the recommencement of Gwen Stefani’s solo career (if you haven’t checked out
her new single ‘Baby Don’t Lie’ yet, where have you been?) let’s all remember
the vital lifestyle lessons this couture rock goddess has
taught us so far…
definition of Harajuku (“Super cute in Japanese!” – ‘Harajuku Girls’)
style out a pair of hoop earrings
That thou shalt not be a Hollaback Girl
live it up when you’re a Rich Girl (a.k.a. pay day)
How to look flashy
How to make a chunky chain necklace look cute
What a killer set of abs look like
That life is all about being brave and taking risks
Seeing Britney Spears live holds every possibility of being an ugly affair. But seeing her play show number 32 as part of her Las Vegas residency? This could be hideous.
Like the hoards of 20-something women who dominate Britney’s audience tonight (and, one suspects, every night), I’ve grown up with her. The last time I attended a Britney Spears concert she was 19 and still a reported virgin. I was 11 and believed it.
Whilst her previous post-breakdown tours felt exploitative, Britney’s ‘Piece Of Me’ show is a celebration of her pop music milestones and a rapid-fire set list is required to get through them all. Some of her earlier hits are melded together, ‘…Baby One More Time’ into ‘Oops!… I Did It Again’ is sent from the Max Martin heavens, whilst others are re-arranged to match her new EDM pop sound. The vocals are not live but no one is a fan of Britney based on her voice alone.
Dancing was always her trump card and she’s still playing it. There is nothing spontaneous about her performance (how could there be? This is show 32, remember?) but the choreography is sharp and to be admired. In the flesh she looks far more dazzling than the tabloids would have you believe – she’s athletic, smiley and brighter of eye than I was anticipating.
Britney’s tours have always been renowned for their theatricality and she does not disappoint here: she varies from playing a flying angel for ‘Everytime’ to a dominatrix for ‘Freakshow’; she leaps from the heightened branch of a tree that grows onstage for ‘Toxic’; and reduces the crowd to a swaying mass for a ballad version of the now frighteningly prophetic ‘Lucky’.
Make no mistake, ‘Piece Of Me’ is no nostalgia fest, it’s a masterfully transmitted message that Britney Spears was and still is a true pop great. One particularly affecting intermission in the show sums it up: the multifarious television screens of the ‘Hold It Against Me’ video are re-created and simultaneously blast out her canonical made-for-MTV images. The impact, like this concert, and like the Britney Spears phenomenon as a whole, is overwhelming.
Written for Classic Pop (and a massive middle finger to anyone who doesn't appreciate the value of Ms Britney Spears)
launched her own line of lingerie and nightwear earlier this month, we’ve been
reminiscing about all of the most fabulous bras and panties Britney Spears has
rocked throughout her career. So many bra tops, so little time.
The ‘…Baby One More Time’ Sports Bras
The unbuttoned school shirt and it’s resultant exposed black bra may have been
the school uniform that launched a thousand ships, but it was the brightly
coloured sports bras that Britney wore when outside of the classroom that we
still want to wear to the gym today. Still can’t decide whether the neon pink
or yellow one is better.
The Black Push Up Bra
her 1999 debut Rolling Stone cover, Britney Spears was photographed by David
LaChapelle for what would be one of the magazine’s most iconic covers. Those
silky pink sheets, the strategically placed Teletubby and that halter neck bra
announced the arrival of a dangerously knowing teen dream.
The Panties Over The Jeans
announce her no longer being a “little girl” Britney announced her new edgier
pop sound with the help of The Neptunes and heightened provocative image with a
whole lot of body oil in the video for ‘Slave 4 U’. By this point she was
virtually the spokesgirl for low-cut jeans and she clearly couldn’t wear
anything underneath them, so topped off her hip huggers with a pink lace thong.
The Dream Within A Dream Encore Bra
the finale of Britney’s lavish Dream Within A Dream tour she did three notable
things: 1) She murdered ‘…Baby One More Time’ by giving it a ballad/techno
ballad makeover 2) Got soaked to the skin thanks to two tonnes of water raining
down onto the stage and 3) Beat Rihanna to wearing a barely-there jewelled bra
by eight years (and made it look so much better too).
The Neon Twin Set
the heels of her Las Vegas marriage and annulment, Blender magazine’s January
2004 issue starring Britney in a neon demi bra, matching thong (as exposed by
low slung jeans) and an undone leather jacket solidified her new bad girl
The Onyx Hotel Bed Wear
what was a racy live concert all round, Britney’s The Onyx Hotel tour reached a
new level of peep-meets-pop-show plateau when she performed ‘Breath On Me’. She
entered the stage via a pole, wore a silky pink underwear set and black
stockings, and rolled around a bed with a backup dancer.
