Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Britney Spears

  • . . . Baby One More Time [Jive, 1999] *
  • Oops! . . . I Did It Again [Jive, 2000] Choice Cuts
  • Britney [Jive, 2001] **
  • Greatest Hits: My Prerogative [Jive/Zomba, 2004] **
  • Blackout [Jive, 2007] B+
  • Circus [Jive, 2008] **
  • Femme Fatale (Deluxe Edition) [Jive, 2011] B+
  • Glory (Deluxe Edition) [RCA, 2016] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

. . . Baby One More Time [Jive, 1999]
Madonna next door (". . . Baby One More Time," "Soda Pop"). *

Oops! . . . I Did It Again [Jive, 2000]
"Oops! . . . I Did It Again"; "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" Choice Cuts

Britney [Jive, 2001]
hardly the first not-terribly-bright teenager to approach self-knowledge via the words of others ("Overprotected," "Cinderella") **

Greatest Hits: My Prerogative [Jive/Zomba, 2004]
Her heart, her soul, her aesthetic maturation ("Oops . . . I Did It Again," " . . . Baby One More Time"). **

Blackout [Jive, 2007]
I swear I'm not being perverse--she's such a sad case it took me a week to get up the guts to play this. But she's sure put some benwa balls into a slut act only wankers took literally, and now the balls have beats. From "Gimme More"'s "It's Britney bitch" hiya to "Piece of Me"'s single-of-the-year sonics, from "Ooh Ooh Baby"'s "feel you deep inside" to "Perfect Lover"'s "touch me there," this album is pure, juicy, plastic get-naked. When she closes by dissing Kevvy Kev, it's like she's spoiling the concept with a protest song. B+

Circus [Jive, 2008]
As in "media circus," but still fun more often than not, which is more than she could manage from on top of the world ("Womanizer," "Blur"). **

Femme Fatale (Deluxe Edition) [Jive, 2011]
The pitch-corrected giggle "I think I like you" and the straightforward proposition "You can be my fuck tonight" pack an amyl nitrite charge it would be pretentious to deny, and the poppers keep on coming right through the bonus tracks of porn-lite funk-lite that's quirky and clever front to back. Moreover, it's possible the stupidity of the sex symbol up front is an illusion exploited by her legal guardians and maybe even the symbol herself. But it's such a convincing illusion that any guy who goes all the way with it has too much libido invested in the bimbo fantasy. She's just too straight-faced with the botched Bellamy Brothers joke, the nauseous "Your body look so sick I think I got the flu," the abstemious "Steaming like a pot full of vegetables," the concupiscent "I'm a little selfish" become the childish "I'm a little sailfish." As for her female fans, let's call the attraction the bimbo strategy--the slut who calls the shots. Good luck with that one, ladies. I mean it. B+

Glory (Deluxe Edition) [RCA, 2016]
Not much music that aspires to pornography achieves the purity of its pleasure principle, and not much pornography does either--not if the ideal isphysical sensation undiluted by either the distractions of romance or the power trips of big-dick netsmut. So Glory's fast-tracked eroticism is an unprecedented achievement even for this longtime professional sex toy. If she has "personal" issues, and why shouldn't she, they go unaddressed. But that doesn't mean there are no signs of growth here. Never has she slammed less or cooed more, and never has she seemed so in command of her desires, or so comfortable with them. She always likes her partners and sometimes loves them, but only three of the 17 songs go off message unless you count the voyeuristic one where she catches her doppelganger atop the cad she's driven 250 miles to dump. My favorite sequence tops the single "Clumsy," where they're banging all over the bedroom, with the single "Do You Wanna Come Over?," where she promises not to start kissing and touching without his go-ahead. But since tastes in sex differ radically, you may have your own. A-