10 Years Of 'Blackout': How Britney Spears Reinvented Pop Music Against All Odds

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And for those aware of the context who may have pressed play expecting a collection of unfinished demos or worse, she shut them up in the first second of the album with three iconic words: “It’s Britney, bitch.”

Without any guidelines or pressure for a radio-made hit from management, Britney runs freely along the pulsating, futuristic productions of Danja and electro-pop duo Bloodshy & Avant, who had produced ‘Toxic’ four years prior.

Fully embracing the electronic sound she had flirted with previously on songs like ‘Over To You Now’ and ‘Girls and Boys’, she created a subgenre of her own with the unique incorporations of R&B, heavy synths and what can only be described as grimy dance music.

The hot and heavy tone of the record is so palpable it’s as though the music’s physical manifestation is the brick wall of an underground club: hidden in the dark, moist of strangers’ sweat, and vibrating from the speakers.

To say 2007 was a difficult time for Britney Spears would be a severe understatement. After leaving her husband at the end of 2006, she briefly became Hollywood’s new party girl before her life hit total chaos in plain view of the world.

A divorce, custody battles, rehab, firing her career-long manager, another go at rehab, giving her own mother a restraining order; a lot went on along with shaving her head, so forget about that meme.

Increasingly isolated and wildly unpredictable is by no means a healthy combination, however in retrospect it’s the combination that lead Britney Spears to make the best album of her career, Blackout.

View the lyrics

It’s Britney, bitch

(I see you)
(And I just want to dance with you)
Every time they turn the lights down
Just want to go that extra mile for you

You public display of affection
Feels like no one else in the room (But you)
We can get down like there’s no one around
We’ll keep on rockin’ (We’ll keep on rockin’)
We’ll keep on rockin’ (Keep on rockin’)
Cameras are flashin’ while we’re dirty dancin’
They keep watching (They keep watching)

Keep watching
Feels like the crowd is saying
Gimme, Gimme more
Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme more
Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme more
Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme more

Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More
A center of attention (Can you feel them?)
Even when we’re up against the wall
You’ve got me in a crazy position (Yeah)

If you’re on a mission (Uh-uh)
You got my permission (Oh)
We can get down like there’s no one around
We’ll keep on rockin’ (Keep on rockin’)
We’ll keep on rockin’, rockin’ (Oh ah ha)
Cameras are flashin’ while we’re dirty dancin’

They keep watching (They keep watching)

Keep watching
Feel’s like the crowd is saying
Gimme, Gimme more
Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme more
Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme more
Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme more

Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More
(I just can’t control myself)
(Woah!)

(Do you want more?)

(Well We’ll Give ’em More)
(Ow)
Gimme, Gimme more
Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More (Gimme more)
Gimme, Gimme more
Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More (Oh woah oh!)
Gimme, Gimme more
Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme more (Gimme more, yeah)

Gimme, More
Gimme, Gimme, More
Give me more, give me more

Give me more, give me more babe (Danger, danger, danger)
I just want more!
Gimme, Gimme
Gimme
Gimme, Gimme
Gimme, Gimme
Gimme
Gimme, Gimme
Gimme, Gimme
Gimme
Gimme, Gimme
Gimme, Gimme
Gimme
Gimme, Gimme
Bet you didn’t see this one comin
The incredible ligo
The legendary Ms. Britney Spears
And the unstoppable danger
You’re gonna have to remove me
Cause I ain’t goin nowhere

Writer(s): Keri Hilson, James Washington, Marcella Araica, Floyd Hills
Lyrics powered by www.musixmatch.com

An escapist album of relentless bangers tailored for the dance floor, the Princess of Pop deafened the noise of camera flashes and news reporters with 808s and throbbing club anthems about two seemingly simple joys in life: love and sex. Lots of sex.

“I’m tired of singing sad songs,” she confesses on the album closer ‘Why Should I Be Sad’, the most low-key track of the bunch and one of only two to directly address events in her personal life.

