Greatest Hits: My Prerogative
by Britney Spears, pop (2004)
Jive, ASIN B0006284JQ

Question: does Britney Spear know what "prerogative" means?

In case you are wondering why there is a compilation of the hits of everyone's favorite blow-up doll so early in her career, no, it's not because she died or anything. (Don't groan in disappointment - that's not nice.) She and her manager recently parted ways and with the increasingly bizarre rate our charming Ms Spears is behaving in public, chances are the sun isn't going to be shining any longer so Jive has better make more hay while they can. Chop chop, darlings!

They have the necessary mercenary interests that I admire, those Jive darlings, but they made a crucial mistake. Britney's greatest hits aren't her music, it's her... well, those things that rhyme with "hits", let's just say. I don't think the Average Joe on the street can name any Britney song apart from ...Baby, One More Time at the drop of the hat.

No, Britney's greatest accomplishment is her amazing ability to bare everything but her hoochie-mamas (and juniors too) while acting completely oblivious to what she is doing. Britney will talk about wanting to be a good Christian and loving God even as she spreads her legs for a photoshoot. She will talk about wanting to be a good role model and not wanting to be exploited sexually even as she holds a towel over her nipples and nothing else for some publicity shots. She will happily cavort in a simulation of an orgy in her music video while telling the talk show host an hour later that she is just a normal gal who wants to get married and have children with a man she loves. In short, Britney Spears is a typical male porn fantasy came to life: the busty virgin with big jugs stereotype present in pretty much every badly written Usenet porn. She somehow reaches the age of eighteen without any knowledge of her sexuality and it is up to the lucky older man, of course, to deflower her and turn her into the neighborhood nymphomaniac.

Watching how Britney can act so shocked - "Oh my God, did I do that?" - every time she watches herself teasing her audience with the shadow of her beaver is like reading about these silly porn busty virgins being seduced into having sex without those idiots knowing what is going on. Britney's career tagline isn't "Britney: Voice of An Angel" but "Britney: You Know You Can Easily Trick Her Into Giving Head to the Entire Football Team!" Watching an interview where Britney insists that her near-kiss with Madonna in the music video of Me Against The Music has nothing to do with the exploitative lesbian angle her handlers and Madonna are aiming for but a gesture of her admiration for Madonna... well, either Britney's a truly horrid liar or yes, you know you can.

So what Jive should have done is to release a series of softporn video starring our charming coquette herself. This compilation is evidence of that: it is an overproduced, robotic collection of songs so mechanical that it is a wonder that Britney isn't singing in binary numbers. There is some charm to ... Baby, One More Time but the charm dies a putrid death when the same chorus and hooks and what-not are blatantly repeated in clones like Stronger, (You Drive Me) Crazy, and Overprotected. The last two are present here in the form of remixes, by the way. The Darkchild remix of Overprotected is unlistenable unless people are getting stoned to the music (getting stoned to Britney?) but the original isn't any better so I don't know what else they could have done. The ballads Born To Make You Happy, Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman, and Everytime are actually lovely ear-candy but these songs require someone with a stronger voice to make them work.

It is only when Britney's handlers start giving her songs produced by the Neptunes to sing that she starts making music that is halfway listenable. I'm A Slave 4 U is really good for a Britney track. The music sounds better when it comes to later hits like the fabulous Toxic. It also seems appropriate that R Kelly would write a song about slutty bimbos shopping and sleeping around with older men for Britney (Outrageous). I mean, he should know what he is writing about while she should know what she is singing about... right?

The thing is, when her songs are good, they are good in spite of her singing. She can't sing. Even the autonote machine seems to give up on her later in her career when she starts croaking and whispering in an effort to hide her detoriating voice. Then again, Toxic is originally meant for Kylie Minogue. ... Baby, One More Time is meant originally for TLC. Britney is an accidental superstar capitalizing on tunes unwisely rejected by more accomplished acts and spins a career out of acting like some naked nymphomaniac who can be controlled utterly by dirty old men. Unfortunately, these dirty old men will never buy her music. And from her recent marital rampage that culminates in a bizarre marriage to a man who has Mr Wrong stamped in six different languages all over his forehead, I suspect that even the most tolerant teenybopper fans of hers will want to move on.

So what does the future hold for Britney Spears? Judging from the previously unreleased tracks on this compilation like the utterly unlistenable cover of the Bobby Brown hit single, maybe it's time her handlers "suggest" to her mother that it's time for Britney to branch out to some acting opportunities on pay-per-view cable.

Rating: 54

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