Part I : What led me to Britney
A nostalgic Sunday morning often leaves you reflecting on bygone eras. In turn, this in depth retrospection often leads to blaring music that is in tune with the mood of the hour. This in most cases leads to Britney Spears.
Britney Spears is quite the star. She definitely broke the mold of female artists in the 90s and sort of paved the way for the Miley Cyruses that there are today. She’s right up there with things that accelerated a cultural revolution- the internet, facebook and reality shows. She’s so widely accepted that I don’t even get any spell check options when I type her name.
i. The inner workings of teenage girls
Panning her evolution as an artist is most fascinating especially when you place it in the context of the struggles she was facing in her personal life. The lyrics of selected songs from her first three albums that really reflected this caught my attention. Interestingly, majority of these songs are credited to Max Martin and Rami Yacoub and not Britney herself. I’m not an expert on the degree of artistic freedom she had at the age of seventeen when her first single was released, but taking a wild guess, I’d say not too much; evidence of which is her rebellious breakthrough a few years later. Despite that, Martin and Yacoub did try to keep the lyrics as close to Britney’s personal feelings as possible and the songs composed by them do seem to reflect her inner thoughts. Britney said it herself in an interview with the Rolling Stones in 2001 “He (Martin) gets exactly what I am saying when I tell him what I want and don’t want musically." And she continued to stand by this statement a decade later concurring that "There is nobody I feel more comfortable collaborating with in the studio."
Supporting this theory was her behavior during tours when she became criticized for her racy outfits. They contrasted heavily from her bubble gummy videos.
The video of the single released by Timberlake, ‘Cry me a river’, featured a blonde Britney look-alike while Timberlake proceeded to wreck the former’s house, singing “Your bridges were burned, and now it's your turn/To cry, cry me a river."
Apart from post-relationship rivalries with Timberlake, Britney was also often pitted against former blonde-haired contemporary, Christina Aguilera. Eventually however, the two pop idols shifted tracks following their own creative paths, moving out of the squeaky clean pop songs that had created them. The two even had a chance to publicly kiss and make up during the 2003 MTV music awards.
Thus with In the Zone, Spears had finally moved into the realm of adulthood, leaving behind the braided and skirted schoolgirl that she had started out as. What followed the album release was one annulled marriage, another marriage a year later that ended in divorce, two children, a reality television show and weeks of rehab. Britney had moved into The Zone, and steadily out of it as well. The most fascinating thing about this was that it was all reflected in her music and under the public’s watchful eye.