Review: Britney Spears, 'Britney Jean' Is A Mixed Blessing Of Sorts
Let’s just cut right to the chase people! Britney Jean is different from previous Britney Spears albums, period. While Britney Jean still possesses some of the suggestiveness that typically characterizes Britney Spears (“Work B**ch” being a prime candidate), it also seeks a more mature script to convey her deepest emotions. Is Britney Jean always exciting because of this departure? That’s a definite no; it’s no Britney (2001) where we were all shocked and captivated when Ms. Spears presented “I’m A Slave 4 U”. Put into perspective, however, Spears is no longer that spunky teen singing “Oops (I Did It Again)” or even a rebellious, liberated twenty-something. I’m not sure if we’ll see another “Circus”. Sigh, she’s 32 (or will be come December 2). I wouldn’t let mature Britney completely dissuade you – Britney Jean still has it’s moments. It also has its question marks as well.
“Alien” is the first indication that this isn’t quite the same Britney you grew up with – if you were around for the teen-pop invasion of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s that is. The production work is solid (as to be expected), opening with mysterious, building synths and vocal cooing in the background. Eventually, stronger, thudding 808 drums anchor things down. Spears’ lyrical statements are what is more interesting or 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…,” Spears sings on the refrain. Essentially, Spears deals with loneliness, likening her loneliness to that of being an extraterrestrial, aka “alien” (she’s E.T. perhaps?). However, her loneliness is now a thing of the past because she’s found “her everything”, as Mary J. Blige would put it. Not a bad start.
“Work B**ch” definitely shows more of the risqué, unapologetic Britney Spears… well sort of. Take a closer look at a seemingly ‘shallow’ message from Spears on the chorus: “You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? / You want a Maserati? You better work b**ch / You want a Lamborghini? Sip martinis? / Look hot in a bikini? / You better work b**ch…now get to work b**ch!” Sure, Spears is using the overt, shock value of today’s generation to her advantage, but she’s also suggesting to attain the things you want in life, specifically the ‘fame’, you’ve gotta work for it. Basically, the double entendre number is all about “work” effort, and no, not the kind on a pole. Additionally, through the adversity, Spears seems to be suggesting to keep working hard (“Hold your head high, fingers to the sky / they gon’ try and try ya, but they can’t deny ya…”). “Work” actually shines brightly due to its superb, danceable production, and a playful, energized Spears.
“Perfume” is a fine contrast to the honest “Work B**ch”, sporting a much less aggressive sound. Even so, Spears is still in serious mode to an extent. She’s struggling with paranoia and jealously throughout the cut, a narrative in which Spears fears her man is cheating (remember on “Alien” he’d eliminated her loneliness). Because of this, Spears sings as follows: “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…” So basically, she wants to ensure no one gets her man. There it is.