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October 29, 2007

Back on track, Blackout won’t put Britney’s career to bed

Who can get charged with a hit-and-run, shave her head as bald as Sinead O’Connor, marry, divorce, lose custody of two children to an Eminem understudy, and still make you want to buy her new album? It’s Britney, bitch.

“Are you sure you want a piece of me?” Spears dares readers in a People article. And the answer is yes. After practically growing up with this Louisiana hick, watching her do everything from plasticize her breasts to slump around like Ms. Piggy on crack at the MTV VMAs, the whole world really is begging her to “gimme more.” Yet even after titling her latest stab at normal Blackout, an album about “blacking out negativity and embracing life,” she may coincidentally have created more reason for criticism.

Jive Records refused to support this album, providing almost no promotion for it besides funding for the stripper-esque video for “Gimme More,” which featured Spears working a pole like Roseanne working a piece of KFC. Yet somehow, Blackout manages to garner a production lineup with more home runs than Barry Bonds. (If Federline is missing a couple of child-support checks, we know why.)

Given the critical reception of “Toxic,” Spears probably had producers Bloodshy & Avant on speed dial; however, none of their four following contributions reach the same level of exhilaration as “Toxic.” Swelling and pulsating to a rather lethargic start, “Freakshow” is about as stimulating as watching Spears’s VMA performance on repeat. “This time I need a really badass soldier,” Spears whines on “Toy Soldier,” holding that poor little drummer boy at attention for over three minutes of painfully trite fanfare. E.T. wouldn’t have even made contact with Earth if he realized he was on Spears’s “Radar.” For some reason the strange birdcalls and sound of chains equal interesting in “Piece of Me.” Combine that with lyrics that are actually worth the three minutes, and you almost have a good song.

Songwriter Kara DioGuardi must have been paid good money to surrender her babies to Spears. “Heaven on Earth” was meant for Kylie Minogue; it pumps electricity through the veins of listeners, compensating for the way Britney’s voice leeches onto the beat, attempting to suck the energy out of the song.

Heavy bass that winds and grinds tenderly through light melodies is producer T-Pain’s general formula for baby-making music. Clearly, he must have been ridiculing Spears when he co-wrote and produced the futile forewarning “Hot as Ice.” As Spears sings “Break it Down” over this excruciatingly awful track believing she is “Cold as Fire,” she proves to be Dumb as Fuck.

“I bet you didn’t see this coming,” states Timbaland’s protégé Danja at the end of “Gimme More.” And we didn’t. With Timbaland slinking off of the success of “The Way I Are” and “SexyBack,” this single both revives Spears’s career and ensures that her two children can pay for their future therapy. Even the haunting backgrounds don’t faze the surprisingly catchy and simple beat. In the songs that follow, the grasshopper outdoes the master, compensating for Britney’s utter lack of talent more creatively than one could have expected from Timbaland.

Both “Break the Ice” and “Get Naked” nearly erase Spears’s voice from the tracks, covering them with a slew of backing vocals and beats that would make any man “rise to the occasion.” And just when you thought Blackout couldn’t get better, the hypnotizing “Perfect Lover” bangs into action, synthesizing Spears’s voice beyond recognition as it sexily rides the beat.

“They couldn’t believe I did it,” starts Spears in the relaxing “Why Should I Be Sad,” a standard Pharrell production glittered with lavish synth and substantial bass. It is unbelievable that Spears came back with a hit single and will more than likely top the charts once again—why should she be sad? After the release of Blackout, record sales will make the child support she’s paying Federline look like chump change.