Album review: Britney Spears - Britney Jean

Album review: Britney Spears - Britney Jean | Random J Pop

The one thing Britney kept saying when she was plugging her 8th studio album Britney Jean was how personal it was. "Work bitch" - a song about sipping Martini's and driving Lamborghini was perhaps the wrong lead single to drop in a bid to declare how personal and intimate your new album is, unless you're a Charlie's angel, but Britney kept plugging it as her most personal set yet. This was something which carried some slight weight to it upon the release of "Perfume" and the leaks of "Passenger" and "Alien". But upon listening to Britney Jean in its entirety you can't help but question why Britney told such bare faced lies, when this album is in fact no more personal than anything we've heard from her before. Well, with the exception of Femme fatale - which despite being panned, happens to come out as the better album here.

The subject matter on Britney's albums have always been pretty vapid, but at least the song subjects are varied. This was something which was completely dashed for 2011's Femme fatale, which was pretty much 10 songs of Britney singing about how bad she wants some sex. Britney Jean dials down on the nympho lyrics, but is left with not a great deal to say - leaving you wondering if there is in fact anything to Britney if you strip away the sex. Match this with Britney sounding as though she can't be bothered to sing half of the songs and you have an even more difficult time believing in what she's singing, despite being a credited song-writer on every single song. This album marks the complete decomposition of Britney as an artist and a pop commodity.

Britney's albums have always been unique unto her in the sense that she's always owned the songs. Nobody else could replicate them in the same way as Britney. Many other artists have a better voice than she does, but they can never out do her on her own songs because of her distinct tone. But Femme fatale marked the first album of Britney's where the songs felt like anybody songs. The production was as glossy and as close to perfection as you could get. But anybody could have been given those songs and the same goes for Britney Jean. You could not give "Oops!...I did it again" to just anyone. You could not give "Toxic" to just anyone. You could not give "Gimme more" to just any one. But every single song on Britney Jean could be sung by any artist and sound better because there is no sense of ownership when Britney sings any of the songs.

None of the material on this album feels as though it was tailored for Britney in any way shape or form. There is no defining song or moment on the album which it make it stand as a shining moments in Britney's discography. Britney's albums were never ones to pander to trends. They were always the albums which set them for the competition and the upcomers.When she debuted with "Oops!...I did it again" every girl in pop was releasing a song with a similar sound and booking flights to Stockholm to try and get into the studio with Max Martin. When she came out with "I'm a slave 4 U". Every girl was trying to go Arabi-urban. When Britney dropped "Toxic", every chick had Bollywood strings and guitars on a track. When Britney surprised the world with Blackout, everybody was jumping on the electro-pop bandwagon. Even Femme fatale contributed something to the world of pop, all thanks to "Hold it against me" being one of the first songs from a mainstream pop artist to feature an element of dubstep. But nothing on Britney Jean sticks or feels musically definitive. Every song is a piece of derivative tripe, which serves no purpose other than fulfilling's own selfish desires to produce a Britney record.

Britney had become a non-entity quite some time ago, but Britney Jean is another nail in the coffin. She doesn't feel relevant to anything any more. She's not setting any standards. She's not setting any trends. All of her peers around her are out doing her at every turn and it's making her, as she stands right now, look irrelevant. It's a sad state of affairs that an artist who had such a twinkle in her eye and was releasing bulletproof singles and solid albums is now putting out such vacuous material.

"Tik tik boom" is the only song on the album which has crossover hit potential, reminds me of hot Britney and is some-what of a nod to Blackout (the album with the sound we've all been hoping Britney would revist). Britney is singing about wanting the dick (the chorus quite-possibly-intentionally sounds as though she is singing 'Dick' as opposed to 'Tik') and she doesn't sound wholly convincing. But she gives some "Oops!...I did it again" ad-libs towards the end and the song is a banger. If Britney wants a hit, she may have one here if she can be bothered to dance a routine and give more than one vacant stare into the camera for the music video. The lyrics are awful and T.I's rap is some nonsense, but I can't deny the beat drop on the hook. I have visions of fly In the zone Britney when I hear this song. God bless her soul.

"Alien", "Perfume" and "Passenger" are all good songs which set the tone for what this album should have actually been - but these moments are too few and non-conclusive. None of these songs go anywhere and end prematurely; short of a middle-8, a breakdown or a bridge section. Every other song is just a piece of dance tripe, sounding like the dime a dozen dance records that David Guetta and have trotted out over the past 3 years. None of these producers had Britney's interests at heart or were considering the well being of her sound when they cut these records for her. All they seemed to care about is being able to say they had produced for Britney Spears and tick her name off of a list. It's a shame, because Britney has been able to work so many different sounds over the course of her career and has managed to reign in the majority of them and sell them. So for veterans such as and David Guetta to take an icon like Britney and side line her with such shitty material which sounds like every other song on the radio was a selfish error in judgement on their parts.

