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Blackout

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Album Review

Public image is vital to pop stars, but few stars have been so inextricably tied to their image as Britney Spears. Think back to "...Baby One More Time" — it has an indelible hook but what leaps to mind is not the sound of the single, but how Britney looked in the video as she pouted and preened in a schoolgirls' uniform, an image as iconic as Madonna's exposed navel. Every one of Britney's hits had an accompanying image, as she relied on her carefully sculpted sexpot-next-door persona as much as she did on her records, but what happens when the image turns sour, as it certainly did for Britney in the years following the release of In the Zone? When that album hit the stores in 2003, Britney had yet to marry, had yet to give birth, had yet to even meet professional layabout Kevin Federline — she had yet to trash her girl-next-door fantasy by turning into white trash. Some blamed Federline for her rapid downward spiral, but she continued to descend after splitting with K-Fed in the fall of 2006, as each month brought a new tabloid sensation from Britney, a situation that became all the more alarming when contrasted to how tightly controlled her public image used to be. The shift in her persona came into sharp relief at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, as she sleepwalked through a disastrous lip-synch of her comeback single "Gimme More," a disaster by any measure, but when it was compared to such previous meticulously staged VMA appearances as her make-out with Madonna in 2003, it made Britney seem like a lost cause and fallen star.

All this toil and turmoil set the stage for her 2007 comeback Blackout to be a flat-out train wreck, which it decidedly is not — but that doesn't mean it's a triumph, either. Blackout is an easy album to overpraise based on the lowered expectations Britney's behavior has set for her audience, as none of her antics suggested that she'd be able to deliver something coherent and entertaining, two things that Blackout is. As an album, it holds together better than any of her other records, echoing the sleek club-centric feel of In the Zone but it's heavier on hedonism than its predecessor, stripped of any ballads or sensitivity, and just reveling in dirty good times. So Blackout acts as a soundtrack for Britney's hazy, drunken days, reflecting the excess that's splashed all over the tabloids, but it has a coherence that the public Britney lacks. This may initially seem like an odd dissociation but, in a way, it makes sense: how responsible is Britney for her music, anyway? At the peak of her popularity, she never seemed to be dictating the direction of her music, so it only stands to reason that when her personal life has gotten too hectic, she's simply decided to let the professional producers create their tracks and then she'll just drop in the vocals at her convenience. Even the one song that plays like autobiography — "Piece of Me," where she calls herself "Miss American dream since I was 17" and "I'm miss bad media karma/another day another drama," complaining "they stick all the pictures of my derriere in the magazines," as if she wasn't posing provocatively for Rolling Stone as soon as "Baby" broke big — was outsourced to "Toxic" producer/writers Bloodshy & Avant, who try desperately to craft a defiant anthem for this tabloid fixture, as she couldn't be bothered to write one on her own. Instead, she busies herself with writing the album's two strip-club anthems, "Freakshow" and the brilliantly titled "Get Naked (I Got a Plan)" (surely the successor to such trash-classics as Soundmaster T's "2 Much Booty (In Da Pants)" and Samantha Fox's timeless pair of "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)" and "(Hurt Me! Hurt Me!) But the Pants Stay On"). Every piece of gossip in the four years separating In the Zone and Blackout suggests that her head is in the clubs, yet it's still a bit disarming to realize that this is all that she has to say.

