Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

“Dirty talk and call it stegano­­graphy”

Watch: Britney Spears – Circus

I like to imagine that Britney’s new video came about when Britney, in a room high up in Spears Towers, complained to her team: “Christina had an elephant in her video! I want an elephant. No, I want two elephants!” And so, they wheeled out the rather tired celebrity/circus analogy, in an attempt to justify the elephants (which, really, ought to be their own justification). The tired conceptual architecture is an example of the general blahness of the album identified by Steven Shaviro;at least Britney kind of gets round to thematizing this timidity in rather gorgeous bonus track “Trouble.” I like Britney’s songs most of all when they involve a carefully constructed simulacrum of psychology (hence why “Lucky” is still my favorite of her records). There’s unfortunately little of that on this album, although “Shattered Glass” is a nice exercise in projection (accompanied by a bass line that sounds a bit like “Living on a Prayer”). The track that’s probably attracting the most attention is “If You Seek Amy.” I have to say I find the “OMG she said fuck” coyness of the track kind of distasteful; I guess that’s the virgin/whore dichotomy for you, but really, Britney’s a 27-year-old woman with two kids, she doesn’t need to pretend she’s still 16. Max Martin apparently thinks it’s the best track he’s ever done, though I really think he’s done better stuff than biting seven-year-old Outkast beats (the video for which, I’d forgotten, also includes an elephant).

The rest of the action’s in the bonus tracks. “Phonography” is pretty good, although unfortunately it doesn’t actually contain the line I’ve used as the title of this post. I guess cryptanalysts aren’t exactly a target audience for Britney. Another line I assume I must have misheard is “I go to seder in my fantasies, like everyday” in “Amnesia.” Although  maybe the Kaballah Centre celebrates Passover?