Sunday, July 24, 2011

How Many People Does It Take To Save One Pop Star's Career? "Me Against The Music."

The Good: Generally enjoyable principle track
The Bad: Remix is unimpressive, Poor use of the medium.
The Basics: Not the worst Britney Spears single by any measure, the two-track version of "Me Against The Music" is missing many remixes die-hard fans will want.

The only thing more astonishing for me than discovering that there were some remix albums of the Britney Spears song that features Madonna, “Me Against The Music” that sell for over fifty dollars (when they can even be found!) is that it took SEVEN (7) people to write the song. Yes, there are seven credited writers for “Me Against The Music” and this is absolutely astonishing when one considers that it has only about six hundred words in it and it is not stellar poetry by any stretch of the imagination or definition of "poetry."

"Me Against The Music" was essentially a marketing tool from Jive Records and it was a tool intended to prove that Brand Britney was still viable. And it worked. With a predictably inane dance beat and a music video that features Britney Spears almost kissing Madonna, it's a formula that is tried and true. Dance beats get the young women out, lesbian kisses keep the male fanbase engaged. The single was tested and market-approved for maximum chance of staying on the air and the result was a fair hit single for Britney Spears.

By this point in the career of Britney Spears, Spears was exercising a bit more creative control over her own works. "Me Against The Music" features Spears as a co-writer and co-producer of the single and that is a bit more than she had done on her earlier works. While Spears was not involved in the Rishi Rich's Desi Kulcha Remix, she provided half the primary vocals for both the primary and remix on this single. Sadly, the listener is likely to feel cheated as the c.d. single has only the two tracks and barely occupies eight minutes of music on the disc.

"Me Against The Music" is actually a proper duet between Britney Spears and Madonna and they harmonize exceptionally well when they are not picking up lines on their own. Madonna adds a deeper vocal resonance to the song and Spears tries to match it, while still recording in a high enough register to seem perky. Spears does make the attempt for more vocal heft on this track and she generally makes herself sound serious, if not credible or truly intense. For much of the song, both women perform together on every other line and the pairing is a good one. For a change, Britney Spears's vocals are not overproduced to the point of being unrecognizable and she and Madonna seem to have a good vocal simpatico.

The instrumental accompaniment on "Me Against The Music" is keyboard/synth sounds with a more electric feel than many of Spears' other works. The song is not a great pop work by any means, but it actually has a melody and it quickly became a club staple. Actually, with the enhanced bass line, the Rishi Rich's Desi Kulcha Remix became more the club staple. Adding almost an additional minute of throbbing bass and drum machines and echoing repetitions of key lines from Spears and Madonna, the remix on this album was very much a part of the club scene and it differs enough from the album version that those who like Spears' dance side will want to hunt the single down.

Lyrically, "Me Against The Music" is a song about singing and the effect of music as one sings and dances to it. Arguably it is also about the vacuous nature of dance-pop culture, but with lyrics like "No one cares / It's whippin' my hair, it's pullin' my waist / To hell with stares / The sweat is drippin' all over my face / No one's there / I'm the only one dancin' up in this place / Tonight I'm here / Feel the beat of the drum, gotta keep it that bass" it might be overthinking to attribute a level of satire to the singing. Instead of truly being tongue-in-cheek about the club culture, it seems like Britney Spears and Madonna are content to advertise and glorify it. "Me Against The Music" does that adequately.

Even so, it's a tough disc to recommend for multiple reasons. First, it - like almost all c.d. singles - is a terrible underuse of the medium. Second, there are several other c.d. singles which include both the album cut and this particular remix of "Me Against The Music" with many more remixes. This is one of Britney Spears' most-remixed songs and those truly determined to complete their Britney Spears library will find there are other versions of this c.d. single which do the work of selling Spears and her many remixes much better.

For other reviews of Britney Spears music, please check out my reviews of:
. . . Baby One More Time (single)
Stronger (single)
Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know (single)
I'm A Slave 4 U (single)
Toxic (single)
The Singles Collection


See how this work stacks up against other albums and singles by checking out the index page of my music reviews organized by rating by clicking here!

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

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