New Britneyology

Blur (In Depth series)

Posted by: Karenannanina on: August 26, 2016

(This review is a throwback to a previous promise to my readers. We’ll soon be talking about nothing but Glory!)

Circus is a strange album. You could call it diverse but, compared to Blackout, “unfocused” might be the word you’re reaching for. Stylistically it oscillates wildly between such extreme points of the compass as My Baby and Mannequin, depositing some genuine oddities along the way. One of these, obviously, is Mmm Papi – as eccentric a track as you’ll find anywhere outside of a Bjork album. Blur is another. Other artists have sung about intoxication, but mostly metaphorically, like Jennifer Paige’s Sober or brimming with bravado, like Beyonce’s Drunk In Love. Frank Sinatra’s One For My Baby is about drinking, but not about being drunk. Britney’s Blur is about being so far out of it on drink (or drugs) that you can’t remember what you did or who you did it with, or whether you might have need of morning-after medication. Never one to try to put a gloss on her reputation, Britney is one of very few artists who would, quite unapologetically, release a track like this one.

These are the lyrics as found on the internet:

(Verse 1)
Turn the lights out
This shit is way too fucking bright
Wanna poke my eyes out
If you wanna mess with my eyesight
Just let me get my head right
Where the hell am I?
Who are you?
What’d we do last night?
Hey yeah yeah
Who are you?
What’d we do last night?
Hey yeah yeah

(Chorus)
Can’t remember what I did last night
Maybe I shouldn’t have given in
But I just couldn’t fight
Hope I didn’t but I think I might’ve
Everything, everything is still a blur
Can’t remember what I did last night
Everything, everything is still a blur (Did last night)
Can’t remember what I did last night
Everything, everything is still a blur

(Verse 2)
What’s your name, man?
Can you calmly hand me all my things?
I think I need an aspirin
Better yet, I need to get up outta here
I gotta get my head right
Where the hell am I?
Who are you?
What’d we do l ast night?
Yeah yeah yeah

(Chorus)
Can’t remember what I did last night
Maybe I shouldn’t have given in
But I just couldn’t fight
Hope I didn’t but I think I might’ve
Everything, everything is still a blur
Can’t remember what I did last night
Everything, everything is still a blur (Did last night)
Can’t remember what I did last night
Everything, everything is still a blur

(Quasi-bridge)
What happened last night?
‘Coz I don’t–coz I don’t remember
What happened?

(Chorus)
Can’t remember what I did last night
Maybe I shouldn’t have given in
But I just couldn’t fight
Hope I didn’t but I think I might’ve
Everything, everything is still a blur
Can’t remember what I did last night (Blur)
Everything, everything is still a blur (Did last night)
Can’t remember what I did last night
Everything, everything is still a blur

As you can see, the structure is conventional, with two verses and choruses. The only departure from convention is the abbreviated quasi-bridge. Blur was written by “Danja” Hills, Stacy Barthe and Marcella “Ms Lago” Araica. It was produced by Danja and mixed by Ms Lago.

The song has a similar theme of “the morning after the night before” that we saw in Early Mornin’, but this is a very different kind of song. It’s a slow-burning grower, full of minor-key disturbia and whirling, woozy effects suggesting a serious hangover and a degree of mental distress. The melody is wistful, poignant, dreamy: a moment in time captured. In classical language it might be called a meditation.

As might be expected from the Danja/Lago team, there isn’t a vast amount of instrumental work and no instrumentalists are credited. One back-up vocalist, Luke Boyd, is listed, but is difficult to detect. The dominant sounds are a series of keyboard figures, synth drum thumps and a lot of tricky hi-hat percussion. In Verse 1, the keyboard is at first guitar-like, but soon begins to waver and melt. For the chorus, synth strings join a little tinkling figure and a few bass notes are added, and continue in Verse 2 along with the other sounds heard in Verse 1. For the quasi-bridge, the woozy synth is still present, but all instrumentals soon drop out and the question “What happened?” is asked in near-silence.

Britney’s vocal is placed centrally in the verses and divided into a stereo pair for the chorus. It’s in her mid-range and as soft and smooth as any she has recorded. It is intimate but it isn’t a sexual come-on of any description. This sweetness of tone is something many critics seem strangely blind to. In a review of her career I read today, the author described her voice as “sour” – a perspective incomprehensible to this writer. At “gotta get my head right” she sounds a little desperate; the rest of the time she sounds like someone trying to extract herself from a questionable situation, with some dignity intact, by being reasonable and not talking too loudly!

