Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Blackout - Britney Spears

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One thing has been overlooked in the Britney Spears meltdown; those people saying that her music career was over have neglected the fact that Spears herself has little input into the songs themselves. As the sublime Toxic showed, Spears is only ever one truly great pop single away from redemption and as long as she's in some kind of condition to turn up and lay down some basic vocals, the producers can work their magic.

And that's the first impression you get from listening to Blackout. Spear's voice is twisted and contorted by any number of technical processes and it's only that peculiar Southern twang that confirms it is indeed Britney.

And immediately we're into the problems. There is, quite simply, something wrong with Britney. She's not right. It's easy to laugh (or indeed compare her treatment to the treatment that the "talented" Amy Winehouse gets) but anyone with the merest touch of human kindness within them must feel at least a little sorry for her. The problem is that it's left us with an album that has not an ounce of her own personality on it and one, if we're being frank, seems to have been put together with only the merest of input from it's "star."

That said, there are enough catchy pop tunes to ensure that the album is far from a complete washout. Lead single Gimme More deserves it's UK top 5 status, and could well be joined by the likes of Hot As Ice, the Neptunes produced Why Should I Be Sad? and Piece Of Me (with it's seminal lyric "I'm Mrs. Oh-My-God that Britney's shameless" - which pretty much sums up the entire project).

Yes, it could be any identikit young female popstrel on the decks and there's little lyrical insight into Britney's descent from fresh faced superstar to the single mother of two kids who can't even get custody of them due to her "personal demons". Yet for all those problems, and with a nod that it might simply be due to the fact that no-one expected much of it at all, this is not the terrible car-crash album that it could have been. Largely soulless it may be, but it at least does have the benefit of some catchy pop tunes.

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