In Defense of Britney Spears

by Kara Perez, Contributing Writer

Let’s be real: everyone grew up with a deep love for the original princess of pop, Britney Spears. When she hit the music scene at the tender age of 16, she was the virginal wunderkid of the teen music world. “… Baby One More Time” hit the shelves in Jan. 1999 and featured 5 singles. When “Oops! I Did it Again” was released the following year, Britney was an established star and recording powerhouse. The early years of Britney Spears were awesome, and everyone knows it.

What not everyone seems to rec¬ognize is that Britney Spears continues to be awesome. Her recent albums have quality pop songs on them, which have been overshadowed by the drama in her personal life. The entire world knows that Britney lost her shit in 2007. We were privy to intimate details of her life as the paparazzi pursued her relentlessly, pictures of her shaved head and her at¬tacking a photographer’s car with an um¬brella were all over the magazines and the internet, and she now holds the Guinness World Records for ‘Most Searched Person’ on the Internet for 2007 and 2009. The world is fascinated by Britney Spears. For many people, including those closest to her, she is a cash cow and noth¬ing more. Very few people care to get to know who Britney Spears is. Luckily, her music has been showing us glimpses of her personality over the years.

“I’m Mrs. Lifestyles of the rich and famous/ you want a piece of me/ I’m Mrs. Oh my god that Britney shameless/ you want a piece of me” sings Britney on her 2007 album “Blackout.” Britney reacts to her tumultuous relationship with the media on the album, telling her side of the story. “Gimme More” is another song that references the never-ending media scrutiny in her life. Her personal songs have taken on the media, shared her love for her two sons and showed fans a softer side. “Womanizer,” from her most recent album “Circus” is a track that Britney called an anthem for girls.

“Blackout” was written and record¬ed during her year of intense personal struggle, and was called by Allmusic.com “coherent and entertaining” and rated 3.5 out of 5 stars. Rolling Stone also rated the album 3.5 out of 5 stars. The album deserves high praise and so does Britney herself, since she served as executive pro¬ducer on the album.

Her playful side comes out on “Circus.” The track “If U Seek Amy” caused controversy for the double en¬tendre name. Critics have compared the album with “Blackout” for featuring confrontational lyrics and taking inspira¬tion from dance, electro-pop, and rock genres. She has also been hard at work writing songs for her albums since “…Baby One more Time.” On her third al¬bum “Britney,” she wrote five tracks and on her fourth, “In The Zone,” she wrote eight of the 12 songs.

Britney has impressive statistics that most people don’t seem to know or care about. She is the youngest female artist in the history of the music business to have her first five studio albums debut at number one. She has sold over 83 million records worldwide.
She was named the second-best selling act of the 2000s by Billboard Magazine and was also ranked the 8th overall best act of the decade. These de¬cisions were made based on album sales, chart success, and “cultural relativity.” Britney was the fifth best selling artist of the past decade and the top selling female artist. Time after time, Britney has served up the results of her hard work.

Often derided for lip-synching in concert, people often forget that many artists have faced the same accusation. Musicians like Beyoncé and Madonna have both also been called out for lip-synching at concerts. In today’s auto-tune laden music industry, stars feel pressure to sing flawlessly in concert while also performing intricate dances on larger than life sets and in outrageous costumes. Pink dangled herself from the ceiling at the VMA’s this year, for God’s sake. These aren’t simply singers, but performers, ex¬pected to keep the crowd entertained with bigger and better extravaganzas and to deliver absolutely perfect vocals.

You can call Britney crazy. You can compare her vocals to her long-time competitor Christina Aguilera. You can criticize her outfits, her driving habits, or her tattoos. What you cannot con¬test is that the world loves Britney. She is America’s first and foremost Princess of Pop. Despite being hounded by the pa¬parazzi, despite having marital problems, and despite constant criticism of her tal¬ent and performances, she has remained on top of a fickle and hard-hearted indus¬try for over a decade. It all boils down to one simple truth: “It’s Britney, bitch.”

  • nico

    this is the truth!great article for the pop pincess!2 thumbs up!

  • Alex from the Philippines

    Wow...very well said....

  • Maria from Greece

    great article!!!

    i totally agree with everything you said!!!

    people don't know all these about Britney..they only wanna see her as an untalented bitch!!BUT the truth is that she is the Princess of Pop and she is just getting started!!!

  • Mohammad

    Woooww amazingg!
    nicely well done said!

    britney spears is always gonna be in my heart and known as the beloved princess of pop not for america but for the WORLD!