“Make Me” quick review

Posted by: Karenannanina on: July 18, 2016

I was expecting something a bit faster for Britney’s new song but I’m celebrating what we got instead! The traditional club banger seemed inevitable. Britney had been mining the same pop-dance groove on most of her albums after the thrilling days of the super-cool In The Zone. That streetwise album was the one that drew me to her. And this new single, at last, is a return to the kind of music I love. BB (“before Britney”) I was strictly a soul/r&b girl and my jams are still the sweet soul ballads like Joyce Sims’ sublime Move Closer or Lauryn Hill’s heartrending The Sweetest Thing. What makes these tracks great isn’t just the mood, enrapturing though it may be. It’s the addictive tune that keeps playing in your head most of the day, maybe after just one hearing. Make Me was cutting its trails in my brain after just a few seconds. Straight away it corrects the deficit that plagued Britney Jean – lack of memorable melody.

English producer BURNS has endowed Make Me with a much more expansive and (shall we say) reverberant soundscape than she’s used to. It’s colorful, ever-changing, and punctuated by startling electronic flutters. The basic structure is conventional, in the modern idiom, with two-part verses, pre-chorus, chorus and bridge. The verses are confidential, with lots of reverb on the synths and guitars. The pre-chorus is even quieter, but subtly engineers a release with its use of insistent percussion. Then the chorus just explodes into a wall of sound, with choir-like multi-tracked vocals and instruments flooding in and echoing all around you with stunning dynamism. On this occasion, the bridge is G-Eazy’s slick, crystal-clear rap, minimally backed, that steadily builds tension and releases into another thundering chorus, its closing words prefiguring Britney’s “make me”. Then the song disappears with the ghost of an echo.

Britney is in her mid-to-high register, sweet and intimate, breathy and sensuous, articulating more clearly than usual, with none of the croaks and groans favoured by her many imitators; but some of her characteristic sounds, like her little “mmm yeah” are just audible. No doubt we will see the usual journalistic suspects informing us that she “phones in” her vocals, and similar trash talk. Don’t believe a word of it. She’s right there in the moment, fervent, sexual, emotional and committed. If this track is a sign of things to come, it looks like a new Golden Age of Britney is about to dawn.

The Make Me video sees a return to the age-old “writhing in underwear” pattern that was discussed, admired and decried in equal measure back in the era of My Prerogative. For nostalgic Britney fans, it’s kinda comforting to see it again – although some will dub it “trashy”, as they have always done. To borrow a description of the plot, “The video begins with the singer and her girlfriends having lunch together, and telling “Michael”, a hunky young man, to come and meet them that weekend with some of his friends. When Britney tells him that she will be at this mystery meeting, he of course agrees to go. The star is then shown arriving at the Make Me auditions in a flashy BMW, and she watches the men take turns in front of the camera, pouting and showing off their talents. As Britney watches from the sidelines, she wears a glitzy black sheer crop top featuring star motifs, matching heels and a fedora and Daisy Dukes. After the rest of the men have cavorted around in front of the camera, she spots the guy she was chatting to at the beginning of the video. Things then get hot and heavy between the pair as Britney takes him to her bedroom and he plants kisses on her stomach. Britney can be seen in nothing but black underwear as the handsome model climbs on top of her – before the camera cuts off.” (Credit: Daily Mail Online)

I’ll add to this review and upgrade it to “In Depth” when more information becomes available.

New single delayed by vocal issues? Really?!

Posted by: Karenannanina on: June 21, 2016

You’ve probably read the story that the release of Britney’s proposed new single has been delayed by “vocal issues”. British tabloid “The Sun” claims that an “insider” at her label says bosses are unhappy with Britney’s vocals. Before Gossip Cop gets on the case, let’s have a look at it,

Firstly, the source. The ONLY source for this much-repeated story is “The Sun”. Now, why would an “insider” at a US record company contact a UK tabloid? Why wouldn’t they go to TMZ, RadarOnline or Perez Hilton? Or, looking at the story from the other end of the telescope, why would “The Sun” suddenly decide to ask if there was some reason for the delay in a Britney Spears single release? And how come they have “insiders” at her record label when the major US gossip sites don’t?

