Back in April, I made mention of my personal confusion regarding the concept of the guilty pleasure. In said diatribe, I mentioned my love for Britney Spears and made sure to note that I have no guilt regarding this fact.
I repeat: I have no guilt for loving Britney. If loving Britney Spears is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
I want to get it out there now because this is going to be a Britney-laden post, and I think you need to gird your loins now, y’all (and I will ease you into this one “y’all” at a time. She’s country!)
Like the Cubs fan I am, I have been declaring every year to be “Britney’s comeback year” since the great KFed debacle of ’04. This year is no different. When her new album Circus “drops” (industry term, you wouldn’t understand) in December, I will be there, credit card in hand, ready to drop the duckets on this overproduced confectionery delight. And you should too.
Britney Jean Spears, and no I didn’t have to Wiki that, was dropped from heaven into our car radios in 1998 with her smash hit “… Baby One More Time,” one of the greatest and most awkwardly titled pop tunes ever. In her wake came a series of other pop tarts, like Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore. Christina did, and still does, dress like a crazy chola tranny. Jessica Simpson does not sing so much as she whispers, then yells, then whispers some more and refuses to closer her mouth even when silent. Mandy Moore is awesome for giving us the amazing lyric “you know who you are/ your love’s as sweet as candy/ I’ll be forever yours/ Love always, Mandy” and for being a generally likeable person who’s made good choices since “Candy” was released in ’99, so I will leave her out of this. You go Mandy.
Not unlike the great Who Ya Got: BSB vs. NSYNC (and if you don’t know who the winner is, you simply must be new to this column), for me, there was no contest. Britney was The One. The Highlander of catchy Top 40 hits.
After the hit machine that was her debut album, she released “Oops … I Did it Again” proving that her love of oddly placed ellipses was still strong. Britney and her midriff were still a force to be reckoned with. But her third album, the cleverly titled Britney, did not do as well. I call bullshit on that. Britney was her transition from cutesy naive pop star into the-club-pop-whatever-I-don’t-know-genres (I call it “workout music”) that she is now known for. But it also contains one oddly prescient song: “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.”
The song was your pretty standard cheesy-yet-awesome pop ballad, wherein Britney tells us that she’s in that in-between time we all go through, after childhood but before adulthood. At the time, I loved it in secret because I thought it was such a lame song (full disclosure, it’s what I call a “vagina song,” my loving term for all songs about coming of age, songs that give off the vibe of a cute verse discussing purchasing maxi-pads for the first time. See also “Strawberry Wine”). But now, seven or so years later, it actually made me tear up.
Shut it, mostly male HoboTrashcan readership.
The song was co-written by Britney, and the lyrics are strangely pleading.
I’ve seen so much more than you know now
So don’t tell me to shut my eyes
I’m not a girl
Not yet a woman
All I need is time
A moment that is mine
While I’m in between
Looking back now, knowing what would become of this young girl who at 16 became the biggest pop star in the world, it’s really sad. Maybe if they’d just let her be a teenager, maybe if they hadn’t pushed her to pull the virgin-Lolita image, maybe if she’d had friends that weren’t her management, maybe just maybe she wouldn’t have had the tragic breakdown of last year.
People make fun of Britney going crazy in the same way they say things like “oh my god you’re so retarded” or “that’s so gay.” They do it because they just don’t get it. People thought it was funny instead of painfully horrifying and desperate that this young woman, this mother of two, shaved her head and attacked a car with an umbrella. People just didn’t get it. Mental illness is still something that many people don’t quite understand.
What’s strange is that she made arguably one of her best albums while she was “crazy.” Let’s be honest here, this isn’t Brian Wilson, it’s not like she was ever this great musical genius and it’s not like she does this at all herself. I’m just saying that Piece of Me has been on repeat on my iPod for like a year now.
In the last year or so since the climactic night wherein she reportedly held her son hostage in a bathroom and had to be hospitalized, Britney’s been doing well. She’s starting to look like her old self again, she doesn’t go out partying with Paris Fucking Hilton (ugh, screw Federline, I still blame this herpes-sore for all of it) and she’s making music again. And her new song is AH-MAY-ZING. So is the video.
Watch, listen, love.
1) She looks hot and for this reason I write this while eating baked kettle chips instead of my usual spoonfuls of lard covered in Nutella.
2) She seems like old Britney.
So in conclusion, the few readers I haven’t yet lost when they realized that this was the polar opposite of Brian Murphy’s sports columns, apparently everyone loves a comeback. And no one likes a group of people who pick on the weak pop star with a mental illness. So be nice to Britney. She’s been nice to us.
But if you look at me closely
You will see it in my eyes
This girl will always find her way
I hope you’ve found your way Britney. You’ve got millions of former-fourteen-year-olds who, whether they admit it or not, will always have your back. Godspeed, Brit Brit.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.