  • katie

    Lady Gaga sings live...I wouldn't pay to see Madonna or Beyonce lip synch either. Britney can't sing well but she can shake her ass and she's got great people around her (writing music, keeping her from acting out, etc.). Got nothing against her or the music others write for her, but let's not pretend she isn't dumber than a stick. I don't want to trash her, but I can't stand when people ignore her shortcomings.

  • Eugene

    Get real. Britney doesn't sing live now (if she ever did), and doesn't really dance much any more (although she used to put on some pretty energetic performances in the past). Her recordings (particularly her most recent two albums) are primarily the work of producers and engineers, with the vocals the least impressive part of them. The only outstanding asset Britney ever had was her jailbait good looks when she first appeared, which were probably responsible for 98% of her success in the market. Her previous handlers recognized this, and sold her based on that for all she was worth, as shown in her just short of pornographic videos and live performances. But she doesn’t look like that anymore (barring photoshop), and her recent live shows verge on the robotic.

    In summation – a pop star that can't (or at least won't) sing live, can't/won't dance much, doesn't write much of her own material, and who looks far older than her years. (This doesn’t even consider her huge and ongoing range of personal issues). And yet, she's undeniably an outstandingly successful performer (what else do you call an "artist" that doesn’t actually do anything?), as her recent album sales and tour revenues show. What is it that her fans are getting from her performances? (It’s a mystery to me).

    Perhaps Britney is the first truly post-modern pop star. Well- marketed pop stars have never actually needed musical ability, and now Britney has shown that they don't need to be able to do anything else either. All they have to do is tour, and show up on stage, and their fans will buy all the tickets, come out to the show, and have a great time. Britney’s ongoing success does show brilliance, but it’s brilliance on the part of the people that handle, package and market her. Never has so little been sold to so many for so much...

  • Michelle

    the person who wrote that is correct 100% Britney is the Princess of Pop! fuck all haters who are mad that she's still on top! Britney Spears forever!

  • laura

    whoever wrote this I love you
    and I agree with you.

  • ron from nyc

    The hyper-produced, auto-tuned pablum that passes for music contemporarily has cheapened the artform to the point that a no-talent like britney spears can be considered its queen. when talent is no longer a pre-requisite to holding a tune, when anyone can be filtered through a computer and come out sounding ok, the need for actual musical talent no longer applies. what we are left with is the likes of spears, who is fine to look at, but can't sing her way out of a paper bag.

    Janis Joplin, as brilliant and soulful as her voice was, could never get a recording contract today, because any producer can get any new pop-tart to sound good. What they market - what seels concert tickets and downloads - is the look. You guys care about britney cuz she's hot and not a little crazy. Would you really go to her concerts or buy her downloads if she looked like Aretha Franklin? Nope.

    As far as her actual musical talent goes, most of the musicians I see on the subway every morning have more than britney.

  • Anonymous

    I completely agree with agree with your argument. But I think it's important to note that she didn't write "Piece of Me." She isn't even listed as one of the contributing writers, so it's not entirely accurate that *she* was reacting to anything. Alhough she did agree to sing it...

  • Jo from Philly

    This was a nice read. Britney is a POP star, an entertainer, a show girl--not a rock n roll musician, not Beethoven or Celine Dion.

    Britney excels at what she does. She's basically the King of Pop...yes, I know MJ is the original and Madonna is the Queen...

  • Jojo

    I see the some of the haters are already here and like always they don't know what they're talking about. If Britney's success was based on purely on looks and marketing than how come the wave of Britney clones that the record labels created were never able to duplicate her success? Britney just finished the 5th biggest female tour ever while Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, etc. stopped having a career ages ago.

    Britney has talent and plenty of it. First of all, she has been winning TALENT contests since she was a little girl. She was on broadway in New York, Star Search, and of course the Mickey Mouse club. Obviously she you need talent for these things.

    Are there people more talented than Britney musically? Sure, but there are 6 billion people in this world so a lot of people will be musically talented. You need to have more. What Britney has so many aspiring musician lack is an intuitive sense of business and image. People like to think she just shows up and does what she's told by her handlers but she has more say in her career than people want to believe that she does. The concept 'Baby One More Time' video was completely her idea. The director had a completely different vision but she pushed for a change. She even specifically asked for a school girl outfit when she didn't see one in the wardrobe. In fact, all of her videos, which is part of what makes her iconic, were concepts that she created. She is a visual music artist who has a talent for presenting the music and selling the public the music. She is an entertainer and she is very good at that. People need to remember that there's a reason why the writing industry is a completely different industry from the singers/entertainers. If writers or producers could sell they're music and make money off of doing an album themselves don't you think they'd all do it. The fact of the matter is, they need someone like Britney, who has an intuitive sense on how to entertain and sell music to an audience.

