Monday, 4 November 2013

Concerning Britney Spears and Time Travel

I've reached the age where so many of my views and opinions are informed by nostalgia for the way things used to be.

I remember Bloc Party's headline show at Heaven before the release of Silent Alarm, I remember when Arctic Monkey's demos were shared between curious and rabid fans alike before NME began sticking the band on their front cover every week, I remember a time when Simon Cowell didn't rule the world and when ticket prices were reasonable and when music channels actually showed music videos.

I remember when a sweet and innocent girl in a school uniform was kicking her foot against the leg of her desk and tapping her pencil on the table top as she impatiently waited to be saved by bell, I remember being equally smitten and seduced by this visual enticement in the glorious hey-day when it was a usual teenage past-time to flick intermittently between MTV and The Box.

Britney Spears had the perfect mixture of catchy pop and an undeniably calculated image that thrust her to the forefront of the record buying teen market and simultaneously sold the doe-eyed jail-bait sensation to the rest of the world that simply couldn't ignore that knee socks and skirt combination that had accompanied a sure-fire hit.

If, for a moment we enter the realm of sci-fi and hypothesise that instead of just using current technology to play Angry Birds and make new photos look like old photos, I had actually developed time travel in the year 2013, imagine if I travelled back to show my 16 year old self exactly what Britney Spears is up to these days.

I would be shocked for a number of reasons, the time travelling I could probably accept without too much problem, but the fact that Britney would still be plugging away at a music career 14 years later would be harder for me to swallow, yet anther example of my poorly predicted 'one hit wonders' that would never amount to much, which over the years have also included The Spice Girls, Katy Perry and Justin Beiber.

But the biggest mind-fuck would be the alien music that has morphed to an unrecognisable degree over the intervening years, to the point that former pop sirens are embarrassingly coerced into grasping at straws and riding the coat tails of current trends where at one time they would have lead instead of followed.

Of her contemporaries from the turn of the century, Britney is likely ranking higher than Christina Aguilara in the relevancy stakes, yet lagging behind former beau and former N-Syncer Justin Timberlake by a sizeable margin.

Yet the days of knotting a shirt and wearing your hair in bunches in order to win hearts is long behind us now, the game has changed beyond recognition and now supposedly provocative riding of industrial demolition tools, heightened misogyny and product placements are de rigueur in exchange for record industry infamy.

Perhaps the record buying public at large are still willing to swallow whatever swill Britney's people have insisted she should be selling, but I for one am unconvinced and underwhelmed by her latest effort, it works (no pun intended) to some degree as a lowest common denominator 21st century Saturday night at Yates' dance anthem, but for a former pop princess who let her tiara slip, I expect better.

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