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Britney’s Back: ‘Femme Fatale’ appeals to the college crowd

Claire Stephens | Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Since her decade-defining albums “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops!…I did it again” at the turn of the century, Britney Spears has only had an average of two to four big hits per album. “Femme Fatale,” however, may bring the almost-30-year-old celebrity back into cultural relevance once again.

Though still singing in her characteristically pop style, Spears incorporates a more techno, electronic sound in nearly all of her new songs. We grew up with her bubblegum-pop songs as children, and now she has the potential to enter the college dance club scene. More on par with other Billboard Top 100 artists like Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and Dev, Spears’ new style follows the epic dance party hits on the rise without abandoning her signature pop sound.

The pop princess’s new style balances her vocals with catchy melodies and prominent electronic beats. By adapting to the sounds of today’s dance music without directly imitating any artist or genre, Spears keeps her music distinct and develops a unique style.

 

In the mix are a few duds: “Criminal,” for example, has a very basic, childish melody and doesn’t flatter Spears’ vocals, which sound nasally. “How I Roll,” though musically promising at the beginning, quickly becomes very middle-school sounding both in music and message. The song also features a very bothersome, repetitive sound, resembling a door hinge squeaking and a descending moan put together. “He About to Lose Me,” despite its dramatic and impressive vocals at the beginning, transforms into a refrain outside of Spear’s vocal range.

Some of tracks with the most fame-potential feature other artists, like Spears’ duet with Sabi in “(Drop Dead) Beautiful” and will.i.am in “Big Fat Bass.” Both songs’ guest artists are minimally heard throughout the song, but still manage to outshine Spears. Both songs would be decent with Spears alone, however, Sabi and will.i.am add another dimension to the album.

The highlights of “Femme Fatale” are “Till the World Ends.” Released in March as a single, “Till the World Ends” matches the more powerful and catchy songs of the album, like “Gasoline” and “Up N’ Down.” The best-known song on the album, “Hold It Against Me,” echoes the quieter, more emotional electronica songs on the album, such as “Trip To Your Heart” and “Inside Out.”

The only element missing from Spears’ new album is the empowering, independent female song she has become known for. Expected themes of partying, sexuality, boys and romance are scattered throughout the album, but there is no single song to compete with the brazen sexuality and individuality of Spears’ past hits, like “Stronger,” “Womanizer” and “Circus.

“Till the World Ends” has the best prospect of being the hallmark song of the album. Although “Femme Fatale” is missing powerhouse singles like “Toxic” or “Gimme More,” the album has a greater quantity of good songs than the handful of mega-hits present on her past albums.

While Spears’ relevance in pop culture seemed to fade after her commanding comeback several years ago, her new album easily brings her back into pop Top 40 music. Her dance-pop and electro-pop sounds have also brought her back into the minds of her original fans — our generation. By transforming her music to match the times, she has allowed herself to insert her unique pop vocals into today’s music scene.

Despite the many controversies and mishaps of Britney’s personal life, her album has proved that in the world of pop culture and music, she is still a femme fatale.