    Whether people like it or not. Britney is talented, though not in the traditional sense. Not only is she still in the industry for over 11 years. She's constantly breaking records. She has a career people could only dream about. You don't just have such a spectacular career like that w/ no talent or for just showing up and doing what you're told. Otherwise, many would have been able to duplicate her success but obviously that is not the case.

  • ron from nyc

    @jojo -- All of that just goes to show, you don't need talent to make money. the other acts you point out, all of them pursued acting while Britney stayed in 'music'. Comparing their careers is not really pertinent. Britney's foray into acting didn't really pan out so well for her (she's apparently a lot better at choosing music to lip sync to than she is at picking scripts.)

    You are guilty of falling for the PR if you think a 16 year old was responsible for the packaging and the marketing of her act. It is pure nonsense. Britney's handlers have been selling one thing since her career began - virginal, jail-bait sex. And business was good. She was a great vehicle for that product and she sold it well. Once she starting pumping out puppies, they needed to change the product they were selling and for those years they had a hard time. She also went a little bat-sh!t, which cost her some of her ability while simultaneously keeping her name in the papers - kind of a wash public-relations-wise.

    Now she's kind of back. Auto-tuning her way through another hyper-produced dance track of meaningless, soulless, wholly unrememberable songs.

    Yes, she is driven to be successful, partially because her mother drove her at an unhealthily young age, partially because she craves the attention and partially out of inertia, and that is a quality that has gotten her far in the industry, but she's not an artist in any real definition of the term. Sorry.

  • Syd

    don't even. Britney is a no-talent, computer-generated hack.

  • Chris Crocker

    LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!

  • PoorBritney.com

    Mhm, that's right. People fail to give Britney credit for anything, but if we all knew the intimate details of each others lives, I bet we'd think half of you were trainwreck too. Dont judge. She does work hard.

  • y.e.s.

    thank you for writing this. i love britney, prob wouldn't admit it especially at wes, but she's great. i feel bad for her, if anything, and think she seems down to earth. to this day, i'd love to meet her. i've loved her for twelve years lol.

  • Britney is awesome

    LOLOLOL UR STUPID

  • Jojo

    @ron from nyc: I think it is perfectly fair to draw a comparison to Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore. The beginning of their music careers were a direct result of record labels trying to duplicate Britney's success but of course they were not able to duplicate her success. Even though they went into acting, music is still their bread-and-butter. It's not like they completely abandoned music for their acting careers, these two are still releasing albums. You just don't hear much about it b/c there is little interest in their music now, or their acting for that matter.

    The director of the 'Baby One More Time' video, Nigel Dick, has said in countless interviews that the concept was Britney's idea. The original concept was a very childish and animated one b/c the record label was aiming for children. If it wasn't for Britney, she'd find herself dancing w/ power rangers in her first music video. Nigel even said that he had some reservations about the concept that Britney came up with b/c it would raise eyebrows. Whether the idea that a 16 yr. old came up the concept is ridiculous or not, you have no proof. I can pull out interviews that Nigel did w/ fuse and MTV to back up my claims. That video launched one of the biggest careers ever in pop music. If Nigel, or somebody else came up w/ the concept don't you think they'd shout the heavens about it? It's not like people who come up w/ video concepts get paid like someone who has writing credit on a song nor does it take away the credibility of an artist if they never come up w/ the concepts for any of their videos. Britney doesn't get paid for coming up w/ the concept nor would anybody hold it against her if she hadn't come up with the concept herself. There's no reason to lie to about it.

    She does have talent both musically and non-musically. She has co-written and written, and composed melodies for her songs. She co-wrote six songs on her 'Britney' album and co-wrote eight songs on her 'In the Zone.' She also composed the melodies for 'Everytime' and '(Someday) I Will Understand' by herself on the piano and the she is the sole writer in the latter. In fact, she's written several songs but they never ended up on the album b/c Britney isn't the kind of person who needs to have writing credit on an album in order to show-off or to prove that she's a 'true artist.' She cares about putting together a good album first and foremost. My favorite song of hers is actually an unreleased song titled 'Love is A State of Grace.' It's a beautiful song that was written by Britney but she chose not to include it for her album 'Blackout' b/c she didn't want any ballads for that album. Since the song didn't fit the vision she had for the album, it wasn't included, even though it meant she would get less the cut from the profits and gave her detractors an excuse to call her a product.

    Non-musically, she is a fantastic dancer, has been since she was a child. Currently, she's lost a lot of confidence and is rusty but she's getting back. Pre-breakdown, she could dance w/ the best of them and incorporated her gymnastic skills into her dance choreography. As I said previously, Britney knows how to sell a song. She is a great entertainer and she knows how to put her signature on a song. Despite all the auto-tune, many people can instantly recognize a Britney song when they hear it. She's kind of like Diana Ross. Vocally, Diana was the worst out of the three Supremes, on a technical level, but her voice was unique. Her tone and the way she emoted helped the Supremes get their signature sound. There's a talent show in the UK called X-factor. They had a Britney week, where all but one of the contestants butchered her songs and she ended up being the winner of the season. What this shows is that while her songs are not vocally challenging, it is very hard to sing a Britney song and make it work w/o being Britney.

    As far the argument that her success boils down to her jailbait, that is false. Her fanbase is mostly composed of females and gay men. Straight men are not going to buy her albums or spend a ton of money to go to her concert just b/c they think she's hot. Also, she is 28 and no longer jailbait yet she just finished off the 5th largest female tour ever and her latest single debuted at #1 on the billboard hot 100, the only non-American idol song to do so this decade. Did her jailbait image play a part in her success? Absolutely, but if that's what she relied on, she would faded in the early 2000's. Remember Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton, and Avril Lavigne? They started the 'Anti-Britney' movement and were successful b/c they were the polar opposite of the image that Britney was projecting. People were no longer into the whole lolita, pop star thing but while others faded, Britney remained relevant. In fact, not only is she one of the few that made it past the late 90's bubblegum pop movement, she outlasted all those artists that came during the 'Anti-Britney' movement. If all of Britney's success is due to image, then a) she is one of the luckiest people ever and b) she has a team that works miracles b/c nobody has yet to duplicate her success using their talent, image, etc. since her emergence in the music industry. None of her contemporaries are as iconic, influential, or broken as many records as she has.

  • oakland seligson

    good work, on a recent post I compared britney to lil wayne! they have more in common that meets the eye. http://tmcmusicnews.com

  • Richard Williamson

    Britney Spears does not write or produce (or perhaps even sing) he own material. Her records are good and she is merely the brand name. Good luck to her.

  • Eugene

    Jojo: My thoughts

    "all of Britney's success is due to image"

    Yes, without question. She was never much of a singer, and her recent recordings owe far more to her producers than anything she contributes. As Richard Williamson suggests, Britney is now a brand, or an image, far more than she is an active participant in the various things that are sold using her name.

    "then a) she is one of the luckiest people ever"

    Absolutely. I don't doubt that there is something unique about her. There's no denying her success, it's just that it's hard to explain why. Britney just seems to have that certain "something" that makes her supremely marketable, which appears to transcend her limited talents as a performer. This perhaps explains why she was far more successful (from a financial/sales point of view) than her contemporaries. Britney also had supremely good timing in emerging when the music industry still had enormous financial and promotional power that it has subsequently lost to market fragmentation and the brave new world of digital downloads. That's one of the reasons why nothing remotely like her has emerged subsequently – In this new era, I doubt that an identically marketed 17 year old Britney would have anything like the same impact (even assuming that the world had never seen her likes before).

    "and b) she has a team that works miracles b/c nobody has yet to duplicate her success using their talent, image, etc. since her emergence in the music industry."

    Also absolutely true, which is probably largely responsible for a). I see this as the difference between Britney and Madonna. Both are similar in that they’re not especially talented musicians, but are supremely successful, iconic performers. Both were also compared unfavourably with more musically talented contemporaries when they started out. Both became far more successful than said contemporaries because of marketing and skilled image management. The difference is that the critical decisions about marketing Madonna Inc. are made by Madonna herself. I don’t think much of her as a performer, but readily admit that she's a genius marketer. By comparison, marketing of Britney Inc. is by her handlers, and she doesn't have a clue how to sell herself without them.

  • Slyvia Plath

    i just saw this on britneyboards.org.

  • Double Ugly

    Just as an aside -- Not everyone "grew up with a deep love for the original princess of pop, Britney Spears". Some saw her as a vacuous, talentless pop tart from the start of her career. Most other people learned later. However, a surprising number of people still haven't learned this. Britney's managers, accountants, and other assorted hangers-on thanks you profusely, while Britney is only even dimly aware that you exist.

  • julia

    well! that's a great article! fuck you all the Brit's haters!BRITNEY SPEARS is the BEST...you cant deny it! she the most wonderful person in the world and the strongest one! she sing what she feels like...yes,her voice is not so strong but it's so sensitive that every singer could only be jelous!so...face it-BRIT is our EVERYTHING!

