Britney Spears must have a list of male fantasies she's trying to run through in her music videos. Naughty schoolgirl, check ("... Baby One More Time"). Flight attendant, check ("Toxic"). And with her latest single, "Gimme More," she's a stripper. The question is, can the pop star still pull it off?
"It really makes you want to strip," Internet celebrity Chris Crocker, a.k.a. the "Leave Britney alone!" guy, said after viewing a sneak peek of a clip for the first single from Spears' November 13 album, which has been given the title Blackout. "I'm really tempted to give everyone in this room a lap dance."
Spears doesn't actually attempt lap dances in the "Gimme More" video — she's mostly dancing near a pole and stripping just a little, with a director's-cut version revealing nearly bare breasts with star-shaped pasties. Though Spears shows more focus than in her VMA performance, her efforts to reclaim sex-symbol status got mixed reviews from fans who got a sneak peek in Santa Monica, California.
"She's taking off her clothes, that's pretty much it," Jacqueline Tulian said. "It's not surprising."
"She wants to be a stripper?" Britney Silvera said. "I like that. Sean Preston's probably right over there in the corner watching: 'Yeah, that's my mama.' Did she just take her shirt off? Britney!"
"It's a great video for the kids," Christian Valencia said (we think sarcastically). "It's a how-to — how to strip."
"She's dancing topless," Soen Tgeratia said. "But it's too conservative. There's no power. Even this does not turn me on. That's it?"
Spears developed the concept for the video and handpicked a first-time director, Jake Sarfaty. But even then, there's not much concept to be had — a brunet Britney strips, a blond Britney watches. So fans wondered why the video for "Gimme More" wasn't more developed, even if they did rate it as being better than her VMA performance of the song.
"Britney, Britney, Britney," Tulian sighed.
"This is not one of those videos she did a lot for," Silvera observed. "They only shoot from one angle. Could they only do it in 10 minutes?"
More like two days.
Crocker, however, thinks the cheap look and simplicity are selling points. "She's proving you don't have to have a very intricate video to have a great video," he said. "It's very '80s. It's not much of a concept. She's just letting them know she's Britney Spears."
Is that enough? Even though the people polled by MTV News are fans, many of them expressed disappointment, calling the lip-syncing too obvious, the hair extensions too fake, the energy level too low.
"She's headed downhill," remarked Adrienne Ocariza.
"She totally screwed herself," Brandon Dickens said.
"This video is not helping," Darwin Ilac said. "She's trying to be sexy goth, but it's not working for her. Christina Aguilera already did this. Sorry, Britney!"
The verdict? They want more. Something, anything more. Crocker suggested the video would have been better had he made a cameo. Valencia wanted someone like T.I. or Lil Mama (who appear on remix versions) to pop up. "See, if she would have thrown T.I. in there, this video would have been much better, honestly," Valencia said. Still, he added, it doesn't matter, because the song is a bona fide hit. "You know what? She could do all this, and people are still going to buy her album. They're not going to drop her because she has a crappy video."
"I'm feeling it," Crocker said. "It's great, because it sends a good message out to teens that you don't have to be really thin to be sexy. It's slamming 'Umbrella' down the block. Watch out, Rihanna. You're not the new Britney anymore. Britney's back."
That may explain why even those who panned the clip asked us, "Can I watch it again?"