This solemn declaration comes after 11 songs that wouldn’t ever be characterised as sad. Characterised by her strength, cockiness, sex appeal, romance, sex drive and resilience, any listener unaware of the context would listen to these songs wishing to emulate the confident bad-ass behind the mic.

Getty Images

And for those aware of the context who may have pressed play expecting a collection of unfinished demos or worse, she shut them up in the first second of the album with three iconic words: “It’s Britney, bitch.”

Without any guidelines or pressure for a radio-made hit from management, Britney runs freely along the pulsating, futuristic productions of Danja and electro-pop duo Bloodshy & Avant, who had produced ‘Toxic’ four years prior.

Fully embracing the electronic sound she had flirted with previously on songs like ‘Over To You Now’ and ‘Girls and Boys’, she created a subgenre of her own with the unique incorporations of R&B, heavy synths and what can only be described as grimy dance music.

The hot and heavy tone of the record is so palpable it’s as though the music’s physical manifestation is the brick wall of an underground club: hidden in the dark, moist of strangers’ sweat, and vibrating from the speakers.

Britney Spears performs at the 2007 MTV VMAs

Getty Images

While many songs are unabashedly sexual (hello, ‘Get Naked (I Got A Plan)’), the sensuality lies in Britney’s incredibly versatile vocal performances and delivery.

Utilising the full range of her voice – the highs, the lows and the downright weird – the superstar was able to experiment with her voice more than ever before, both naturally and innovatively with the help of tech.

After being told early in her career to downplay the Southern soulful tones of her voice in favour for a more through-the-nose pop-friendly sound, the public had been accustomed to her somewhat limited abilities. However, on Blackout there was no limitations as far as what she would do vocally or sonically and this adventurous spirit in the studio birthed an energy so fierce that the music hits just as hard today.

AutoTune and vocal processing really hit the mainstream when Cher released her number one single ‘Believe’ in the late ‘90s, although it was mainly used for pitch correction rather than a way to manipulate the voice.

View the lyrics

I’m Miss American Dream since I was 17
Don’t matter if I step on the scene or sneak away to the Philippines
They still gon’ put pictures of my derrière in the magazine
You want a piece of me? You want a piece of me?

I’m Miss Bad Media Karma
Another day, another drama
Guess I can’t see the harm in working and being a mama
And with a kid on my arm I’m still an exceptional earner
You want a piece of me?

I’m Mrs. Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. Oh My God, That Britney’s Shameless! (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. Extra, Extra, This Just In (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. She’s Too Big, Now She’s Too Thin (You want a piece of me?)

(Uh! Oh yeah)
(Uh! Oh yeah)

I’m Mrs. You Wanna Piece Of Me?
Tryin’ and pissin’ me off
Well, get in line with the paparazzi
Who’s flippin’ me off?
Hoping I’ll resort to some havoc, end up settlin’ in court
Now, are you sure you want a piece of me? (You want a piece of me?)

I’m Mrs. Most Likely To Get On The TV For Strippin’ On The Streets
When gettin’ the groceries, no, for real, are you kiddin’ me?
No wonder there’s panic in the industry, I mean, please
Do you want a piece of me?

I’m Mrs. Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. Oh My God, That Britney’s Shameless! (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. Extra, Extra, This Just In (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. She’s Too Big, Now She’s Too Thin (You want a piece of me?)

(Uh! Oh yeah)
(Uh! Oh yeah)

I’m Miss American Dream since I was 17
Don’t matter if I step on the scene or sneak away to the Philippines
They still gon’ put pictures of my derrière in the magazine
You want a piece of me? You want a piece, piece of me?
(Oh yeah)
You want a piece of me?

I’m Mrs. Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. Oh My God, That Britney’s Shameless! (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. Extra, Extra, This Just In (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. She’s Too Big, Now She’s Too Thin (You want a piece of me?)

I’m Mrs. Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. Oh My God, That Britney’s Shameless! (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. Extra, Extra, This Just In (You want a piece of me?)
I’m Mrs. She’s Too Big, Now She’s Too Thin (You want a piece of me?) Piece of me

(Oh yeah)
You want a piece of me, me?
(Oh yeah)
(Oh yeah)

Writer(s): Pontus Johan Winnberg, Christian Lars Karlsson, Klas Frans Ahlund
Lyrics powered by www.musixmatch.com

Britney pushed the limits of processing all across this game-changing in ways like pop had never heard before. From the helium heights of ‘Radar’ to full-blown distortion on ‘Freakshow’, we were introduced to new versions of the pop’s most distinctive voice ranging from robotic to totally unrecognisable.

The level of vocal manipulation quite literally reinvented the way vocals are treated in pop music and further to make great songs even better without relying on the help of others. Blackout being a one-woman show in this respect is a testament to her dedication, independence and drive during the making of the album. She wanted to create her own world and she wanted to do it herself.

Back in 2007 these claims would have been scoffed at, with the digitalisation dismissed as nothing more than a way to compensate for a lack of commitment or talent on her end, when in fact she was totally in charge.

Both the public and critics alike were quick to bash it at the time yet ten years later it’s almost expected from songs, whether it’s by rappers like Future and Lil Uzi Vert or virtually any pop singer in the industry.

Britney Spears promo shot, 2013

Getty Images

This album’s influence – the heavy R&B, grimy electronica, limitless vocal treatment – was plastered over the radio almost immediately with the emergence of Lady Gaga and Ke$ha, as she was then. The latter’s music would likely have been very different had Blackout never been released and the success of songs like ‘Poker Face’ is certainly questionable.

Even now it can still be heard, like with Taylor Swift’s latest reinvention that’s soundtracked to a very bass-heavy brand of ‘dark pop’, as Blackout legend Danja recently noted.

View the lyrics

It’s been a while
I know I shouldn’t have kept you waiting
But I’m here now

I know it’s been a while but I’m glad you came
And I’ve been thinking ’bout how you said my name
You got my body spinning like a hurricane
And it feels like you got me going insane
And I can’t get enough, so let me get it up

Ooh, looks like we’re alone now
You ain’t gotta be scared, we’re grown now
I’ma hit defrost on ya, let’s get it blazing
We can turn the heat up if you wanna
Turn the lights down low if you wanna
Just wanna move ya, but you’re froze up
That’s what I’m saying

Let me break the ice
Allow me to get you right
Let you warm up to me
Baby, I can make you feel (hot, hot, hot, hot)
Let me break the ice
Allow me to get you right
Let you warm up to me
Baby, I can make you feel (hot, hot, hot, hot)

So are you warming up yet?

You got me hypnotized, I never felt this way
You got my heart beating like an 808
Can you rise to the occasion?
I’m patiently waiting ’cause it’s getting late
And I can’t get enough, so let me get it up

Ooh, looks like we’re alone now
You ain’t gotta be scared, we’re grown now
I’ma hit defrost on ya, let’s get it blazing
We can turn the heat up if you wanna
Turn the lights down low if you wanna
Just wanna move ya, but you’re froze up
That’s what I’m saying

Let me break the ice
Allow me to get you right
Let you warm up to me
Baby, I can make you feel (hot, hot, hot, hot)
Let me break the ice
Allow me to get you right
Let you warm up to me
Baby, I can make you feel (hot, hot, hot, hot)

I like this part, hoo
It feels kinda good
Yeah

Let me break the ice
Allow me to get you right
Let you warm up to me
Oh, baby, I can make you feel (hot, hot, hot, hot)
Let me break the ice
Allow me to get you right
Let you warm up to me, yeah
Baby, I can make you feel (hot, hot, hot, hot)
Hot
Let me break the ice
Allow me to get you right
Let you warm up to me
Baby, I can make you feel (hot, hot, hot, hot)
Let me break the ice
Allow me to get you right
Let you warm up to me
Baby, I can make you feel
Hot, hot, hot, hot

Writer(s): James David Washington, Marcella Araica, Floyd Nathaniel Hills, Keri Lynn Hilson
Lyrics powered by www.musixmatch.com

The album’s most tender moment comes with the gorgeous centrepiece ‘Heaven On Earth’. Britney finds serenity on the supersonic disco track reminiscent of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ as she blissfully sings about the depths of true – or blind – love.