  • patrick

    I quit reading comments after Eugene's.
    (if there were more from Eugene, I didn't read them)

    Anyways, fuck off Eugene.
    Seriously? You are an idiot.

    And Katie, um.. just HOW is the stupid?
    And what are her shortcomings?
    Do you know her personally? If not,
    shut the fuck up. Plain and simple.

  • Sue S

    Well written story thanks for the insight.

  • Anonymous

    oh cool

  • anna

    I completely agree with you. It is so so unfair that she never gets any credit. The girl's got talent. Why won't people admit it already?

  • Double Ugly

    What talent in particular?

    She doesn't sing live, and her recordings feature so much electronic wizardry that it's difficult to be sure how much of her actually features in her recordings. (Paris Hilton has conclusively proved that a complete lack of any ability to sing is no barrier to producing a top ten album).

    The only talent that Britney clearly demonstrates is the ability to make money by the truckload. I don't dispute that she has this talent. I just don't understand what she actually does to earn it.

  • Anonymous

    Who really cares about a washed up has-been who only appeals to fags and twenty-something women that haven't quite figured out that they're not fifteen anymore?

  • vivi

    Yes, she has all of those great things going for her. But lets face it, she does sell out. She takes everything that makes money and goes for it. She shows off her body, dances in a provocative way, sings nightclub music...That's just "smart" management. I do like her dancing, when not next to a poll, and I do like some of her songs. I know she has heart, she IS an artist, but where has it gone? Why can't she write songs about her thoughts and feelings anymore? Is it because it doesn't sell? Maybe because "If You Seek Amy" will grab more attention? I do have a feeling, though, that Britney has realized this. I think she has seen that her music could be a lot better and her writing put more to good use. She has gone through so much that I doubt she is still that innocent girl we once knew. And i truly believe that is why she doesnt seem to have the same passion as before in her concerts...because she is over this kind of music. I believe and hope she is smarter than what some people might think she is, and will eventually show this side of her when her finances are more stabilized. It's nice to hope sometimes, even if for the redemption of a beautiful pop singer.

  • Eugene

    Vivi:

    The reason she doesn't write about her songs and feelings is because she doesn't write her own music (at least not the best-selling tracks), and never did. Anything that you though was her thoughts and feelings was actually someone else's, with the possible exception of some minor album tracks.

  • jol

    @jojo, you really make a good point, all ur comments.
    @eugene, you're just jealous she has such an iconic career, handled by others or whatever, she was able to be on the top, then be personally on the bottom then rise again like a phoenix from the ashes.

  • Rosemary

    Eugene: She wrote Everytime, Words and Music and it was No 1 in 13 countries. Is that a minor track, She wrote 13 tracks from her 3rd and 4th albums!!!! I love Britney, I love her albums, dancing, voice, tours, shows, sense of humour, humanity, individuality. She inspired Piece of Me when she spoke to Bloodshy and Avanti....her responses to the world and what it was doing.....when they write songs that Britney doesn't write she has been consulted beforehand, believe me...do you think Piece of me was written without Britney's interview in the dressing room ( with that reporter where she tells the world that "It is so nice"). That it what became the song. The world will always love Britney because she earns it....she is a workaholic where her career and children are cocerned as she has been all her life. And we all know that too. How hard does she train before a tour???? Do you think Alanis Morrisette trains for six months before a tour???

    PS I love Alanis.

  • Eugene

    @jol: Why the hell would I be jealous of her?

    I had a very minor brush with celebrity early in my life -- enough to know that I wanted no part of it. Being a public figure in that fashion is the worst fate I could possibly imagine. That says nothing of all of the other issues in Britney's life, which make her situation more tragic still.

    I assure you that jealousy is the farthest thing from my mind.

  • anon

    team britney. always.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSAcQ8KpKaM glee music

    She was my preferred singers back then. Time adjustments and my heart adjustments also

  • Kynan Clarke

    Top ten album? Her album tanked hard. It sold little to none and was blasted by critics.

    And have you listened to Britney's non singles and some singles. She is amazing. Try Everytime, Someday and many others. She has a unique voice that is too sweet and sincere.

  • Alias_undercover

    Sorry -- check the facts. Hilton's first album may well have been blasted by the critics, but it reached #6 in the Billboard 200.

    Proof, as I said, that having a good selling album and having musical talent aren't necessarily connected at all. For the last 30 years, actual musical talent has become more and more incidental to success in the music business, replaced by marketing and marketability.