Britney may not have much on her mind but at least she pockets so deep she can buy the best producers, hiring Bloodshy & Avant, the Clutch and the Neptunes, among others, to help craft an album that cribs from Rhianna's sleek, sexy Good Girl Gone Bad and the chilly robo-R&B of Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds. Emotionally, this isn't a progression from In the Zone, but it is a cannily contemporary dance album, sounding nearly as fresh as Rhianna and JT, even if it's hardly as trendsetting as either. Then again, Britney hasn't set the pace for the sound of dance-pop since her first two Max Martin-driven productions, and her skill — conscious or not, it doesn't really matter — has always been to get the right producers at the right moment, which she surely does here. Those producers turn Blackout into a sleek, shiny collection of 12 guiltily addictive dance tracks where the only weak link is Britney herself. Never the greatest vocalist, her thin squawk could be dismissed early in her career as an adolescent learning the ropes, but nearly a decade later her singing hasn't gotten any better, even if the studio tools to masquerade her weaknesses have. Strangely enough, the computer corrections either emphasize her irritating, strangled delivery — nowhere more so than on "Piece of Me," where she's sharp, flattened, and clipped, the vocoder stabbing at the ears like a pick — or she disappears into the track entirely, just another part of the electronic tapestry. Naturally, the latter cuts are more appealing, as they really show off the skills of the producers, particularly the Clutch's lead single "Gimme More," Bloodshy & Avant's relentless "Radar," the new wave shimmer of "Heaven on Earth," the stuttering electro-clip of "Break the Ice," or the spare, silly chant of "Hot as Ice." When Britney is pushed to the forefront, she garners too much attention, as she tries too hard to be sexy — a move she could pull off before, when carefully controlled pictures of her in schoolgirl uniforms, cat suits, and tight jeans filled in the blanks her voice left behind. Now, those images are replaced by images of Britney beating cars up with umbrellas, wiping her greasy fingers on designer dresses, and nodding off on-stage, each new disaster stripping away any residual sexiness in her public image, so when she tries to purr and tease on Blackout she repels instead of seduces. That's the new Britney, and as she's always been an artist who relies on image, her tarnished persona does taint the ultimate effect of her music, as knowledge of her ceaseless partying turns these anthems a bit weary and sad. But if you block that image out — always hard to do with Britney, but easier to do here since the tracks sound so good — Blackout is state-of-the-art dance-pop, a testament to skills of the producers and perhaps even Britney being somehow cognizant enough to realize she should hire the best, even if she's not at her best.

Customer Reviews

Britney Spears at her best / Blackout

Britney Spears is back -- finally. We all know Britney is not the strongest vocalist when compared to Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey, but strong vocals is not what “Blackout” is about. “Blackout” is fresh, modern, and edgy. Synthesized vocals and phenomenal beats support the album’s base. Every track on this album is hypnotically produced to create a sound that listeners and critics would expect to hear in 2020; it’s incredible. The songs on this album are all phenomenal. The album starts out with the chart-topping “Gimme More,” which is just a tease compared to the rest of the album. The second song, and reportedly the second single, is “Piece of Me,” a rock/dance/pop hit where Spears addresses her critics. She sings, “I'm Mrs. Bad Media Karma, another day another drama ... I'm Mrs. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, I'm Mrs. 'Oh My God That Britney's Shameless.”’ The album continues with pop/dance songs that are less than forgettable. They are just the opposite with beats that stick in listeners’ heads for hours and hours. “Toy Soldier” is an energetic and tantalizing song produced by Danja, who worked with Justin Timberlake on his latest album. Britney refuses to hold back on this album especially during the mesmerizing, “Get Naked (I Got a Plan).” She teases the listener asking, “What I gotta do to make you move my body?” and finishes it off with, “take it off, take it off, take it off.” Britney closes the album with the one and only ballad in the entire album. Britney’s last and most personal song is “Why Should I Be Sad?” where she confronts her recent heartbreak, but refuses to let it take over her life. Britney shows that even with all the stress and struggles of life, she is not going to let any of it bother her. She plans to move on. A perfect ending for an unbelievable album. It is not just the hardcore “Britney enthusiasts” that rave about this album. The Associated Press calls it, “… not only a very good album, it's her best work ever - a triumph, with not a bad song to be found on the 12 tracks.” The New York Times refers to the album as “incredible!” Entertainment Weekly gives it a “B+” The highest rating Britney has ever received from EW, and better than Justin Timberlake’s “FutureSex/LovSounds.” Some reviews have been harsh, saying Britney “is not ready to release an album.” But forget about Britney’s past mishaps and troubles, and listen to the album for what it is. If you have to -- forget it is Britney Spears completely, you will see that this album is extraordinary. It will have you dancing and singing along within the first listen. ** DO NOT MISS: Piece of Me, Break the Ice, Get Naked(I Got A Plan), Freakshow, Toy Soldier, and Perfect Lover. Also don’t miss “State of Grace.” (Search for it on YouTube) The song did not make it on the album, but it showcases Britney’s real vocal talent.

