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Reviews 06/12/2003

Album Of The Week: Britney Spears

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by Mikey (Gillingham, Kent, UK) - Each week I preview an album which I think deserves a listen to and if it's worth to buy, I will cater for all tastes of music from R'n'B to Rock, Hip hop and Pop. At the end of the page, you will find all future album releases.

Britney Spears - In The Zone
Release Date: 17 November 2003

Having enjoyed a relatively long reign as the world's number one pop kitten it's no secret that Britney's star has faded somewhat over the past few months. However, whether or not it was time spent in the company of a past mistress in the shape of Madonna that has made the difference is unclear. Whatever it is, it's worked, as Britney's new 'In the Zone' set is positively bristling with new pop intent. And sex. The 'Me Against the Music' duet with Madonna sets the pace - all urgent and steamy vocals over pumping production and 'I Got That (Boom Boom)' continues the trend. With a banjo. 'Breathe' is up there with anything Kylie can do whilst 'Outrageous' is a sinuous proto-dancehall workout and 'Toxic' is a stop-start, Bollywood-meets-Bond dancefloor epic. Other guests on the set include the Ying Yang Twins and the album includes the Desi remix of 'Me Against the Remix' from Rishi Rich.

In about a hundred years, some academic genius will write a dispassionate and wildly intelligent analysis of the late 20th and early 21st century which recognises the vital importance that pop music - the most inventive and creative art form of that time - played. And in this book there will be a chapter entitled, simply, 'Britney Spears - why?'

It will begin with acknowledging the brilliance of 'Oops! I Did It Again', a wonderfully clever song, and compliment its charming twin, 'Baby, One More Time'. It will also recognise the fact that, in pop, vocal talent was not considered essential for success, though Britney's asthmatic-with-emphysema technique was uniquely horrible.

Then the writer will turn to the hit album 'In The Zone', and explore it as a metaphor for creative bankruptcy, quite the most lifeless and unloved record to be released by an artist of Britney Spears global stature. It will question why even one solitary individual purchased this insult to pop, when the same funds could easily have purchased tATu, Eminem or even Kylie.

There will be a fascinating discussion of whether Madonna's appearance on the brilliantly titled but deeply dreary 'Me Against The Music' was a post-modern prank designed to make all sane listeners think "actually, 'American Life' was pretty good, after all".

The book will explore the fact that while her ex was effortlessly making pop music sound as essential as oxygen, Britney Spears produced an album that made the listener ache with the sheer toil and furrowed-brow hard work of it all. Exotic Indian strings, 'urban' raps, dirrty words - the sound of an artist flailing for credibility and failing resoundingly.

Turning to the inevitable subject of sex, the writer will question how Britney Spears deluded the world into finding her simpering little girl act attractive. On the evidence of the coy, affected ode to masturbation, 'Touch Of My Hand', Britney has the sexual charisma of a cauliflower. As for the erotic-as-genital-warts 'Outrageous', with its cheap, tinny production - it would take a rather senile and unworldly old lady in Tonbridge Wells to find this even diverting, let alone shocking.

In the name of fairness, it will be noted that 'Toxic' and 'Showdown' could well have been good pop songs in the hands of any other singer than Britney. However, this is scant reward from a production team that includes Moby, R Kelly and Guy Sigsworth, and suggests that these three thought very little of Britney Spears' talents.

The kind conclusion will remind the reader that Britney was very young at the time, and clearly working in a field where she had absolutely no talent or instinct. She isn't to blame for trying her luck. It's the world that indulged her folly who were the fools.

Overall the rest of the tracks on the album are not that good. The only tracks that really stand out are 'Outrageous' and her next intended single to be lifted of the album is the 'I Got That (Boom Boom)' featuring the Ying Yang Twins, sometime early next year. In all fairness, In The Zone, is by far the weakest of all her three albums. So spend your money very wisely.

1 Me Against the Music - feat. Madonna
2 I Got That (Boom Boom) - feat. The Ying Yang Twins
3 Showdown
4 Breathe
5 Early Morning
6 Toxic
7 Outrageous
8 Touch of my Hand
9 The Hook Up
10 Shadow
11 Brave New Girl
12 Everytime
13 Me Against the Music [Richie Rich Desi Kulcha Remix]
14 The Answer
15 Don't Hang Up

Album Release Schedule

December 8
The Idols - Xmas Factor

January 5
D-Side - Stronger Together

January 19
Amy Studt - False Smiles

January 26
Air - Talkie Walkie
JC Chasez - Schizophrenic

February 9
Emma - Simply Me

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