Album: Britney Spears

Britney, Jive
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The Independent Culture

The fickle, transient nature of teen interests poses problems for those whose job it is to relieve teenagers of their pocket money. In magazine publishing, new titles have to be created to fill hitherto unspotted gaps in the market – after all, no self-respecting 15-year-old girl wants to be seen reading the same magazine, now that she's a young woman, as she did when she was just a kid of 13. So, too, with pop music, as illustrated by the dispatch with which the former Spice Girls' careers have vanished. Britney's new album pivots on this issue, focusing almost exclusively on her transformation from girl to woman. It's littered with lines reflecting her assumption of maturity: "My life has been so over-protected"; "I know I may be young, but I've got feelings, too"; "There is no need to protect me; it's time that I learnt to face up to this on my own"; and, so the lads don't feel left out, a reassuring: "I'm so glad we're at the same place at the same time." Even the arrangements reflect the change, with hot dance names such as Rodney Jerkins and the Neptunes taking over more of the production duties from the Swedish technicians who originally fashioned the Britney sound – though not always successfully: Jerkins makes as much of a hash of the old Joan Jett hit "I Love Rock'n'Roll" as he did of the Stones' "Satisfaction" on Britney's last album. Mind you, even that's better than the Swedes' "Bombastic Love", titled thus simply to rhyme with "fantastic" – although, checking my dictionary, I note that "bombast" is defined as "padding", so maybe it's more appropriate than it appears.

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