Today’s New York Daily News article (on page 3 nonetheless) confirms my opinion on Ms Spears’ over the past few albums: that the songs are well produced, well-engineered works that could be much better techno/house/electronic music if they only got rid of the damned singer. As music critic Jim Farber writes,
“Ironically, the music itself ranks among the most enjoyable Spears has recorded, perhaps due to the star’s very disengagement from it. It’s an exemplary producer’s vehicle, a vessel for smart hooks and hot beats that’s essentially singer-proof.”
At first, I just wrote this off as being one of my guilty pleasures, but the more I heard her songs on the radio, the more I became convinced that these songs would work so much better without vocals. This is not unprecedented. Darude’s Sandstorm has now become as staple in every sporting arena in the US. (I’ll confess that this was my cell phone ring tone back in 2001 – years before it began its second life as a sports anthem. I chose a new ringtone shortly after its new-found popularity.) Our infatuation, if not addiction to Auto-Tunes leads us to the question, “are singers mandatory in today’s pop music?” Considering some of the pointless, inane lyrics polluting the airwaves, (*cough* ke-dollar sign-ha *cough*), our culture might be better off if we went back to jazz or even classical music.
I really feel sorry for her. I do not believe this is entirely her fault. She is an idol singer with no fallback career options. Our society over the past decade has placed more and more demands on our celebrities. And the less talent an idol singer/celebrity has, the more we as a society demands to be entertained. This engine is not powered by merit, it runs on schadenfreude. And we refuse to let these people fade into obscurity quietly.
Her current concert tour is proof that we are inching closer and closer towards the creation of artificial entertainers. We already have the Gorillaz, a musical project that uses animated characters as alter-egos. We have Daft Punk, two French musicians that hide their faces at all times in public by looking like sci-fi cosplayers. And I don’t even want to think about what’s going on in Japan – I’ll say it again: Key the Metal Idol was years ahead of its time.
I’ll admit, the idea of the title “Britney minus Britney” was inspired by the classic site Garfield minus Garfield.