Baby got (come)back

The past weekend heralded the international release of the most eagerly anticipated album of the year and what better day to post my review of it than the birthday of “our very own pop princess, now queen of pop” (Madonna gon’ be pissssssed about that one), Britney Spears.

(imagine the following being screamed in a Gerard Butler in “300” manner)

This

Is

CIRCUS!!!!!!!

circus-cover

Our lil Miss Spears had a lot to live up to with this album. Her highly successful last effort, “Blackout” (which spawned international hits including “Gimme More”, “Piece Of Me”, “Break The Ice” and non-single but heavily radio-rotated, “Radar”), left the public with high expectations for ‘the big comeback album’, as this was being heralded. Personally, I find it odd that this is being referred to as a comeback given BritBrit hadn’t released a studio album between 2003 and 2007 (not counting “B In The Mix: The Remixes” or “Greatest Hits: My Prerogative) and whilst she may not have gone on tour with Blackout a mere 13 months seperate the release date between that and “Circus”.

Anyway, here is my track by track summary of the album:

1.
Womanizer

Having first heard this track back at the end of September and with it currently standing 6th place on my Top 100 Most Played playlist on iTunes (relevant given I have over 13,000 tracks on my iTunes and it takes a lot to get into the T100), I still adore this track. Although it arguably sounds like a mash-up of her previous album’s tracks Radar and Ooh Ooh Baby, this marks Britney’s return to playful cheeky pop.

Rating: 10/10

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2.
Circus

The second single and easily one of Britney’s best music videos.  Kinda reminds me of Rihanna’s “Breaking Dishes”.

Rating: 10/10

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3.
Out From Under

Surprisingly enough this track is a cover version of a track that appeared on the Bratz soundtrack album with the original being sung by a girl who goes by the name of Joanna Pacitti.  Once this little tid bit had been announced I got downloading and found Joanna’s original rendition.  I gott say I prefer the original to the Britney rendition.  Produced by Guy Sigsworth (“Everytime”) it’s another track with the same generic signature sound effects.  The excessive beats in the background distract from the vocals unlike the original where the vocals are kept at a much higher level than the beats.  Shame given it is a really nice song and if the cover had stuck true to the original it could’ve turned out even better.

Rating: 8.5/10

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4.
Kill The Lights

The first track to leak from the album after “Womanizer” this could easily be named “Piece Of Me, Part 2”. Dealing with Britney’s ever turbulent realtionship with the paps she’s showing her claws and showing a fiercer, feistier side than in “Piece Of Me”. I gotta say the post-chorus (i.e. the “Pure, Satis, Faction” bit) reminds me so much of Madonna’s rap in “Vogue”. And any of you who heard the track “Mona Lisa” which was due to appear on the cancelled Britney album “The Original Doll” are bound to agree with me that the choir element in both songs bears a striking resemblance. Hopefully this’ll appear as a single after “Out From Under”.

Rating: 10/10

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5.
Shattered Glass

Bouncy bass line and dramatic moments. Glitchy voice effects and very “I’m over K-Fed” lyrics.  I don’t see this as a single release but I’d say some awesome remixes could be made of it.

Rating: 8/10

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6.
If U Seek Amy

Max Martin, you’ve done it again, old chap. Producer of such Britney classics as “…Baby One More Time”, “(You Drive Me) Crazy” (and the Stop! remix), “Overprotected”, “I’m Not A Girl Not Yet A Woman”, “Oops!… I Did It Again”, “Stronger” and “Lucky” as well as a string of others, he’s worked with B again to churn out one of the most memorable tracks on the album. Any guesses what the title might mean? Any confusion will be dispelled once you hear the chorus.

Rating: 10/10

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7.
Ununsual You

A personal fave.  Very reminiscent of the Junkie XL produced “And Then We Kiss” from B In The Mix – The Remixes.  Was actually quite surprised to discover that this wasn’t a JXL production but the work of old reliables, Bloodshy and Avant.

