First off – why has my traffic dropped off so much lately? Are ya’ll tired of my obsessive posts about Beyonce? Do you find me boring? Is the magic already gone? At first I was depressed, but now I’m just pissed. This stuff is frikkin’ FASCINATING!!
I suppose one of the reasons for the slump in traffic might be my erratic posting… sometimes it’s three times a week, sometimes it’s three times a month. What can I say – maybe I’m manic-depressive when it comes to blogging, which is odd because I’m not moody in real life at all (HA!!).
One should not assume, however, that just because I’m not blogging in any kind of predictable way means that I’m not gorging at the pop-culture buffet. Quite the opposite is true. I’ve been reading and watching movies and listening to good music just as much as ever. I have noticed a steep decline in my TV watching, which I consider a good thing, although I’m not sure how it happened. I stopped watching just about everything – Pushing Daisies, Ugly Betty, Survivor – all of it. Wait… I just realized something. I stopped watching TV altogether when the last Supernatural of the year aired. Apparently, without the Padalecki and the Ackles to lure me in, I have no need for the tube whatsoever. I’m Ok with that.
Aaaaanyway… the business at hand…
Britney Spears / Circus
Let it be known throughout the land that no one was invested in Britney’s comeback more than I, not only because I’ve been a fan since the days of the Mickey Mouse Club (ah, memories), but also because I love a good underdog story. There will never be enough interviews, E! True Hollywood Stories, or MTV documentaries to accurately explain her painfully rapid and epically entertaining spiral into baldness and forced hospitalizations, at least to my satisfaction, but if one assumes she did hit rock bottom sometime around that horrific display at the 2007 VMAs, I think her new album and it’s reception by the critics and the masses is nothing short of miraculous. And I say, well done, Britney. Well. Done.
But let’s be real. She still ain’t all there. And this album ain’t all that great.
I’m willing to concede that my expectations may have been a trifle high. I LOVED Blackout and she was barely conscious when she slapped that album together. Maybe I thought lucidity and sobriety would help Britney get to a whole other level, and while I’m certain that some aspects of her life have improved, this album was kind of disappointment. What I’m saying is that I expected to love this album. I’d even made a spot for it in my Top 10 albums of all time, that’s how sure I was about it. Alas, I was premature, and a perfectly good album that under any normal circumstances I would be raving about, turned out to be just OK for me (and I’m sorry for invoking Randy Jackson there).
Down to the nitty-gritty: I love the singles, Womanizer and Circus. Womanizer and the accompanying Toxie-esque video makes sense as the perfect comeback vehicle; a return to the Britney as Dancing Vixen Bent On Revenge formula. The song, however, is pretty weak… repetitive and dull. Circus is much better, though. The circus metaphor, while a tad predictable (and maybe even a little lame), is mighty appropriate for Ms. Spears, and it gives her every opportunity to shine. And it’s hands-down a better song.
Elsewhere on the album, the high points are few and far between. I really like the first ballad, Out From Under. For one thing, it’s real singing, which I’ve missed from her. That’s not to say her vocals have improved, but I’m all about honesty and legitimacy. And let’s be realz, if we cared about vocals in a serious way, Madonna wouldn’t have a career, but at least Madonna attempts to sing, so I’m happy to see Britney following suit. Secondly, it’s a poignant reminder of what Britney has been through, and I’m not just talking about KFed but ALL OF IT and it’s good that she addresses it. Of course, the song implies that the bad times are behind her now, and… baby steps, BritBrit… baby steps.
Kill the Lights is yet another kiss-off to the paparazzi, and you know… I’m getting confused. Here’s a girl that swears up and down in interviews that the fame and the attention and the pictures and the tabloids really mess with her head. I’d go as far as to say that she blames fame for most of her problems, and yet, here she is again, playing up to the whole idea. It’s like she’s saying, “I really get tired of the whole fame thing, so now I’m going to sing a song about how awesome it is and how awesome I am for being able to live with it.” Maybe I’m reading into it. But whatever, it’s a good song.
The rest of the album is kind of vanilla, except for maybe If You Seek Amy, which is pretty juvenile (very middle school) once you get the joke. And while I really can’t stomach My Baby, a tender ode to her babies, I’ll hand it to her for putting a personal song on the album. I think she needs all the humanizing she can get. All the rest are passable pop fare… the technical term is filler.
So all in all, Circus is a perfectly good album. It’s my fault for expecting something earth-shattering. I think she’ll get some big hits out of it, some of which may join Baby One More Time and Toxic in the Greatest Hits category, but I think time will prove that this album was more about her than the music, which, since it’s Britney, may be the way it’s supposed to be.