Britney Spears: A Revival

By Paul Holtz

Ten years ago, Britney Spears was going through a rough time. With her head shaven, marriage broken, and her children out of her custody – she had nothing. But from that nothingness, she was able to create her most fully formed and acclaimed album Blackout.

To understand the album, the context of Spears’ life must be understood first. Spears had just

gone through a messy divorce with the father to her children, Kevin Federline. This led to an intense custody battle between Federline and Spears. During this time, the paparazzi and tabloid media organizations publicly scrutinized every aspect of Spears’ life. This caused for high security and shortened album development meetings while recording her album.

Blackout is, to this day, Britney Spears’ magnum opus. With singles like “Gimme More” and “Break the Ice,” Spears created a modern sound for pop music. No one as well-known as her has created a dark, moody, and enclosed club sound in the mainstream radio. Blackout was the trailblazer for today’s new sound of radio music with urban influences and rap elements.

The album was produced mainly by Danja, the leading man to create this fresh, modernized pop sound. “I didn’t think about ‘pop music’ while creating Blackout,” says Danja, “I was into dance music and EDM at the time, but it wasn’t mainstream yet.” The top of the charts in 2007 consisted of pop music such as Nelly Furtado and had no essence of electronic music in it.

Danja continues, “I was just going to a club in Miami a couple of times to see the atmosphere, everyone was bouncing around in a trance. I was like, that’s it. If my music doesn’t make you feel like that, what are we doing? I didn’t think about anything other than bringing that essence to popular culture.” This idea is held heavily throughout the album, with all of the album’s songs having a pulsating club beat and low pitched synths in the background.

The main appeal of Blackout is the ease and fluidity of the songs. The tracklist consists of songs to dance to with no subliminal message or sincerity. As Spears once said in an interview, “It just wasn’t so thought out. I just did what I felt and it worked. Sometimes less is more.” This idea follows through to today’s music, focusing less on sappy love ballads and more on a trivial, vapid upbeat song.

The songs could be played on the radio to this day. In 2007, the songs were just as fresh as they are today. Spears inadvertently was at the forefront of the evolving world of pop music for mainstream radio. The album, although overshadowed by Spears’ publicized personal struggles, is the outlier in Spears’ sticky sweet pop music. It showed that Spears was adapting to the new music world rather than resting on her laurels.