Friday, 8 January 2010

2000 Britney Spears: Oops!....I Did It Again

The life of your average pop star is, to quote Sir Elton John, but like a candle in the wind. A here today, gone tomorrow existence; the charts are littered with the remnants of those who once ruled supreme over all they surveyed but whose career turned to Ozymandian dust when the fickle winds of popular culture blew the other way. You could say that this is hardly surprising, that such acts were always meant as a quick fix not built for the long haul and, no matter how much bile I flung in their direction a few months back, there was something almost Shakespearean in the tragedy of seeing Lindsay from B*Witched's 2005 'solo' 'comeback' flopping harder than a whale off a diving board.

As a general rule of thumb, such acts produce some monster early singles and a debut album that flies off the shelves like the hottest of hot cakes. Which, after all, is exactly what they are. It's album number two that's make or break time - if it sells well then the boat can steady enough to build some sort of career on. If it flops, then the boat sinks and them along with it. In 1999 Britney Spears had such a monster series of singles and a debut album that sold in phenomenal quantities (fourteen times platinum in the US). Now in 2000 there was a new album in the wings and, in the light of the above analysis, it's obvious that no one was resting on their laurels. A re-imagination was never going to be on the cards at this stage in her career, but in an attempt to ensure history repeated, Team Spears pulled out all the stops to ensure Britney's did just that.

For a start, like '....Baby One More Time', lead off single 'Oops....I Did It Again' had the same title (and ....spacing) as the parent album, so free publicity galore there, but away from such trite observations it's uncanny at just how similar 'Oops....' and '....Baby' are. True, 'Oops....' tries to build the anticipation of an 'event' by dragging out a teaser introduction of Spears croaks and groans, but once it leaves the traps proper it quickly latches limpet-like onto the same lurching, robotic beat a la 'Baby' that builds to the same tension releasing chorus with Britney's "I'm not that innocent" would be leer taking the place of the schoolgirl kit (and a tease to those who swallowed the 'I'm still a virgin' line) to leave us hanging until the cycle resumes from the bottom once more. There's even a middle eight change of key - I mean really, 'Oops' is 'Baby' slightly re-arranged with a fresh polish but at heart they share more DNA than not.

It's a risk free release that kept the Spears star burning, but while a manager might get short term results through playing the same team in the same formation week in week out, others soon get wise and in any case over reliance on the familiar can backfire when the first team ages in one fell swoop. Like when that fickle wind starts blowing the other way. Which, for Britney, it would do soon enough.

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