Sandwiched between two bangers about banging, it’s a sweet fantasy that exposes the hopeless romantic in her that longs for the rush of love as well as lust.

Where Madonna’s Confessions On A Dance Floor was designed to play as one hour-long DJ set that became more personal as it went on, Blackout was very simply created with no other intention than to let Britney escape.

In turn, we have a much more intimate album than one that would’ve laid her woes on the table and we are lucky to have been able to use her utopia as our own escape for the past ten years.

At a time when Miss American Dream seemed to be at her worst, she only proved to us that she’s the best.

Words: Ross McNeilage

Listen to your favourite tracks no matter where you are with the MTV TRAX music app. No ads, no limits, no monkey business. Download it now for FREE at mtvtrax.com.

WATCH BRITNEY SPEARS’ ‘RADAR’ VIDEO BELOW

View the lyrics

Confidence is a must
Cockiness is a plus
Edginess is a rush
Edges I like ’em rough
A man with a Midas touch
Intoxicate me
I’m a lush
Stop you’re making me blush
People are looking at us

I don’t think you know (Know)
I’m checking you
So hot, so hot
Wonder if you know
You’re on my radar (On my radar)
On my radar (On my radar)
And yep I notice you
I know it’s you
Choose it, you don’t wanna lose it
You’re my radar (On my radar)
On my radar (On my radar)

And when you walk (When you walk)
And when you talk (When you talk)
I get the tingle
I wanna mingle
That’s what I want (That’s what I want)

Hey listen baby
Turn up the fader
Tryna to make you understand
You’re on my radar (On my radar)
On my radar (On my radar)

On my radar
Got you on my radar
Got you on my radar
Got you on my radar

Interesting sense of style
Ten million dollar smile
Think I can handle that
Animal in the sack
His eyes see right to my soul
I surrender self-control
Catch me looking again
Falling right into my plan

I don’t think you know (Know)
I’m checking you
So hot, so hot
Wonder if you know
You’re on my radar (On my radar)
On my radar (On my radar)
And yep I notice you
I know it’s you
Choose it, you don’t wanna lose it
You’re my radar (On my radar)
On my radar (On my radar)

And when you walk (When you walk)
And when you talk (When you talk)
I get the tingle
I wanna mingle
That’s what I want (That’s what I want)

Hey listen baby
Turn up the fader
Tryna to make you understand
You’re on my radar (On my radar)
On my radar (On my radar)

On my radar
Got you on my radar
Got you on my radar
Got you on my radar
On my radar
Got you on my radar
Got you on my radar
Got you on my radar

I got my eye on you
And I can’t let you get away

Hey baby
Whether it’s now or later
I’ve got you
You can’t shake me
Cause I got you on my radar
Whether you like it or not
It ain’t gonna stop
Cause I got you on my radar (I got you)
Cause I got you on my radar

I’m checking you
So hot, so hot
Wonder if you know
You’re on my radar (On my radar)
On my radar (On my radar)
And yep I notice you
I know it’s you
Choose it, you don’t wanna lose it
You’re my radar (On my radar)
On my radar (On my radar)

And when you walk (When you walk)
And when you talk (When you talk)
I get the tingle
I wanna mingle
That’s what I want (That’s what I want)

Hey listen baby
Turn up the fader
Tryna to make you understand
You’re on my radar (On my radar)
On my radar (On my radar)

On my radar
Got you on my radar
Got you on my radar
Got you on my radar
On my radar
Got you on my radar
Got you on my radar
Got you on my radar
Ta-ta-ta-ta-ta

Writer(s): Patrick Smith, Ezekiel L. Lewis, Candice Nelson, Christian Lars Karlsson, Henrik Jonback, Bale’wa Muhammad, Pontus Winnberg
Lyrics powered by www.musixmatch.com

Source:: MTV – News