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!

3 Responses to "Blur (In Depth series)"

I’ve always liked this song. They managed to make a relaxing song out of a stressful topic (hangover after blacking out). Britney sounds wonderful and not distant in the slightest, as in some other “Circus”‘songs.

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 it for her song “Can’t Say No” (which is also one of her best). Blur is a gem.

Also, vocally Tinashe has learned so much from Britney. She’s one of the most talented artists around these days.

This song was doing the dozy dark haze pop before it was even a thing, but that aside, I think it was song that really spoke to Britney back in the day, can’t remember what happened but I know it was bad, and that’s where she was at the time.
This song is so good, and I still remember it to this day.

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  • Deborah: There's an interview with Charli XCX where she talks about her admiration for Britney, and how much she was influenced by her as a young girl. Maybe t
  • George: I was just listening to Charli XCX's new track "Blame It On You" and thinking of how much she sounds like Britney (or like an impersonator of). It is
  • Karenannanina: Thank you! Welcome to the New Britneyology community!