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britney spears: britney

World's a scary place, huh? Can't handle reality? Wanna shut it all out? Lotsa options if you've got 15 bucks: (1) buy/mix bottles of aspirin and whiskey; (2) buy enough cheap heroin to guarantee OD; (3) buy a bullet, plant it in your forehead; (4) buy Britney.

Whazzat? Britney? Yep yep, no need for the razorblade, son, because Britney's the next best thing to suicide for any Joe or Jane out there who wants to be cut off from the real world. What we have here is a towering achievement of self-obsession, shallow self-examination, and self-pity, a total denial of any sort of world outside of me, me, me. The anthrax-ridden bodies may be piling up all around her, but gee, why should Spears think to sing about anything other than herself?

Hang on, though, cowboy: first, the music. It's harmless, pleasant enough; nothing too surprising from Spears & Co. We get a well-produced—if indistinguishable—bunch of synth-heavy electro-pop singles mixed up with the occasional piano-driven ballad. Big hits every one. Fine.

But the lyrics, poorly written though they are, take this thing well past innocent pop escapism and into a spiritually dead world of tunnel-visioned self-love. Life is described as "my game" and "my show"; in "Lonely" she admits "I live for me"; and in one sickening moment of sad, selfish, thumb-sucking narcissism, Spears sings that "I need time/Love/Joy/I need space/I need me." Britney's not finding her place in the universe, she's making herself her universe.

Hey, maybe anyone frightened enough by the real world to run to Britney's insular narcissism should just kill themselves. It's more permanent, more effective, and cheaper. Buy the album or commit suicide: who cares? Certainly not Spears. If Britney is any indication, she'd be too busy looking in the mirror to notice. (Jive)

—Jim Laakso

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