When our favorite Hollywood paparazzi victim Britney Spears announced a comeback in tandem with the music video for “Womanizer”, it’s safe to say many were skeptical. Last year’s effort, Blackout, sold well, but was tainted by a horrendous VMA performance and continued press covering the custody battle of two sons with ex-husband Kevin Federline. The question is, has this pop star blossom finally wilted or will her year-later second attempt at reclaiming the queendom suffice?
Circus is one of those albums that caters to a certain nostalgic audience, and that is not to say anything bad. It can be lumped into two categories, namely dance and pop. Unlike Spears’ previous release, this is not merely a club album; instead, it has the “swagger of a champion” hinted at in the first single. Firsthand analysis?She most definitely succeeded, especially with her original (and now much older) fans.
Hype for Circus started as soon as the single was buzzing about the net, and NBC premiered the music video around the watershed hour to avoid the prying eyes of children. Considering the steam room hi jinks, this is hardly surprising, but aside from the obvious flaunting of her body, Spears’ hit a home run with “Womanizer”. It’s addicting and sticky sweet like any good dance or pop song should be without trying so hard with electronic distortion per Blackout.
There is very little press slamming on Circus, leading one to believe that Spears’ last release was her “angry” album to take vengeance out upon media outlets who held her antics up to the spotlight. This one is more or less straightforward juicy pop for the millennium, and she holds her own, despite any doubts beforehand. Songs like “Out From Under” hearken back to her “Hit Me Baby” days while infusing modern R&B in brilliant dosage, while “If You Seek Amy” uses semi-clever wordplay to cover the title’s true definition.
The album’s title track, “Circus”, comes off as a bit lackluster compared to the hype posted prior to release. My theory is that if your album has a title track, name it for one of your better singles or better songs. “Circus” seems too slow to define a true circus or even a decent house party. While this is only one strike, to some it is a major one. All hope is restored however, in the slow rave heatseeker “Unusual You” with a simple heartbeat rhythm and tasty vocals.
All in all, Spears appears to have stopped to breathe on her roller coaster life and managed putting out a decent record. Whether it was a break with family back home in the south or just simply the reality check that the VMA’s critical response lent, one thing is clear: BS deals with little BS with this recording. While some songs like “Kill The Lights” and “Blur” come off as slightly cheesy, “Mmm Papi” and “My Baby”, with the aide of surfer music infusions and reflections on motherhood respectively, seem to add an organic flavor to her overall product.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the best release all year by a pop artist and it’s probably not going to bullet to the top of the charts, but let us face facts – Britney Spears has not sounded this good since the late ’90’s. In a genre saturated with R&B, this is a welcoming installment in the Spears saga and in the essence of former pop stars getting that one last shot at redemption. As they say at the big top, “Welcome the ringleader!” and thank your lucky stars N*Sync isn’t in synch and Backstreet ain’t back. Hopefully, NKOTB will take a hint – the world isn’t into boys right now, they want the school girl!