Britney crowned pop princess again

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December 5, 2008

1:26 AM

It’s Britney, bitch, and she’s back.

With the premiere of her documentary, “Britney: For the Record,” and the release of her sixth studio album, “Circus,” Britney Spears has reentered the international spotlight, and this time, she (with the help of her many caretakers) knows what she’s doing.

Over the last two years, tabloids have plastered Spears’ face on their covers for her ugly divorce from Kevin Federline, her lost custody battle over her infant sons, her mental breakdown and her very poor decision to shave her head. Even die-hard fans cringed at the pop star’s live televised performance of “Gimme More” during which Brit appeared sedated.

Since then, under the watchful eye of her father, a team of agents and an army of doctors, Britney has picked herself up and begun collecting the shattered remains of her life.

But don’t call it a comeback.

“I hate it when [my agent and my father] call it a comeback,” Brit confessed in ‘For the Record.’ “I’ve been here the whole time.”

MTV premiered the hour-long documentary, chronicling Britney’s post-breakdown life as she ascended back to the top of pop stardom on Nov. 30, two days before the “Circus” release.

The cameramen capture many facets of Brit’s life including her tense relationship with her father Jaime Spears, who named himself Brit’s personal post-meltdown prison guard. Brit’s candid confessions pull on the audience’s heartstrings.

“When I tell people the way I feel, they hear me, but they aren’t really listening. I’m sad. Even when you go to jail, there is always the time you know you are going to get out, you know? But in this situation, it’s never ending. It’s just like ‘Groundhog Day’ every day,” Spears said amid tears.

Viewers also get a peek at the crazed band of paparazzi that follows Brit wherever she goes. One photographer, after failing to get a shot of Spears shopping in New York City, throws a tantrum — complete with flailing limbs and explicatives. All of this while Spears’ posse clamber to hide the pop star in the back of an SUV.

Sometimes, however, Britney exhibits imbalanced behavior. She whispers to cameras in the corners of clothing shops and adopts strange accents when interacting with friends. Her most laughable moment occurs in the documentary’s final poignant segments when an interviewer asks Brit why she agreed to film her life.

“I guess I want people to know that I’m just like them,” she answers.

As if we all know what its like to be a superstar at 16, dance on a stage wrapped in a boa constrictor and have more money than we know what to do with. Sure. Okay, Britney.

Despite all this, Spears manages to be mostly upbeat as she jets from music video set to Broadway shows. Her goofy displays guarantee life with Brit is never dull. In the end, most will probably want to be her best friend.

If the documentary’s goal is to allow Britney a chance to explain the maelstrom that was the last two years of her life while subtly promoting “Circus,” it does a damn good job.

“Circus,” dropped Tuesday, Brit’s 27th birthday.

It continues her transition from her original sugary pop to a raw, electronic dance style, a departure that began with last year’s “Black Out.” Where “Black Out” lacked soul, “Circus” draws from Spears’ traumatic experiences to create an album.

By now, all of America has had the “Womanizer” chorus stuck in their heads, and for good reason. The catchy lyrics, matched with the get-up-and-dance beat, propelled the single to the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 list — a first for Britney since “Baby One More Time” hit the top of the charts nearly a decade ago. Though “Womanizer” has been a huge success, it is one of the weaker tracks on the album.
The same is true of the next single off the album, title track “Circus.” No doubt, Britney’s life over the last two years has been chaotic enough to be called a circus. The song, however, avoids Brit’s recent controversies and simply boasts her musical prowess.

Brit addresses her nasty split from ex, Kevin Federline, in “Out from Under.” Though this song won’t make it to the top of the charts, its moving lyrics and slow tempo complement the album’s primarily fast-paced dance vibe.

In “Kill the Lights,” Brit bashes the paparazzi amidst a strong dance beat and unusual percussion combinations. “Mr. Photographer / I think I’m ready for my close-up … Is that money in your pocket? / Or you happy to see me?” This track is by far the best display of Britney’s new sound.
Unless you are already in on the joke, “I Seek Amy” seems pointless. Sure, the dance beat is great and the lyrics are catchy, but who the heck is this Amy girl? And why is Britney so desperately seeking her? After a listen or two, the refrain, “if you seek Amy,” begins to sound a lot like “F-U-C-K me.” Suddenly, the chorus, “But all of the boys and all of the girls are beggin’ to if you seek Amy,” makes a lot more sense. Clever, Britney, very clever.

“Unusual You,” arguably the best song on the album, doesn’t stick with the ubiquitous pop music theme of the cheating boyfriend. Instead, Brit sings about a love that exceeds her expectations. “Baby you’re so unusual / Didn’t anyone tell you, you’re supposed to break my heart? / I expect you to, so why haven’t you?”

This track will prove a radio favorite.

Anyone who has found himself in unnecessarily awkward situations as a result of hitting the sauce too hard — so that’s an overwhelming majority of the College population — will relate to Brit’s Hangover Anthem, “Blur.” One of the few slowish songs on the album, “Blur” is a candid affirmation of Brit’s substance abuse, including lyrics like: “Hope I didn’t but I think I might’ve / Everything, everything is still a blur / Can’t remember what I did last night.”

Those who buy “Circus” will undoubtedly find themselves humming its many catchy choruses. Its singles will undoubtedly liven up dance floors of many a club or fraternity dance party in the months to come. If “Circus” is any indication of what the future holds for Britney, the Princess of Pop is here to stay.

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