New Britneyology

But are we downhearted?! “Britney Jean” era – the Autopsy!

Posted by: Karenannanina on: December 25, 2013

Anything I say now risks being taken as an excuse. It isn’t. We have an obligation to review what has happened. Yes. I’m referring to the Britney Jean affair. And we need to look at it from three distinct points of view – commercial, journalistic and artistic, and while acknowledging that these aspects are intertwined, try not to get them so mixed up in our heads that we miss the most important points.

Obviously as fans loyal to our girl we want to see her do well in chart placements and sales, and that hasn’t happened. Speaking purely as a music consumer, I actually think the biggest mistake was to allow people to stream the basic tracks before the official release. That meant everyone listened to the album (part of it anyway) for the first time on their computers, and it didn’t sound as good as it was. There has to be some reason why you get this comment that “she has never been more absent from her own album” which suggests that the listener couldn’t have been hearing it properly, maybe only listening while doing something else. And – as the saying goes – you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Then, having been disappointed by that first impression, a lot of people decided not to buy it. If Britney had been as smart as Beyonce, she’d have kept the album under wraps and only released it, as a buyable iTunes album, in time to hit the top of the charts and before anyone had time to review it.

Some people will say that leaking always goes on, but to officially leak whole albums, in final form and track order, has to be pretty rare. In Britney’s own career, the only album that had as many tracks leaked was Blackout, and that wasn’t in final form or order. It’s a no-brainer that, if you hear an album on your tiny little no-assed computer speakers and don’t “get” it, you aren’t going to buy it. If you hadn’t already heard it, you’d have had to buy it to find out if you liked it. Your first play might be in your car, on a domestic stereo or on earphones. And you’d probably have heard it for yourself and come to your own conclusions before you read a load of prejudiced, generic and generally begrudging reviews.

In this case, the reviews were in long before the album was released. There was time for anyone who was wavering a little to be influenced. Sadly but unsurprisingly, it was very obvious that most of the reviewers didn’t take the album for what it was. They took it for what it wasn’t – an endless outpouring of unrestrained angst – and judged it for not being as “personal” as they thought they’d been led to believe. It was to avoid the fallacies introduced by these contextualising issues that I wrote my review without reference to prior expectations. As I’ve suggested, it was obvious from the nature of their comments that many of the reviewers had barely listened to the album. Why would they? They have no respect for, or interest in, what they see as lightweight pop singers who may arguably be past their sell-by date. They aren’t going to keep listening to discover hidden depths, are they?

If you still aren’t convinced, listen to what NB-er Jamie has to say: “I agree about the iTunes stream being a mistake. I didn’t fall in love with the music during the stream, in fact, I was rather disappointed with it. It wasn’t until I started listening to the album… with headphones, that I finally ‘got it’. The Bonus songs are just so integral to the album too. They really make this album for me. It is such a shame that all those early reviews neglected to take them into account. But what can you do? Nothing… what’s done is done. At least we have the gem of an album to enjoy.”

But, whatever the reason, the album hasn’t done well and there are potential consequences. First of all, reputation. The shadow of a “flop” album hangs over you for as long as it takes to come back with a big-selling one, or until you’ve been out of the game for so long that it doesn’t matter anymore, and perspective takes over. Who knows and who cares if Barbra Streisand’s or Whitney Houston’s last album was a hit? They have Legacy. The very best a megastar artist can hope for is to transition from “doing” into “being”. If you have Legacy, you can star in Vegas for as long as you can be bothered. The alternative is oblivion.

But if you’re still in the game, it hurts. If you’ve had a career-long string of Number One albums, you’re in the Premier League, competing with the best. Who’s to say you won’t still be at the top of the tree aged 50, like Madonna? But that flop album coming AFTER a string of Number Ones…. hmmmm. Suddenly everyone is looking at you a little differently, and if it wasn’t for that Vegas residency there wouldn’t be anything good to talk about. Are you still Premier League, or does this create a whole new environment for any new releases you may be planning for the future? Maybe one more album is your last chance, and if it flops too, your label drops you? Everything starts to look iffy.

Of course you still have to decide if you even WANT to make another album. When life holds you down, do you get up, because you’re a champion, with the eye of the tiger, and we’re gonna hear you roar? Or do you withdraw from the field of battle, and do either damage limitation or the sad little semi-retirement letter to fans? It definitely looks like Brit’s getting broody again, and likely to be pregnant for most of a year soon, and this could bring a career break. But might she feel too old to reignite her career? Plenty of people think she’ll take this opportunity (if that’s the right word, and maybe it is) to marry David, start having more babies, and become one of those timeless Vegas people, the walking dead who don’t have hits and don’t collaborate with Will I Am.

I’m not so sure. For all that Britney seems shy and tongue-tied and vulnerable, for all that she seems to be drawn back to Louisiana and its good friends and simple values, for all that she seems to suffer from bouts of self-loathing, I believe she has a lot of professional pride and she’ll want to try and bounce back from this setback, as quickly as possible. Expect a new album of club bangers with insanely catchy toons by December 2014. Producers? Dr Luke and Max Martin, natch.

You think not? One particularly unfortunate consequence is that post-flop you no longer have scope for self-indulgence. That album of Louisiana swamp blues you’d been planning for the last 15 years – that’s gone now. Your record company is calling the shots, and they’ll be in “OK, what worked in the past?” territory. You’ll have to fight like hell to get them to place you with cutting edge producers, because even that’s a risk. This could truly be a time when you’ve never been more absent from your own albums, in a very literal sense.

Another consequence is that you start to lose the competitive fans, the ones who obsess about sales figures, chart positions, weeks on chart, and how your latest album did against Gaga’s and Katy’s and Miley’s. These fans don’t like to be on a losing team, and their love can turn to bitterness really fast. They’ll be everywhere with their “I’m a fan but…” bullshit, when it suddenly seems that they can’t think of a single thing they like about you.

As a chart-topper of long standing, you have a period of grace when the media still think you’re important enough to write about. Ah yes, the media. They’re having a few problems with their Britney Narrative right now. Former meteoric phenomenon, former Lolita, former FHM Hottest Female and all-purpose sex icon, former fat and spotty chaotic trailer-trash queen, former girl gone wild, former basket case, former adult-child conservatee, former “made it through the rain” survivor, former Norma Desmond-style recluse, former opinionless X Factor judge. In the past she’s been a gift from God for lazy journalists who write their stories on the basis that “it may not be literally factual but it might have been true and it fits her narrative”. But what is she NOW?