One of the biggest mistakes Britney's A&R and management could have done was to have let executive produce this album. He essentially stripped out all of the talent who could have delivered something worthwhile. Rodney Jerkins who is was responsible for Femme fatale's best tracks which never truly were ("Don't keep me waiting" and "He about to lose me") had hit the studio with Britney, just to have his songs scrapped. Danja who was the driving force behind Blackout (one of Britney's best albums) and Circus' highlight "Kill the lights" had his material scrapped. Dev Hynes who has been producing perfection for ladies in pop as of late (Solange's "Losing you", Sky Ferreria "Everything is embarrassing" and Mutya Keisha Siobhan's "Flatline") also had his Britney songs scrapped. Either wanted to be the only black dude producing on this record, or he just didn't have a clue what would have made a good Britney record in the first place. I think it's both. The talent who were steering this album in the right direction are the ones who were marginalised. It also fuels more of the fire that Britney still isn't truly in control of her career and that she's surrounded by people who don't care enough about her to steer her right or let her make her own decisions. It's rather telling that the one album Britney executive produced by herself at a time when nobody was telling her what the fuck to do ended up being her best.minimal song writing input from her.

Britney Jean is bad. Not the Michael Jackson good type of bad. But bad as in damn terrible. As with Femme fatale it's a case of one aspect of Britney being more on form than the other. On Femme fatale the production was tight, but every song was about the same thing, Dr. Luke gave her the same sound he gives every artist he produces for who has a fallopian tube and Britney phoned in every single vocal 'performance'. Britney Jean has Britney sounding a little more raw vocally and playing around with her range, but she sounds so controlled that her delivery comes off cold - much in the same way Madonna's did from American life onwards. Hitting all of the rights nights, but void of any true feeling.

This album is characterless and completely vapid of any heart or hits. Britney says she wanted to give people a sense of who she is with this album, but the issue here is that we know no more about Britney now than we did before. And the aspects of Britney's life and persona we want to hear more about, seem to have been locked in a vault or suppressed so far deep inside of her that you'd have to send a search party into her gut of sedative pills to find it.

Album highlights:
■ Alien
■ Perfume
■ Tik tik boom

I ain't got no time for:
■ It should be easy


  1. She peaked as an entertainer with In the Zone and she peaked musically with Blackout. Every album and era since has been a steady decline in each of those categories. It really is a damn shame because she's no longer good at being Britney Spears, if that makes sense.

  2. I can't say I wasn't nearly as tough on this album as you were, although I agree with most of the review.

    Also The Electric Lady review plz.

  3. Odd, I can definitely say that I like this album a lot more than Femme Fatale. Yes, practically everything about this album is phoned in, but I can't help but find it charming (and I'm too busy humping the air and fist pumping it "It Should Be Easy"). Idk, yo. It *is* a shame that we don't get more ballads like Alien, Passenger, and Perfume (and that Passenger and Perfume sound so incomplete) and that cockblocked Rodney Jerkins, Danja, and Dev Hynes from the tracklisting. I would laugh if their cuts "mysteriously" leaked in a few weeks or so XD

  4. You only reviewed this because you wanted to talk about how shitty it is and make fun of Britney lmao.

    Anyway I didn't even listen to this properly. I've listened to the first half a few times but can never make it all the way through. Such a boring album, reminds me of the kind of generic nothingness that basics like Selena Gomez would release

  5. In all honesty I question whether or not Britney truly cares about her status as a pop icon and what material she releases. She probably has a contract to fulfill and wants it to be over and done with. She needs to retire or hire better producers for her next effort. Such a travesty.

  6. One would think so with generic this album is and how terrible her live performances are

  7. She didn't want to drop anymore Singles because nobody was checking for her Singles. Did you think that is how she was going to explain herself though?

    If nobody was thirsty for my Singles, I would hold out to and NOT want you to hear my songs until the Album came out and then come up with some gimmick as to why I did this and call it a Visual Experience.

    Because last I heard, music was an Audio Experience and if you can't sell it on that, then betch, you got another thing coming: Indie

    Or unemployment.

    Music use to be sold on its merits alone. Music videos as they are now are a modern invention. Fluff, Hype and distraction. Cotton Candy.

