Surrounding the release of her ninth album “Glory,” there has been much speculation over whether 2016 will be the year of Britney Spears’ comeback. But Spears is doing what she has always done. Sitting at No. 3 on the Billboard charts last week, “Glory” features a few catchy pop singles and a polished, highly produced sound, which makes it disappointingly predictable in many ways.
“Glory” is more of what listeners have come to expect from the self-reinvented Spears. For millennials, this is the sound we grew up with and the princess of pop we idolized. Though she has aged and her music packs less of a radio-friendly punch, Spears has crossed the threshold of stardom into the category of legend. At this point in her career – and as a single mother of two in her mid-30s – Spears’ album raises the ultimate question: Can a much older pop star exude the same innocent sex appeal and still remain relevant, or are her attempts merely shouts into the void of her vanity, serving as a form of self-parody?
The titles of all the songs on “Glory” work in tandem with each other, attempting to tell a singular, cohesive story by compiling ideas from several different angles. The common thread throughout the album is the one we have come to expect: the kind of passion and love that Spears craves, but one that manages to remain elusive. This time around, however, she is not playing with words as she did on songs such as “If You Seek Amy” on her 2009 album “Circus.” Nor is she playing the innocent schoolgirl who skirts around direct professions of passion in favor of timeless, catchy lyrics such as “Oops!…I Did It Again.”
“Glory” shows that Spears has stripped away some of those teenage niceties and replaced them with bold, unapologetic statements of intent. The first two songs on the album, “Invitation” and “Make Me,” which features Bay Area rapper G-Eazy, see Spears dive into the core themes of the album itself. She is still the beautiful, endearing princess who danced into the new millennium, but has seemingly lost the pretense of coy beauty that made her so alluring. Brash and relentless, Spears knows what she wants and her audience does too. Nothing has changed there. The key difference now, and the core of what makes “Glory” so different, is her conscious pursuit of that goal. With lyrics like “Cut the s–t and be honest,” Spears shows the world that she is grown up and done fooling around.
The other songs on the album fall into a similar vein of maturity and naked honesty. “Just Luv Me” and “Do You Wanna Come Over” discuss exactly what their titles imply. While other songs like “Hard to Forget Ya” and “Just Like Me” address the pains and tribulations of love lost, Spears takes the same honest, almost indifferent approach to their subject matter. Even though she still struggles to move forward at this point in her life and career, she is done playing games.
With “Glory,” Spears unabashedly proves that her sex appeal has not waned or deteriorated, nor has her mode of expressing it. Rather, the subtler and consequently more significant change comes in her lyrics and the general tone of the album. For fans whohave stood by Spears through the years, “Glory” will come as an evolutionary relief, but for those who want the same kitschy teenager of the early 2000s, their only solace lies in the melodies, beats and broad themes. Her tone has changed even though her content has not, but as the title of the album suggests, the world of pop music will glorify Britney Spears regardless.
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