Britney Jean was Spears' first album to not hit No. 1 or No. 2 on the Billboard 200 (it peaked at No. 4; insert sad/shocked emoji of your choice). Part of that soft landing was undoubtedly due to Britney's lack of promotional appearances, remaining out of the public eye for much of the release period. But in 2016, that doesn't seem to be a problem anymore. Her Las Vegas residency keeps pulling in rave word-of-mouth reviews, and her Instagram game is keeping her regularly in the news cycle. Plus, she's already done Kimmel, indicating she'll be making more of an effort surrounding the release of Glory. By and large, the public has warm feelings toward Britney -- everyone wants her to succeed. She should take the spotlight right now and revel in it.
What's Britney Spears' Best Album? Vote!
The Advertisements Should Be Better Hidden
"Perfume" had its defenders among diehards, but the second (and final) single from Britney Jean was D.O.A. for the pop world at large. And honestly, even as a Britney fan, it was hard to root for that one. It was a song called "Perfume" being used to sell her latest perfume. Sia gamely tried to imbue some meaning into the lyrics, but it ultimately came across as an ad stretched into a song.
So far, things are looking a bit better on Glory. "Private Show," the instant grat track with pre-orders (also available below), shares its name with her latest perfume. So yes, once again, Brit is using a song to sell us her product. But at least the song being used to shill perfume isn't directly talking about perfume, right?
Britney Needs to Take a Few Vocal Risks
Britney is no vocal powerhouse, but she has an interesting vocal tone that is actually a lot more malleable than detractors give her credit for. She can sell sensuality under many different guises, she can do heartbreak (although she can often overdo heartbreak, too), she can provide empowerment and she can soundtrack the dancefloor party like a sassy student of Madonna. Britney Jean may have been stylistically diverse, but vocally, she was in the same territory on most of the songs. "Work Bitch," the one song where she did take some risks via that hilarious faux British accent ("Go call the guv-uh-nah!"), was the album's clear standout. Hopefully Glory finds her playing around with her voice a bit and delivering something we haven't heard from her over and over.
Britney Spears Performs Hits-Filled Medley at Billboard Music Awards
Special Guests Must Be Chosen Carefully
Britney collaborations can be the stuff dreams are made of. Her intricately plotted Madonna duet "Me Against the Music" is still a shining moment in her career, and will.i.am's "Scream & Shout" gave her a fresh new sound to work with. But disaster can strike when Britney enters the studio with another artist and no original game plan. Spears & will's second collab "It Should Be Easy" seemed like an attempt to milk the same cow long after it went dry, and the notorious "Chillin' With You" sounded like the two Spears sisters showed up in the studio with the barest sketch of a song, recorded for 10 minutes and called it a day. So we're hoping that on Glory, Britney's collaborators are chosen carefully, and the resulting material is given a more critical ear.
Sexual Wordplay: More Coy, Less Contrived
It's a Britney album, so there's no doubt things will get #frisky -- the presence of an "explicit" version of Glory on iTunes (which should be titled Glory Hole, tbh) speaks to that. But sometimes Britney's late-night lyrics need to be re-read the next morning with a more sober mind. The phonetic joke of "If U Seek Amy" hasn't aged well (it was funny once, but after a few listens, it's just lame), nor has the inscrutable "3" lyric "1-2-3, Peter, Paul and Mary" (what do '60s folk singers have to do with a ménage a trois?). Sex was part of Britney's persona from day 1 (even before she was of age -- blame the label, not her), but there's a point where it goes from coy to contrived. Here's hoping she strikes the right balance (see: Femme Fatale) on Glory.