    And yes, you can check out songs on Youtube, but typically BEFORE an Album is released. These are called leaks. There were no leaks given the virtue of how this Album was released. Homegirl kept this under wraps like Ugly Blue Ivy Baby Pictures.

    After it's released, the effects of the drama and theatrics have taken hold so it's really a moot point.

  8. Just occurred to me "Hit Me Baby One More Time" and "Oops I Did It Again" are the same song.

    I keep singing them and interchanging the choruses and verses by mistake.

    What's the song where britany was on top of cars flailing, swinging arms, dropping stilletto dents in streets?

    It's more recent. Like maybe 3 or 4 Albums back.

  9. She doesn't look good no more.......

    Someone once told me I look like the male version of her back in highschool. That was a long time ago. So she was still hot with them slick braids looking young and fresh. Now..........mnh.

  10. You are so right OxyCyrus!! I've been a fan of britney's since her first single, but the line you just wrote just sums up what I've been thinking since her "comeback" in 07... "Britney is no longer good at being Britney Spears". By watching her "I am Britney Jean" documentary I'm even more sure of that! No dance moves, no passion, just shots of her dancers.. I just accepted that she's not into this business anymore. It's a shame she's going away like this, but at least we have her classics. Great times..

  11. I would say this album is in fact an accurate representation of her at this very moment: vapid, shell of her former self, irrelevant, can't be bothered, ect; It's definitely personal in that sense.

  12. "i wanna go", was from FEMME FATALE

  13. "It's definitely personal in that sense."

    omg i love you so much

  14. OMJ, I love the bitchiness of this comment

  15. She needs to retire. I can't see her making any effort now. 'Britney Jean' was her one chance to really bring it after being so passive on 'Femme fatale' and she didn't. I can't believe her management and A&R team even let this album come out. I pretty much think even Britney's team are like 'Fuck it. Just get her recording contract over and done with'.

  16. I'm no Britney fan but darn. I was under the impression that her albums up to this point had been successful producing multiple hits.

    You guys are making it seem as if she is ayu and needed this Album to save her. Hasn't she been doing good? You guys are treacherous.

    Apparently her Vegas Residency debut is getting good reviews. So I have heard. I believe them to be lies though.

    I wonder if it's the sedative effect of the medication that causes her to be lessen than and not all the way there.

    Maybe this new way she is is the only way she can be and STILL be happy. Maybe she can't be the old Britney anymore without going crazy. How she must feel.

    This is sad.

  17. J, you know I love this blog and your writing more than anything in the world at the moment (and if you honestly didn't until now, don't worry; this is my first full day here and I've been hilariously romping through your back archives)..but dawg, SERIOUSLY. You dropped an atom bomb on objective criticism and credibility with this singular statement:

    "Britney Jean is bad. Not Michael Jackson bad."

    I almost though you were comparing or trivializing the career of the world's greatest pop superstar by...oh, well never mind. Just a misunderstanding, but from a concern troll's POV, make sure to capitalize BAD when referencing the Master's third all-time classic album (besides "Thriller" and "Off the Wall"). I'm a fan of both of them, and while there was certainly mutual respect and admiration between them while MJ was alive. Britney can and will NEVER be in his league, or even her other more vehemently aped female idols of Madonna or Janet. The 30th Anniversary Performance and Artist of the Millennium MTV MVA presentation were epic moments for them both, but vocally, musically, lyrically, physicality of dancing, etc. Although, at ONE point past, she COULD have handed him candles in the Charisma department...Her self-titled 3rd LP did knock "Invincible' from #1 back in 2002 right?

  18. You left off the one sentence in that quote which I think gave the point context and made it a little clearer though:

    "Britney Jean is bad. Not Michael Jackson bad. But bad as in damn terrible".

    But I revised the sentence to make the point clearer and that I'm not comparing the 2 albums.

    Even when Michael was hanging off the edge with 'Invincible' he was still sounding good on tracks and owning that shit. The sound of the album was misguided by Rodney Jerkins who at that point was just giving everybody the same sound and forcing the electronic sound way too hard. But even so, Michael did not phone in a single performance on that album. I can not say the same for Britney's last 2 albums.

  19. I'm sure someone will jump on my back for saying anything positive about this album, but I liked it. Although I'm not nearly a Britney fan, I'd give it more than a two out of ten. This album had more emotion than previous works, even "In the Zone", which was pretty vapid. Maybe by calling "Britney Jean" more personal, she meant to say a shit-load less whorish. I'm not denying she's given up on this business and that she's not what she used to be, but the songs are pleasant to listen to. I'd give it a 5 at the very least.

  20. the album was weak as hell....not a hit in there (i see no lies)


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