It does matter, because they always try to review her albums in the context of her current narrative. There has always been some kind of dark filter through which to view them. In The Zone was reviewed with the kind of amused condescension reserved for a teenybopper popper trying to grow up and be sexy. Blackout was received with the notion that she’d been out of her head on drugs while it was being recorded, her “vocals phoned in from her crack den”, as I have read on more than one occasion. Circus was treated gently, if unenthusiastically, as a decent comeback effort, while Femme Fatale was considered to be fun and highly competent but lacking a strong personal presence – exactly in accordance with the narrative of a reclusive, inarticulate and uncommunicative star. But even that level of rather pitying kindness, extended to a survivor who had genuinely been through a lot, has well and truly evaporated now. I wouldn’t say that previous expectations were exactly low, but recently they seem to have become unusually high. It’s as if her previous output had been upwardly re-evaluated just in time to decide that Britney Jean didn’t measure up to it.

So the great community of journalists turned down their collective thumbs. A story was going around the tabloids that Britney was being protected from the negative reviews. But she made the album for the fans, she said, and we may assume that if anyone is going to be impressed by the album’s artistic merits, it will indeed be the fans. Sure, they are divided. And I’d be concerned if they were divided 50 – 50, but I don’t get a sense that that’s the case. Here at New Britneyology we’ve had a couple of dissenting voices, but the overwhelming majority view is that we love Britney Jean. Not just like, LOVE. And this is what I’ve found on most of the other Britney forums I’ve visited.

If Britney looks around for fan opinions, she will not be disappointed. She will feel pride in what she has achieved, and pleasure in the even-stronger emotional bond that now exists between her followers and herself. Her involvement in the writing has brought a great deal of fascination to those who pay close attention to lyrics, and the openness of her voice on the majority of tracks communicates honesty and candour. We may feel, too, that this may just be the beginning of a new era of expressiveness and vocal creativity. Her voice seems to be in a better position than ever to take advantage of the tougher, more competitive material her record company may well demand from her, next time around.

There’s one thing we can be sure of now that we couldn’t be sure of before. Older, more responsible Mommy Britney won’t indulge herself in wild behaviour that gets her into the headlines every day. She’d prefer to sit at home and be sensible. “At last!” some will say. There’s not much chance of her being involved in sex sensations, like having a sex-tape released or “romping” with lesbians, and we can deduce from her comments that she won’t be getting naked any more, which automatically hands the media crown to Miley and Rihanna. Even the Blessed (and exceptionally media-savvy) Beyonce has jumped on the sexy train, but Britney won’t. And the problem isn’t so much that she won’t as that everyone KNOWS she won’t, so that is automatically limiting. There’s no chance that she’ll be the Most Talked About Woman In America ever again, or that her name will be the most-searched-for on Google or Yahoo the way it they used to be.

I’m hoping, really hoping, she’s thought all of this through, and that there’s a long-term strategy in place that she’s happy with. Maybe she has her own private narrative running in her head. She always planned to slow her career down when she passed age 30. She always admired those artists who could separate their careers from their lives and strike a healthy balance between the two. Even if she could still be a sensation, she doesn’t have to be to earn a healthy annual salary. Look at Celine Dion. Look FOR Celine Dion. Invisible to most of the world, but far from dead. And every now and then, up she pops with some new music. If we love Britney as the person we believe her to be, if we love her unique voice and know she’ll keep making records just because she loves doing it, would the Celine road be so bad?

44 Responses to "But are we downhearted?! “Britney Jean” era – the Autopsy!"

I just finished watching I Am Britney Jean and I think I found the problem. She and her entire team (understandably) have thrown all their focus, time and energy into Vegas and in the process the album has been a mere afterthought for them.

I don’t know if you’ve seen it already but they went quite in depth with the show director and choreographers as they constructed the show and holy friggin’ crap, there is SO much work to do! Rehearsals for the show largely took up her time where she’d, otherwise, be promoting her album. Her dancers were worked so hard they were vomiting and injuring themselves. Even though things seemed to be progressing nicely, they were constantly behind schedule. The Perfume shoot and the Planet Hollywood event had to be squeezed into single days in between rehearsals, and a staff meeting in which Britney isn’t present showed one of her “people” saying sharply, in response to someone asking if Brit will be OK with working on her birthday (after 9 straight days of rehearsal): “She’s gonna be working, she’s *going* to be there.” No consulting Brit, no opinions, just cram her calendar full of rehearsal and promo will just have to fit in somewhere on her days off from that. Phew!

Watching this doco made it pretty clear why her presence throughout the release of Britney Jean hasn’t been what it was. The album simply wasn’t anyone’s first, second or third priority. That’s probably why it leaked, that’s probably why the itunes idea seemed so random because it was a spontaneous damage control decision designed to calm the masses while work continued, and it’s partly why this album hasn’t set critics on fire – critics always need the singer to back the album up. They need to be TOLD to like it, especially if the public doesn’t immediately catch onto it.

In the aftermath of Beyoncegate, I’m actually OK with Britney Jean not doing so well. Beyonce might’ve won 2013 but she also found a loophole for established singers with large fanbases who want better control of their product. She also showed how to come back from a “flop” as an established artist. 4 was a great album but it failed commercially, much in the ways Britney Jean did. Even an Artist of the Millennium award couldn’t build enough momentum for it. Even though they’d admit it about as soon as Beyonce herself would, the “Beyhive” didn’t have much hope for what was next. By the time her radio silence was nearing three years, they had begun approaching stan wars with phrases like “Still slaying the Grammy nominations even though she no longer makes music!”. Morale couldn’t have been lower before December 13. Just goes to show how quick everything can suddenly change thanks to a bit more creativity and originality than we’re used to.

I predict most of today’s popstars will copy Bey’s approach. They’d be foolish not to and whoever’s next to release an album will look ridiculous and boring going by the typical singles/albums/tour over 4-5 months approach. Fans will want, and expect, more from their Fave now, and clocking up a million sales in 2013 will have sent industry bigwigs scrambling back to their drawing boards. Beyonce initiated a game-changer and everyone knew it, some celebs even tweeted that exact word.

