Is Britney Spears on the way out?

It’s tough to imagine a world without Britney Spears. Who would write the songs that make the whole world sing (well, she doesn’t really write her own material, but just bear with me for a moment)? Who would take off all her clothes at the MTV Video Awards? The other day I was perusing several fine porn sites on the web (all in the interest of journalism, I assure you) when I came across a fascinating video of some nasty porno Britney look-alike. The video was billed, of course, as a rare sex tape starring Britney herself. Music, TV, magazines, advertisement, even pornography – Britney is everywhere. She has sold over 40 million albums worldwide and unlike her teen pop counterparts NSYNC and Christina Aguilera, who are only big stars in America, she cannot go anywhere in the world without getting mobbed.

When Ms. Spears hit the big-time some three years ago with “Hit Me, Baby, One More Time,” I thought that she was going to be one of those classic flash-in-the-pan pop stars, that in ten years we’d be watching her mop the floor at a White Castle on VH1’s “Where Are They Now?” But, like her boobs, Britney just kept getting bigger. And yes, her music is by and large horrible Euro-dance cum urban R&B rip-offs with stupid words, but she has great producers. I imagine that somewhere there’s a smoky room full of overweight, balding, middle-aged men churning out all of Britney’s hit songs. “Stronger,” “Crazy,” “Oops! I Did it Again,” “Lucky” – these are very well-written, catchy pop songs, whether you like them or not. As long as Britney’s singles are catchy and danceable, there’s no reason she couldn’t dominate the pop charts for a while.

The problem is that, unlike her hero Madonna, who has consistently altered her image and music throughout her career, Britney’s got one flavor: the innocent-but-not-that innocent girly fluff act. And it’s getting old. I mean, you can only harp on the old virgin-whore thing for so long. I get the feeling that the world’s erection for Britney Spears is slowly subsiding right now. So it comes as no surprise that her new album, cleverly entitled Britney, goes more for the whore than the virgin.

It is an album of change, as we see Britney coming to terms with her burgeoning womanhood on tracks like “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.” It is an album of sexual exploration, best exemplified on the album’s first and god-awful single, “I’m a Slave 4 U” in which Ms. Spears coos “I really wanna dance tonight with you / I really wanna do what you want me to.”

It is an album, above all, of little use, other than for torturing farm animals. It is one of the worst albums I have ever heard. I couldn’t even listen to the whole thing.

It’s not surprising, then, that Britney had more control of the new album than usual. She co-wrote five songs on the album, and all of them suck. The remaining seven songs are pretty bad too. The one exception is “Anticipating,” which combines a bouncy, disco-like drum track with a catchy verse melody and an even catchier chorus. Now, I don’t like to listen to Britney’s music, although I do want to sniff her sports bra. But I found myself singing along to “Anticipating” and bobbing my head like a fool. This song is gold, and if Britney’s record company has any brains at all, “Anticipating” will be her next single. They’ll make a million bucks. Other than that, the album is just terrible. There’s a cover of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” which: (a) sucks and (b) doesn’t make sense, cuz she don’t sing da rock ’n’ roll. “Boys” is easily the worst song on the album, perhaps the worst song in the history of recorded music. During the chorus, Britney giggles and moans and whispers “I get nasty!” over and over. It’s kind of sexy, until you realize how stupid it is. It’s a song about dancing with boys. In fact, six of the twelve songs on the album are about dancing with boys. Of the other six, three are about how she doesn’t need boys because she’s a strong, modern woman, and she’ll be strong and her heart won’t break, and three are about how no one knows what it’s like to be a teen pop princess and that she wants to tell us what she really feels. A lot of variation, huh?

I don’t think the record company will let Britney Spears write a song ever again. Look at this verse from “Bombastic Love”:

And I, I’m here to testify

That you’re the only one I belong to

I don’t know where to start

It turns into an art

Not to show the world that it was you

You made me realize

Not to compromise

The fact that you and I should meet

Move over Shakespeare, Britney Spears, master wordsmith is in town! Good God! Where did she learn to speak English? This may be the greatest abuse of the language in recent history. Wow.

Pop music is all about here today, gone tomorrow. Britney is extremely lucky still to be around and selling albums, although I think that it owes more to her boobaliciousness than any molecule of musical talent she may have. But Britney is so bad that I think it will be tough for a lot of people to stomach. All the songs sound the same, except for “Anticipating,” and none are as catchy as, say “Stronger.” Ms. Spears’ reign of the pop charts may come to an end shortly. Well, there’s always a career in porn…