Album Spotlight – Britney Spears : Blackout

Britney Spears 5th Album is classic pop. It’s as far from an auteur piece as possible, it had so many producers that it’s credit list would be the same length as a Hollywood blockbuster. It was the music industry at work, real work. But, and this is important, it’s absolutely Britney’s album. You can throw as much money as you like at  (insert Disney pop singer here) they can’t reach this level.

Opening track, and opening single Gimme More caused some concern because of the perfunctory nature of the video and the ‘live’ performance at the MTV Music Awards, which I’m not linking to here but was …not Britney Spears at her best.

The effect of that and the media storm around her divorce from Kevin Federline distracted somewhat from the fact that the song is ace. It’s pop at it’s sexiest and most confident.

And there is so much more where that came from. The gutter press was having so much fun with the falling apart narrative they obviously weren’t paying attention to her work ethic.

That was recorded the day after she filed for divorce. As much as the press loved covering the meltdown, she was nothing but professional in the studio.

“As far as her work ethic, I haven’t seen anybody come in like that and do what you go to do.” – Producer Danja

“I thought she was going to be sitting on the couch eating doritos or nachos or something […] but she came in, shook my hand, gave me a hug and went right in the booth. She got in there and put it down.” T-Pain

That song was reportedly recorded in half an hour. Pop music receives a lot of grief  for turning out mass produced identikit acts. You know what? They can’t turn it out easily. If they could , American Idol would actually have produced more than a handful of names. Britney Spears really is f***ing good at this.

It’s so good it was the title song of her Vegas residency 6 years and 3 albums later. The one that made Vegas residencies cool (or profitable depending on your view) again, Lady Gaga being just one of many who have followed in her footsteps since.

Strangely for pop, that is emblematic of the delayed appreciation Blackout got. It got generally excellent reviews from critics but didn’t do quite as well, relatively speaking, with the public initially. It was her first album not to reach number 1 in the US charts and the 3 singles released reached 3, 18 then 43. It’s reputation has grown and grown since then. Almost every track is single worthy, a wide spread belief judging by the fan made videos on youtube.

I’d recommend it as an essential piece of your ipod/phone/zune/wax cylinder library.  Lose a couple of obligatory ballads and it’s the best ready made gym/party playlist you could ask for.