About a week ago on Twitter somebody asked me what my favourite Western pop album of the year is so far. I scratched my head and nothing came to mind. I checked Apple Music on my phone, and the only English-language albums from this year I’d saved were the following: Rihanna Anti, Glass Animals How To Be a Human Being, Ariana Grande Dangerous Woman, and The Lemon Twigs Do Hollywood.
I remembered that I’d downloaded Britney Spears’ Glory at some point before deleting it soon after. All the songs sounded pretty good when they were playing, but the entire album would vanish from my mind the second I pressed stop. I couldn’t recall any individual tracks, just that Glory was a cobbled together collection of ‘classic’ Britney rehashes and Selena Gomez Revival leftovers.
A music video for the album’s second (and probably final) single, “Slumber Party,” dropped this week. It’s one of Glory’s better songs, and one that would surely chart high in the hands of a more relevant pop princess – i.e. one that doesn’t need to resort to a last minute, tacked-on Tinashe remix to interest radio stations.
The clip is strange to watch. Fans will scream on social media that Britney looks the hottest she has in years and proclaim that her famous armography is ‘slaying,’ and they’d be right. But then there’s Britney, who looks eerily ageless, going through all the old motions like she never left 2004. It’s the same thrusting, gyrating, and hairflips, the same genetically blessed male model love interest, the same robotic come hither stares to the camera.
BritBot even engages in some cheesy faux-lesbo action with poor Tinashe, which doesn’t quite get the pulse racing now like it once did. These days Britney has the sex appeal of a toaster oven – she’s no longer the coquettish wide-eyed ingenue that submitted to a kiss from Madonna.
While former rivals like Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera always strive for change on every album (for better or worse), Spears has remained mostly static since her sexual-awakening on 2001’s Britney. Any noticeable change in her music is usually due to laziness from her record company, such as on 2013’s Britney Jean, a notoriously bad album that saw the former chart-topper sleepwalking through outdated Sia and will.i.am cuts.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do actually like “Slumber Party.” It reminds me of a ‘Letter of Recommendation’ for Vanderpump Rules that appeared in the New York Times this year.
Naomi Fry wrote: I really began to think of ‘Vanderpump Rules’ as a true outlier in the reality-show world, though, when it abandoned the conceit that there should be any trajectory — upward or even downward — to the plot of its characters’ lives.
The familiar reality-show arc of development has been traded for a ‘Simpsons’-like freezing of time, in which the characters never change or even seem to naturally age.
The SUR staff members, with their stardom-primed appearances — their snugly sheathed gym-toned bodies and smooth Botox-injected brows — have been locked in a state of readiness that hasn’t yet led to ascent.
The series remains a near-pure portrait of motionlessness, a still point in the turning world. Watching it is like having my brain stroked to a very low-grade, consequence-free orgasm — a pleasurable sort of non-involvement.
Britney’s never going to blow my socks off again like she once did, but she’s an enjoyable enough distraction when she gets it right. ‘Having my brain stroked to a very low-grade, consequence-free orgasm’ is about right.