Britney Jean

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Britney Jean
Studio album by Britney Spears
Released November 29, 2013 (2013-11-29)
Recorded May – October 2013;
Genre
Length 36:04
Label RCA
Producer
Britney Spears chronology
  • Britney Jean
  • (2013)
Singles from Britney Jean
  1. "Work Bitch"
    Released: September 17, 2013 (2013-09-17)
  2. "Perfume"
    Released: November 4, 2013 (2013-11-04)

Britney Jean is the eponymous eighth studio album by American recording artist Britney Spears. It was released on November 29, 2013, by RCA Records. Her first studio album since the dissolution of her long-time record label, Jive Records, in 2011, Spears began recording in May 2013 and continued work into October 2013. On numerous occasions, Spears has described the album as the most personal record from her catalog. Having assumed an integral position in its production, she co-wrote each track and collaborated with songwriters and producers including Sia Furler and will.i.am to achieve her desired sound. Furthermore, the record features guest vocals from Spears' sister Jamie Lynn, T.I., and will.i.am.

Upon its release, Britney Jean received mixed reviews from music critics. The record debuted at number 4 on the U.S. Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 107,000 copies. In doing so, it became Spears' lowest charting album in the United States.

"Work Bitch" was released as the lead single from Britney Jean on September 17, 2013. The track debuted and peaked as number 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and charted moderately in international territories. "Perfume" was released as the second single from the album on November 4, 2013, and debuted at number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100. Spears appeared on Good Morning America on September 17 to announce a two-year residency show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, titled Britney: Piece of Me, which began in December 2013. Britney Jean is Spears' second eponymous album, after 2001's Britney.

Background and production[edit]

"I wanted to just go to lunch for two months, which is totally different from how you typically do it. I said, 'Let's talk about what you're excited about. Let's talk about things you've done in you career, what you're happy about. Let's talk about spending time with your kids, let's talk about your breakup. Let's talk about how now you're single, how independent you might feel.' We started talking about all that stuff. So I said, 'do you mind if I write this down? I don't mean to impose but I want to interview you. I need this to create a filter.'"

 — will.i.am describing his relationship with Spears during production of Britney Jean.[1]

In 2012, while serving as a judge on the second season of the American version of The X Factor, Spears was spotted in the recording studio with producer Rodney Jerkins.[2] Songwriter Elijah Blake commented that Spears was "definitely trying to push the envelope" by "playing with new textures and stomping on new grounds and genres."[3] Their collaborations, however, were denied by Spears's representative, though he confirmed that producer Hit-Boy worked with Spears to create a "global sound" fusing elements of hip-hop and pop.[4][5] Producer Scoop DeVille had also worked with Spears for the album's early stages.[6] Additionally, Spears had also recorded an unused song with rapper Wiz Khalifa for the album.[7] In an interview with Shape Magazine, Spears described the album's initial concept as having a hip-hop feel, saying "the record is definitely going to be more hip-hop than pop this time around."[8]

In May 2013, Naughty Boy and William Orbit were announced to be working on the record; the former expressed his satisfaction with his collaborations with Spears, adding that he had wanted always wanted to "do something a bit different."[9] He commented that he is "a big fan of pop music and that culture", and wanted to "keep that going [...] in [his] own kind of style."[10] Later that month, will.i.am was confirmed as the executive producer of the project. He described that his recording process differed from his past experience with the Black Eyed Peas, elaborating that "[he and Spears] had these juicy sessions, where [they had] been bonding, building the trust and comfort."[1] The album's associate executive producer was Anthony Preston for will.i.am music. In July 2013, Spears acknowledged through Twitter that she "wrote such a special song" with Sia Furler,[11] which was later revealed to be Spears' favorite track, the ballad "Perfume".[12] The following month, she reportedly traveled to Lake District in the United Kingdom to continue work with Naughty Boy and Orbit.[13] Naughty Boy later stated he wasn't able to work on the material for the album with Orbit because he "wasn't able to come to L.A. at the time [as he] was promoting 'La La La' around the world."[14]

On numerous occasions, Spears has considered Britney Jean to be the most personal record from her catalog.[15] She stated that her experiences in recent years, including her break-up with ex-fiancé Jason Trawick,[15] encouraged her to "dig deeper and write songs that [she thinks] everyone can relate to."[16] Spears added that the production of the record was an "amazing experience" and that her colleagues "helped [her] bring [her ideas] to life."[16]

