Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In The Search For Glory, Britney Spears Loses Her Appeal!

The Good: Few moments of natural voice, One or two catchy tunes, Some musical diversity
The Bad: Duration, Vocally overproduced, Insipid lyrics, No truly interesting or engaging songs
The Basics: The deluxe edition of Glory hits one thematic note over and over again until it becomes utterly unlikable.

One of the big problems with coming to review an album after many, many listens, is that sometimes a reviewer finds themselves treading where every other reviewer has already gone before. In the case of the latest album by Britney Spears, I wanted to be certain that I listened to the deluxe edition of Glory enough times to review it fairly. As a result, I am pretty certain that by the time my review is posted, enough other reviewers have crassly made the comment about how the album is Spears's trip to the Glory Hole that I'll have nothing to add to that particular barb. While others might just look for the cheap joke, though, I find it hard not to make a remark about the oversexualization of Britney Spears because that is - for the most part - what Glory is all about.

Glory is a pop, dance, album with more hip-hop elements than many of her previous albums, including a particularly lame rap from G-Eazy on "Make Me. . ." And thematically, Glory is almost entirely about Britney Spears getting laid, seducing, and wanting sex. And that's fine . . . but it's like watching porn for hours on end. It doesn't take long for it to get old, then mundane, then ultimately entirely dull. By the third listen to "Private Show," the listener feels like they've watched Britney Spears get banged about fifty times and there's just no appeal to being the next person in line for that. And yet, there are more tracks after that. But thematically, they are pretty much the same and Glory is a pretty nauseating auditory experience.

From the first notes of Glory, the listener has some hope that the album will be something very different and interesting from Britney Spears. The use of Spears's natural voice and her hitting higher notes on "Invitation" offer alot of promise for an artist who has done very little different for her last few albums. However, "Invitation" is not indicative of the content on Glory and the soprano lilts of the background vocals on the song are almost instantly replaced by banal, over-produced breathy and nasal vocals that listeners of Spears's works have come to loathe. By the end of the fourth track (which is the superlative song on the album), Glory reverts into a mess that is likely to stand as one of the shining examples of what happens when a pop star has nothing left to trade on than their image and singing about that becomes pointless.

With seventeen songs, clocking out at 56:35, Glory is the collaborative, assembled, experience one might expect of a Britney Spears album these days. Spears co-wrote only seven of the songs, performing the words and music of others for the rest of the album. Britney Spears performs the lead and backing vocals on Glory, but that is the extent of her creative control and artistry on the album. Spears does not play any instruments and the producer credits for the tracks are more of a "who's who" of producers than anything that even insinuates that Glory had a coherent musical vision or direction. The result is a musical mess with a pretty singular thematic purpose.

The songs on Glory are almost entirely produced, as opposed to musical. They are constructed dance songs and ballads instead of tunes that were written, played on instruments and developed as songs. Synths, bass, and drums dominate the musical palate - such as it is - of the songs on Glory. There is not a single catchy single on Glory, save "Do You Wanna Come Over?," which sounds like a lost early Britney Spears dance track. Even there, though, the song is problematically-rendered. Spears's works are so overproduced that the listener easily gets distracted by added elements - is that a beer can being opened?! - that undermine its musical quality. Similarly, "Man On The Moon" is at least produced in such a way to be auditorily interesting, even if it does not have much of a memorable tune.

The vocals on Glory are predictable, obvious, and overproduced. While there are hints of Britney Spears's natural voice on "Man On The Moon" and "Invitation," they are the exceptions to the rule on Glory. The nasal vocals on "Private Show" make the insipid song even more unlistenable. While the initial "Oops!" on "Clumsy" is fun, its repetition gets boring and it contrasts the banal, grating vocals that surround it poorly. Almost all of Glory has Britney Spears utilizing production elements and presenting the nasal iteration of her vocals which is just annoying.

Lyrically, most of Glory is straight out sexual and I'm not a prude, but the unrelenting, in-your-face quality of it is just boring. While listeners might have some hope for a Britney Spears tease with a track called "Slumber Party," they are quickly disappointed. Instead of something fun, seductive and teasing, the repetitive nature of her lines "We ain't gonna sleep tonight / Cause we got them candles hanging /Hanging from the ceiling low /We use our bodies to make our own videos / Put on our music that makes us go fucking crazy" ("Slumber Party") beats the listener over-the-head with the "Britney's open for business" theme of Glory. Hell, even Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty" is more fun, quirky, and subtle than "Slumber Party!"

But, by the time "Slumber Party" comes up, the viewer is already worn out by the overbearing nature of the sexed-up version of Britney Spears performing on Glory. Indeed, there is nothing at all subtle about Spears singing "Strut it out, strut it out, eyes on me (eyes on me) / Watch me strut the poles, feel my heat (feel my heat) / Spin around, spin around, three-sixty / Ain't no boundaries here, the camera speaks" ("Private Show").

Glory is also hampered by unfortunately predictable rhymes and banal rhyme schemes. Perhaps the one advantage Spears has on Glory is that she did not even co-write some of the worst lines. It's a sad state for a musical artist when their best defense is that they did not pen "Call me a fool, call me insane / But don't call it a day / Closer to you, closer to pain / It's better than far away" ("Clumsy").

Ultimately, Glory is a repetitive, boring album that - even with more tracks to give it more duration - hits one note early, then beats the listener to death with that.
The best tracks are "Man On The Moon" and "Invitation," the rest of the album is just unlistenable.

For other reviews of Britney Spears music, please check out my reviews of:
. . . Baby One More Time (single)
From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart (single)
Stronger (single)
Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know (single)
I'm A Slave 4 U (single)
Overprotected (single)
Me Against The Music (single with Madonna)
Toxic (single)
Gimme More (single)
The Singles Collection
The Singles Collection (2-disc CD/DVD with videos)
The Singles Collection (Deluxe Collector's Edition)
Femme Fatale (Deluxe Edition)
Britney Jean (Deluxe Edition)


For other music reviews, please visit my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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