Album: Britney Spears, Femme Fatale (Jive)

2.00

In one sense, Femme Fatale may be the ultimate Britney Spears album.

As the hollowest of modern pop vessels, the attempts to bring her "personality" to the fore resulted in the weakest tracks on Circus and the charmless Blackout, but there's no danger of that happening here: perhaps chastened by the disasters that seemed to result whenever Britney's private life became her public image, all traces of authentic character, issues, attitude and emotion have been ruthlessly excised from Femme Fatale, leaving the hollowest possible shell of corporate entertainment fodder. The ultimate Britney experience, as impersonal as a videogame.

There's certainly no denying its single-minded dedication to dancefloor utility. The album opens with her in strict lock-step, demanding to "keep on dancing till the world ends", and stays in electro-stomp mode for virtually its entire course, with only the tiniest of rhythmic variants or differences in electronic tones distinguishing one producer's work from another's. Britney herself appears to have zero input to either composition or production, while her vocal character has been further denuded by the blanket application of auto-tuning. But it's not just that her voice has been treated: she's also delivering the lines in a brittle, robotic monotone, as if she were Singbot 64 rather than a human performer. But then, almost everything here sounds programmed rather than natural: even the little whistling hook in "I Wanna Go" has a synthetic character about it. Indeed, such is the shock when the final track, "Criminal", opens with a little folksong-style flute and guitar figure that one's immediate reaction is that a Midlake soundfile has been accidentally appended to Britney's running-order.

Apart from that, there's not an awful lot of inspiration or originality involved here. Songs rarely stray far from their titular instruction: "Gasoline" shuffles a few petrol- and fire-related cliches around, while will.i.am's "Big Fat Bass" sticks to dancefloor essentials: "I can be the treble baby, you can be the bass". And "Inside Out" shamelessly plunders Britney's former glory in an attempt to gloss over its drearily grinding electro tedium, with the singer asking, "Hit me one more time, it's just amazing".

Except that it's not that amazing any more, something confirmed by the mediocre performance of the singles "Till the World Ends" and "Hold It Against Me" (which itself recycles the old chestnut about holding someone's body, minus the humour). Both have plummeted out of the Top 50 after so-so showings, demonstrating that even a fanbase as apparently devoted as Britney's will drift away rapidly once the novelty palls. And as far as novelty goes, her natural demographic now has an icon as quirky and characterful as Lady Gaga to fascinate and fuss over, a performer who doesn't expect simply to keep milking the same cash cow without at least a costume-change. Gaga's music, let's be frank, is not that much better than, or even different to, that on Femme Fatale, but she knows the lingering appeal of playing dress-up.

DOWNLOAD THIS Till The World Ends; Criminal

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk