Britney (album)

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Britney
Studio album by Britney Spears
Released November 5, 2001 (2001-11-05)
Genre Dance-pop
Length 39:47
Label Jive
Producer
Britney Spears chronology
  • Britney
  • (2001)
Special Limited Edition cover
Singles from Britney
  1. "I'm a Slave 4 U"
    Released: September 24, 2001 (2001-09-24)
  2. "Overprotected"
    Released: December 12, 2001 (2001-12-12)
  3. "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman"
    Released: February 18, 2002 (2002-02-18)
  4. "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"
    Released: May 27, 2002 (2002-05-27)
  5. "Anticipating"
    Released: June 24, 2002 (2002-06-24)
  6. "Boys"
    Released: July 29, 2002 (2002-07-29)

Britney is the self-titled third studio album by American recording artist Britney Spears. It was released on November 5, 2001 by Jive Records. Looking to transition from the teen pop styles of her earlier albums ...Baby One More Time (1999) and Oops!... I Did It Again (2000), Spears began to embrace a maturer sound with her next studio effort. Its music incorporates elements of pop with dance-pop and R&B influences; its lyrics address the subjects of reaching adulthood and sexuality.[1] Contributions to its production came from a variety of collaborators, including Max Martin and Rami Yacoub.[2] Spears herself assumed a more prominent role in the album's development, co-writing five of its tracks.

Upon its release, Britney received generally mixed reviews from music critics, who complimented the progression from Spears's earlier works, but criticized her increasingly provocative image. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 745,000 copies. Its success made Spears the first female artist to have her first three albums debut atop the chart, a record she would later break again with her fourth record In the Zone (2003). To promote the album, Spears embarked on the Dream Within a Dream Tour, which began in November 2001 and continued through July 2002. The album received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album.[3]

Six singles were released from the album, all of which proved only moderately successful and received mixed reviews from critics. Consequentially, Britney became her first record not to yield a US Billboard Hot 100 top ten hit. Its lead single "I'm a Slave 4 U" peaked at number twenty-seven on the chart, while follow-up singles "Overprotected", "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman", "I Love Rock 'n' Roll", "Anticipating", and "Boys" reached the lower end of the chart and its extension, the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles.

Background[edit]

"This is the first album I have every really written and taken my time on, so when I actually listen to the whole album, it's just that much more special. I don't know if I'm the best songwriter in the world, but I had a lot of fun doing it and hopefully I will get better and grow."

Spears talks about her songwriting experience for Britney[4]

In May 2000, Spears released her second studio album Oops!... I Did It Again.[5] Spears collaborated with producers including Rodney Jerkins, David Krueger, and Max Martin.[6] Following its release, Oops!... I Did It Again became an international success and peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200[7] The album's lead single "Oops!... I Did It Again" became one of the best-selling singles of all time.[8]

When recording her follow-up record, Spears wanted an "older generation to pick up on it", adding that she "had to change it up and pray people think that's cool". She stated that she chose to self-title the album because the majority of its content describes who she is. Spears recorded twenty-three tracks for the release, several of which she co-wrote with the assistance of Brian Kierulf and Josh Schwartz. She added that personally writing the album and developing its concept made the project "that much more special", elaborating of her intentions to "get better and grow" as a songwriter.[4]

Spears worked with a variety of collaborators, including pop colleagues Martin and her then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake.[4] She commented that that she initially felt "awkward" and "nervous" working with Timberlake, saying that she was accustomed to the process being "like work".[9] Spears also worked with hip hop producers Rodney Jerkins and The Neptunes, who made the record "nastier and funkier". She additionally recorded songs with Missy Elliott and Timbaland, but their tracks never made the final track listing due to scheduling conflicts.[10]

Composition[edit]

Britney incorporates pop styles with elements of dance-pop and R&B.[1] The album opens with its lead single "I'm a Slave 4 U". The song features an urban influence, and has been compared to "Nasty Girl" by Vanity 6.[11] Spears commented that its lyrics are "about me just wanting to go out and forget who I am and dance and have a good time".[12] "Overprotected" was noted for having Europop styles, and addresses a girl who is tired of being manipulated.[13] Lyrically, "Lonely" sees a girl moving on from a troublesome romance after being lied to and manipulated.[14] The soft rock piano ballad[15] "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" details the emotional struggles that teenage girls experience during puberty.[16] "Boys" incorporates R&B and hip hop styles,[17] and was criticized by David Browne of Entertainment Weekly as "cut-rate '80s Janet Jackson".[13] The disco-inspired[18] track "Anticipating" discusses the friendship and camaraderie between women.[19]

