ORCHESTRATING BRITNEY SPEARS
by Jeremy Danté
she sold two million albums during the most turbulent era of her career, and then had a mental breakdown. the career of britney spears and the influence that trickles from it’s every crevice is something of a PR fantasy. while it’s easy for dreams to become nightmares in the world of entertainment, one could never honestly call the work that has been done in the last five years of ms. spears’ career a comeback. she never left. she couldn’t. the public demand for her makes this nearly impossible. whether she was making starbucks runs, or getting engaged, buying a new puppy or dropping her sons off at school- someone, somewhere was photographing it, documenting and scrutinizing it. following my post that used the career and characterization of marilyn monroe as an example; i wanted to continue this thread of consciousness, with someone of today’s entertainment era. aligned with monroe herself, britney jean spears is similar in the sense that she has affected the ways in which american women are seen in the mass media market. they are used as props for the press, are built to be broken down and are photographed throughout this entire orchestration. it’s in these moments that one can call the world of entertainment a machine.
like any well oiled machine, processes are ensured through maintenance, collection of data and constant review and refurbishment. let’s dehumanize britney spears in the ways that mass media would like us to for a second. britney is the product, the industry is the machine. britney’s ‘team’ is a large group of machinists. the machinists are far spanning, ranging from management, to label executives, producers, wardrobe stylists, personal trainers, assistants, choreographers, dancers, tax accountants- every one. machinists work shifts, and there are always portions of time when the heavy machinery is off for maintenance or some form of re-working. it’s that time now for the machine that is the image of britney spears. the spears camp takes very seriously, the idea of an era. an era being an image driven segment in a music stars career, most commonly associated with a recurring image, in tandem with the release of an album tied together by a theme, or concept. for an artist like britney spears, who rose to fame as the leader of the millenial pop musical movement in the late 90’s; image is of the utmost importance. the lead single gives way to the music video, which gives way to the image and direction of the album. then follows the album, which gives way to the world tour, which results in major promotion, a thoughtfully planned press tour and possible release of concert DVD’s, posters, t-shirts and other merchandise that helps to commemorate the era of the time being. we’re in the trenches of britney’s 8th studio album recording process, while britney lurks not too far off, as reports chronicling her every move surface every few days, if not every few hours. she hired a vocal coach, she was seen leaving the studio, speculation of a las vegas residency announcement, what is she drinking, how does her body look? did she change her hair color, what producers is she working with? the allure of celebrity is all too far spanning, and britney is this untouchable figure who continues to build and gain attention, whether or not britney tries. there in lies true iconicism.
there’s something innocent, but not that innocent about it all. the down south, doll faced girl who just wanted to sing and dance, becomes an inescapable tabloid and media frenzied icon. it took 8 albums to get this far, and about 1 1/2 albums for her to become a household named. thanks to video music award performances, provocative rolling stone covers, countless #1 spots on MTV’s total request live- these elements were the glue that solidified the influence of britney spears through the years. she’s inspired dancers, spawned a range of copy cat female pop star singing females- but there was never anyone who could compete with, nor top, the star power of britney. britney is the shit that little girls all over the country dream of becoming. in interviews following her breakdown, and in the intended comeback, it’s been communicated that britney wants some form of normalcy. is that possible as a celebrity with an influence of such magnitude? is that the toss up between having regard from the public as a mega talent, but no normalcy to recharge? one things for sure, a new era for ms. britney spears is about to begin as a time ticker counts down the days on her official website. murmurs of producers who’ve created tracks for the new album are heard everyday, for fans who breathe heavy for ms. spears and it’s no secret that new music is wanted by the public. whether acknowledged or not, britney sets the musical trends and is, often times, ahead of the pack. while her career in entertainment may be a very well oiled machine, britney is the brains behind it’s magic.
despite the fact that people think otherwise, britney understands the power of control. when to surrender to the art form and when to reel it in from an industry stand point. through the years, britney has increasingly proven her knack for knowing the musical market. theres no arguing that britney has increasingly become more controlled by her environment following her breakdown. but as we’ve seen in past musical era’s, britney will succeed whether she wants to or not. that turbulent time during her career was known as her ‘blackout’ era. this era seen her being intentionally difficult to work with, which resulted in no promotion for the musical project. it was as if she was throwing tools into the machine that was controlling her career. always the most controversial of the pop stars in the early 2000’s, britney was always the rebel. through this era, lack of focus could not stop public demand, and her album went on to become praised by fans as her best work, earning double platinum status as an internationally acclaimed pop album. the music eerily represented the darkness of britney’s life at the time, and thus provided the most interesting period of her creative career. as the music industry later progressed following the release of the album, the sound in which spears chose for the album, spurred countless duplications in the musical market. as britney spiraled out of control personally, others seemed to follow her musical lead. it’s been said that the blackout era is similar to the what lies ahead, as the next chapter in britney’s career. with influences of trap music seeping through some of her recent features, one is hoping that a juggernaut of image is being plotted in the same vein that the music is being produced.
with executive production by will.i.am on this new project, britney has been holed up with choreographers and coaches, strengthening her voice and body for this next era. on set as you read this, filming what will be the lead single for the project, a projected date of september 17th is marked on fan’s calendars all across the globe. the preparation is said to also develop into a las vegas residency that has been talked about since january of this year. now, as we enter the third quarter of the year, it seems as though britney is eyeing a fourth quarter release of new material from album 8, even further eyeing 2014 as the year of world domination. while the vegas residency talks have been underway for quite some time, britney is already reported as one of the youngest performers to secure a residency in las vegas history. while some question britney’s ability to deliver, one must admit- you do want her to win. post breakdown, there was a public admiration that seemed to spike, surrounding talk of her return to pop domination. fans take a liking to your work as a musical artist when an emotional tie is created, through image and sound. so is the case of britney spears. you grew up hearing her on the radio and kind of rolling your eyes, by the second music video for the second single off that first album, you found yourself singing along.
now, as you look at her career, and her personal triumphs, you question your ability to function within that lifestyle. you look at your own life, where were you at a certain age, you align it to what she’s done, or hasn’t done and suddenly, you’re able to identify in a way that makes you listen to the music, or watch the performances a little bit differently. you think about your job, how you hate your boss, how you love certain aspects- then think- am i doing what i want to do? it’s those types of ties that are being made to britney spears, by fans, year after year, from one era to the next. the idea of rags to riches is an obsession for consumers in the musical market. the level of execution that britney delivered in the early years of her career have resulted in a cemented presence on the pop scene. while age is looked at differently in the game of music, icons like madonna have proven that you can still maintain success as an international dance and sound machine past 50 years old. while britney has dabbled in trap music influences in the past months, one can assume that she already has her feelers right on the money for where her music is headed, since she’s always been ahead of the pack. her social media presence has been mysteriously blacked out in anticipation of this new era. as the orchestration of her image begins to swell, the same goes for our level of excitement. her team is sneakily crafting what could be the real return of the britney we know and love. the britney that we expect to see, as the defending leader of american pop music. it’s the idea that you want someone who has worked hard to win, to do so, because they deserve it. it’s that american idea, that you keep pushing forward, prevailing through the struggle. you may find it odd, but just as characterization had stripped marilyn monroe of her intellect, it’s as though britney spears has been stripped of true credibility as an artist, which simply isn’t fair. unarguable is the level of influence britney has had on the market. her leading example sets the standard for what other females will be expected to do in the eyes of label executives. the machine has been running, except, this isn’t a piece of equipment, it’s a human being. and more importantly a star. something’s in the midst of being crafted, and on the 17th of this month, we’ll be right here waiting for it.