“Britney Jean” by Britney Spears Review


Will’s take on “Britney Jean”

Miley went from a Disney star to…

Britney Jean Spears has gone from the queen of teen-pop to “Britney Jean.” Touted as her most “personal” album yet, the title and album artwork display more intimacy than any song does.

Armed with well over twenty producers (everybody from will.i.am to David Guetta), Spears doesn’t take many chances. The producers keep her songs on a hit-making track, which might be why they fail to gain any personal depth. The vocal production contradicts the “personal” aspect even before you get to analyzing lyrics. Her voice is so produced and overdubbed that it is hard to imagine any singer sounding like this on stage.

Alien is an exception to the impersonal aspect of the album. Collabing with producer William Orbit, Britney creates something more personal and exposed than any other song. While it may be a dance-pop personal song, it’s the closest that Spears comes to truly being personal on this personal album.

Setting aside how the album was marketed, it’s fine. It doesn’t deter far from modern pop music with a regular base line, synth lines, and heavily produced vocals. There is lots of bass drops (even on ballads), and much “thump-thump-thump”-ing. What’s a little scary is that you could put any singer on this album and it would be equally good if not better. Katy Perry has better vocals. Heck, even Jamie Lynn (accompanies Britney on Chillin’ With You), is singing better.

Britney is right, “There was a time that [she] was one of a kind” (the opening line of Alien, the opening song). But now she is a shell of her former self. The only memorable songs are “Work B**ch” and “Perfume,” and Britney Jean needed a heck of a lot more than that to be memorable.

Rating2 out of 5 stars.

Micah’s take on “Britney Jean”

In the same way that I can’t imagine living in a time when the US wasn’t fighting a war and “The Simpsons” wasn’t terrible, I can’t fathom the era when Britney Spears was something other than a punchline. I know plenty about the woman – most of it from her interview with Chuck Klosterman and jokes from decade-old sitcoms – but until now, I’ve never really listened to her music.

And, y’know, maybe Britney had something going on during her “…Baby One More Time” era, but listening to “Britney Jean,” the only way I could distinguish her from Katy Perry was her breathier voice and slightly cheaper-sounding synths. “Britney Jean” is a catchy collection of songs, to be sure, but there’s no innovation. Low synths buzz, a drum machine cranks out a backbeat, and melodies sort of swirl around without really going anywhere.

I get the feeling that, had it been produced in 2005, “Britney Jean” would be a far superior album. Maybe the melodies would matter and be accentuated by horns or guitar or even well-done synths instead of buried beneath a sluice heap of effects and beaten into submission by Auto-Tune.

Thanks mostly to its production, this was one of those albums where the songs were essentially undifferentiated to me; “Alien” is a fine lead single and “Passenger” sounds like “30 Rock’s” Jane Krakowski making fun of modern pop music, but beyond that, the songs fuse together into an undifferentiated blob of wasted talent.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.