In a way, all Brit needs to do is let Britney Jean fade and become a “for the fans” body of work, initiate radio silence music-wise, throw all her focus into making Vegas a true spectacle and get some strong initial reviews, work quietly on new music for the next year and release a new album once Vegas is established and the initial wave of shows has finished. Doing videos for all the songs on her album will seem “copycat” so she’d have to come up with something slightly different to make it unique. An elaborate viral campaign maybe? Beyonce literally made her album and music videos in plain sight while travelling the world, even using an ear piece playing her song so no one could hear them while she filmed her music videos in public crowds/beaches. Imagine Team Britney really utilizing the internet and creating a Cloverfield style campaign *while* Britney is killing Vegas every night. It could work!

Off topic, but do we like Beyonce’s album? I am a bit of a stan so I love it, though I do suspect a few of the songs will grow stale rather quick. Judging by NBer’s musical tastes, if anyone’s looking for recommendations, mine are: Heaven, Blow, No Angel, Blue and XO. If you’re a Prince and D’Angelo fan: Rocket.

I just find it so hard to listen to Beyonce, knowing how crazily ruthless and ambitious she is. I know it shouldn’t color my opinion of her music, but it does! To my ears, she has lost her soul. I wouldn’t be her fairest and most unbiased reviewer!

I haven’t seen Britney’s documentary yet, but a one-hour version (the US version was 2 hours, right?) is showing here on Boxing Day night.

I’m sure you’re right with everything you said!

Did you end up listening to 4? As a longtime fan of hers, she’s definitely mellowed out a LOT since she got rid of her father as her manager. She used to be very unaccessible and there was so much distance between her and her fanbase. Things have basically done a 180 since Matthew got the boot. I’ll still recommend 4 to you, I do think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I wouldn’t recommend listening to the new album without listening to 4 first, though.

I don’t know where else to put this but I recently discovered a Euro-dance artist called Loreen. Her album Heal is VERY good and definitely the style we all like on here. Maybe we should have recommendation threads sometimes? 🙂

I like that idea, and I’ll have to figure out how to present the recommendation threads here! I’ve also been listening to some new music lately, which I may want to share…

I haven’t listened to “4” yet, I’m sorry to say. But I do intend to, especially if it turns up in Poundland!

I’m still scarred by an interview I saw between Steve Jones and Beyonce on T4 here a while ago. He was uber-obsequious and ass-kissing, but she talked about how hard she worked at controlling every aspect of her image and PR, how she watched every penny of the money in her business herself… and generally sounded like the CEO of Beyonce Industries Inc.

While I understand where you’re coming from, I do find what she’s saying there quite…admirable. She’s a black woman – by default she’s up against a LOT and it’s a testament to her talent and business savvy that she’s found the longevity and success she has. I understand that you’re seeing what she’s saying as focusing too much on the business of Being Perfect rather than creating but I think you’ll be surprised, particularly if you watch her documentaries when you eventually listen to 4. Since she fired her dad, she’s taken over full creative control of her company. I don’t know, I feel if Britney did that we’d celebrate and prepare ourselves immediately for the numerous jazz albums and Shania duets that would be sure to come LOL.

Though I will admit I did pause slightly reading a recent Bey interview where it was revealed she’s been literally archiving herself since 2005, filming everything she does. On one hand, I guess it’ll be cool to look back on her entire life one day, on the other hand WTF. Oh well, I’m just here for the music!

honestly, reading critics’ reviews is always pain to my eyes and stan feelings but with BJ they’ve gone too far i think. i love reading stuff like that and i always do but this time i thoroughly read just a couple, the rest was just a quick look cuz it felt like all of them were written by the same one person…(gaga or beyonce haha). sad but true. this time critics were so ignorant that i was truly shocked (tho it’s hard to shock me by critical acceptance after 15 years of being a Britney stan).
ok, i maybe get where they’re coming from when they call it ‘hardly the most personal’ BUT honestly…how on earth can they judge the level of personality on the album? seriously! if u’re not a stan and just BARELY know what’s going on in Britney world u DONT know what PERSONAL is! she’s never been into u’re-the-one-u’re-beautiful-and-unique BS like katy or xtina. she has HER OWN way of telling fans that they’re beautiful and unique! and thats coming from the notion of being a Britney stan in the core…if u’re a Britney stan – u’re already the best out there and u dont need to be reminded of ur own worth every song.
then…vocally…lordy…did they listen to the album at all? Karen u were so right writing that in the previous article. cuz i doubt that too. i mean, BJ is her vocally BEST work so far. no artist out there has THAT HUGE variety of voices, whispers, moans, strength where it’s needed! not even all adored beyonce! in fact, beyonce wouldnt be able to pull Alien worthy enough…not even saying Perfume or Passenger.
the delusion and ignorance of critics is so obvious.
yes, we flopped sales wise but i know….i just KNOW it’s not everything Britney has to offer and it’s FAR from being an end.
remember Circus? everyone barred her carrier after Blackout era..and what did she do? she released Circus telling everyone she was far from being done.
now she has vegas but im sure she wont stay there like celine. she will get bored. and THEN we, her stans, we have the last laugh!

I don’t believe that Britney’s career is in major slump. This year was awful for female pop signers in general (excluding Beyoncé). Britney still has a large fan base and is still very talked about. I also believe that she has enough of a legacy that she will be “relevant” for many years to come. The simple reason that her album didn’t sell we’ll is simply because she is focused on Vegas. I’ll judge this era on that basis; that Vegas is the true focus. Currently, the show is selling out, her dancing is the best it’s been since 2004, and the show looks amazing.

Oh, and even thoug I loathe Beyoncé, her new album is fantastic.

She ain t retiring, I expext an album soon. BRIT loves to music. I don’t know where the idea of her being close to quiting. I’m on holiday now.

I think the idea may have come from a widely-reported comment she made recently that she sometimes thought about retiring. But she went on to say that this was her time for performing!

Yeh, every album since “Circus’ has been predicted to be her last and then have her have ‘long break” for awhile now. It’s annoying, cuz even ON her breaks she works over time! During her pregnancy/marriage leave did two shows, two albums, someday and Chaotic. If she wanted to retire or even level down her work load, she would.

Yes, I agree with this more thoughtful viewpoint. I mean, who can really say just how hard she works besides her? Too many people write her off as lazy, but base that solely on conjecture. There is absolutely no evidence, let alone proof, to justify a claim that she is lazy. The irony is, that through intellectual laziness that judgement is reached.