Composition[edit]

Britney Jean is a concept album about "the loneliness of pop life".[17] The opening track "Alien" deems celebrity an isolating experience that Britney describes in terms of feeling like an extraterrestrial[18] over synth bleaps,[19] which according to some critics, "it echoes William Orbit work with Madonna on Ray of Light".[20][21] The second track "Work Bitch" is an EDM-influenced dance song,[22] where Spears sings about what it takes to be rich, famous and beautiful,[18] repeatedly encouraging listeners to "get to work, bitch."[22] The third track "Perfume" is a 1980s-influenced power ballad, which Spears described as "incredibly special to me because it hits close to home, and I think the story is relatable to everyone. Everyone's been through an insecure moment in a relationship that's left them vulnerable and I think this song captures that."[23][24] The fourth track "It Should Be Easy", which features will.i.am, insists that love "shouldn't be complicated", with Britney imagining a bright-normal-future with a man who's stolen her heart,[18] with "robotized" voice and EDM beats.[25] The song was heavily criticized for the excessive use of Autotune, credited by will.i.am.[26][27]

The album's fifth track "Tik Tik Boom" finds Britney begging a lover to make her "tik, tik, tik, tik, boom" over dubstep beats.[20] It was described as a "club banger" and "the closest the album comes to bringing Blackout 2.0 to life", featuring a "sex-drenched" appearance from rapper T.I..[28] "Body Ache" follows with its lyrical theme about dancing hard in a club, over shrieking sirens and EDM beats,[29] whilst "Til It's Gone" gives value to the stability of a good relationship, albeit after it dissolves,[18] with its electronic and Eurotrash sounds.[17][30] With the eighth track "Passenger", which noodles around with some EDM impulses before imploding into "brooding" pop-rock,[25] Britney emotes about finding happiness after being willing to cede control.[31] "Chillin' With You" features Spears' young sister Jamie Lynn into a song about grasping at happiness over lush synth-pop and electrofolk sound.[21] The album's closing track on the standard edition, "Don't Cry", opens with a Spaghetti Western-esque whistle,[25] and it finds Britney refusing to give in to post-relationship grief.[18] Some critics labelled it "her best vocal performance on the album."[26][31] The last few tracks on the deluxe edition are love, friendship, support, religious songs, about her finding happiness again, they are called, Brightest Morning Star, Hold On Tight and Now That I Found You. Evident on the deluxe album.

Release and artwork[edit]

In October 2012, Spears had mentioned the possibility of making a follow-up to her fifth studio album Blackout (2007), tweeting "I heard Happy Birthday Blackout was trending earlier... thank u all for loving the album as much as I do. Blackout 2.0?"[32] In May 2013, record producer Danja, who collaborated with Spears during its production, commented that he "[doesn't] know when the next [Blackout] is going to be, but [he believes] there’s going to be another one."[33] On August 20, 2013, Spears re-launched her website with a countdown ending on September 17, originally speculated to be the release date of her then-unannounced lead single.[34] On September 17, Spears announced on Good Morning America that her album would be released on December 3, 2013, in the United States, the day after her 32nd birthday.[35] On October 15, during an appearance on Capital London, she announced that the record would be titled Britney Jean, a nickname used affectionately by her family and friends.[36]

On October 24, together with an open letter to her fans, Spears unveiled the album artwork. The black-and-white image depicts a close-up image of Spears with the term "Britney Jean" colored in blue lettering inside a pink heart near the bottom of the cover.[37] A report from ABC News Radio likened the usage of Spears' middle name in the album's title to being inspired by Janet Jackson's eighth studio album Damita Jo, saying "taking a page from Janet Jackson's 2004 album, Damita Jo, Britney Spears has combined her first and middle names -- Britney Jean -- to come up with the title".[38] A writer for The Huffington Post later suggested that the neon-style typography was inspired by the cover of Miley Cyrus' fourth studio album Bangerz (2013), which itself depicts a blonde Cyrus wearing a short black coat with the title "Bangerz" stylized in fluorescent neon lighting in front of palm trees.[39] While the typography was compared to that of Bangerz by a writer from The Huffington Post, Britney Jean marks the third album artwork from RCA Records to use a neon-style typography design, Bangerz from Miley Cyrus being one and the other being Mechanical Bull from Kings of Leon. Byron Flitsch of MTV News shared a similar sentiment, and added that the artwork was reminiscent of Spears' fourth and seventh records In the Zone (2003) and Femme Fatale (2011).[40]

