The Good: The full "Britney" package is on display, Videos
The Bad: Repetitive, Still substandard music.
The Basics: Solidly below-average on the music, the two-disc version of The Singles Collection adds a little more value to fans by providing a DVD of Britney Spears music videos.
For her ten year anniversary with Jive Records, Britney Spears released three collections. All three recordings or collections are called The Singles Collection and while the first and second were drastically different, the new release - available as an import to customers in the U.S. - is just recycled material plus an additional DVD. A while back, I reviewed The Singles Collection (link below!) fairly thoroughly, so there seems little point in including that content here. The new release, easily differentiated from the massive boxed set, it a two-disc version of The Singles Collection which includes one c.d. and one DVD.
The c.d. is The Singles Collection, the drastically-short album that was released first to celebrate Spears' affiliation with Jive. The only difference between this new release of the album and the previously-reviewed one-disc version is that this follows the non-U.S. release's trend of including "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman." That song, like the bulk of the others, is not written or produced by Britney Spears - actually, it's co-written by Dido - so it is not like listeners are getting a whole ton of extra artistry from Britney Spears. This makes the c.d. in this two-pack an eighteen track album and there is only one song unique to it, Spears' new song "3!" The truly disappointing aspect of this (or the one-disc version of The Singles Collection) album is how very much of the material is recycled from My Prerogative: The Best Of Britney Spears. In the five years since she released that "best of" album, she has only released two other albums. As a result, there is remarkably little new material and much of it is nowhere near as recognizable as the initial works of Spears, which are on the first half of the album.
Truth be told, the additional song is not a sufficient reason to import this version of The Singles Collection either. It is a sappy ballad that has Spears nasally whining through her version of teen angst with lines like “I used to think / I had the answers to everything, / But now I know / Life doesn't always go my way, yeah... / Feels like I'm caught in the middle / That's when I realize... I'm not a girl, / There is no need to protect me. / It's time that I / Learn to face up to this on my own. / I've seen so much more than you know now, / So don't tell me to shut my eyes” (“I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman”). The song is melodramatic and only serves to truly illustrate how far from womanhood Spears actually was when she first sang it. This was reinforced to me when I've seen tweens wailing it out to one another on the school playground and I find myself laughing.
So, why should anyone give this album a spin? I'd argue that it's not worth it. My Prerogative was definitive and complete for the early works of Britney Spears and the last five years have not netted enough new material (nor hits) to justify this musical experiment. Moreover, one suspects that with her next compilation attempt, she will divest her album of the early “innocent” works and focus on post-My Prerogative works anyway. In other words, good money is on the idea that in another five years, there will be a new compilation which does not duplicate her early hits, but includes the later works.
That said, for those who insist on loving Britney Spears and her works, this is THE way to go with The Singles Collection. The reason for that is simple; there is an additional DVD which includes the music videos Britney Spears. If you're going for Brand Britney, the leas you can do is enjoy the full effect of it. The DVD includes the standard music videos for sixteen of the tracks on the c.d. version of the disc. Missing are her latest song and video, ?” and the video for “Boys” (possibly because of licensing issues from the “Austin Powers” people?). For those who missed the two-disc version of My Prerogative, which provided fans with a bonus DVD of Spears’ music videos, The Singles Collection includes most of the videos (almost all the instantly recognizable early ones like “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops!... I Did It Again”) alongside the six new videos. The DVD plays in Region 1 DVD players, so those worried about importing this and not getting the DVD content to play have nothing to worry about.
The DVD portion of The Singles Collection actually offers viewers an interesting sociological opportunity. By going through the videos in The Singles Collection, one can watch as Britney Spears goes from being a pop-dance icon who is trading more on her innocence to a performer who trades almost entirely on her sex appeal. The outfits quickly become more revealing until they are absent altogether (as on the video for “Womanizer”). As such, this becomes a disturbing journey from guilty pleasure viewing (Britney Spears doing a dance routine in a schoolgirl outfit) to outright softcore (“Toxic” and “Womanizer” both trade almost completely on showing off as much of Spears in erotic ways as possible).
As such, it is easy to suggest that those who love the works of Britney Spears will find this to be the best current collection after My Prerogative to purchase. But it's just reinforcing for those who are not fans of Spears’ works that the shark has been jumped and she's just coasting while the motor dies down. In this two-pack, we see it as well as hear it.
For other reviews of Britney Spears music, please check out my reviews of:
. . . Baby One More Time (single)
Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know (single)
I'm A Slave 4 U (single)
Me Against The Music (single with Madonna)
The Singles Collection
For other music reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!
© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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