Blackout - the music album of 2007

The time has come everybody! Blackout has finally been released, and it does not fail to deliver! Alot of the songs on this album are simply amazing, and you'll be surprised at how much you like her new stuff. Plenty of people give her crap for what's going on in her personal life, and I think this will be the break that will hopefully put an end to that. Here are my thoughts on the tracks that appear on this album. 1.) Gimme More: 9/10. Classic dance track, sexy lyrics, and a great choice for the lead single. 2.) Piece of Me: 10/10. Her retaliation song lashing out at the media, and this song delivers! "I'm Mrs. Oh My God That Britney's Shameless!" One of the strongest songs on the album. 3.) Radar: 10/10. Very electric pop that is overall very addictive. You'll fall in love with this track. 4.) Break the Ice: 10/10. The rumored second-single-to-be, and I really hope that it is! An amazing dance/techno-ish track that has already exceeded 1,000 plays on my iTunes. 5.) Heaven On Earth: 9/10. Sounds very 80's, and has a nice beat and cute lyrics. Probably the closest thing to a ballad on the album. 6.) Get Naked (I Got a Plan): 8/10. I'm slowly beginning to like this song, but I really hate the voice of the guy who sings in the beginning! 7.) Freakshow: 9/10. Sounds like a 90's dance track, and I love it! 8.) Toy Soldier: 10/10. The "Toxic" of the album, and you know that's a great thing. 9.) Hot As Ice: 9/10. A very upbeat track has catchy phrases. "If you've ever been to heaven, this is twice as nice!" 10.) Ooh Ooh Baby: 10/10. A mix between In the Zone's "The Hook Up" and Duff's "Stranger", both of which are great songs in my opinion. The rhythm of the song makes you wanna shake your hips! 11.) Perfect Lover: 7/10. This song is very ... urban (lol that's probably the wrong word) =P. I don't know, this track just hasn't grown on me yet. 12.) Why Should I Be Sad: 7/10. Again, another song that hasn't grown on me, but I'm sure it will after a thorough listen. Whether you want to admit or not, Britney Spears has delivered with this album. All of the tracks totally rock. I suggest this album to everybody -- for the fans who've been loyal to her, you won't be disappointed -- and for the people who've never cared for her music, you'll be very surprised at how much you'll like her new stuff. She has a new sound, and it's totally working for her! Congratulations Britney! You did it!

Isn't this album Just the Best

She's back with another hit album featuring the hits: Just to name a few recommendations Gimme More (10/10 of course) Radar 10/10 (Just listen to it, you'll see) Break the Ice 10.5/10 (This song here boy, you should hear it, it gets off) Hot As Ice 11/10 (This song is blazing hot, it's crazy I'm telling you) B-U-Y IT Now!!!!!

Biography

Born: December 2, 1981 in McComb, MS

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

More than any other single artist, Britney Spears was the driving force behind the return of teen pop in the late '90s. The blockbuster success of the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys certainly paved the way for her own commercial breakthrough, but Spears didn't just become a star -- she was a bona fide pop phenomenon. Not only did she sell millions of records, she was a media fixture regardless of what she was (or wasn't) doing; among female singers of the era (many of whom followed in her footsteps),...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Britney Spears

Blackout, Britney Spears
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Pop/Rock, Dance
  • Released: Oct 15, 2007

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