How did the album go south so quickly?
Only two weeks after its Dec. 3 release, Britney Spears’ eighth studio album, “Britney Jean,” will fall out of the Top 15 of the Billboard 200 this week. The only person who could possibly be happy about this is Lady Gaga, since Spears’ disaster took the media’s eyes off of Momma Monster’s own poor performance with “Artpop.”
“Britney Jean” debuted at No. 4 on last week’s Billboard 200 with the lowest sales tally in the pop star’s career, barely skimming past the six figure mark at 107,000. Her last album, 2011’s “Femme Fatale,” sold 276,000 copies in its opening frame.
Here are five things that went wrong with “Britney Jean”:
*Too much build up: For months in advance of the album, Spears and her manager, Larry Rudolph, insisted that “Britney Jean” was her most personal album ever, but first single, “Work Bitch” couldn’t have been more impersonal, leading fans to question the premise. Though there were hints of her life in the lyrics, they were so veiled as to be indecipherable.
*Too Many Cooks: You can’t blame Spears for wanting to switch things up in an effort to grow: She throws aside her usual collaborators such as Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Shellback, for a new bunch of contributors overseen by Will.i.am, the album’s executive producer; David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia’s Ingrosso and Anthony Preston. Their credentials are, of course, impeccable, but if it wasn’t broke...?
*Too little Britney: Yes, she is listed as co-writer on all 10 of songs, but that means precious little in this day and age when a superstar can demand a co-write credit for contributing a phrase or for telling the writers how she feels sad that day and then they go craft a song around that. She shouldn’t sound like a guest artist on a record that is supposed to be her most personal.
*No promotion: Other than a middle-of-the-night conclave in the desert, which was more to tout her upcoming Planet Hollywood Las Vegas residency than the new album and a few other things, there was little promotion for “Britney Jean.” E! News will air a two-hour “documentary” called “I Am Britney Jean” on Dec. 22 that covers the “Piece of Me” Vegas show and the making of the album, but that will more likely boost ticket sales than album sales.
*Britney herself: Though she seems much more stable —thankfully— than she did following her 2007 breakdown, there seems to be no there there. Yes, she gives good face and works the camera well in videos, but it just seems like she’s a facade now, kept going by a phalanx of producers, songwriters, etc... all of whom have a financial stake in continuing to prop her up. Maybe she really loves recording and performing, but it feels more like a puppet being told which way to turn and bend and sing and which camera to look into, despite the protestations from everyone that “Britney calls all the shots.”