Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Put On A Show Kinda Girl.

I love to make mix CDs for any and all occasions [even some non-occasions], so when I was commissioned to make a Britney Spears mix CD for the ride to her concert last night by our driver, of course I obliged.

But while I was making said mix CD I had the slightly terrifying realization that Britney has alot of songs. Alot of songs. Alot of....good songs?!!!! When did this happen!?
I had trouble deciding which songs to put on the CD because so many of them seemed to warrant a place. ...Baby One More Time? Of course. Oops I Did It Again? Obviously. I'm A Slave 4 U? Clearly. Toxic? Duh. Circus? Yes. Womanizer? Indeed.
But a long email chain yesterday between friends debating which Britney "B-Sides" and "bonus tracks" also merited a place on the mix CD [Phonography and Amnesia being those with the most votes] seemed to be the wrong conversation to be having about...Britney Spears. B-Sides? Discarded tracks? Aren't those things you talk about when referring to, I don't know, the Beatles? When is Britney releasing her Basement Tapes?

And in the car on the way to the concert there was a thoughtful debate about what was Brit's best music video - she has enough videos to warrant a "best of"?!??! - with I'm A Slave 4 U being crowned the eventual winner. Because a guy licks her face! The car ride continued with a discussion of the phrases "hit me baby one more time" and "oops, I did it again" and what they really meant. Could they really just be self-referential phrases and self-fulfilling prophecies about musical hits themselves? No way. Britney couldn't be that deep....could she?

You know how at the end of Gimmie More that random male voice cuts in and calls her "The Legendary Miz Britney Spears"? Is that...true?

Excuse me for saying this Kanye, but Britney Spears is the voice of my generation. That's right. I said it. And before you start hurling sunglasses and Auto-Tune mics in my direction Kanye, let me explain:
As my friend Stephanie so wisely pointed out ten years ago she wouldn't be caught dead at a Britney Spears concert - me neither! So in the course of a decade what changed?

Well Britney went crazy for one, and to be honest I wasn't really a fan of Britney until she went wild, shaved her head, beat up a car with an umbrella and went into gas station bathrooms barefoot with her bag of Cheetos and a Frappacino. During high school I always secretly thought her songs were catchy but it wasn't like I could admit it - I had cred to maintain. I was in drama club! And no, my drama club wasn't a Zacquisha style happy go lucky glitterly place - I wore black! And made sets and props! With duct tape!

But then Britney played out every girl's [even girls in drama clubs!] secret and not so secret worst nightmares - getting fat, getting a divorce, being a bad mother, mental breakdowns, getting laughed at by the cool girls [Remember that shot during the 2007 VMAs of Rihanna giggling to herself during that ill-fated performance of Gimmie More?] - and she survived. She not only survived, she released a bangin' album that makes me want to dance without the usual prerequisite of inhebriation.

I have certainly been to concerts with more, how shall I say it - artistic ambitions? - but never to one more fun. I have also never been surrounded by so many women, and yes, gay men, my age in one place at one time as I was last night at TD Banknorth Garden. There were skanks who really really should have worn a pair of tights under that dress, the girl wearing a Britney t-shirt clearly purchased at a concert circa 2000, the lesbian couple holding hands, the girls who clearly did not feel like getting more dressed up than jeans and a tshirt and yes, grad students who debated the deeper meanings of her lyrics on the way to the concert. But Brit was having a good time. We were all having a good time. Sometimes girls really do just want to have fun, and you taught us that after all the mess-ups and fuck-ups you and all 18,000 of us have had been through, we've earned the right to break it down and sing along to ...Baby One More Time.
Because let's be honest, it's what we've wanted to do all along.
Custody battles, restraining orders and conservaships or whatever be damned because last night you were a woman in charge Britney. A ring leader during Circus [wearing a coat that I really want for myself, just without the crazy fur collar. See above!^], a general who can order her dancers to drop and give her 10 during Boys, and a police officer on the lookout for all those Womanizers out there.

There weren't many youngins in the audience, a good thing too considering her pig-tailed school girl days are long gone. Instead there was a video interlude of an Eyes Wide Shut/ Chuck Bass style masked orgy set to Marilyn Manson's version of Sweet Dreams [and even though Marilyn Manson kinda scares me, I am going to go on the record to say that this video was really well done and in a weird way one of the highlights of the concert]:

a performance of Piece of Me in a giant gold cage [for rather obvious reasons] during which she flipped the entire audience, well mainly the side where I was sitting, the bird:

and Cirque de Soliel style flying S&M guys to carry Britney around during Touch of My Hand [also come on, for kind of obvious reasons]:

Pretty much every song performed - and yes, I mean "performed" not "sung" because its Britney, so obviously that mic was basically for show - was a remix of sorts, but they were by no means obnoxious remixes and in most cases actually kinda cool. Boys got the addition of a military drum beat, ...Baby One More Time got an early '90s New York break dancing vibe [Seriously, I know it sounds weird. But it was seriously wasn't], and Gimmie More was performed without Britney at all, just some guys doing some pretty impressive martial arts moves.
My favorite performance of the night - along with almost everyone else I attended with - was of Me Against The Music, which isn't even one of my favorite Britney songs. But it got an Arabian nights/Bollywood/ King and I/ Edward Sayid Orientalist remake that really ratcheted it up a notch, and sorry Madonna, but no one even noticed you weren't there. It was the one song Britney really broke it down to as well, trading her stilletos in favor of some I Dream of Jeannie flats reminiscent of the tennis shoes she used to wear back in the day.

I would probably buy this remix on iTunes [read: download it illegally], but this YouTube video, as with all YouTube vidoes, doesn't really do the performance justice:

Speaking of breaking it down, Brit even busted out the old moves from the I'm A Slave 4 U video! But sadly, no one licked her face:

The conclusion? Not a girl, not yet a woman? Bitch, please. Britney owned all 18,000 of us last night [the concert ended with everyone chanting Britney! Britney!], and as she slinked around the stage I got the feeling that Britney had finally grown into herself - shaved head, unfortunate umbrellas, ambulance rides and all.
And that Britney is why I love you - you give me hope that I can outgrow this quarter-life crisis I am in the midst of without ending up locked and sobbing in my bathroom. Well, maybe not.

But like I said, I have some hope.

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