When Britney was a teen, she was working far more than the standard 40 hour work week. Keeping in mind that for her age, most teens didn’t even work or only did it part time. The chaos & busy schedule that she had/has is not one that anyone outside of her is able to judge accurately…we the public have no standard to base it upon. And ultimately, if she is or ever was lazy, she has every right to be…it’s not as though laziness is a crime. Indeed, she is one of the last people we should call lazy. In order to step foot outside her house she has to exert much more time, energy, and planning than any of us truly realize…and just how taxing that is on a daily basis (whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally) is also outside of our understanding…the most we can hope to empathize with her situation is comprehending, but never true understanding.

There is far more valid evidence that she is a hard-worker who contributes to society. Any thoughts of laziness are either extremely misinformed or born of hate/envy/negative bias. It is prejudice and even morally wrong to burn her at the stake as such, especially given the inner truth that we just simply aren’t qualified to make any such claims

I think so too. I believe she was asked the question though, as Vegas is seen as the spot where artists “retire”. If she was asked that question then there is an inherent bias that the question itself leads to that response. Whether it was an unintentional/subconscious or direct purposeful fishing for that answer, this consideration should be of considerable weight.

Or perhaps it’s just one of many of Britney’s political strategies to garner reaction…everything she says/doesn’t say; implies/doesn’t imply; does or doesn’t do becomes a topic of discussion, at least in the pop culture world and certainly even moreso within her fanbase (who are invariably responsible for the perpetuation of certain Britney myths).

And you are also correct to add that she does go on to immediately say, that Vegas is now her thing and this is what she is doing for now. Does Britney know what is in store after 2 yrs…how many people do (not just because we cannot read the future, but because we don’t always plan that far ahead)? It is far more likely, that IF she is really considering retirement, that it is contingent on one or more circumstances…circumstances, that IF they arise MAY lead to that decision. Two years is actually a long time in the fast moving world of pop culture…so even if it’s her plan, we could potentially get another album or two DURING the residency. Maybe one entitled Britney Jean Spears? Blackout 2.0? I really don’t know but I hope for the best.

Another point to bring up is that should she retire in 2 yrs, it doesn’t mean that it is automatically a permanent retirement. Hiatus perhaps? “Part-time”? Career change as producer, collaborator, actress, or other? Again idk, and she probably doesn’t either.

For now, I assume she is “in business” and do not see a definitive end. In fact before the residency began part of the contract, as publicly revealed, states clearly that the show will last for 2 yrs WITH the possibility of extendtion based upon how well it does. I mean she released “Ooh La La”, the “WB”, then “Perfume” and began Vegas…how can we possibly conclude that she is retiring? This doesn’t even mention many more behind-the-scenes details, and other aspects of her career such as new perfumes, Gaga (or other people) collaborations, future singles, etc…

This would be the strangest retirement I have ever witnessed. She’s doing great & I think that all of the writings towards the contrary instill a public “paranoia” especially within the fanbase – which may also account for so many fairweather fans “jumping ship”/flip-flopping and writing her off…it’s like an ego defense mechanism (“if I disown her now, the “breakup” will be easier” &/or I can arm myself better for any backlash – the irony here is that these fans may truly want her to succeed but pull out their support of her prematurely, which actually increases the odds that she will actually “disappear” from the fanbase)

It’s depressing that some fans only seem to care about sales. They use sales and records in a competition again other artists, to see who’s ‘better’ But in the end, does all that really matter? Katy Perry had 5 #1 singles from an album, the first to do so since Michael Jackson. Rihanna has countless #1’s. Beyonce’s new album is selling amazing. But does that make them memorable, more legendary? Does a certain achievement make you ‘bigger’ than a certain other female pop star?

All those little trivia are nice for the statistics but that’s not what people will remember. Britney had a #1 single in ’90, ’00 and ’10. Great achievement, but does the general public know things like that? People remember Britney danced with a snake, kissed Madonna, showed her belly in a school girl uniform (and also that she shaved her head). So I doubt Britney Jean will make her a has-been in the eyes of the public. It was just an album for the fans to keep us satisfied.

I admit that it has crossed my mind that, from now on, Britney will be the kind of artist that releases albums and singles but will never top the charts again. Celine Dion is still popular but not as big as she once was either. It would be worse if she turned out to be like Janet Jackson and retire.

I guess that in the end it’s only about what Britney wants. Does she want to make an album full with songs à la Hold On Tight and Don’t Cry. Or does her management say she needs to do more songs like Tik Tik Boom? Or is it Britney herself who wants a combination of those two? I like both too! Sometimes I just want to dance and forget my worries. Sometimes I like to listen to an emotional ballad.

And if the reviewers don’t like the album then so be it. It seems they don’t know what Britney is all about. And they’re not even trying to understand it either. At this time I don’t think anything she does will ever be good enough for them.

So, what will happen from now on? Good question. Since she’s not doing that many shows there’s a possibility that she will make a new record during the residency and release it at the end (together with a dvd?). But my guess is that after Vegas she will get pregnant. That would be the perfect timing. And after a few years, who knows what will happen. I don’t see her sitting at home and being a mom. She said many times that she needs to do something. So she either needs to find something new in her life or focus on her career again, because it’s all she’s ever known anyway. And if she releases a real smasher than her career could lift off again. Like Mariah’s comeback with The Emancipations of Mimi. And when she releases a new album the focus will be on that, and not on Vegas, which clearly has been the 1 priority.

Scream and Shout was SUPER SUCCESFUL last year and that gives her 5/6 years to do whatever. I don’t feel Britneys super needing another kid, and I’d like her to really KNOW David before having a kid with him. Another couple of years and then another baby/marriage “hiatus”. She loves to work. I wouldn’t be surprised if she did Britney Jean pt 2 nezt year or the year after. Eventually she’ll probably due the Celine thing and an album every 6 years maybe? When she’s 40? The residency could also continue and evolve for a few years…6 years?

Just spit balling, dream making, brain storming..

The idea of a “Britney Jean part 2” is something I’ve wondered about as well. It has been noted many times that the set list for her residency is not static, and that it is organized in a way that new music can be added should she release any. That combined with the brevity of the standard edition of Britney Jean (just ten tracks) makes me wonder if another album is indeed on Britney’s mind as well in the near future. We know that there are many tracks that were recorded for this album that ultimately didn’t make the final cut… Is it so crazy to think that she may have something else in store?