The Fur Shrug Accented Underwear
only did Britney Spears co-direct and choreograph the video for ‘Do Somethin’’
she also styled it entirely by herself. Scenes of Britney and her girl gang
decked out in Juicy Couture in the club were interspersed with Spears goofing
around in black undies with an added fur bolero and Hello Kitty ice around her
The Casual Lounge Wear
showed she can do off-duty sexy too whilst cooking up breakfast in the video
for ‘Womanizer’. This soft, silky look can definitely be emulated thanks to The
Intimate Britney Spears – pair items from the Anemone collection with the
Clementine Kimono and you’re done.
At the age of 41 and with an estimated net worth
of $80 million, why would Pharrell Williams bother submitting himself to the
rigours of his first ever solo tour now?
Currently riding the third
tidal wave of his career thanks to a hat-trick of some of the most successful
singles in chart history ('Get Lucky', 'Blurred Lines' and 'Happy') he has
somehow managed to better the stranglehold that he and his fellow Neptune, Chad
Hugo, shared in the early '00s.
Apparently not content with
his celebrated producer role or tenure as part of frap rap outfit N*E*R*D (as
well as his multiple fashion lines and being the composer of McDonald's 'I'm
Lovin' It' jingle), Williams has now completed his hand by proving himself as a
standalone solo artist. He's no longer "feat Pharrell", he's
The set list for tonight's
show is no problem. With so many hits to his name, the issue will most likely
be deciding what not to play. The worry,
though, is his voice. As sweet and smooth as his whispered falsetto tone is,
can it truly stand up on it's own in a live setting, without any famous
collaborators on hand to fill in the gaps?
As it turns out, even if
Pharrell's voice is weaker than that of a seasoned pro, there really is no time
to notice as this is one helluva fast paced, jam-packed gig.
He's backed up by two
"incredible" backing singers, whom he rightly praises during the
course of the night, and at no point does one wish Miley Cyrus was on hand to
help out with 'Come Get It Bae' or that Justin Timberlake was waiting in the
wings to complete 'Brand New'.
Every detail of
Pharrell's tout ensemble tonight has been well considered. On his
feet, his own-design, limited edition red Timberland boots. On his backside,
some Adidas jeans taken from his collaborative range with the sports brand that
sees their logo plastered brightly across the ass pockets. And I'm not sat
close enough to verify, but I'm going to assume that he's doused in his unisex
G I R L/Comme Des Garçon perfume as well. On his head, disappointingly, not thatVivienne
Westwood Buffalo hat, but something slightly more compressed to the dimensions
of a wide brimmed, round-topped fedora. Upon his chest, a vintage Stevie Nicks
t-shirt. And on that Benjamin Button face of his, cleanly drawn lines of black
kohl around his eyes. Take note boysand girls, as Pharrell
Williams sets the fashion agenda for both sexes.
And the music is as perfect
as his get up. 'Frontin'', his 2003 debut solo single, is dropped within the
first five minutes. He plays a frantic selection of songs that he gave to other
artists yet are unmistakably "Pharrell": 'Hot In Herre', 'I Just
Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)', 'Pass The Courvoisier', 'Beautiful', 'Drop It
Like It's Hot' and 'Hollaback Girl'. Jesus — it's like having a dream, live
action jukebox on shuffle.
An N*E*R*D medley — which
sees Pharrell ask male fans from the audience to join him onstage for a dance
and singalong to 'Rock Star' and 'Lap Dance', and then a separate selection of
ladies to partake in 'She Wants To Move' (at the end of which he gives a warm
to hug to each girl in turn) — heightens the night's impossibly entertaining
However, the faction of the
crowd who have come to see "the guy who does the 'Happy' song" are
somewhat bemused. A family sat just behind me, who I guess were drawn to
Pharrell following his soundtracks for the adorable Despicable Me films,
sit lifeless all evening until he breaks out his more recent million-selling
hits towards the very end. And even then the result is a mother awkwardly
bopping along to 'Blurred Lines' with her awkward adolescent son.
Speaking of which… That song.
Never before has a song of such phenomenal success been simulataneously lauded
and derided with equal measure as 'Blurred Lines'. Considering the vocal
feminist views that have inspired Pharrell's current album G
I R L, his discomfort at airing even just a verse of this Robin
Thicke-tainted number is clear. "We're all animals," he knowingly
changes one line to say, and allows the crowd, who are too busy dancing to
engage in a debate about the predatory nature of 'Blurred Lines'' lyrics, to
finish the rest. Thankfully, the disco redeemer 'Get Lucky' rushes in soon
enough to save Williams' blushes.
Two further Daft
Punk-assisted gems see him staging a gorgeously laid back encore with 'Lose
Yourself To Dance' and the crowning moment of his latest LP, 'Gust Of Wind' —
all the while dressed in a jacket on par with the sparkle factor of Michael
Jackson's single glove.
And so, it finally arrives. That other
song. Pharrell precedes the gospel-pop of 'Happy' with an uplifting, if overly
optimistic, speech about making the world a better place. And yes, we do clap
along but as much as a cultural behemoth as 'Happy' has become, tonight has
served as a reminder that it is not, by far, Pharrell Williams' greatest
achievement, merely his most popular song right now.