I’m pretty sure this is a story that originated in the fertile minds of “The Sun” editorial staff. “Insider” means “We made it up”. The key passage is this one: “There was speculation that G-Eazy had added some guest vocals after Britney posted a picture with the rapper on June 3.” BINGO!!! There certainly WAS speculation – in “The Sun” office! That is all there is to this story, and all you need to know. Two plus two equals seven.

Now take a careful look at the NEXT thing “The Sun” says: “Talking of her new music, Joe Riccitelli of RCA Records admitted in May: “She’s found a really great groove, and she’s working with some new, young producers. We have an A&R person working on the project that’s just really been able to thread the needle, and I’m really excited about it…” Consider the words: ADMITTED that she’s found a really great groove?! Like he would have preferred to say the album was rubbish but he was having his arm twisted to say otherwise?! How credible is that?

Does ANYBODY believe this story? Does ANYBODY take “The Sun” seriously as a source? Yet here we have it just about everywhere, with no independent support or verification. One thing we DO know is that Britney is extremely professional in the studio. Another thing we know is that she works and works till she gets the result she wants. Is “The Sun” implying that she records her vocals in one take-it-or-leave-it take? Why would a record company allow that – unless they had total confidence in her vocals? But apparently they don’t!

What to believe?

Posted by: Karenannanina on: April 16, 2016

We live in interesting times! The web is replete with “stories” about Britney, and every time one of them is launched, it pops up almost everywhere. Sometimes it’s still popping up on less switched-on gossip sites a couple of weeks later, such is the continuing fascination with our heroine. Sometimes I ask myself why that is. With most of our current exposure to Britney being of the “looking ordinary in the street” variety, we may forget just how spellbinding and beautiful an artist she can be, but we only have to look at a couple of her videos to be spellbound once again.

So, given that Britney still has the power to intrigue people who remember her glory, and the allure to attract plenty of imaginative media confabulation, how should we approach the flotilla of recent rumor?

Britney, apparently, has been signed up to do a six-week panto season at the London Palladium next Christmas, for a fee of £500,000. Hmmm. Sounds like something left over from 1st April, doesn’t it? Yet a lot of websites are still spreading it around like it’s Gospel truth. Can you even imagine her negotiations with her promoters in Vegas to be allowed out of her megabuck “Piece of me” contract so she can go earn £100,000 a week away from her family in London over Christmas? Everything about this story – such as the side-story that the panto part had previously been turned down by Kylie Minogue and Kim Kardashian – seemed to be designed as a test of our credulity, yet some people actually bought it!

Next, we are informed that Britney wishes to adopt a baby girl. A baby Chinese girl. Has she been in China looking at girls? Or is the story “inspired” by recent news reports about the neglect suffered by many female children in China? It adds a veneer of near-credibility. But if Britney wanted more children, she’s still of child-bearing age, is healthy, has already given birth to kids of her own, and seems to view the experience of motherhood as almost sacramental. If such a woman wanted to extend her family, she would want to do it herself. Where did the story come from? Not from Britney, that’s for sure. Credit for creativity goes to “a source”.

Today we hear that Brit will be performing at the Billboard Music Awards 2016. Now, this is not entirely impossible – after all, she has done it before. But when you look more closely at the report, in all its many varieties and restatements, it amounts to nothing more than pure speculation. What they’re saying is: she COULD be there – after all, it would make sense for the organisers to secure her services and get an automatic ratings boost. And it would tie in with the supposed release-date of her new material. But has anyone connected with Britney or with Billboard said anything? Nope.

And now we come to the most important rumors. Britney is going to release her 9th studio album next month, in May. Oh wait, it’s actually happening in June. Maybe. But hey, the single has already been chosen, the video is about to be filmed. We even have some description of the album, from the lips of Larry Rudolph. But wait again, isn’t that the same description he gave a couple of months ago, using exactly the same words? This casts doubt upon the status of the current reportage as “news”, even though the apparent source is the often-reliable Robin Leach. I think it’s a combination of gossip and an old story, rehashed and inflated for a second bite at the cherry. We have heard nothing from official sources, so… be hopeful, be optimistic, but don’t get too excited just yet.


  • George: This is a song that really captures a beautiful... how would you say... haziness? It's kinda hypnotic. The beat is so good too, no wonder Tinashe used
  • Suckerpunch: So ready, the album is so great, besides one track which the fandom adore, which I cant get into....
  • Karenannanina: The review of "Glory" is in hand and should be ready in a couple of days!