Regardless of what happens, it’s safe to say her career is not in a slump. Britney Jean was not heavily promoted at all due to her focus on the upcoming residency, and I believe this was a HUGE factor in the poor sales. With that being said, her Vegas show has gotten great reviews, and the choreography I’ve seen in some of the videos is her best in years. It’ll be interested to see what 2014 has in store for Britney!

It’s been great, and almost a shock, to see how great the reviews for the Vegas show have been! I’ve actually been hearing reviewers and non-stans commenting that she’s dancing so intensely throughout the show that she can’t be expected to also sing live!

And on her recent TV documentary, she sounded sparky, alert, sharp of mind and full of life. So it looks like we’ve gotten MOST of the best of our girl back again. I really hope she does make another “mainstream” album soon, so the overall media perception of her will be a positive one.

I’ve thought that since she released “Britney”, then “Britney Jean”, she should do a “Britney Jean Spears”…kinda half joking there but also half serious. The maybe a “Britney Jean Spears Lucado”…well, maybe not, as I kinda hope & doubt she will change her last name.

Anywho, I agree w your comment. Her career is certainly not in a slump. I am a musician, and know TONS of musicians…and none of us would ever consider this a slump. The only people who do are non-musicians, who are so out of touch and unaware of the industry and just what success in music means. The future is bright for her, and I don’t see a definitive end any time soon. The worst that could happen is a break/hiatus, followed by a return. Music, performance, dance, entertainment is in her blood…it’s encoded in her DNA, and this is what she does. Ever since she was a small kid. And this is a fact that is widely documented from her childhood. It is what she does, so time away would only mean a break at the most. I blame the media & paranoid fans for spreading ideas that she is done, over, planning on retiring, etc. There is NO actual evidence (and of course no PROOF) that this is the case…in fact, there is overwhelming evidence that says exactly the opposite. Unfortunately, herd mentality often takes control & people believe what they read or hear. Just continue questioning all you hear or see, as the truth is much more important & individuality should be celebrated.

You’re totally right, Michael. For instance, did you know Billie Joel’s ‘Glass Houses’ was n.1 on Billboard and remained there for SIX weeks? That’s such an achievement, but I don’t think you knew that, as I did not two minutes ago. True impact doesn’t come with sales, it’s just how society receives, understands and values your work and how it passes the test of time. I wouldn’t say every Britney album will be remembered 40 years from now, but I do think SHE will be remembered and adored as one of the, if not the essential pop icon of the (first half of the) XXI century. A flop album won’t change that.

I think it’s beyond pathetic how some fans are with chart positions and sales…esp. the sales, it ain’t like they’re getting any of the money from the sales, lol, charts and sales don’t make the album…a good album is a good album…end of story!!! Plus, considering some of these songs and albums that rocket to number one and stay there for weeks even months and sell insane amounts makes me question the tastes of some people. Songs like Gangham Style and Call Me Maybe and even worse that Duck Dynasty Christmas album selling well, when shit like that is going number one, you can’t take charts and sales seriously, you just can’t, lol

When you’ve been in this career as long as Britney has, your gonna have an underwhelming album or two, it’s bound to happen with any artist that’s been around a long time but it doesn’t wipe out their legacy and make them forgettable and the fans who think that are simply paranoid and delusional!!!

As for the retiring thing, i saw the interview when she was asked and the way she answered it was so not even serious, some people just like to make a big deal out of everything, she herself has said many times that she has to work, she gets antsy and i believe she’s even said that when she isn’t working, things can go wrong, i don’t see her retiring anytime soon, a lengthy break…sure!!

Yeh, Kylie and Madonna have odd era’s but ALWAYS make a comeback when they deem it to be, almost by will!

Actually, thinking about Kylie, she reminds me a bit of Britney right now. Kylie was extremely popular with the albums Light Years and Fever. The singles were extremely popular, she was HUGE.

And now she still releases singles and albums but she never had that commercial succes again (although Britney had S&S which was a big hit). And their music has always been very good and high quality.

Oh and by the way, Kylie is now being a coach in a talent show too, another thing she has in common with Britney.

I read yesterday that Britney was interested in doing some more acting, so she may be thinking of diversifying her career for the next few years. That would mean that a slowdown in any one area wouldn’t matter so much, and there would be a good chance of keeping her fame and renown at megastar levels.

She let us down with this album IMO. I think because she put all of her energy into anticipating Vegas. It hurts. I don’t care to see her in concert since she doesn’t sing live but listening to her voice on a song means the world to me.

U down. LET YOU DOWN! I love the album and her Vagas success!

Galli, you talk as if she recorded the album in a week and shoved it out. She had dozens of producers at her disposal, she recorded loads of material, and this album was her selection out of everything that had been made. You’re entitled to believe that she was misguided in her choices, that she took a step in the wrong direction, but I don’t accept that “Britney Jean” was the product of not trying, or caring, enough.

BTW, if you want a free-for-all argument about this, the Forum has been provided for that purpose.

I need to start posting on the forum, that’s true. I find the format of the front page so addictive though.

I’m glad you do! I often wonder if the site looks too simple and stripped-down for some people.

Oh no, unfortunately the vast majority of contributers here just write at a level far beyond the herd mentality. Ultimately, the level of thought here is just on a separate dimension.

Today’s readers tend to need pictures, videos, & such to make it tolerable to read. It is more of a matter of content. Like even this response would be considered “too long”. They have to read & think & imagine & respond. And I don’t necessarily take a cheap stab at their intelligence, but at where their concerns are. Something like this would grow at a slower rate, but it is of much higher value in content.

I’d be willing to promote, in whatever way I can. I appreciate this site and the contributions people have made here. I do believe there is an appeal here that more people would like & fit in with, once they catch wind of it. I was ecstatic when I came upon this by accident. It’s a chance to actually have your opinions & responses read as they are intended (or at least much more closely comprehended). It avoids certain unpleasantness, due to the more open thoughts. And it offers a chance to learn, as the contributors have respect, tact, and decency by and large. I don’t feel like I need to censor my thoughts, or that certain commentary is futile so why bother.

