Newest Review: ... followed but soon her personal life overshadowed her music career. She mainly came in the news for her excesses. Luckily she is now more ... more
Ooops, she did it again...
Britney - Britney Spears
Member Name: SmoothCriminal
Britney - Britney Spears
Advantages: Feisty vocals, strong up-tempos, sexier tone to some of the tracks.
Disadvantages: Two weak tracks.
Britney Spears' self-titled third album showed the teen pop princess begin to grow. Already firmly established as a pop icon with just two LPs under her belt, she was granted the creative freedom to take control of her music and transform her sound from bubblegum radio-hits to a more mature, raunchier brand of r'n'b/hip-hop influenced pop. Many credit this change as ensuring her longevity, as opposed to the decline which faced the Backstreet Boys and other 90s musical phenomenon's. Without a doubt, it's the best of her first three albums - showcasing some great beats, vocals and an uplifting tone of empowerment and emancipation. Ten years old, it has stood the test of time, with many of the songs sounding as good today as they ever did.
The album kicks off with 'Slave 4 U', one of Britney's most raunchiest to-date. The Neptunes produced beat is slow and sexy, gradually gaining in tempo, as Britney's breathy vocals becoming increasingly more hypnotic. There is an undeniably sexy mood in the song, as Britney raspy lower register meshes perfectly with the Lolita image crafted in the lyrics ("Just leave behind my name and age" she moans). The scratchy synths and the layered spoken-word and breathy vocals, are completely enthralling, and are reminiscent of Janet Jackson's work in the early 90s. When coupled with the steaming hot video, this is undoubtedly one of the sexiest and most innovative songs of Britney's entire career. And what's best is that none of its appeal has diminished with time.
'Overprotected' is without a doubt one of my favourite Britney songs. Produced by Max Martin (legendary hit-maker behind her previous hits 'Baby One More Time', 'Oops', 'Lucky' and 'Stronger'), it is more in-tune with her power-pop sound that she was known for with her first two albums. However, there is a fierceness in the staccato beats and roaring synths, as Britney delivers the vocals with sass and conviction. It definitely shows her at her best, as while she is never going to go down in history as an incredible vocalist, her delivery is second-to-none when it comes to pop songs. I love the lyrics in the chorus ("What am I to do with my life? How am I supposed to know what's right? I can't help the way I feel but my life has been so overprotected"). This is mainly because they are like 'Lucky' in the sense that, when listening back to them in 2011, they are oddly prophetic regarding her infamous 2007 breakdown.
Rodney 'Darkchild' Jerkins (famous for his work with Beyonce, Destiny's Child, Toni Braxton and Lady GaGa) is responsible for 'Lonely'. A rock-tinged pop track, which is loaded with attitude - the mumbling verses are a little dull, but the listener is suddenly struck by a powerful chorus: "I think of all the times that I wasted/I think of all the times that I took you back/In the end I'm still lonely." I love the guitar mixed in with the production, as it really suits Britney's vocals. It's definitely a really underrated track as it really shows off her skill at delivering a convicted performance. Great stuff.
The gorgeous ballad 'I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman' features a simple piano and guitar arrangement, with Britney showcasing her ability to deliver the heart of a song flawlessly to the listener. From the moment she sings the opening line, I get chills. There is something really passionate about her vocal delivery in this song, presumably because it mirrored her life at the time. "If seen so much more than you know now, so tell me to shut my eyes" she sings, regarding how fame has forced her to grow up quickly. The soaring vocals towards the end of the song and simple arrangement are fantastic, and I really hope that she produces more songs like this in the future. Just perfect.
'Boys' has a really funky production, courtesy of the Neptunes. The single edit of the song features guest vocals from Pharrell, which sound really sexy alongside Britney. You can definitely tell that this and the opening track were heavily inspired by the work of Janet Jackson. The beat is just amazing, with Britney's breathy musings "For whatever reason, I feel like I've been wanting you my whole life" are intoxicatingly sexy. The song is catchy, but it's the steamy mood evoked by the vocals and rhythm that just pulls the listener in. It's a great track as it shows real artistic growth from her first two albums.
Penned by Britney herself, 'Anticipating', is a fun radio-song. The light, summery beat and sing-a-long melody mean that from the opening chords, you aren't expecting anything particularly deep here. "Skip on the drinks/head to the club/my body's taking over and I want some more," Britney sings. It's surprisingly innocent given most club songs you hear on the radio now. I love the flow in Britney's vocals and the catchy chorus, even if it's a little dated. It's a great song though.
'I Love Rock n' Roll' is a cover of Joan Jett classic, and was featured in the movie 'Crossroads'. While it's not a patch on the original, it's a fair effort. The stuttering beat and guitar suit Britney's voice, although I don't think she's strong enough to cope with the chorus. It's a fun addition to the album, but a little superficial, as I'm not really a fan of covers.
'Cinderella' is a little calculated if you look at it as a song. It's quite clear that her label were sceptical about having too many 'Slave 4 U'/'Boys'-esque tracks on the album, so there are some tracks like this designed to appeal to fans of her first two albums. Having said that, it is a fantastic track - one that in my opinion, should have been a single. The crashing percussion and the trademark Max Martin power-pop melody are irresistible. The chorus is such an ear-worm, you can't help but sing along to it. Many of my friends have since heard the song and wondered why they'd never known about such a huge Britney hit (it's so good, they assumed it must have been played on the radio non-stop). Creatively, it adds nothing to her back-catalogue, but as a listener, it's a glorious hidden gem.
'Let Me Be' sounds a little like Toni Braxton's 'He Wasn't Man Enough'. While the verses are a little dull, the chorus is has quite a cool shuffling rhythm. There just a little something missing from the track - especially given that it was produced by Darkchild, there just isn't that spark that his productions normally have. It's good quite a good chorus though, so it's not a terrible song.
The horrendously titled 'Bombastic Love' has a great beat, and sounds a little like her earlier work. The strange tempo on the chorus is a poor attempt at reggae-pop, but if you remember that the track is ten years old, it's a little more appealing. The chorus is fun and memorable - it just might be a track you listen to on your headphones instead of speakers!
Another ballad comes in the form of 'That's Where You Take Me'. The oriental beat adds something different to the album, however, the breathy vocals that are normally found in her sexier songs feel a little out of place on the song. It's a shame that such a good album has a filler track like this. It is the definition of filler - not a bad track, but not memorable at all.
'When I Found You' is a gorgeous close to the album. It's an electro-infused ballad, which slightly distorts Britney's vocals. "I believe everyone has one true love in this life, I do" she sings sincerely. It's such a sweet and innocent track, which makes her voice sound beautiful. I think she's slightly drowned in the production of the track, however, it's difficult, because a piano/acoustic arrangement may have made the lyrics lose their appeal and sound corny. It's a great track though, and a real grower.
The UK edition of the CD ends with the Justin Timberlake-penned 'Before the Goodbye' - another ballad, but its combination of hypnotic synths, layered vocals and guitars making it a stunning track which should have been included on all editions of the record.
Despite two lacklustre tracks towards the end of the album, this is still a great pop record. Britney's vocals have such rawness and personality to them, it's refreshing to hear, compared to the popstars of today (and her later work). It's the perfect coming-of-age LP for a former teenage pop princess, which shows a lot more versatility than people at the time had come to expect of her. It's definite must-have for all Britney fans, and perfect nostalgia for any pop fan.
Summary: The perfect coming-of-age album for the former teen-pop sensation