Spears's cover of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll", made famous by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, infuses pop rock styles into the original hard rock rendition.[20] "Cinderella" reflects on a girl who left her boyfriend after he failed to appreciate her efforts in the releationship.[21] "Let Me Be" sees Spears ask to be trusted as an adult and be afforded her own opinions.[22] "Bombastic Love" discusses a love where Spears feels that the romance will happen "exactly like in a movie".[23] Similarly, the penultimate track "That's Where You Take Me" details the joy she gets from an emotionally fulfilling relationship.[24] The album closes with "What It's Like to Be Me", which was co-written and co-produced by Spears's then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake; Spears sings that a man must "figure [her] out" to "be [her] man".[25]

Singles[edit]

"I'm a Slave 4 U" was released as the album's lead single on September 24, 2001.[26] Its accompanying music video was directed by Francis Lawrence,[27] and was nominated for three awards at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards.[28] The song peaked at number twenty-seven on the US Billboard Hot 100,[29] and debuted at number four on the UK Singles Chart.[30] "Overprotected" served as the album's second single internationally and third single in the United States. Its "Darkchild Remix" peaked at number eighty-six on the Hot 100,[29] while the original version reached number four in the UK.[30] The song was nominated for the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2003 Grammy Awards.[3] Two variations of the music video were released, one for the original and the other for the Darkchild Remix.[31]

Staggered to fit the varying release dates of Crossroads internationally, "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" was released as the theme song of the film and the third single for Britney in the US. The song charted at number two on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, an extension of the twenty-five songs that failed to make the Hot 100.[29] It was met with more success internationally, peaked at number two in the UK.[30] Spears's cover of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" was released as the fourth European single. Consequentially, the song did not chart in the US, but reached number thirteen on the UK Singles Chart.[30] "Anticipating" was released as the fifth single exclusively in France; it charted there, reaching number thirty-eight on the French Singles Chart.[32] "Boys" served as the final single from the Britney era internationally; it peaked at number twenty-three on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart,[29] and reached number seven in the UK.[30]

Promotion[edit]

Spears performing "Boys" during the Femme Fatale Tour, 2011.

On January 28, 2001, Spears performed at Super Bowl XXXV.[33] Shortly after, she appeared on Total Request Live to premiere new material from Britney.[34] On September 6, Spears premiered "I'm a Slave 4 U" at the MTV Video Music Awards; the performance was criticized for her use of a yellow python as a stage prop.[35] Four days later, she performed "I'm a Slave 4 U" on The Rosie O'Donnell Show.[36] Spears was scheduled to perform and hold a press conference in Australia on September 13; however, she cancelled the event in light of the September 11 attacks two days prior, saying that holding the conference would have been inappropriate.[37] The following month, Spears performed at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[38] In November, she performed in her first HBO concert special from the MGM Grand Garden Arena; Cher was supposed to join Spears onstage for the song "The Beat Goes On", which Spears covered on ...Baby One More Time, though Cher was unable to do so due to scheduling conflicts.[39]

In December, Spears performed at the 2001 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas.[40] The following January, she sang "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" at the 2002 American Music Awards.[41] Later in the month, Spears gave interviews to the The Frank Skinner Show in the UK and The Saturday Show in Australia.[42] Crossroads premiered in February 2002, allowing Spears to simultaneously promote both the film and her album.[43] On February 2, she was featured as both the host and performer of Saturday Night Live.[44] A week later, she sang "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" at the NBA All-Star Game and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[41] Spears also appeared on Live with Regis & Kelly, The View,[44] and the 2002 Grammy Awards in the US, and Wetten, dass..? in Germany.[45]

In November 2001, Spears began her Dream Within a Dream Tour in Columbus, Ohio;[46] it ended in July 2002 in Dallas, Texas.[47] A video released, titled Britney: The Videos, released on November 20, 2001, by Jive Records. Made available less than three weeks after Britney, The Videos included a selection of her earlier music videos, behind-the-scenes footage, commercials, and notable live performances.[48] It peaked at number one on the US Top Music Videos chart on December 8, 2001.[49]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 58/100[50]
Review scores
Source Rating
The A.V. Club (unfavorable)[51]
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Billboard (favorable)[52]
Entertainment Weekly C[13]
NME 7/10 stars[53]
PopMatters (mixed)[15]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[54]