I actually had the thought “I wonder where I can find a more sophisticated & less shallow, even intellectual forum to discuss Britney” (and that could also be expanded into other topics that are seemingly “low brow” but offer an infinite amount of rabbit-hole discussions, etc)

I’m very proud of the members here. Every one has his or her own position and ideas, and they express themselves very well.

On most sites, you have to speak AND think in soundbites or be abused by the “TL:DR” peeps. Here, everyone is encouraged to take as much space as they like.

Be reassured that I read everything, even if I don’t always reply! When I used to write for the PoorBritney site, I got a lot of abuse for replying, but I was always a forum warrior so I couldn’t help myself!

Here here
I agree. The members here have a level of distinction & I love to see how the different viewpoints actually go on to paint a more rich picture that begins to actually portray Britney in a light that approaches the “truth”. What seems to be widely understood here is the concept of seeing the forest for the trees. Britney cannot actually be defined by any commentary, only more and more approximated with thorough analysis. I think many people here recognize that she will go on to become an important figure in history. The importance to me of intelligent & thoughtful analysis (like this website strives to achieve) is that, we the writers & community, are offering commentary on a living legend, rather than a retrospective take after the legend has passed. The substance behind this approach & philosophy is actually much more important than I’m sure many of the readers/writers even recognize, because it offers a unique opportunity.

I also believe that it scares some people, in that they feel vulnerable & reserved about displaying their writing skills, depth of thought, etc…but I encourage readers & writers to comment. Ya don’t have to feel intimidated because you are behind a screen, and ultimately people here are respectful & not ones to trash other people’s thoughts. Even a “dumb” comment can spark an incredible debate. All you need is some love, admiration, appreciation, thoughts, opinions, or questions.

I absolutely love your writing! I always find myself nodding in agreement…

It’s unfortunate how PURPOSELY misinformed the media is in regards to Britney, (a lot of it stems from her non-chalant attitude & kind of blatant disregard for most vile bloggers/critics’ opinions – i.e. see Beyonce’s control over the media)
It’s clear that the critics/reviewers refused to do their research when listening to Britney Jean; it seems that they had this strange concept in their mind that Britney’s idea of personal meant singing about why she shaved her head in 2007 & how it feels to be in a conservatorship, because in the eyes of the media – she owes the world an explanation (even though it was the world that broke her)
They obviously missed the fact that all the lyrics pertain to a certain aspect in her personal life, Alien talks about emotional/physical isolation, Perfume talks about betrayal and self-doubt, Passenger talks about releasing control in love, ISBE (albeit robotically) talks about how often we complicate love when in reality it should be natural, and let’s not even get started on the bonus tracks – all of which are lyrically golden as well as heartfelt, raw, relateable and personal.

What made me the angriest when reading the reviews wasn’t that some people didn’t like it because I’m a grown up & i can understand someone disagreeing with Britney but what had me fuming was the blatant unprofessionalism – they wanted to tear Britney down, for the sake of doing it & that’s not OK. A critics job is to take the product at face value.

I think the album really is a gem, another member on here said that we don’t know whether the mix between dance/soulful songs was Britney’s decision or a matter between Britney & her label…
I was essentially disappointed with the lack of ‘urban’ beats because I feel Britney does it best but I think the album is very dynamic & interesting… I’m not sure what to believe regarding the direction of the album because while I love me some Britney Dance Tracks, the mix felt a little off for me considering the bonus tracks – which seem like an afterthought to a dance album.

I feel maybe Britney Jean’s spirit was geared towards a vibe like Alien, Passenger, Hold on Tight, Don’t Cry, Chillin With You, Now that i found You & perfume – for me those songs SCREAM Britney, and yet sound like nothing that I’ve heard from her. Also she makes a very poignant return as head lyricist which i truly enjoy because despite what the GP/media believe, Britney is a very introspective, wise & perceptive woman so I enjoy when she shares her views on life!

I also agree that the album suffered commercially because of the focus on Vegas – it would’ve been strategically smarter to begin Vegas (having launched WB as a single because it’s a song with personality) and then the album in the summer in the break she has from may to august… Obviously we don’t know the ins & outs of Brit’s long term plans or schedule but due to the focus on Vegas, even if BJ was a labor of love it suffered at the hands of relative indifference from Brit, her team and therefore GP/fans.

I’m extremely proud of Vegas though. She’s genuinely back in my eyes, I mean there’s moments when I tear up watching her perform because I see her embodying the performer she was when she was younger, it may be glimpses but it’s a wonderful feeling knowing that’s the person that you looked up to, that you wanted to be & that inspired you to dance (in my case) and that she’s still there, giving people hell…

I hope she takes a break after Vegas, no matter how short – I think she’s at a time in her life where things are falling into place, so why not take advantage of that. it seems Britney has finally found stability, not some quick-sand peace like 2003 onwards, but rather a calm peace where she doesn’t feel pressured by anyone except herself

Whether she retires or not, I’ll be her fan forever, this era has continued cementing her as a LEGEND in my eyes.

What bothered me the most about those reviews was that some people said that the reviewer was allowed to have his/her opinion! I strongly disagree. A review is NOT about your personal opinion. In fact, your opinion shouldn’t even matter. It should be an unbiased professional review in which both the good AND bad things are listed. With Britney they only focus on the negative things and refuse to see the positive things. It’s insane.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t present highly contentious and often completely misguided opinions as the products of diligent background research; or talk as if a valid critique can be based on knowledge of the circumstances of an album’s creation. Many years ago, music critics tried to assess one of Vaughan Williams’ symphonies by making reference to recent world events. But VW responded “Can’t they get it into their heads that a chap might simply want to write a symphony?!”

It’s the worst in Australia. I cringed so hard. It’s the worst kind of prejudice and it’s contagious. As a reviewer, LISTEN to the album, a few times and judge it. No private life/rumours allowed.
I find the best reviews just LIST the good parts and the bad parts. More objective, cuz even if it was as BAD as they say there is still some good tracks and moments on there, even in albums I LOATHE and removed hald the tracks I still liked some of it.

I’m Aussie and I totally agree. The writers here get so caught up in who the artist is outside of their work, rather than just judging what they’re hearing. Even then, I think most reviewers go into the listening process with bias against pop music on the mind.

Absolutely true. The critics tend to only praise a pop album if it has significant “underground” status, or in a nostalgic sense, or if they know some technicality about songwriters/producers etc that are connected to the album who they consider to be respectable, or avante-garde.