On November 4, the album was made available for pre-order through the iTunes Store.[41] That day, a colorized version of the cover was unveiled as the primary visual for the standard version,[42] with the original cover becoming the primary visual for the deluxe version.[43] Spears revealed the track listing for Britney Jean on November 12, which she implied was earlier than she planned after hackers "[tried] to ruin [her] surprises."[44] The record is additionally marked with the Parental Advisory label,[42] affixed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to identify explicit content.[45] On November 25, Britney Jean was made available for streaming in full through the iTunes Store and iTunes Radio.[46]

Singles[edit]

"Work Bitch" was released as the lead single from Britney Jean on September 15, 2013, one day earlier than expected after a low-quality version was leaked by "one bad apple".[47] A writer for MuuMuse described the track as a "massive return to form" and an "exciting way to kick off a brand new era".[48] It debuted and peaked at number 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 with 174,000 first-week downloads,[49] and charted moderately on national singles charts internationally.[50] An accompanying music video for the track was premiered on October 1, where Spears is depicted as a dominatrix-like character.[51] It received general acclaim from critics, with particular praise directed towards her dancing.[52] However, Spears herself commented that she felt forced into maintaining her provocative image, elaborating that she "cut out half the video because I am a mother and because, you know, I have children, and it’s just hard to play sexy mom while you’re being a pop star as well".[53]

"Perfume" was released as the second single from Britney Jean on November 3, 2013.[54] It received generally favorable reviews from music critics, and was compared to Spears' earlier song "Everytime", taken from her fourth studio album In the Zone (2003).[55] The track debuted and peaked at number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100.[56]

Promotion[edit]

Unlike her previous records, excluding her fifth studio album Blackout (2007),[57] Spears did not heavily promote Britney Jean.[58] However, she appeared on Good Morning America to announce her two-year residency show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, titled Britney: Piece of Me, on September 17.[59] It began on December 27, with tickets having been first made available on September 20.[60] Spears then traveled to the UK to promote the lead single and the album on Alan Carr: Chatty Man.[61] She also appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show,[62] Entertainment Tonight,[63] and the Surprise Surprise.[64] Britney Jean was additionally promoted through the documentary I Am Britney Jean: Britney Spears' Road to Las Vegas, which premiered through E! on December 22; it covered the production and lead-up to its release and the launch of Britney: Piece of Me.[65] The original airing of the special in the United States was viewed by 0.706 million viewers, garnering above-average Sunday ratings for the network,[66][67] while it was viewed by 0.63 million viewers in the United Kingdom.[68]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 50/100[69]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[70]
The A.V. Club C[20]
Chicago Tribune 2/4 stars[21]
Entertainment Weekly B+[27]
The Guardian 2/5 stars[26]
The Independent 2/5 stars[71]
Los Angeles Times 1.5/4 stars[72]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[17]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[30]
Spin 3/10[19]

Upon its release, Britney Jean received generally mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 50, which indicates "mixed or average reviews", based on 20 reviews.[69] Jason Lipshutz from Billboard provided a favorable review, describing the project as a "transitional record [as] her first album released in her thirties", and felt it was reminiscent of Spears' third studio album Britney (2001).[25] Nick Catucci of Entertainment Weekly shared a similar sentiment, stating that he "treasures" Spears for "[remaining] as enigmatic as the Disney-groomed, emotionally insulated teen who greeted us in the late '90s", and adding that will.i.am's production "happily indulges the fantasies of endorphin-seeking EDM festival goers".[27] Writing for Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield described Britney Jean as a "concept album about the loneliness of pop life – with a high-profile broken engagement behind her, Brit gets personal and drops her most bummed-out music ever".[17]

In contrast, Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine provided a mixed review, criticizing its "dated production and vocals that hark back to the days when Brit was selling 10 million [records]".[30] Similarly, Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph stated that Britney Jean "continues the striptease of Britney's career", and felt that its production prevented the record from coming across as a genuinely personal effort.[73]

