Why is our instant reaction to feel embarrassed if we happen to like a Britney Spears song? Why do we have to pretend that we don’t secretly dance around to Brit Brit’s oft-robotic vocals, rhyming off all of the lyrics to every single song she’s ever released? What is with the stigma with actually liking Britney Spears?
Ever since taking over the pop music scene in 1998, Britney has acted as a bottomless well of bonafide dance hits, ranging from the burned in your mind Baby One More Time to the more recent (and intense) Work Bitch. The music is produced to the nth degree – beats and loops and synths make every tune the perfect formula for the earworms that they eventually become. But why is it that everytime Toxic comes on the radio we tend to look at whoever is around us to gauge if its ok to sing along and point our obvious pleasure with the little piece of sonic gold? I just don’t get it. And I’ve thought about it…a lot.
In today’s world, music is presumably appraised for being innovative and new. Words like ‘fresh’ and ‘spin’ and ‘contemporary’ are used by magazines like Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly to describe freshly pressed music by established pop stars and up-and-comers alike. But, and rather interestingly, it is the staid, classical definitions of music that gain the most critical acclaim. Sure, Adele is an amazing vocalist, but where is the personality and uniqueness of her tunes? Rolling In The Deep could have been released in 1964 for all of its lack of ‘freshness’ and ‘contemporary’ sound.
The Grammy’s and other innocuous, irrelevant awards shows bestow honors upon those artists with safe sounds. They don’t reward a vocalist for being raw and edgy but rather keep on rewarding the Beyonce’s of the world because they embody the definition of a ‘true, talented’ singer. Remember when popular music wasn’t so frowned upon? Remember when ‘Pump Up the Jam’ was an unabashed party anthem? I do.
I don’t understand the hate-on for Ms. Spears, and maybe I never will. She (and her mammoth team, I’m sure) churn out hit after hit that everyone has on their iPhones but would never admit to. Is it because she doesn’t dance like she did when she was 16? Do you move the way you did when you were finishing high school?
I’m the guy at parties who willingly blares Britney because I think she’s fun. You can’t take yourself so seriously all of the time. Artistry is an objective term, and we can’t pigeon hole and label artists just because they don’t adhere or fit into the historically defined role of what a vocalist is deemed to be. Everyone just needs to give Britney a break. There are other more important things that you can focus on. Just like what you like and to heck with what everyone else thinks – that’s what Britney does.