall. However, I will say "Swine" and "Donatella," and "Applause" are pretty decent songs on Artpop, so, it wasn't a total loss. Miley Cyrus also had some catchy tunes on her CD this fall including "Wrecking Ball" and "Rooting For My Baby."
But back to Britney. While it wasn't a surprise the album was a letdown, it was a disappointment. As a singer, she is no Whitney Houston. As a dancer, she is no Janet Jackson, at least not anymore, but I was rooting for her. Her Onyx Hotel tour was my first ever concert. Our one-sided history runs long and deep.
These days being a Britney Spears fan is about waiting, waiting for the pre-breakdown, singing/dancing machine of 1998-2004 to come back. I see signs of this all the time. Before the release of every video there are promises of strong dancing, only for the final clip to feature uncoordinated granny-speed moving, or flat-out uninterested Britney. Or sometimes it's not even her at all, as I outlined earlier.
It's gotten so bad that when a video appeared online recently of a drag queen performing "Work Bitch," the responding comments to the clip were filled with remarks like the lighting in the video was dark enough where they could fantasize Spears was performing. Some in an extremely desperate emotional state even said they would show the video to friends and lie and say it was Britney and exclaim she had "it" again, that je ne sais quoi that made her outsell much more vocally talented artists like Christiania Aguilera in the late '90s.
Maybe that girl is gone for good. I remember when I purchased my ticket for Onyx Hotel I had a sense, even then, that this was her at her peak and it would only be downhill from here, and that appears to be true.
So maybe I, and the fans she still has left, should let her go. She has already hinted at retiring after her upcoming Vegas residency ends in 2015. So let's let her go back to her Cheetos and running around after her kids, because that appears to be what she wants to be doing anyway.
On the bright side, I hear Beyonce has a CD coming out next year. I wonder if that will be any good…