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Criticism | Britney Spears Rebuilds Her Own Career With The Incredible Originality Of “In The Zone”

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Britney Spears has a very demarcated and automatically recognizable career. In her debut in 1999, the artist established herself as the voice of a generation (more precisely, of a generation of adolescents who spoke in the middle of the last decade of the last century). With the release of ‘… Baby One More Time’, Spears made a huge impact on the music world that would be recognized to this day; a little later, “Oops!… I Did It Again” supported a cultural domination reflected in the phonographic market in technical and commercial terms; ‘Britney’, though divided critics at the time, marked the start of an identity transition that brought her into adulthood and all the issues involved (including fame, loneliness and the martyr).

But what did this mean for the future?

As the performer plunged, year after year, into a creative whirlwind (aided by the skillful hands of Max Martin and Rami Yacoub), she realized that she could dare more than she was used to, s ‘moving away from the baseless criticisms it was receiving from conservatives. and the image solidified as an eternal adolescent. Now “Overprotected” and “Bombastic Love,” for example, had shown an appreciation for the new and the inexplorable, leading him to think of different ways to stay “fresh” in an industry dominated by hype. Thus, “Britney” emerged as the first chapter of a long journey that would stretch into the 2020s – and which, for better or worse, would reach its climax with the revolutionary “In The Zone”.

Few artists manage to revitalize themselves album after album – and Britney is on that picklist, but not the way we think she is: not only has she kept abreast of the trends that have dominated grand art. audience, it rebuilt itself by allying itself with unexpected producers and composers and showing that it still had a lot to offer. For this reason, her 4th studio album carries significant status, representing a division in the career of the princess of pop and in the media perception of young singers who were beginning to find their way into show business. Whether or not it is the best record entry, the truth is that no one can take away the notoriety of this compilation of songs (between highs and lows): here, adolescence is a phase that has been left out and , in response, we are presented with a vibrant flame that exudes sensuality and self-knowledge.

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“In The Zone” was a huge hit on the world charts, securing another number 1 on the Billboard 200 for Britney and achieving stellar sales. In addition to spawning four official singles, the work brought together Roy “Royalty” Hamilton, Bloodshy & Avant, Mark Taylor and several others to celebrate the revered icon the singer had become. Hinting at names like Kylie Minogue, Madonna and Blondie, there are plenty of tracks that deserve our attention, even if they are in part dividers: the opening song, “Me Against the Music,” brings together pop culture royalty in an interpretation which makes good use of the infatuation of presence for Spears, but, in blatant opposition, makes Madonna disappear in a dance floor; “Outrageous”, which fuses hip hop and R&B, is overlooked compared to the better organized earlier and later tracks.

Fortunately, the slips are punctual and can not obscure the beauty of the songs which border on perfection, they rather achieve it. To speak of the frenzied “Toxic” and the touching ballad “Everytime” is to fall into the redundancy of what they represent for the artist’s art, since these are two of his hallmarks. Maybe it’s better to pay more attention to iterations that aren’t much talked about or that were ruined by the negligence of the producer responsible for the album. The deliberate extravagance of “(I Got That) Boom Boom”, which features the vocals of the Ying Yang twins, incorporates oriental elements to the explosive dominance of hip hop and the British garage counterculture; “Early Mornin ‘” pays homage to the classic “Erotica”, both in instrumental synesthesia and lyrical content; and “The Hook Up” advocates a total change of style and opens a space for the appreciable fusion of dance and reggae.

It should be noted that Spears does not hesitate to throw himself headlong into experimentalism, as we see in “Breathe on Me”. The fourth track on the album, by far the greatest masterpiece he has ever released, is inexcusably sexual, immersive and sensory in every way – a spectacular infusion of techno, dance, hi- NRG and trip-hop which merges into a surprising cohesion. , influencing Rina Sawayama, The Weeknd and Billie Eilish (to name a few). “Touch of My Hand” engages in oriental fables to create metaphors for masturbation (one of the themes considered taboo by traditionalists); and “Brave New Girl” makes a steep curve again, embracing Eurodance and funk, reminiscent of Minogue’s “Fever” two years earlier.

With ‘In The Zone’ Britney Spears showed that she was not afraid of anyone who would dare to disprove her as the original artist. More than that, she demonstrated the knowledge of herself to give up the labels given to her in the recent past and aspire to what she wanted.

Rating per track (Digital Deluxe Version):

1. Me Against Music (feat. Madonna) – 2/5
2. (I Got That) Boom Boom (feat. Ying Yang Twins) – 4/5
3. Confrontation – 4/5
4. Breathe on me – 5/5
5. Early in the morning – 4.5 / 5
6. Toxic – 5/5
7. Outrageous – 2.5 / 5
8. Touch of my hand – 3.5 / 5
9. The connection – 3.5 / 5
10. Shadow – 4/5
11. Brave New Girl – 5/5
12. Every time – 5/5

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