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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 17, 2014

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"Britney Jean" is the new record from Britney Spears, following 2011's "Femme Fatale."
"Britney Jean" is the new record from Britney Spears, following 2011's "Femme Fatale."

"Britney Jean" dances its way through the mainstream

Since we first heard "Baby One More Time," most of us have been unable to get Britney Spears off our minds. We have seen her in her greatest and worst moments, from pop princess to buzz-cut nutcase.

With her most recent album, "Britney Jean," now in stores, it’s no doubt that Spears is all revved up for another album of hot dance beats.

Her music is heavily centered around the mainstream and what is trending, and this album is a good example of this. Intense dance songs are mixed with slower, ballad-like songs that offer good breaks from the action.

1. "Alien" – It’s a nice intro song in terms to first impressions. Britney has had several sounds through out her career, and this is a nice reminder that she can actually sing. It’s slow, but not boring. Nice trans beats mix well with her voice. The song speaks to the relatively teenage feeling of being alone and finding someone that defeats the loneliness. "And the light in your eyes lets me know I’m not alone," gives the listener the reminder that the people who care about you will always be there. All in all, it’s a good song that is sweet, cute and sticks with the "you are loved and never alone" theme.

2. "Work B***h" – The beat and the background sounds in this song make it the most prominent song on the album. It’s a great dancing song and probably a very inspiring workout song. It makes you want give whatever you’re doing a one hundred percent effort. "You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? You want a Mazerati? You better work b***h." Lyrics like this make the listener get worked up and into an "I can do this" state of mind. No matter who you are, Britney fan or not, this song has an infectious beat and oddly inspirational essence. It’s almost impossible to sit still while this song is on.

3. "Perfume" – We’ve all had that insecure feeling when it comes to our relationships. This song speaks to that feeling clearly, the feeling of distance, jealousy and paranoia. It may not be the best song on the album, but it still gets its message across. "Am I being paranoid? Am I just seeing things? Am I just insecure?" A more vulnerable song from Britney that the listener can easily identify with. An odd lyric that puts a dent in the affect of the song is "I’m gonna mark my territory," which makes the listener do an auditory double-take. It leaves the listener feeling a little awkward while trying to stay in the moment with the song.

4. "It Should Be Easy" (Featuring Will.I.Am) – The song starts out a little apprehensive, with a nice beat but the lyrics and the Auto-Tune makes it a little awkward. That’s all fixed when the main chorus begins and the bass kicks in. Everything comes together nicely and the low synth that is thrown in with the chorus gives the song more satisfaction. The main point of this song is speaking to the feeling of ecstasy when you are around the person you care about. The little moments that take your breath away while in each others’ company. "I’ll love you ‘till the day I’m dead, so please don’t mess with my head." Will.I.Am does a great job in this song, and the two singers’ styles mesh well and consistently throughout the three-and-a-half minutes.

5. "Tik Tik Boom" (Featuring T.I.) – "Let me get up on it" is not exactly what your mind jumps to when you think of Britney Spears. It sounds like she is "sing-rapping," for lack of a better description. T.I.’s part is good, his voice goes well with the slow, long, hip-hop bass line. I’m not sure if I would have picked Britney to sing this. If this were a song that T.I. was performing and featured Britney rather than the other way around, it would have been much easier to accept. Not that it isn’t good, it is just not your typical Britney song. That is probably the main reason this song is hard to get into. This could also be a quality that makes the song a potential hit.

6. "Body Ache" – Another satisfying dance hit. The beginning is good and gets the listener interested right off the bat. It then slows down, and as the chorus comes in, the music drops the listener right back into dance mode. "You make my body ache" gives the song a sexy edge and it’s contagious beat keeps the listener excited. It’s the kind of beat that makes the listener want to bounce around chaotically. Again, whether it’s a devoted fan listening or a skeptic, this song has a quality about it that will eventually crack even the most devoted "hater." It’s pure fun.

7. "Til It’s Gone" – If you can make it through the first 45 seconds of this song, you will be surprised. The beginning is a false lead to the rest of the song. It’s catchy, and yet another fun dance hit, complete with trippy sounds tossed in. Even though the song is about heartbreak and how "You never know what you got ‘til it’s gone," the energy of everything else makes the song worth it. Besides the lyrics, there’s nothing sad or slow about this song.

8. "Passenger" – The beginning makes you think outer space, then all of a sudden there’s guitar and almost no electronic element. The message is involved with letting go of control and allowing yourself to let things happen and be OK with it. By the end of the song you’ve grown accustomed to the eclectic sounds and are oddly enjoying it. Britney sounds OK, but the main attraction is the sounds all around her voice. "The world may twist and turn but, I know that I am in good hands," the lyrics almost comforting, assuring that trusting the other person is not as dangerous as one thinks.

9. "Chillin’ With You" (Featuring Jamie Lynn) – Yes, you are hearing the voice of Britney’s little sister. This song seems to be more about publicity and buzz than anything else. The guitar at the beginning and then all of a sudden finding yourself in a hip-hop video creates a bunch of confusion. It doesn’t quite makes sense, and it’s slightly boring. An easy beginning suddenly leads into a heavy, slow beat while Britney sings "When I’m with you I’m chillin’, I’m chillin’, I’m chill." the song bounces around several genres it seems, and not very well. It’s great that the sisters wanted to collaborate, but their duet could have been with a much more interesting song. This makes the listener want to press the "skip" button.

10. "Don’t Cry" – More Britney break up songs. The love is dead, and "we can’t go on any longer... We can’t go on when love is broken." Throw in a few sassy lines like, "Adios, I’m out the door," and you have a classic break-up song. The song doesn’t really stand out, and leaves the listener feeling neutral. The beat doesn’t go anywhere, and the lyrics are a little dated. In other words, everyone has heard this song a million times before from Britney.

11. "Brightest Morning Star" – "You’re my light when it gets dark, you’re always in my heart. You’re my brightest morning star." Cute lyrics, but again, the song stays on one level and doesn’t give the listener much to work with. If one is feeling sentimental and loving, then this song will only enhance that feeling. Either way, the song is simple and not very interesting.

12. "Hold On Tight" – Very slow and almost eerie sound intrigues the listener and keeps their attention for about half the song. However, the song fails to go much further than a slow, intense beat and loving words from Britney. "He comes to me in my dreams and tells me what I need to know ... I just want to fall into his arms tonight." Although it’s a nice message, the song is on a treadmill and unfortunately stays in one place.

13. "Now That I Found You" – A good end to the album. The song starts slow and builds up to the chorus and sticks to its ecstatic beat. It inspires a feeling of happiness and energy that puts a smile on the listener’s face. The background beat and synths make you want to move. "I have felt the love, I can see the truth, now that I’ve found you," sings Britney as the bass comes back for another round, sweeping the audience away for another dance session. This song is another great example of Britney’s excellent dance beats.

"Britney Jean" is an album that highlights dance beats and the power of love. Spears has created an album with powerful, energetic songs that you can’t help but get up and dance around to.

The songs that are less dance-oriented are good, but less sturdy and make less of an impression on the audience. It is clear that the dance beats are the main attraction, and less energy was put into the ballads. Not that this is a bad thing.

The dance songs balance out the less interesting songs and make for a good quality album. Spears should be proud of yet another successful album, but should still keep in mind that her slower songs are just as important as her fast-paced ones.

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