Hello, and welcome back to Radio Rants. Who are we dealing with this week?
I dislike using the dreaded C-word, but I honestly think Britney managed to pull off a comeback. I don’t say that as a fan; hell, to me, her past five hits or so have been rewrites of “Gimme More”. But, here we are in 2011 with a super successful Britney being called a pop “veteran”, because apparently survival and a savvy PR/production team get you more respect than talent. That said, even though most of Femme Fatale didn’t do much for me, Team Britney has made some smart choices with the singles; the singles have been super accessible, and some of the better songs off the album. Compare that to Avril, who’s trying to get successful with one of the worst songs off Goodbye Lullaby.
So Spears’ tactics and music might have saved her from failure, but her “don’t fix what ain’t broke” mentality has made her kind of boring to talk about. “Til the World Ends” was good, but not good in a not particularly noteworthy way, which is why I stepped around it while it was a hit. So, let’s begin with “I Wanna Go”.
Surprising no one, “I Wanna Go” uses the club pop sound that’s become Britney’s stock and trade in the past few years: thumping beat, heavy bass, overloaded with synths, and very busy. The lone changed factor is that the prechorus has a whistle for a hook (never heard that one before), and since Shellback/Max Martin know that’s the catchiest part of the song, guess what you’ll be hearing? A lot.
And, continuing into her repetitiveness, checkout the prechorus, where the percussion and most of the synths drop out so that we can pretend the song has dynamics, as well as make the chorus sound bigger. Just like the first two lines of the chorus in “Hold It Against Me”, and the prechorus of “Till the World Ends”. Hey, while we’re at it, I wonder if “I Wanna Go” rebuilds itself after the bridge with quiet music and a repeated hook? You know, just fucking like her other two Femme Fatale singles?
Alright, I’m sorry, this whole chain of thought started as an observation, and now it bugs me. People gave Lady Gaga shit because “Judas” covered the same ground as “Bad Romance”, and Beyonce’s getting (mildly) chided for “Best Thing I Never Had” covering the exact same ground as “Irreplaceable”. But when Britney releases the same goddamn song three times, she gets a free pass?
Alright, time to see where “I Wanna Go” falls on Britney’s Scale of Lyrical Forwardness. “I wanna go”, it says. This is normally where I make some quip like, “Oh, does she mean to the dentist? The store? Mars?”, but why bother pretending? It’s probably some vaguely sexu–
“I-I-I wanna go-o-o all the way-ay-ay”
Ladies and gentlemen, we have hit a perfect 10 on the Scale of Lyrical Forwardness! Shit, I guarantee that the only reason that they dropped “all the way” from the official title is that a song called “I Wanna Go All the Way” passes clear over provocative and lands straight into self-parody and creative bankruptcy. I’m not against sexual forwardness, and while “I wanna go all the way” might be less reprehensible than “Tonight I’m fucking you” or less bizarre than “Tell me what’s next, alien sex”, there’s at least something that implies thought behind those lyrics. Granted, that thought might have only been “What do you mean I can get away with that?”, but at least it’s not scraping the bottom of the barrel like “I Wanna Go”.
I’m not even going to bother with the other lyrics. The verses are, well, not good (to wit: “I’ve been told do what you do with it/We both keep my hands above the blanket”), and “I wanna go all the way” is all you need to know about the chorus. Taken as a whole, there’s nothing special about “I Wanna Go”. True, Britney sounds more awake than she has on her previous Femme Fatale singles (the faux-pout at “Shame on me” is worth mentioning), but this is more of the same, and I’m getting tired of it. You wanna go, Britney? Grab some new tricks while you’re at it.