Britney Spears ‘Circus’ 2008

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A Brief Background

Britney Spears is a modern day legend. Kick starting her career back in the 90’s, Britney’s commercial success went from strength to strength, releasing Diamond certified albums and coming out strong from one of the biggest melt downs in showbiz history with a hugely successful comeback. This come back saw Brit take a residency in Vegas where the likes of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion have both been involved. Today we delve into one of Britney’s comeback albums ‘Circus’ The singles released from Britney’s sixth studio album include:

Circus (Album): US#1, UK#4
Womanizer: US#1, UK#3
Circus (Single): US#3, UK#13
If You Seek Amy: US#19, UK#20
Radar: US#88, UK#46

Will the album sit nicely on our radar? Or will the album be like having amnesia? Let’s divulge!


 

The Review – Luke and Jordan
1. Womanizer       *Video*

(N.Briscoe, R.Akinyemi)
Instantly I am in love with this track, the intro sounds like an alarm in a laboratory after a toxic spillage, the song then kicks in with killer hooks and catchy, memorable beats and lyrics. The attitude Britney portrays in this song is great, she is on a mission to ‘out’ womanizers everywhere. Even though the verses are kind of monotone, they are very enjoyable to listen to and further boosts the persona in the song. By the middle 8 you’ll have pretty much learned the chorus and it’s one of the best things about the track as it isn’t too repetitive. 9/10
What a strong, catchy beginning to the album. The melody keeps you focused throughout with the constant beats and runs of instruments. The lyrics are easy to sing along with and it’s a fun and empowering track! 9/10


2. Circus     *Video*

(L.Gottwald, C.Kelly, B.Levin)
The instant vibe with this song puts me in spy scenario, I can imagine Britney in a Ninja outfit in the dead of night, jumping from tree to tree spying on a love interest. The theme is deeper than Womanizer and shows Britney in a different light, more dominant and less fun, especially with the lyrics “I’m a ring leader, I call the shots“. Additionally the lyrics really relate to Britney’s love of performing “I feel the adrenaline running through my veins, spot light on me” This would have been a great introduction to the album as it sums Britney up really and it’s catchy as hell, a great theme for the album as she could really take the songs anywhere. 8.5/10
Another banging chorus, we are presented with sounds and lyrics that refer to a Circus. The lyrics talk about being an entertainer on stage, performing to an adoring audience – she also refers to cracking a whip which is what the lion tamers do at the circus. There’s a strange high pitched dial tune that’s reminiscent of clowns/freak show characters, that gives you the eerie vibe 9/10

3. Out from Under      *Audio*

(S.Peiken, A.Birgisson, W.Hector)
This is a refreshing sound from Britney – I don’t think I’ve heard such a mellow yet sweet sound from Brit. The chorus is very floaty and dreamy and it’s quite honestly lovely. I can see this in ‘A Cinderella Story‘ or something, it’s quite Disney-esque. It has definitely come at the right time in the album and it’s welcomed, I was expecting a half decent demo dance track. Her vocals work really well based on the style of the song, her falsettos are particularly nice. 7/10
A softer vibe from Brit, what a cute song – It could be used in a movie. A great ballad 8/10

 

4. Kill The Lights     *Audio*

(N.Hills, J.Washington, L.Boyd, M.Araica)
The introduction to this track is quite confusing, it’s something from a breaking news bulletin in the 50’s or something. Then when the music comes in, it sounds like something from Christina Aguilera’s Bionic album. I can’t help but think this was a Pussycat Dolls song that they previously recorded and Britney took it – the vocal arrangements and style of singing sounds just like Nicole Scherzinger!
I like the musical arrangements of this song, it’s constant and keeps you enticed, it’s fast paced and the different vocal arrangements are exciting; especially when Britney sings “Keeeeeel” on ‘Kill the lights’, I just can’t shake the feeling that something is missing, and I think it’s adlibs and power vocal moments.
6.5/10
This sounds like a Christina Aguilera song, I don’t think Britney’s ‘Girl next door’ image could execute this as well as Christina could. The song is OK but it seems a bit messy to me. 6/10

