Britney Spears, BLACKOUT

History and timing have not been kind to the Britney Spears' album Blackout: When Britney appeared on the MTV Video Music Awards to promote the album, her performance was perceived as her descent into instability.  (It didn't help that the album was called "blackout" and ended with the song "Why Should I Be Sad.")  So how is the album with some distance from the scan,dals and controversy?

Blackout is, from start to finish an album made for the dance club (or, with songs like "Get Naked (I Got a Plan)," "Freakshow" and "Ooh Ooh Baby" the strip club).  There are no slow ballads or sensitive songs here.  Instead, the songs are almost all about sex (like the aforementioned tunes) or idolizing a guy ("Heaven on Earth," "Perfect Lover").  The only exceptions are Britney's take on the downside of fame ("Piece of Me") and her song trashing her ex-husband ("Why Should I Be Sad.")  The songs are all heavy on beats and bass, with frequent rap contributions by some generic rappers.

Unfortunately, "generic" sums up Blackout pretty well.  Britney Spears has never been known for her strong voice, and here the synthesizers and heavy production tend her to breathy speaking more than actual singing.  The lyrics are nothing special at all ("I'm cold as fire, baby/ Hot as ice/ If you've ever been to heaven/This is twice as nice") and the massively increased sexuality feels more like self-exploitation than musical or artistic growth.

Blackout 's opening "It's Britney, bitch" was meant to be a statement of defiant strength and putting down the haters, but in light of the singer's personal problems that followed, it turned out to be fairly ironic.  Alas, Blackout didn't help much due to its mediocrity.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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