Rating: 10/10

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8.
Blur

This one sounds like a more sexualized sequel to In The Zone’s “Early Morning”.   Lyrically perhaps not Britney’s best move if she wants to maintain custody of the kids:

Can’t remember what I did last night,
Maybe I shouldn’t have given in,
But I just couldn’t fight.
Hope I didn’t but I think I might’ve,
Everything, everything is still a blur.

Rating: 7.5/10

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9.
Mmm Papi

[review coming soon]

Rating: 6/10

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10.
Mannequin

The track that caused a buzz on the internet when the dance rehearsal video was leaked online (rumoured at the time to be her 2008 VMA performance which never happened).  I’ll be honest it sounds good and if it doesn’t make the soundtrack of Step Up 3D (yes it’s actually happening) I’ll be surprised, but it sounded better in the rehearsal video.  The male voice in the background of the chorus going “eeeeeEEEEEEEE” gets very annoying.

Rating: 9/10

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11.
Lace and Leather

A twangy bass guitar drives some rather heavily vocoded lyrics in one of Britney’s funkiest songs to date. 

Rating: 10/10

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12.
My Baby

For God’s sakes Britney you’re not Justin Timberlake – singing that high does not work for you. The equally high-pitched pianos/guitars don’t help either. Yeah I get it it’s so nice you’re singing a song about your kids who you love so much but this is Hallmark-card manufactured in Disneyland and drowned in sugar sickeningly sweet.

Rating: 5/10

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13.
Radar
(Circus mix)

The appearance of this track on “Circus” is purely the result of a contractual obligation as the producers had been promised it would be released as a single from “Blackout”. The key’s been dropped to make Britney’s voice sound less digitised, the intro has been mildly modified and the instrumentation has been f’d around with to make the backing track sound very sloppy and almost of demo like quality. Even on the highest quality download I could find of this track it sounds very fuzzy. A definite disimprovement on the version that appeared on Blackout

Rating: 5/10

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14.
Rock Me In
(European & Deluxe Edition bonus track)

With production credits on this one going to Greg Kurstin (Kylie’s “Wow”, “No More Rain” and the fantastic remix of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” she performed on the X2008 tour) and Nicole Morier (of the band Electrocute and co-writer of the fantastic “Heaven On Earth” on Blackout), this one oozes with pop/rock juiciness. Vaguely reminiscent of Electrocute’s own track “On The Beat”, it’s hard not to head bop to the chorus when listening to this one. Easiest way to describe this one would be 60’s surf music with an ULTRA modern twist.

Rating: 9/10

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15.
Phonography
(European, Deluxe Edition & Britney.com bonus track)

Easily my favourite song on the album. Produced by my faves, Bloodshy & Avant, this track reminds me of the Kylie tracks “Cherry Bomb” and “Speakerphone” (unsurprisingly also produced by the aforementioned B&A). Disgrace that this isn’t included in every release of the album but due to potentially controversial lyrics I can’t see this having ever been a single. Rock out to it in my bedroom I shall.

Rating: 11/10

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16.
Trouble
(iTunes Pre-order bonus track)

When I heard that there was a bonus track called “Trouble” I got very excited. Thing is there’s reports all over the internet that Britney recorded a cover of Elvis Presely’s track, “Trouble”, which the public got to witness a glimpse of at the beginning of the Voldemort of Britney performances that is the VMAs 2007. Adding flame to the fire, shortly after that a studio edit of the live performance (i.e. a studio recording of the track arranged as the artist performs it live) leaked online. Thus when I saw that there was gonna be a track called “Trouble” on Circus I jumped to assumptions. Unfortunately this wasn’t the track I thought it was.

Back to the actual track though. Being the Bloodshy and Avant addict that I am I feel somewhat obligated to love this one but it’s lacking something. Took a few listens for it to grow on me. Sounds like a track Kylie would drop as a b-side. Good but never destined to be more than an album track or, in this case, a bonus.