Just about every review mentions the producers, songwriters, & technique but barely even talks about the song itself. It’s actually a masquerading of music knowledge that they flaunt/hide with college writing skills, and born of an attitude of snark. Most critics are actually not involved in songwriting & often do not have a clue about the intricacies behind the art&craft. They tend to be failed journalist who have bitterness & resentment issues, or at the very least ego-fixated mindsets that judge music only through thought, but not on feeling. Over-intellectualizing a pop album, is automatically suspect & in itself fallacious, as the review tends to be more of a social commentary or criticism of the artist…not the art.

The separation of art and artist, is impossible to certain music listeners, who care more about the history/fashion of music than music itself. There are those who LOVE art/music, and those who are either just entertained by it, hobby listeners, fixated on the fashion aspect of it, or just care about having “high-brow” taste. It is blatantly obvious immediately upon hearing people’s writings or comments about music which category they fall into. It is not wrong to be either type of music listener/appreciator, but the wrong-doing is in how the comments mislead and how seriously they proclaim. The lack of transparency in these types of critics is a tool of manipulation to further push their ego & will upon others…it is patently bias & subversive in nature.

But at the same time, I do not necessarily hold it against them, as their methods & subversive message is often not even known to them, hence the deep denial of their truest nature. Some critics & commentators only do this subconsciously, while others have a definite agenda. In challenging their views, the truth unfolds as evidenced in how they respond (if they actually address the issues being raised) and just how deeply their held views & ego-fixation is intertwined in their response.

To me, the truest of critics who review a piece of music are the ones who love music, who appreciate the aesthetics. A piece of this kind of “true music loving critic” will be left in his or her review, because they were able to let themselves go & take the emotional/cathartic journey that music offers. These are the critics who are constructive, not destructive. They don’t reduce music into a mechanistic view. They see the grey. They feel it and let themselves feel it. They can relate & get outside of their thinking mind, into the more creative imaginative and emotive mind that is altogether more fully human. Besides, we all have the ability to think & feel. After you feel it, stop taking yourself so seriously, and allow yourself to feel it…it is then that the reviewer can take the time to think about that experience, however deeply their life experience allows.

To think about pop/dance music is precisely the opposite thing it is even intended for. To mainly compare it and name-drop does not actually equate to a proper review. It is deceptive to even call it a review…how can it be when it is an assorted list of music history, production notes, and mini-biography? This is the essence of “those” critics, a listing of facts surrounding the recording, but never the actual essence & intangible qualities captured by the music. Stubborn proclamations of cold hard facts are peppered within these criticisms, as they tend to over-reach, over-state, and reduce a song to rigid bullet points that only talk ABOUT it, never OF it or even WITH it. Black & white logic & reasoning, quantitative reduction that is so rigidly defined, it literally defies the idea of change. Change being the only knowable constant in the universe, which is too paradoxical & mystical for these types to truly comprehend. Comprehension is the first step towards ultimate understanding, and most of these commentators have yet to comprehend the true depth of the nature of things, let alone understand. Hence their quantitative analysis, and their fear of the qualitative realm.

Then there’s the pure haters whose reviews are an angry condemnation of the album. Isn’t it obvious when a review is fueld by bitterness, resentment, hatred, and anger? How can one truly hate art, or is it actually a manifestation of an altogether different issue? Did the song propagate an odious philosophy that attempts to destroy some moral code that the reviewer reveres in his/her heart of hearts? Probably not, and even more probable is that the reviewer doesn’t make this apparent…there was never a pure reason behind the attack. This specific type of reviewer is much more likely just masturbating his/her ego through their wrtitings or comments…pushing their viewpoints onto others, in an ultimate egoic pursuit (either intended or subconcious, as indicated in their specific review) These quasi-critics are credulous at best. Perhaps, they truly mean it, but that doesn’t make them right. Myopic short-sighted, and scathing commentary…only self-righteous, close-minded, and almost always with a defensive stance attached to their personal justifications. They mold the review to their liking, an exercise in writing from rigid perspective as an antecedent to their misguided and over-zealous musings.

To properly portray art and communicate it’s essence through words almost definitely requires metaphor, to convey the intangible & qualitative truths that are interpreted and felt through the complex filter of the senses, experience, and the art of communication. It fully requires the listener’s feeling, empathy, understanding, experiencing, etc. There is a difference in unique-ness, capacity & degree in each human, but through his or her creativity to communicate the slippery essence to others is where true virtue lies.

*Sorry for the extended comment. I just go off on this topic, because my personal feelings & moral code exalts truth, justice, and honor as high virtues. I personally despise misinformation, and I’m not afraid to be honest about my personal bias, in my review of “those” reviewers/critics/bloggers – a.k.a. charlatan, sycophant, pseudo-, quasi-, intellectually-lazy, self-righteous, voyeuristic, snark-y, smarmy, jaded, apathetic, simpleton, 1st world, prejudice, negative, vicarious, cynical, credulous, hubris-tic, sadists…lol

just sayin…

LMAO! That was a lot of just sayin’! But yeah, I don’t think there are too many critics left standing after that all-out tank attack!

I found it hilarious when Karen called one of her album reviews “Karen’s Super Music-Oriented Blackout Review”! It was probably the one-and-only review of the album available at the time that didn’t base the entire “story” on Britney’s supposed mental incapacity.

A little self-indulgent, yes I know. lol
Fight fire with fire sometimes. I’ve commented at length on some of those reviews I’ve talked about, and offered my own arrogant challenge, just hoping that the writer would see it and take me on…but alas! It’s fun to review a review, especially when they are cocky & wrong, it gives you justification to vent the darkside and expose fallacies in their approach & thoughts.

That’s what I like about this place, a stronger grasp of reality and more sense of human touch. It’s in the spirit of seeking the truth, and happens to be primarily positive

Hilariously, most of the people who hate the album DID expect a Tori Amos record. They just failed to grasp the soul on it because, apparently, dance pop albums cannot be personal. But, to me, Britney Jean is soulful and passionate -even though it’s not Britneys’ strongest collection of songs imho– and, as a fan, I couldn’t be enjoying this album more.

Right. And the soul you speak of is so hard to define or describe, the essence of quality not measurement of quantity. This is by hard the more difficult task, or at least more rare task…music appreciation. It requires something of the listener, not just time + ears + preconceived notions + writing skill. Anybody that values art in a more meaningful way, beyond fashion, knows this prerequisite. It’s kind of similar to meditation, and is something that grows over time with the individual geared towards growth.

