Thursday, 24 February 2011

I Like... Popping It Like A Hood / Don't Call It A Comeback

Has Britney Spears finally made her actual comeback?

Despite the inexplicable feat of her recording and releasing the aptly titled Blackout in 2007 during what was her not-so-lost weekend under the blinding glare of voracious paparazzi, and it subsequently being dubbed by Rolling Stone “possibly the most influential pop album of the last five years” it just did not look, feel or sound right. How could anyone buy into the idea of Britney Spears as a polished product for our consumption after having been witness to her ending two marriages, shaving her head, losing custody of her children and checking in and out of various rehabilitation facilities? Anyone who could watch her writhing around in the video for Gimme More and forget all about the troubled, lost look in on her face as she took the electric razor to her hair has a stronger stomach than I do.

Equally, her next album release in December 2008 still felt too soon; is it wise to name your new LP and world tour ‘The Circus’ after having been confined under involuntary psychiatric hold a mere 12 months earlier? Yes, she looked good and, yes, Womanizer was an irrefutable success, but she was under the conservatorship of her father, she was busy putting restraining orders on lecherous ex-boyfriends and managers, and the promotional trail for the album was lacklustre to say the least - the high point of promotion in the UK was a four minute mimed performance on the X Factor.

But the premiere of the video for current single, Hold It Against Me, now seems right. The song, admittedly, closely toes the line of insipidity (even with its dubstep-lite middle eight) but the video is nothing short of a visual, yet commercially endorsed up to the eyeballs, delight. From the cascading white dress to the Rocky Horror red lips and the smatterings of neon paint, it all adds up to a glossy, first-class, Spears production.

Britney has also bravely surrounded herself with images from her now iconic cannon of music videos; anyone willing to hold up images of themselves from 12 years ago has to be feeling rather plucky, right? Although this retrospective does give a reminder of Spears as America’s teenage southern belle siren, it also provides a startling contrast of Britney’s eyes. *Cliché Alert* The eyes are the window to the soul (a biological fact, I’m sure) and where Spears’ eyes once brimmed with ambition and passion, they now appear somewhat sallow and blank. But for the girl who underwent a meteoric rise during her teens and endured a painful, borderline tragic, fall it is a testament to her will as a pop icon and performer that she can even look into a camera at all these days.

So, Britney Spears, if I said that you now seem poised and ready to reclaim your title as the queen of  21st century pop, would you hold it against me?