So what's my verdict? Like many other performances I've observed of Britney's in the past year, I'd have to say...eh.
You've heard it from everyone else, and I'll admit it too- I am totally rooting for her. No one does getting ready for a party songs like Brit, and nothing inspires me to work out more (or at least, seriously think about it) than watching Britney videos, circa 2001. I still whip out my "In the Zone" publicity tour DVD and wish that I could have even a sliver of that kind of natural rhythmic ability.
Obviously, Britney has moved past the whole head-shaving, custody battling, paparazzi dating persona she's fallen into within the past few years. But have we? Ever since her tearful interview with Matt Lauer a few years ago (the one where she was pregnant with Jayden James and had obviously gotten into a fight with her makeup artist that day), every time I've see her since, I have the same reaction- a slight cringe, followed by a sad "aww."
Sure, she looks a bazillion times better than she did during 2007-2008. We'll refer to this as the "Blackout" period, and I'm not referring to her album that was released during that time. Yes, she's won a few MTV awards (why? still not quite sure, because the video "Piece of Me" felt like a giant "Piece of Crap"), which is something she never even achieved during her almost decade of trophy deserving performances, which only reaffirms MTV and its complete and utter failure to represent the music community correctly. Her body has improved exponentially, as it seems her enablers... I mean staff must have gotten her some kind of Starbuck patch to slowly ween her off what I can only imagine was not the worst of her vices. Sure, she's not nude-bodysuit-covered-in-sparkles kind of shape, but you have to give the 26 year old mother of two some credit.
Needless to say, despite the improvements she has made, there is something about her that doesn't seem to be there anymore. Britney is still not an amazing voacalist, but she never really needed to be. She is (was?) an entertainer! This girl made hundreds of millions of dollars selling out concerts, hawking products, and appearing semi-nude on practically every magazine cover from 1998-2006. When was singing ever a necessary variable in the equation? So what if she represented everything that was going wrong with the music industry- she was the ultimate Lolita/girl next door hybrid, and I loved every second of it! Don't scoff at me. You felt it too.
So where did it go? Like I've felt so many times this year, from the How I Met Your Mother guest appearances to the opening skit of the MTV Awards, she seems like she is half committed, and half bored out of her mind. It makes me sad to watch, because I can't help but feel that Larry Rudolph is standing in the background, coaxing her through her lines and dance moves while assuring her it's almost over.
It doesn't help that the video for "Womanizer" is a total rip off of "Toxic," which happens to be one of my favorite Britney songs EVER. The two both feature Brit as some sort of master of disguises (a blonde, brunette and a redhead- genius!) who jumps in and out of scenes, straddling some hunk in a suit. In the other parts of the video, she stars as- ta da!- a naked version of herself, while strategically covering her girly bits. The only difference is that she replaced the "Toxic" rhinestones with a sauna, which apparently gave her fresh extentions a dingy film and two inches of brown roots.
What kills me is that most of her dancing, which is basically what got her to where she is and sort of made it all okay that she didn't ever sing live, seems to have slipped out of her range of abilities. When she bombed the VMA's last year, it didn't take a Nobel prize winner to crack the case of how she forgot all her moves. If you wanted Britney 2007 to perform or speak coherently, why would you ever hold your event in Las Vegas?! Cut to a year later, after watching her stroll in and out of dance studios, sneaking peeks at "leaked" videos of top secret rehearsals, and "Womanizer" does not showcase a single Britney move that made me think "she's baaaaaack" (cue creepy Poltergeist child). She's not back, she's just there.
I've said it before, and I mean it now more than ever. Britney please- just go home. Let us enjoy the memory of your kickass concerts, killer abs and adorable product placements (Pepsi! For those who think young *wink*). We won't forget you. There's this thing now called YouTube, and it doesn't let us forget anything. You can make your perfumes and eat at the Ivy every once in a while (when you look and feel your most fabulous, of course). But most importantly, focus on raising Small Fry and Tater Tot. They're still at the age where they may not remember any of this. And treat yourself to that mocha latte with the whipped cream and chocolate drizzle, only sparingly of course. you've earned it.