Britney Spears Blackout

Britney Spears Blackout
All of the hoopla surrounding Britney’s meltdown overshadowed what fans were waiting four years for: new music from the one-time chart-topping pop star. Blackout marks her first album since 2003’s In the Zone, a relative flop, with the exception of her finest single to date, "Toxic.” In the time she’s been gone, other stars like Gwen Stefani and Fergie have filled her position successfully, leaving Brit struggling to find her place in pop music’s current swell of disposable acts. The premature leak of "Gimme More” set the bar high for this album, thanks to a hot beat by Timbaland protégé Danja and an infectious chorus partly written by rising star Keri Hilson. It’s no surprise to find things starting off with a bang, and then leading into "Piece of Me,” an honest, rather touching reflection where Brit consciously scrutinises her image. She depicts herself as "Miss Oh my God that Britney’s shameless” and points out the obsession with her fluctuating weight and derriere, a move that, despite the slick pop sheen, still makes you empathise with the troubled diva. Unfortunately, like her weight, the album’s worth fluctuates as well: "Radar” isn’t fit enough to launch Amanda Bynes’s music career, and a slew of Danja productions, like the plagiaristic "Break the Ice” and the sexual innuendo-heavy "Get Naked (I Got A Plan),” shows he needs to rely less on his mentor’s style and develop his own trademark. He does much better on the Cameo/OutKast-brand freak funk filled "Hot As Ice,” which feels much more comfortable for Britney’s studio-enhanced vocals, but it’s Freescha who suits her needs best, delivering the album’s standout, "Heaven On Earth,” a bubbling piece of gay disco that borrows from the partnership of Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer, and could become the saving grace for her comeback. Blackout feels half-realised and rushed, as if she was barely there to do little more than sing a take or two — the "executive producer” title emblazoned on the back sleeve seems very questionable. It’s still easily her best album to date but that’s not saying much considering its predecessors. Had Spears and her label waited until she was ready to really launch this album properly — perhaps with the real thing, Timbaland, behind the boards instead of the inexperienced Danja — it could have been an amazing comeback. This seems like the quick, easier fix, which could end up causing her more trouble than running over a police officer’s foot in her white Mercedes convertible. (Jive)