Monday, April 4, 2011

Britney Spears Gives High Dose of Dance Fever On 'Femme Fatale'

Britney Spears is no Madonna or Lady Gaga. She's not known for revolutionary dance moves or vocal range. But she's Britney Spears. Twelve years ago she released her first studio record, "Baby One More Time" and in those 12 years she has established herself as not only as the princess of pop, but as a cultural icon. We were there when she and Justin Timberlake broke up, through her marriages and the birth of her two children, and even when she had her breakdown.

With the release of her seventh album, "Femme Fatale," we are experiencing the rebirth of a new Britney. While her new album has the pop-dance feel of her album "Blackout," this one greatly differs. Thank two of the music industry's biggest songwriters, Dr. Luke and Max Martin, for that. Most of the tracks have potential to be hit singles and two of them have already made their marks on the charts.

The first track, "Till the World Ends," is perhaps one of the best dance songs in the last decade. Co-written by Ke$ha, the song does have its clich├ęs; like most dance songs, it's about dancing and living it up all night. However, the melody, rhythm and the catchy lyrics set it above the rest. It's able to get away with being fun and addicting.

"Hold It Against Me," the album's first single, is already a hit. Like "Till the World Ends" and most of the other songs from the album, "HIAM" is another dance number. Yet, this one has its differences. The dubstep that comes in halfway through the song makes it one of Britney's best songs. Sure, other artists such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga have experimented with dubstep, but Britney's usage of it shouts, "I'm Britney, and I can do it too and I can do it better."

"Inside Out" is a scandalous number about an ex-lover that won't stop coming over. The intro sounds like her earlier pop work, but it's contorted and mixed with an electronic feel. But what stands about this song is that it references two of her other hits. In the chorus she sings, "Hit me one more time it's amazing [...] You're the only one who ever drove me crazy," allusions to "Baby One More Time" and "(You Drive Me) Crazy." On another level, the song is kind of tragic. She's still in love with the only person who understands her, but she can't be with him. Maybe that's a huge leap, but who says Britney can't be deep?

None of the songs are emotional ballads or remotely slow, but one that is not as fast as the rest is "I Wanna Go." It's still electric and it has the techno-dance feel, but it's more subdued. Britney's voice remains at a constant tempo, which is a good change for the record.

"Big Fat Bass" features Will.I.Am. and is another song you'll most likely hear at a dance club. There is a mix of different sounds with, of course, a heavy bass. A lot is going on in the song, but it's working. While it's a little lengthy (the longest track on the album), it's a fun dance number, much like "Beautiful (Drop Dead)."

One problem with the album is that it sounds like Britney is on autopilot, and for that reason, some of the songs fail to stand out. They're still catchy and good, but they lack the luster heard in "Till the World Ends" or "Hold It Against Me." For example, "Seal It With a Kiss," a song about hooking up in the club, gets lost in "Femme Fatale." It has a great chorus, "Pull me closer, don't be shy/Cross my heart and hope to die/Keep a secret, me and you/Wanna taste forbidden fruit/And seal it with a kiss." Yet, it's missing something that most of the other songs have. The same can be said for songs like "Trouble for Me" and "Criminal."

If you are looking for a deep, meaningful album, you won't find it on "Femme Fatale," an album that is mostly about dancing, partying and sexing it up. That said, the album is excellent for what it is: a purely fun album. With the release of the album, Britney has made it clear that she is willing to change her sound to meet the demands of the ever-changing pop genre and to the desires of her fans. Even for those who will not see the genius in the album, she's Britney and she can do whatever she wants.

by Jacob Sabolo

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