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, Britney received an average score of 58, which indicates "mixed or average reviews", based on 13 reviews.[50] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly found Spears's increasingly provocative image to be unnatural, noting "virginal vamping in an awkward adolescence" and "a few tentative new moves".[13] PopMatters's Nikki Tranton complimented the production of the songs, but questioned if Spears was ready to establish herself as a grown woman in the music industry.[15]

Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave a positive review, feeling that the album "strives to deepen [Spears's] persona" and proves she "will know what to do when the teen-pop phenomenon of 1999-2001 passes for good".[1] Similarly, a reviewer from Billboard commented that the project was "a nicely varied, wholly satisfying collection".[52] NME's Ted Kessler recognized the release as a "coming of age album" and joked that it "works best when making a good pop cheese and dance sandwich".[53] By contrast, Stephen Thompson of The A.V. Club panned the album, opining that the music "just [isn't] catchy" and that "though neither a girl nor a woman, Spears inspires grown-up anger on her own".[51]

Commercial performance[edit]

Britney debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 745,000 copies.[55] In doing so, Spears became the first female to have her first three studio albums debut atop that chart.[35] She also held the second-highest debut album sales of 2001, behind Celebrity by 'N Sync with 1.88 million units moved, though maintained the highest debut-week sales among female artists.[56] After fluctuating within the top twenty of the chart in the following weeks, Britney sold 3.3 million copies by 2002.[57]

Internationally, Britney debuted atop the Canadian Albums Chart with first-week sales of 44,550 copies.[58] It later sold 316,944 copies in the country, a significant decline in relation to the sales of ...Baby One More Time and Oops!... I Did It Again.[59] The album peaked at number four on both the Japanese Oricon Albums Chart and the UK Albums Chart.[30] In the latter, it was certified platinum for shipments of 300,000 copies to retaliers.[60] Britney also peaked at number four in Australia, and was certified doube platinum there.[61] In 2002, the album was certified double platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry for shipments of two million copies through Europe.[62]

Track listings[edit]

Britney – Standard version
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "I'm a Slave 4 U"   The Neptunes 3:24
2. "Overprotected"  
  • Max Martin
  • Rami
3:19
3. "Lonely"  
  • Jerkins
  • Kierulf[a]
  • Schwartz[a]
3:21
4. "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman"  
  • Max Martin
  • Rami
  • Dido
  • Max Martin
  • Rami
3:52
5. "Boys"  
  • Hugo
  • Williams
The Neptunes 3:28
6. "Anticipating"  
  • Spears
  • Schwartz
  • Kierulf
  • Kierulf
  • Schwartz
3:16
7. "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"   Jerkins 3:06
8. "Cinderella"  
  • Max Martin
  • Rami
  • Spears
  • Max Martin
  • Rami
3:40
9. "Let Me Be"  
  • Spears
  • Schwartz
  • Kierulf
  • Jerkins
  • Kierulf[a]
  • Schwartz[a]
2:51
10. "Bombastic Love"  
  • Max Martin
  • Rami
  • Max Martin
  • Rami
3:06
11. "That's Where You Take Me"  
  • Spears
  • Schwartz
  • Kierulf
  • Kierulf
  • Schwartz
3:32
12. "What It's Like to Be Me"  
  • Robson
  • Timberlake
2:52
Total length:
39:47
Notes

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[85] Platinum 40,000x
Australia (ARIA)[86] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[87] Platinum 30,000x
Belgium (BEA)[88] Platinum 50,000*
Brazil (ABPD)[89] Gold 50,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[90] 3× Platinum 316,944^
France (SNEP)[91] Platinum 396,900[92]*
Germany (BVMI)[93] Platinum 300,000^
Hungary (Mahasz)[94] Gold  
Mexico (AMPROFON)[95] Platinum 150,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[96] Gold 7,500^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[97] Gold 20,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[98] 2× Platinum 80,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[99] Platinum 454,534[100]
United States (RIAA)[101] 4× Platinum 4,988,000^
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[102] 2× Platinum 2,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Notes
  • ^ As of May 2012, the album has sold 4,400,000 copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan,[103][104] with additional 588,000 sold at BMG Music Clubs.[105] Nielsen SoundScan does not count albums sold through clubs like the BMG Music Service, which were significantly popular in the 1990s.[106]

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