5. Shattered Glass      *Audio*

(L.Gottwald, C.Kelly, B.Levin)
A more funkier sound from Britney here, the beginning falsetto notes were angelic and left me wanting more. Unfortunately the formula of the song is a carbon copy of circus; it contains the same melodies and the builds are the same. If you took the vocal run of Circus and placed it on this track it would fit perfectly. I feel this song was a glimpse to the future with the beats though, it’s kind of similar to the sound of ‘Hold it Against Me‘ – before it’s time I think. 7/10
Catchy intro there! pop-tastic, good vocal arrangements and it has  Britney vibe written all over it! Strange over use of auto tune at the end… was that there to compensate for her lack of ad-libs? 5.5/10


6. If U Seek Amy       *Audio*

(M.Martin, Shellback, S.Kotecha, A.Kronlund)
Yet another track which opens perfectly coinciding with the theme of the album, the hook of “La la la la la la la la” is reminiscent of a children’s song and semiotic-ally speaking, the Circus is a children’s playground – which makes the whole song a massive juxtaposition when we are presented with the intended lyrics of “iF U SEE Kamy” (We all know what it stands for by now). The juxtaposing theme and style makes the song quite uncomfortable as I could imagine children singing along and being completely oblivious to what the song represents. Nevertheless, it’s very catchy and the style of the song is contagious. 7.5/10
A great subliminal track… Amy is a real person – it’s Britney’s sex drive. All of the boys and girls are begging to F**k me. Adlibs are on point, which are the best so far. We got a 2000 Britney note towards the end there reminiscent of the likes of Stronger #YES. 9/10


7. Unusual You           *Audio*

(C.Karlsson, P.Winnberg, H.Jonback, K.Livingston)
The introduction of this song sounds like it could be a great interlude… but when the beat and Britney’s vocals come in, this sounds like the “Half decent demo dance track” I mentioned in ‘Out from Under‘. I don’t feel the song really goes anywhere, and get’s dull by the second verse. It has a fun theme though based on the ever changing instrumental and is quite euphoric/zen like when looking at Britney’s vocals and the effect upon them. It’s nice to hear a different sound from Britney now and again, but I imagine someone with stronger vocals could make this song a hit. 5.5/10
A rockier vibe with the opening music, then we go into a calm and reflecting track with a ballad element about it. The piano melody is beautiful to listen to. Some of the harmonizing in this track sounds a bit off… This could be the use of auto-tune affecting her melodies. I guess she wants it to sound this way due to the song’s title. 5/10

8. Blur                  *Audio*

(N.Hills, S.Barthe, M.Araica)
The music behind the vocals is really overpowering and odd. The beats supplied are very heavy and it really drowns Britney out. Lyrically (From what I can understand) this sounds like it would have been a perfect song for Ke$ha “I can’t remember what I did last night” (If the song was sped up and given a killer dance beat anyway). It follows on from ‘Unusual You’ quite well though, the zen vibe is still there with a kind of Asian influence behind it. Not my cup of tea – it’s very drab… The adlibs are nice though. 3/10
It sounds like something from 2001, Paris Hilton could have had on her album. it’s quite messy and lacks in song structure with dull sounding melodies (Especially in the chorus) I think I’d forget this song after it finishes… The random speaking part in the middle really adds nothing to the song. 2/10

9. Mmm Papi          *Audio*

(B.Spears, H.Walter, A.Gough, P-J.Kerr, N.Morier)
YES the trashy song that I love on the album. There’s always a song, no matter how trashy it is – I am guaranteed to love it. This song is indeed messy and trashy but it’s definitely a lift from the previous tracks. The melodies and instrumental sounds like something from the swinging 60’s with a modern twist. I must admit, Britney’s vibrato sounds a bit strained “Hold me tight and don’t let gooooo” especially; but this could be intentional as it kind of resembles Paloma Faith and Gwen Stefani. The hand claps are particularly infectious. 7/10
Her vocals sound really off in this track – you need to open your nasal passages and suck on a throat lozenger, it just sounds like a HOT MESS. The guitar is the only saving grace. 1/10


