On April 6, Britney Spears debuted her video for “Till the World Ends,” the second single from her seventh studio album “Femme Fatale.” As the title suggests, it is set in an apocalyptic world where Britney leads an underground party. Through the use of a similarly lit background and sweaty, gyrating dancers, the video makes multiple references to her 2001 smash hit “I’m a slave for you.”
Even though it’s entertaining to see Britney dressed up in fishnet-and-leather ensembles, blasting the tune of a dance hit, there are still a few letdowns.
The electro-pop, over-simplistic and repetitive sounds of “Till the World Ends” are subpar compared to “I’m a slave for you.” It sounds rather similar the recent single “Blow” by Kesha, who also co-wrote “Till the World Ends.” The low-impact dancing is masked by a shaky effect of the camera.
While there are new female pop sensations on the scene aggressively threatening to overthrow her throne (namely Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Rihanna), is Britney lagging behind?
With a brand so solid for 12 years, it seems like she doesn’t have much to worry about. The pop star’s career was not single-handedly built from extraordinary vocal, songwriting or instrumental abilities. The collective effort of an unfailing team of managers, publicists, producers, vocal coaches and choreographers helps her stay on top, as evident in the past three years leading up to this album.
After the release of “Circus” in 2008, Britney never completely disappeared from the media. In 2009, she showed off her toned body in skintight cut-out leotards in the provocative “Three,” which glorifies ménage a trois. In the same year, she was chosen to represent Candie’s clothing line carried by Kohl’s department store.
In 2010, consumers learned that Britney’s contract with Candie’s and Kohl’s was renewed for a second consecutive year. Following the success of the Fantasy and Curious perfume, she continued to unveil her third fragrance Radiance.
In September that year, another publicity move reignited the media buzz surrounding the singer. Britney made a cameo in a “Glee” episode titled “Britney/Brittany,” in which the whole cast paid tribute to some of her greatest hits, including “Baby one more time,” “I’m a slave for you” and “Toxic.” Predictably, it became the second most watched and most highly rated episode in the two seasons of the show.
When Britney Spears’ seventh studio album “Femme Fatale” dropped on March 29, critics unanimously gave it a “three out of four stars” but also panned the artist. The album was deemed superficial (Los Angeles Times), “less than enthralling” (Washington Post) and “nothing fresh” (USA Today).
Chris Richards of the Washington Post wrote, “‘Femme Fatale’ is relentlessly entertaining, but Spears has nothing to do with its charms.” Indeed, the sounds are backed by a talented producers Max Martin (“Baby One More Time, “Oops!… I Did it Again,” “If U Seek Amy”) and Dr Luke. Brit’s voice is heavily Auto Tuned, as is the standard for today’s pop music.
Edna Gundersen of USA Today observes that “Spears isn’t spearheading a beat revolution here. None of the 12 songs are groundbreaking or challenging.” The criticism is dead on. Britney certainly didn’t aim for “groundbreaking,” probably because she doesn’t have to at this point.
We can only hope Britney can come close to Madonna’s success in reinventing herself and setting milestones for the industry. Meanwhile, prepare to witness “Femme Fatale” to take over the club and party scene.