I enjoy the Britney Spears in general, for many reasons I’ve enumerated here in the past. And as a self-proclaimed Britneyologist, I have to say that I enjoy her latest, Britney Jean, in parts — but overall, it’s not in the same league as her previous efforts stretching all the way back to 2003’s In the Zone.
One major reason: will.i.am oversaw production of this record and co-wrote several of the songs with Spears, marking a change from previous albums that featured many tracks from the brilliant minds of Bloodshy & Avant as well as Danja. I can’t help missing Swedish production duo Bloodshy & Avant (that’s Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg to their friends) something fierce — I hope they show up on some new tracks for Britney or someone else very soon. (They’ve also worked with Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Lopez, and Madonna.)
A few reasons I miss them:
1. They wrote the two standouts on In the Zone, “Toxic” (duh) and “Showdown.”
2. They’re responsible for by far the best thing about Britney’s reality show Chaotic, its theme song.
3. They worked her personal life into a “self”-aware song, “Piece of Me,” on her mid-breakdown masterpiece Blackout, but even better, they also worked with her on the genius near-rap “Toy Soldier.” (Best lyric: “Not talkin’, just walkin’, like them city boys from New York.” And somehow talk, walk, and New York all rhyme.)
4. This gorgeous, vulnerable ballad, “Unusual You,” from Circus — she could use a lot more of this, a lot less will.i.am filler like “It Should Be Easy.”
5. The stripped-down, crazy-synth-sound-effects of “How I Roll” from Femme Fatale. (It’s like a basic Madonna dance song from 1983 had a threesome with a Casio drum track and the Seinfeld theme.) I’ve long believed she was singing, “You can be my thought tonight,” which I thought was hilarious; others believe the lover in question can be her “thug,” and still others believe it to be something dirtier. Such is the magic of one Ms. Britney Spears when teamed with her best producers.