It’s always frustrating when fans, washed-up producers, and bloggers talk about the possibility of a “Blackout 2.0,” as if creating a sequel to the one of the greatest pop albums of the last decade is as simple as putting a bunch of hot songs together and having Britney Spears sing them. Blackout was a moment in time created by a perfect storm: A rebellious Britney had lost the plot and axed her entire team, pop music was in the early stages of transitioning from urban and hip-hop to more electronic territory, celebrity tabloid culture had reached terrifying new heights, and Danja had just stepped out on his own after breaking away from Timbaland.
Like many of history’s most forward-thinking and iconic albums –from blockbusters to cult classics– nobody is ever going to make a Blackout 2.0. But that doesn’t mean that artists can’t pay homage to Britney’s accidental masterpiece, which is exactly what Miley Cyrus has done with her Queen B collaboration, “SMS (Bangerz)”.
Miley mashes Blackout’s soulless urban-pop with Salt-n-Pepa’s bouncy club classic “Push It” (which has either been sampled or ripped-off) with some help from partner in crime, Mike WiLL Made It, and “Toy Soldier” songwriter, Sean Garrett. Miley talk-raps all her lines, intentionally exaggerating her Southern accent on the chorus as she exclaims, “I be struttin’ my stuff!” over hip-hop snares and a looped and mutilated trap music refrain. Once Britney shows up on the second verse with her signature gum smacking growl, “SMS (Bangerz)” almost sounds like an official “Freakshow” remix. Everything is deliciously lowbrow and dissonant, and the same end-of-the-night bottom-of-the-bottle emptiness that haunted Blackout permanently lingers overhead like a purple haze.
When Britney was first named one of Miley’s feature creatures, it felt like nothing more than stunt casting from Larry Rudolph. But after hearing “SMS (Bangerz),” it’s clear that nobody else but Britney could’ve been slapped on the track. Regardless of who actually produced it or how much it resembles “Push It,” this is Britney’s sound, and it requires a certified co-sign from The Holy Spearit herself for anyone else to use it. Without that, Miley might sound like a wannabe, as opposed to a successor paying homage to the pop icon who came before her.
The largely negative reviews that “SMS (Bangerz)” is receiving so far only further solidifies its status as the dirtiest, dankest, most downright amazing club jaunt of the year. Before eventually reaching cult status, Blackout was also unfairly maligned by critics and pop fans who chose to review the person instead of the
fuckin’ bangerz music. Miley’s sleazy Queen B collabo will be seen the same way in the not too distant future, even though it’s ultimately only going to add to Blackout’s legacy, rather than forge one of its own.