Album: Britney Spears, Femme Fatale (Jive)
Friday 25 March 2011
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
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What if 35 Palestinians had died, and 800 Israelis?
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 5 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star dies at age 45 after suffering from cancer
Led Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Freddie Prinze Jr on 24: 'Kiefer Sutherland was the most unprofessional dude in the world – I hated every moment of it'
50 best running songs: From Avicii and Pharrell Williams to the classic 'Eye of the Tiger'
Coolio has sold his soul to Pornhub
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
- < Previous
- Next >