A defining characteristic of singers is that when they open their mouths, sounds come out. Britney Spears, though nominally a singer, may as well be a mute. Her words have always been beside the point, relegated to some parallel universe for irrelevant things, along with Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, and laser discs.
This is partly because everything she says is incoherent, a perpetual gurgle of “Y’all”s, “I’m just doing my thing”s, and nonsense phrases like “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” But it’s obviously not Britney’s songs that make her fascinating. That would be her body: in a Catholic school-girl uniform, bizarre red rubber suit, sheer stocking, or lately, treading to the gas station bathroom with no shoes on or viciously smashing car windows with an umbrella.
The transformation chronicled in these indelible images, from good-girl sex-kitten to gonzo celebutard, has been so complete that when I first heard Blackout (Jive Records, Nov. 13), her new album, I was taken aback: She sounds exactly the same as she always has. How the hell is that possible? ProTools! With the help of every sound effect the program has, the Neptunes, Timbaland protégé Nate “Danja” Hills, and Bloodshy & Avant (the dudes responsible for “Toxic”) have created a new batch of Britney songs that sound exactly like an old batch of Britney songs. It’s a miracle. And great news for the only people Britney’s songs ever mattered to in the first place: slumber-party attendees and wasted revelers at (preferably gay) nightclubs. Which is another way of saying, Blackout is super fun to dance to when you don’t care what other people think. Or, Blackout kicks ass.
[After the jump, Radar takes Blackout track-for-track!]