Britney Spears has one of the longest careers in music and in many ways, has such a versatile discography to her name. Anyone that reads my blog on a regular basis will know that I think that Britney Spears is one of the greatest female singers to come out of the music industry and I know how controversial that statement is. Today I thought I would break down her career into five stages, just to show how varied her music can be and hopefully remind you all of some of her old songs that prove just how talented a singer she really is. I dare you not to get one of these songs stuck in your head. I dare you!
STAGE ONE – THE DISNEY PRINCESS
Includes: Hit Me Baby One More Time, Lucky
This is how most of us know our Britney. That star who came from a Disney background, with an amazing voice. She had the style, the cute factor and the natural talent to be a star, so we turned her into one. Little did we know that would horribly backfire, as it could be said that she was the Justin Bieber of that day only there wasn’t enough social media and internet news sites to make us aware of how bad she acted when she was off the stage. However, while we were lost in our ignorance, we just appreciated that she had a voice and a terrific album.
‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ is one of her most remembered songs and I am pretty sure that if someone asked you to name a Britney song off the top of your head, this would be your answer, even if it isn’t your favourite. It is one of the shining examples of the cheese era of the 90s and it is commendable that Britney managed to claw her way out of it, unlike many of her rivals from that era. (Billie Piper gave up completely and turned to acting in a show about prostitutes).
STAGE TWO – THE ADULT STAR
Includes: Don’t Let Me Be The Last to Know, Toxic, Slave To You, Every Time
This is my favourite of all the Britney eras. It was the longest-running to date and probably houses your favourite out of all of her songs. There is such a wide range it is impossible to list them all, but it is any kind of song that was released when she was an adult and before her head-shaving meltdown. There was a real sense of passion here, as she proved to the world that she was more than a girl who lucked out with a good voice and could do more than dress up in pigtails when her producers told her too. Her sexuality here had a care-free nature, as if it was more for her than it was for us. She was making the music and image that she wanted to make and everyone else could go fuck themselves.
She had so many number ones as well. It was almost as if every time she released a song, it would be sent straight to the top spot. She was basically top dog when it came to the music industry. There were few behind the scene scandals to distract us from her music (a few dodgy marriages, but everyone had them), and everyone else was competing with her, rather than the other way around. When people criticise some of Britney’s later music, I cannot help but remember this time, when no one could doubt how good she actually was. But I am not one for dwelling in the past, so let’s fast-forward to the post-breakdown part of her career.
STAGE THREE – THE COMEBACK KID
Includes: Womaniser, Gimme More, Piece of Me
There was a sense of desperation to this era of music. She had crashed and burned in the media. When her name came up in a conversation, it was always in the past tense: “Do you remember when Britney Spears was around?” This load of albums had something to prove. They were a message to the masses that she hadn’t lost her talent when it came to making music (or at least performing songs written for her, I guess). Out of her all of her eras, this one is a lot more ‘hit or miss’, as if she was trying every trick in the book. Some fell into obscurity (Do Somethin’), while others instantly raised themselves to cult status – the kind of song, we always wanted from her.
She does seem to be trying very hard to be catchy. When we think of old Britney, catchy is probably up there with the top five words we would use to describe her old music. Some would argue that she isn’t a talented star at all; her songs are simply catchy. I would agree with that statement if we were talking about some of the songs from this era. Are ‘Womaniser’ and ‘Piece of Me’ great songs? No. Some of them get downright annoying after a few listens. But god, they are catchy. This is the era, where Britney wore you down with her music and eventually you had to give up and admit that you liked her. This is probably a microcosm for all of Britney’s career after the meltdown.
STAGE FOUR – THE CLUB ERA
Includes: Hold it Against Me, Till the World Ends, 3
Britney’s comeback was mostly successful, but she still was failing to compete with the bigger names of the time. Someone figured out this was due to the clubbing era, where if your music didn’t stand up in a nightclub, then it wasn’t going to be deemed mainstream enough. Therefore, the next two Britney albums, ‘Circus’ and ‘Femme Fatale’ went clubby. In theory, it was a pretty good idea and I think that the transition from stage three to stage four was a good one (in fact, some songs make it hard to figure out what side of the stage they belong on). However, the results were… inconsistent.
I dug up ‘Femme Fatale’ the other day (the album with songs like ‘Till the World Ends’ and ‘I Wanna Go’), and I enjoyed every song. There are a couple I have no desire to listen to again, I grant you, but on the whole, it was a really good album with some hidden gems I reckon any fan of her music should check out. However, EDM and club fans didn’t seem to like Britney muscling into her territory. The thing with this era is that her songs had to grow on you, rather than instantly becoming classics. However, no one was prepared to give her latest batch of songs the chance. This is where being a Britney fan became disheartening, because no one was giving her the time of day anymore.
MODERN DAY – DIRTY CLUB MUSIC
Includes: Scream and Shout, Work Bitch
And then we hit modern day. It’s not looking good. Her efforts to break into the clubbing era seemed to have failed, so she decided to fully embrace the idea. She has shredded most of her past image (unless it is for a specific song like ‘Ooh La La’), and has dove head first into creating dirty club songs. This is mainly due to her friendship with Will.I.Am. If you don’t fully understand the concept of Dirty Club, ‘Scream and Shout’ is a pretty good example. A good beat, but some pretty lazy writing on top of it.
Personally I quite like this genre and think it has its place. I don’t think that this place is with Britney though. Every song she releases seems to get more mediocre. I don’t want to say bad, because I like her music in the same way I like Iggy Pop’s ‘Bounce’ and Azealia Banks’ ‘212’. But that’s the problem. She is just another dirty club song, which these days is like a drop in the ocean. She is not that break-through artist anymore and has become a singer that does little more than pique your interest. Not necessarily bad, but not really memorable. And seeing as the rumours that Britney is considering early retirement are floating around, I really don’t want Britney Spears to leave on this note, when she has released some of the biggest hits in music history.