She's Back, Bitches

Britney Spears is a perennial favorite of the type that chases ambulances -- not for the potential lawsuits, but just to get a glimpse of the tragedy inside. On her new album, Circus, Spears begins -- finally -- to justify some of the idol worship that legions of gay fanboys have heaped upon her image.

BY David Michael Conner

November 30 2008 1:00 AM ET

Britney Spears is
a perennial favorite of the type that chases ambulances
-- not for the potential lawsuits, but just to get a
glimpse of the tragedy inside. Beginning with her
disgraceful public breakup with Justin Timberlake, the
world has watched Spears's career as she careens through
the Hollywood hills, frapp in one hand, cigarette in the
other, with K-Fed’s baby cooing away in her
lap, unshielded from imminent disaster. She is a
living legend: What starlet before her was so public about
her madness -- flashing her naughty bits for the paps,
shaving her head, losing custody of her children
before regaining visitation rights only to lose them
again -- and on and on.

But what is it
about the troubled star, who has openly spoken in favor of
George Bush, that makes her a darling of gays? Does she
thrive on self-perpetuated scandal alone, or is there
more to her iconic standing?

On her new album,
Circus, Spears begins -- finally -- to justify
some of the idol worship that legions of gay fanboys
have heaped upon her image.

Oops! She Made Good Music (Again)

Circus is a strong follow-up to her first
legitimate album. Released in 2007, that album -- named
Blackout as a bold and unironic statement during
the apex of her self-abusive phase -- collaged together
snippets of Spears’s robotic-sounding vocals
and pasted them over truly great dance tracks. The
Washington Post
named Blackout one of the
best albums of 2006. Circus may prove to be one of
the best of 2008. Certainly, it is the best of Britney
Spears to date.

What makes
Circus a standout is that it succeeds not in
spite of Spears’s weak vocals; contrary to all
reasonable expectations, the fractured starlet on this
album comes across as a rising, not falling, star.

The
album’s first single, “Womanizer,” is
typical Spears. Like “Toxic,” it cuts
and pastes Britney’s nasal performance into a track
so carefully frantic that you don’t think about
it -- you just move to it. It’s
inconsequential, just as you would expect of Britney -- or,
really, of most popular music singles that make it to
the radio.

But
there’s more to Circus. The title track,
which is placed second, really kicks off the album. On it,
Britney is the self-professed ringleader. “I
call the shots,” she sings. Yeah, right,
Britney. Sure you do.

Tags: Music

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