Review Summary: Britney has fun - and brings her fans along the way for once.
This is the album that would make or break the star of our generation. The name Britney Spears was replaced with the likes of Rihanna, Fergie, Gwen Stefani and Nelly Furtado. But watching Britney Spears fall apart was more fun than witnessing Courtney Love's drug-fueld lifestyle. Spears has had adventures in baby-dropping, crotch-flashing, non-stop partying and head-shaving as well as Love having adventures experimenting with oxycontin and cocaine. It's almost unmistakable to think that Spears' "Blackout" would be another "America's Sweetheart": the girl can't make decisions in life, but when it comes to music, she can do it well. It's pretty obvious she knows what she's doing, and with such money and power, she ends up with her best album since 2000.
Just like Love, Spears has become the center of media attention, blocking off any news of ever celebrity known. Every entertainment news would have "breaking news" of Spears' strange behavior, not caring who or what she destroyed along the way - even if it included her once huge fan-base. But what comes as a suprise is the unfortunately titled "Blackout": It's not exactly the teen pop she dominated in the early 2000s; it's laced with techno, hip-hop, electronica and the top-notch producers her label can afford. Her voice is layered, clipped and morphed enough to just almost understand what she's saying half the time.
Spears has a strong partnership with Bloodshy & Avant, the ones who created "Toxic" on 2003's "In the Zone." They work hard to write and produce songs made specifically for Britney, like the media-blasting "Piece of Me," where she brings back the memories of her "derierre" being in the magazine; the self-mocking if not clever "Freakshow," where Britney raps over a wobbly bass line until her voice is morphed into a man's; "Radar," a relentless, infectious electronic tease where her voice goes with the beat perfectly; and the club-dominating "Toy Soldier," including a diss out at K-Fed and addresses rumors (perhaps a line about Justin?). The beats are outstanding, heavy and full of electronics that it's like they're made to cover for her thin voice. But her signature breathy vocals aren't featured in the B&A productions, but in the clubby, sexual Danja productions, where they feel right at home.
Timbaland's right-hand man Danja produces almost half of the songs: the first single "Gimme More" has a hypnotic hip-hop beat to it; the strip-club anthem "Get Naked (I Got a Plan)" proves you don't need clothes to have fun; "Break the Ice" is a catchy club track that has Timbaland-like beats and a slow-motion bridge which features cat cries and a space-defying floating beat; and "Perfect Lover," one of the only tracks where Britney sounds as if she's human, which is, conincidentally or not, the one that's the least effective of the bunch. But the most effective being "Hot as Ice." When Gwen does "Hollaback Girl," Britney does throws us this, an equally fun, silly, catchy pop song that's basically about being, well, hot. It has an irresistible "break it down" chant after every chorus, along with a predictable but effective beat.
There's a few hints of classic Britney as well. In the New Wave 80s style of "Heaven on Earth," a love song that may hint she still has feelings for K-Fed, or maybe just any other typical pop song. Like her own style, she's whispering throughout the song: "Will you catch me if I jump?" "Ooh Ooh Baby" is almost too irresistible to pass on. It gets you in the first 10 seconds with its spanish guitar flavored stomping beat. It's one very sexy pop track.
Everything lead fans to believe another disaster was in the making - the VMA performance, the album cover, the lack of promotion - and you know you want to be bad. But if Britney was really in charge of this, then she knows that choosing the best producers is always the right decision, working with the best hitmakers (Danja, Kara DioGuardi), or her usuals (Bloodshy & Avant) to create the best dance music and hooks Rihanna would kill for. If the singles are carefully chosen - and there's plenty - Britney could bring herself back to the sexy pop vixen she once was. Maybe being crazy doesn't necessarily mean bad in the music business.
Stand-out tracks include "Piece of Me," "Radar," "Freakshow," "Hot As Ice," "Ooh Ooh Baby"