Britney Spears picked the perfect title for her latest endeavor. Her third album is Britney all the way.
Armed with a cavalry of topnotch producers and songwriters, Spears continues on her mission to set herself free and prove once and for all that she really is not that innocent. "I'm so fed up with people telling me what to do," she sings on "Overprotected," the album's second track.
Though the Neptunes gave her an adventurous tune with the first single, "I'm a Slave 4 U," the rest of the album lingers in the teen queen's comfort zone, edging intermittently into riskier territory.
Spears' collaborations with trance star/pop producer BT, who made 'NSYNC sound like the coolest group in the year 2010, did not make the record, though "What It's Like to Be Me," which was written and produced by 'NSYNC's Justin Timberlake and choreographer Wade Robson, is similarly experimental with electronics (see "Britney Was 'Nervous' Recording With Justin").
After Spears and Timberlake trade lines that expand out of Timberlake's opening question, "Do you even know what I like?," the song takes off to a splatter of sound effects over a pulsating beat. Later, "What It's Like to Be Me" breaks into a beat-boxing interlude layered with the couple's a cappella harmonizing.
After giving "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" an R&B feel on 2000's
Spears' version rides entirely on its infectious beat. She opts to belt out "I love rock 'n' roll 'cause it soothes the soul," during the guitar solo, while her "yeah me" parts are echoed by shouts not unlike those of a "TRL" crowd.
"I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman," written by Dido and producers Max Martin and Rami, is Britney's sole ballad, and instead of going the relationship route, Britney tackles the subject of feeling coddled. "There is no need to protect me," she sings at one point. The chorus repeats the song's title along with the line, "All I need is time, a moment that is mine."
Spears visits that same topic on several songs, especially (but not surprisingly) the Martin and Rami-produced "Overprotected." "What am I to do with my life?" she asks in the chorus. "How am I supposed to know what's right?/ I can't help the feeling/ But my life has been so overprotected."
She does change pace on "Boys," a funky number that finds Spears falling for a guy at a club. "I spotted you dancing/ You made all the girls stare," she sings. "Your lips and brown eyes/ And your sexy hair." The song, produced by the Neptunes, pays homage to Janet Jackson by putting effects on Spears' voice when she says, "Nasty boys."
Spears will support Britney, which features five songs co-written by the singer, on a fall tour that will kick off October 31 in Washington, D.C. (see "Britney's Illness Postpones Tour Kickoff").
For a feature interview with Britney Spears, check out "Britney Spears: Pop Rocks!"