“I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” is not one of the five songs Britney Spears co-wrote for her upcoming record. It is the one she feels closest to, however.
“It’s really where I’m at right now and something I can really relate to,” Spears said of the sole ballad on Britney, due November 6.
The song, written by Dido and producers Max Martin and Rami, will be the second single from the album, following up “I’m a Slave 4 U,” the pop princess revealed Wednesday during a phone interview with reporters.
Spears said much of the material on her third record reflects who she is, which is why she named it Britney.
However, the song co-written by the person who may know her most intimately, boyfriend Justin Timberlake, is not about her.
“It’s talking about a girl in a relationship and the boy doesn’t understand what she’s going through,” Spears said of the tune produced and penned by ’NSYNC’s Timberlake and choreographer Wade Robson. “Before she opens up to him, he has to realize what she’s about.”
Likely influenced by electronic-music guru BT, who produced the ’NYSNC hit “Pop,” Timberlake made “What It’s Like to Be Me” a sonically explosive track, complete with human-beatbox solo (see “Britney Searches For Freedom, Autonomy And Nasty Boys” ).
BT recorded at least two tracks with Spears for the album, though they did not make the cut.
“I was really disappointed we weren’t able to use the tracks BT had done,” Spears said. “He’s a genius in whatever he does, but the type of music he ended up doing didn’t fit me and what I was going for. I think they will be on some of the stuff [released] overseas.”
Spears recorded 23 tracks for Britney, and choosing the 12 best for the album, she said, was the most, if not the only, difficult part of the recording process.
Writing, which Spears first attempted on “Diary” from last year’s Oops! … I Did It Again, came more easily to the singer this time, due partially to the assistance she received from writing team Josh and Ryan.
While Spears simply came up with the concepts they developed on some of the tracks, she wrote both melody and words for others.
“This is the first album I have every really written and taken my time on,” Spears said. “So when I actually listen to the whole album, it’s just that much more special. I don’t know if I’m the best songwriter in the world, but I had a lot of fun doing it and hopefully I will get better and grow.”
Spears obviously didn’t write “I Love Rock ’n Roll,” the Arrows song Joan Jett and the Blackhearts turned into a hit in 1981, but it was Spears’ idea to cover the song with R&B producer Rodney Jerkins.
The singer needed to sing a popular song for a karaoke scene in her upcoming movie debut, “Crossroads” (see “Britney Is That Innocent — In The Movies, At Least” ).
“I actually sing it all the time for karaoke, so it made sense,” Spears said while munching on potato chips. “I wanted Rodney to come in and redo the song. It’s a very girl-power song.”
Aside from Jerkins, who produced Spears’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction)” cover and other tracks on her prior album, Spears also worked with the Neptunes on Britney.
“I was inspired by a lot of hip-hop and R&B while I was on my last tour,” Spears said. “I was inspired by Jay-Z and the Neptunes. I told Jive I really wanted to work with [the Neptunes]. I wanted to make [Britney] nastier and funkier.”
The hip-hop duo produced “I’m a Slave 4 U” and “Boys.” Spears said the first song she recorded with them, though, was a ballad that will likely appear on her next album.
Britney’s “nastier” sound, which doesn’t exceed a few “damns,” prompted some critics to wonder if Spears may be outgrowing her audience.
“It’s not my intention to leave my young fans. I just want an older generation to pick up on it as well,” she responded. “I couldn’t do … Baby One More Time number three. I had to change it up and pray people think that’s cool.”
For a full-length Britney Spears interview, check out “Britney Spears: Pop Rocks!”