Just as a side note, to digress, you mention Tori Amos, who has performed Baby One More Time on countless live occasions, is another admirer of Britney. She recognizes the authenticity of Britney the artist, whose naivete has gotten her into alot of trouble but somehow helped her emerge as an icon & living legend. I literally care about no other celebrities, complete neutrality, unaffected…but everything this woman does has me on the edge of my seat. Somehow the most “Truman Show” person we all know, is the person I know so little about. The depth is astonishing, and I am one who is actually inclined to just write her off & get back to my life…yet somehow I know that in doing so, I abandon truth, and the unfolding truth to come, that is just so real once you’ve glimpsed into the essence of it. And I know I’m not alone (not alone, not alone…)

There seems to be a default media agenda: Britney = bad news. Beyonce = good news. Rihanna = sexy news. Miley = outrageous news. It’s incredibly lazy journalism.

That seems to be the layout the media have come up with. It seems technology has spoiled the media, they’re like one united (moronic) brain with no thought process, it’s the era of Copy-Paste.

I’m sick of the Beyonce news, honestly she’s talented & hardworking but she’s hardly the savior of music people make her out to be. She’s had absolutely zero influence in the music industry, nothing that has impacted the game except for the way she recently released her album. Sorry but one moment in a career as long as Britney’s isn’t impressive by any means considering all Britney has achieved.

Sigh…. rant over.

I just wanted to leave behind what I consider the perfect quote here:

“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell

Why do ya think it sometimes becomes an exhaustively difficult task to defend Britney? The truest Britney supporters tend to be people concerned with truth and justice. All of the living themes of Britney & her narrative, echo the most crucial human sentiments.

That seemingly harmless Britney quote becomes so poignant, whether intentionally or subconsciously:

“People can take everything away from you. But they can never take away your truth. But the question is… Can you handle mine?”

My automatic go-to defense of Britney Jean is that it is album #8…and that it is the 8th distinct album she has released. It’s far from Femme Fatale, far from In The Zone, far different than Oops or literally any album she’s released. It just simply is. Had she released another album geared towards a FF-sound or oriented as another Blackout, I would have felt it to be pandering & reeking of “sell-out” artistic laziness. Instead, we get Britney Jean…with its own vibe, its own personality, its’ own flavor…an album with its own unique fingerprint, a different approach sonically, philosophically, politically, marketed in its own fashion (like not at all). To those who scoff at the claims that it is her most “personal album” yet – nothing can be more personal than to capture & record a brand new album that represents itself in its own signature sound & approach.

Also, I ask those who criticize the “personal album” description – what does it mean to release a “personal album”? Were you expecting a Tori Amos record? And furthermore, define “un-personal”? … you begin to see the fallacious mode of thinking that is just accepted a priori…it is as though reason takes a back seat in an increasingly dichotomous worldview, as prejudices based on fallacious assumptions take root and form the entire structure of today’s paradigm of social collective thought. The word “personal” is actually very vague and left up to a wide interpretation, so it is how people interpret things and their attachment to their form of reality that shapes this collective thought. For example, if you take a typical Britney fan who scoffs at the album & place them in a room with more intelligent people who support & find the beauty in the album, it is only a matter of time before that person’s accepted/integrated “Britney Jean definition” begins to conform with the opinions of the group. Herd mentality, begins to breakdown at the level of the individual when their dichotomous worldview is challenged. Simply thinking about music is not enough, it does not constitute a proper review as it downplays the true aesthetics & meaning…how does the music make you feel? What does it do or accomplish? I am always highly suspect of a review that reads like a biography, and as it were, the vast majority of negative Britney Jean reviews spent at least 50% of the “review” detailing her personal life…I place the word “review” in quotes, because it does not constitute an authentic review in those cases.

But what are we left with…an internet’s worth of “reviews” that are nothing but the apparent ego-flexing of a quasi-journalist’s overstated views…where is the substance? And because there exists a saturation of these reviews, it begins to creep into the psyche of “the herd”. Ya know, the people whose backbone is dependent on the collective leanings of the rest of the herd…and they don’t even know it. Those with a stronger backbone give their ACTUAL opinion, the one that represents their authentic quiet self, without the subconscious urge to reinforce his/her ego with the backing of others.

My response here, is more of a reaction to the reaction of Britney Jean. I don’t hold back my obvious bias as both a fan of Britney & a fan of the album. I don’t need to, my primary concern is with the truth or as best as I can approximate it – and that includes the mentality that I can accept being wrong, if my ultimate mission is truth & beauty. I see an interesting phenomenon, as a certain demographic of fan casually call it a “flop” and present issues of anger or outrage at this “era” & its’ politics – they call it a “flop” but didn’t actually buy the album, or even ask for it over Christmas break…even when it was on sale for $7. It parallels one of your main points about appreciating the album over time -the reviewers didn’t invest into the idea of the album growing on them, and performing a more authentic & thorough analysis. And the fairweather fans I speak of didn’t purchase the album, so their ABILITY to actually review it is handicapped due to a complete lack of participation. It goes that when you actually own something, you will appreciate it more…it’s not mere analogy here, it is a literal handicap in their ability to judge. And then add the whole misinformation/fallacy-based atmosphere that BJ was given birth in, and you have a recipe for an under-appreciated album.

(I’ll comment more later & offer my review of the “most personal” album that I have grown to truly enjoy…and just add one line of support for it from my humble perspective – that plenty of individuals like it, but in a group setting (even online behind computers) their responses are vastly in line with an “accepted standard”. Having private conversations reveal much different responses than the ones that occur in a public forum, a sad fact. Also, many who LOVE it claim it’s like a fine wine that grows with time…and I agree. Nostalgia & expectations distort people’s perception & ability to grasp at the infinitude of depth)

Comments are closed.

  • Karenannanina: I agree with you about the residency. It's the road to irrelevance for an artist. But a new album would be a golden blessing for her fans. Her albums
  • George: Spot on thoughts on the issue. Honestly, I don't... really care whether she does the residency or not? As long as there is new music, I'm fine. P.S: G
  • Sarah G: You should write an In-Depth of Glory or even Mood Ring (that's a groovy tune)