10. Mannequin        *Audio*

(B.Spears, H.Mason, R.Knox, J.Fauntleroy)
Well, this song doesn’t give you a break does it? The lyrics are all over the place and there is literally nothing to grasp. Was she high when recording this track? It sounds like someone went into the mind of a serial drug user and took samples of their brain and deformed organs whilst abusing to piece this track together. Where is the structure?! 1/10
That whiny instrument/vocal is annoying. The song is messy and yet again there is a lot going on, with no structure. It’s the kind of  song that the people behind headache tablets want you to listen to so you buy their products.I don’t get what the reason for this song is, and I can’t understand what she is saying or trying to say. There is simply TOO MUCH GOING ON. 1/10

11. Lace and Leather     *Audio*

(L.Gottwald, B.Levin, F.Storm, R.Jackson)
Looking at the title and the first few bars of the song, this sounds sickly sweet and quite kinky. The guitar riffs are particularly pleasing on the ear. The structure of the song is quite generic until we are introduced to a strange dream like music break between the chorus and second verse… Is this intentional? Like a dream sequence with Britney Spears in lace and leather. “Your one and only pleasure I’ll take to lace and leather” is the best hook in the song, and eventually gets you hooked. It’s easy to listen to 5.5/10
A nicer sound here, a good pulse of a backing track; still quite trashy but it;’s nice and easy to listen to although the break between the chorus and second verse is too long and gives you nothing at all. Doesn’t make much of an impression on me. 4/10

12. My Baby      *Audio*

(B.Spears, G.Sigsworth)
From the first words “Tiny hands, yes that’s you” it becomes obvious that she is talking about her children. The credibility of this song is kind of in balance at the moment because the backing track is wonky (At the end of Britney’s sentences you can hear a wonky guitar riff) and it’s off putting. Britney does actually sound beautiful here, the vocals are very similar to how ‘Everytime’ played out. It’s quite refreshing to hear her sing without any banging beats behind her. The song does start to outstay it’s welcome and the middle 8 is very much non existent as there’s no obvious change in the music. Quite dull but lovely. 5/10
I’m Not a Girl/Everytime Britney comes to the forefront. Soft high vocals that sounds like old school Britney. The melody is calming and sounds like a music box but in guitar form. The song could be seen as boring… It would be a good one to put on your ‘bed time playlist’ The note at the end was sweet 5/10

13. Radar        *Video*

(C.Karlsson, P.Winnberg, H.Jonback, B.Muhammad, C.Nelson, E.Lewis, P.Smith)
I’m so pleased Britney rehashed this song and included it on ‘Circus’. Granted, it slipped in very well on ‘Blackout’ but this was indeed an album gem that needed justice #JusticeForRadar. The choruses are so contagious and the backing “When you walk, when you talk, that’s what I want” are easy to grasp and enhance Britney’s vocals which are in the foreground. It’s quite a unique track… but her Radar was definitely off when she met Kevin Fedaline, so don’t take her word for it, I think it’s broken. I love this song. 8/10
Finally we have ‘pop Brit’ back at what she does best. Catchy everything. A good track with everything we want! 8.5/10

14. Amnesia      *Audio* 

(F.Garibay, K.Livingston)
Really, the song writers could taken this song anywhere with the title, but it didn’t really leave the parking lot at the beginning of the song did it? Britney sings of someone who can’t forget her.. but this song is easily forgettable, and I imagine she forgot it too!
I like the different ways Britney sings in this track, the way she sings “Crazy” and “Phase me” is enticing but I only start to click with the song by the 3rd chorus, I imagine it’s a grower. What puts me off is how heavy the song is, I really want to understand what Britney is singing but it’s difficult. 6/10
It sounds like an album ender, it’s a catchy song and probably one of the best ‘non-single songs. 7/10


 

Overall scores and Final Thoughts

Overall, I was surprised with what Britney gave us and she explored the ‘Circus’ theme well, but like with any album, there were a few gems, a couple of lack luster tracks and then again some sweet and personal moments with throwaway, forgettable moments. I particularly liked the experimental moments in ‘Mmm Papi‘ but the other songs where Britney had a writing credit, failed to impress me, they were too messy and lacked structure. I’m glad Radar got the recognition it deserved with a feature over 2 albums and finally being released as a single. I do think some of the songs featured were before their time and paved the way for future Britney sounds. Well done Britney and co, a really good effort and a solid piece of work; this was the comeback album that should have taken the place of ‘Blackout’.  86.5 / 140

Jordan –  80 / 140

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