Sunday, July 10, 2011

Floppy Single, Especially With One Track, Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know Falls!

The Good: Collectible value?
The Bad: Short, Poor use of medium, Not the most memorable song.
The Basics: Britney Spears' management released a flop with Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know, a radio-only c.d. single which was released when Spears had saturated the market.

In the rise and fall of every cultural icon in the music industry, there comes a moment of market saturation where the market simply cannot bear more from an artist or performer. Fans have what they want from them and they either are tapped out or they need the next (preferably big) thing from that artist. In the rise of Britney Spears, Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know serves as a reminder that sometimes too much is too much. The single was the fourth single from Spears' sophomore album Oops!... I Did It Again and by the point that it was released in the United States, her first three singles off the album had generated such sales that this single did nothing to push those on the fence into buying it.

In fact, the single released from Jive (USA) was only available to radio stations and has since filtered into the secondary market as a collectible item. As a result, the U.S. version of the single is a one-track that features only the album version of Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know, so it is not an extraordinary disc by any means. In fact, the U.S. version is a disappointing promotional tool which failed to do what it was supposed to: sell more albums. Instead, Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know did not capture U.S. listeners' attention and created a Britney-free airplay zone for a time before "I'm A Slave 4 U" was released.

With only one song occupying only 3:50 on a c.d., the U.S. version of Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know is an anemic outing which does not illustrate any recognizable talents from Britney Spears. Instead, the pop ballad was written by three other people (most notably Shania Twain) and was produced by one of those writers (Robert Lange). Spears provides the primary vocals, but nothing else. The instrumental accompaniment for the song was engineered and is very obvious keyboard and strings which only back the plaintive singing of Britney Spears. This is not one of the most recognizable melodies Jive engineers came up with for Spears.

That said, at least Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know has Britney Spears' natural voice. She sings in recognizably human vocals which sing the lines earnestly and with a girlish quality that makes the words she is singing resonate. This song has Spears in the alto and soprano ranges and she holds notes like only a nonsmoker can and the song works for that. This could have been a teen relationship anthem, if only it had the airplay. However, the prior singles had burned out most listeners on Britney Spears.

Lyrically, Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know is nothing extraordinary. The song is a ballad which cries out for honesty in a young relationship. With lines like "My friends say you're so into me / And that you need me desperately / They say you say we're so complete / But I need to hear it straight from you / If you want me to believe it's true / I've been waiting for so long it hurts / I wanna hear you say the words, please / Don't, don't let me be the last to know" Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know expresses a very basic desire to be treated right and Spears sells it well.

Even so, every other version of the Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know single is better than this one. The one-track version contains no remixes, no b-sides and every other version of the single outside the U.S. radio airplay single has at least three tracks with variants. This is just an overpriced (when one can find it) collectible for Britney Spears fans. And of all of the c.d. singles for radio airplay, this is one of the many that is not likely to appreciate in value anytime soon.

For other reviews of Britney Spears music, please check out my reviews of:
. . . Baby One More Time (single)
Stronger (single)
The Singles Collection


For other music reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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