Rating: 7/10

P.S. I also recommend the Trouble/Get Together Madonna and Britney mashup that just appeared online

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17.
Amnesia
(Japanese, UK & Britney.com bonus track)

My first reaction to this track was “Gwen Stefani much?”. Definitely not in a bad way though. Starts with a spooky echo effect before she cranks into an anthemic chorus with an 80’s-esque backing track. Brit’s video for “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” comes into my mind when I hear this track but I picture much more 80’s-ness. And Pat Benatar.

Rating: 8.5/10

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18.
Quicksand
(European iTunes bonus track)

The only track featuring Lady GaGa’s touch to make it to the album. Fingers crossed the other one will leak it’s way to the blogosphere some day. Not holding my breath for that one though. This track is a fairly different sound for Britney and while she touches on Lady GaGa’s style it’s not something I could imagine La GaGa ever singing.

Rating: 8.5/10

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19.
Rock Boy
(German bonus track)

Never thought I’d hear Danja produce such a rock heavy track but it works surprisingly well. It’s basically I Love Rock and Roll for the year 2008. 

Rating: 9/10

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Overall score:

85%

So it looks like Britney scraped an A-. She’s clearly been doing a lot of work recently in between all the shit that’s been going in her personal life. Is there anything we can learn from this? For one, this album is an indicator that she’s returning back to her roots. “Circus” once again proves Britney can take a stab at a variety of genres and come out successful, something we didn’t see in the dance-dominated “Blackout”. Whilst perhaps not her greatest album to date it is definitely a sign of great things to come.

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And it’s over to you now. Personal opinion as to the best track on Circus?

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She’s back, bitch

Jump forward to 2 minutes and ignore Tim Cash embarrassing himself with Paris and Benjy

She may have messed up the word anniversary but I still love her

The betch is back

Good news! Phoebe Muckian is home!!

The Queen of Style

The Queen of Style

To celebrate the return of our good Ms. Muckian to green soil, I have made a mixtape.
Entitled “wtf bbz ur sxc” it’s an eclectic mix of tunes that ‘Andrew’ would burn onto a CD to give to Phoebe for Valentine’s Day.
The tracklisting is:
1. The Black Ghosts – Face (Switch Remix)
2. Kidcobra – Daft Punk Is Playing At My Divine Gosa
3. Basement Jaxx – I’m From New York feat. Cyndi Lauper
4. Cut Copy – Hearts On Fire (Midnight Juggernauts Remix)
5. Lady GaGa – Just Dance feat. Colby O’Donis and Akon
6. Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band – A Fifth of Beethoven (Hidden Cat’s “Based on the Soulwax” Edit)
7. Interjekt – RainSlow Man
8. Titus Jones – Break The Teen Spirit
9. The Black Ghosts – Any Way You Choose To Give It (Fake Blood mix)
10. Lismore – More
11. Frankmusik – Confusion Girl
12. Theatre of Disco – YOA (The Twelves Remix)
13. Justice – DVNO
14. Daft Punk – Human After All (SebastiAn Remix)
15. Daft Punk – Aerodynamic (Johnatron Remix)
16. Chromeo – Bonafied Lovin’ (Tough Guys)

Download after the jump

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Titus Jones mash-ups

Came across this guy called Titus Jones’ mash-up website. He’s the guy who did Gimme More Shoes (Britney Spears vs. Kelly):

I’m really liking Promiscu-Ice (Nelly Furtado vs. Britney Spears):

Kiss Britney’s Boyfriend (Ashlee Simpson vs. Britney Spears vs. Chris Brown vs. Missy Elliott vs. Ciara vs. T-Pain vs. Flo Rida) is also pretty fencely:

And Freak-A-licious (Fergie vs. Britney Spears):

Anyway I recommend checking out his site at http://www.titusjones.com/ where his tracks are available for download as well as a load of fetch videos for the tracks