Retrospective Review: Britney Spears, ‘Britney Jean’ (2013)
More mature Britney Jean is a mixed blessing of sorts…
“Cutting right to the chase,” Britney Jean differs from previous Britney Spears albums. While still possessing some suggestiveness characterizing Spears, it seeks a more mature script to convey her emotions. Britney Jean, hence, isn’t always exciting because of this departure.
Perspectively, however, Spears is no longer a spunky teen singing “Oops (I Did It Again)” or a rebellious, liberated twenty-something; she’s 32. Mature Britney shouldn’t completely dissuade; the album has its moments. It also has question marks as well.
“Alien” is the first indication of a different Britney Spears. The production work is solid, opening with mysterious, building synths, and vocal cooing in the background. Eventually, stronger, thudding 808 drums anchor things down. Spears’ lyrical statements are more interesting and surprising than the sound itself.
“But the stars in the sky / look like home, take me home / and the light in your eyes / lets me know, I’m not alone…”
She deals with loneliness, likening her loneliness to that of being an extraterrestrial. However, her loneliness is now a thing of the past – she’s found “her everything.” All in all, a respectable start.
The superb “Work B**ch” shows the more risqué, unapologetic Britney Spears…sort of. Examine the seemingly ‘shallow’ message on the chorus:
“You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? / You want a Maserati? You better work b*tch / You want a Lamborghini? Sip martinis? / Look hot in a bikini? / You better work b*tch…now get to work b*tch!”
While Spears is using the overt, shock value of today’s generation, she’s also suggesting to attain things desired in life, it requires work. The double entendre is about effort, as opposed to the stripper pole. Additionally, through the adversity, she suggests resolve – continual hard work
“Hold your head high, fingers to the sky / they gon’ try and try ya, but they can’t deny ya…”
“Perfume” exceptionally contrasts “Work B**ch,” with a less aggressive sound. Even so, Spears is still serious to an extent. Struggling with paranoia and jealousy, she fears her man is cheating:
“I put on my perfume, yeah I want it all over you / I gotta mark my territory / I’ll never tell, tell on myself, but I hope she smells my perfume…”
She wants to ensure no one else steals him.
“It Should Be Easy” lacks the same oomph of “Perfume.” Will.i.am goes serious as opposed to dumb on the chorus:
“Baby love / it should be easy / it shouldn’t be complicated / it should be easy / I don’t know how or where else to say it.”
This marks another ‘thoughtful’ message, this time in regards to true love. Spears toys with this, singing:
“I’ve got visions boy, I’ve got visions / of me and you happily just livin’ / I know they’re out there, them beautiful men / but you my future baby…”
Despite continual, newfound seriousness, “It Should Be Easy” remains danceable and futuristic.
“Tik Tik Boom” and “Body Ache”
“Tik Tik Boom” returns a livelier pop star, who naughtily sings, “You got sex drive in your face / let me get up on it, let me get up on it.” She’s equally sexed-up on the simple, but orgasmic hook:
“Better make me tik tik tik tik tik tik boom…”
T.I. hits all the right buttons on his verse:
“Right there in my wife beater / she like the way I eat her, beat her, beat her / treat her like an animal somebody call PETA”
Britney knows what’s best on the equally alluring “Body Ache”:
“I know you feel my fire / draw you into my flame / tonight we take it higher / what I got ain’t no game…”
The rub with “Body Ache” is Spears’ thin vocals leave plenty to be desired; the performance is a bit too cool.
“Til It’s Gone” and Beyond
The remainder of Britney Jean lacks some bite. “Til It’s Gone” is prudent, with Spears teaching, “You never know what you got ’til it’s gone…” Still, the aforementioned line is the extent of the depth – the record is too predictable. She delivers an emotional effort on “Passenger,” but doesn’t necessarily play to her strengths. Spears is letting go of ‘control’ and letting love lead her. The concept is sound, but the song itself is so-so song.
“Chillin’ With You,” featuring Jamie Lynn Spears, is lighthearted contemporary R&B, using acoustic guitars and harder drum programming (oxymoronic sounds). The end of each chorus is hip-hop oriented, contrasting the rest of the song itself. True to its title, it is indeed chill, though unimportant to both the album and Spears’ musical legacy. “Don’t Cry” closes the album, but never catches fire. Sure, she illustrates real life as opposed to youthful sexual endeavors but isn’t exciting.
All in all, Britney Jean a mixed blessing of sorts. The maturity is respectable, but sometimes, it causes Britney Jean to lack to the luster previous albums. “Work B**ch” balances out fun and real life, but the album sags some towards the end. At just 36 minutes, that’s not good. In essence, this album is average at best.
Gems: “Work B**ch,” “Perfume,” “Tik Tik Boom” & “Body Ache”