Commercial performance[edit]

Prior to its release in the United States, Britney Jean was initially predicted to sell 150-200,000 copies, with Hits Daily Double crediting the underwhelming numbers to "her very light promo schedule, with little or no TV around the release".[74] However, the day following its release, potential sales figures were lowered to 115-120,000 units.[75] The album debuted at number four with 107,000 units.[76] It is Spears' lowest sales and chart debut for a studio set. Previously, her 1999 debut album, ...Baby One More Time, tallied her smallest start with 121,000.[76] In its second week on the chart, the album fell from number four to number 22 on the Billboard 200, making it Spears' first album to only spend one week in the top ten.[77]

In Europe, Britney Jean debuted at number 34 on the UK Albums Chart, selling 12,959 copies in its first week.[78] In doing so, it became Spears' lowest-charting album in the country; by comparison, her previous lowest-charting record In the Zone (2003) debuted at number 13.[79] It dropped to number 87 the next week.[80] Internationally, Britney Jean underperformed, only reaching the top 20 and top 30 in most countries.[81]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Britney Jean.[82]

Standard edition
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Alien"  
  • Orbit
  • HyGrade
  • Preston[a]
3:56
2. "Work Bitch"  
4:07
3. "Perfume"  
3:59
4. "It Should Be Easy" (featuring will.i.am)
3:26
5. "Tik Tik Boom" (featuring T.I.)
  • Preston
  • LeRoy[b]
2:57
6. "Body Ache"  
  • Guetta
  • Tuinfort
  • will.i.am
  • Preston[a]
3:25
7. "Til It's Gone"  
  • Tuinfort
  • will.i.am
  • Preston[b]
3:42
8. "Passenger"  
3:40
9. "Chillin' with You" (featuring Jamie Lynn)
  • Spears
  • Adams
  • Preston
  • Joshua Lopez
  • will.i.am
  • Freshmen III[b]
  • Preston[a]
3:38
10. "Don't Cry"  
  • Spears
  • Adams
  • Lopez
  • Gonzalez
3:14
Total length:
36:04
Notes
  • ^a signifies a vocal producer
  • ^b signifies a co-producer
  • ^c signifies an additional producer
  • ^d signifies a remixer

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from AllMusic.[85]

  • Daniel Andrés Aguilar – assistant, assistant vocal engineer
  • Chico Bennett – producer
  • Joe Bozzi – mastering
  • Christopher Braide – producer, vocal producer
  • Mark Cargill – concert master
  • AJ Clark – assistant, assistant vocal engineer
  • Daddy's Groove – mixing
  • Jacob Dennis Assistant Vocal Engineer
  • Ana Díaz – vocals
  • Michelangelo Di Battista – photography
  • Diplo – producer
  • Dylan Dresdow – vocal mixing
  • Karen Elaine – viola
  • Vanessa Freebairn-Smith – celli
  • Sia Furler – background vocals
  • Freshm3n III – producer
  • Lucine Fyelon – violin
  • Serban Ghenea – mixing
  • Onree Gill – string arrangements
  • Rachel Grace – violin
  • David Guetta – engineer, instrumentation, producer, programming
  • Neel Hammond – viola
  • Rani Hancock – A&R
  • John Hanes – mixing engineer
  • Keith Harris – producer
  • Joakim Harestad Haukaas – guitar
  • Zach Heiligman – additional production
  • Billy Hickey – assistant vocal engineer
  • Ghazi Hourani – assistant
  • Todd Hurtt – assistant vocal engineer
  • Hygrade – musician, producer, programming
  • Frances Iacuzzi – photography
  • Sebastian Ingrosso – engineer, musician, producer, programming
  • Chris Kahn – assistant vocal engineer
  • William Kebler "Keebz" – additional production
  • Padraic "Padlock" Kerin – engineer, project coordinator, vocal editing
  • Adam Leber – A&R
  • Damien Leroy – instrumentation, producer, programming
  • Andre Lindal – guitar, instrumentation, programming, vocal editing
  • Joshua Lopez – Acoustic guitar
  • Ginny Luke – violin
  • LWAM – additional production
  • Myah Marie – background vocals
  • Alan O'Connell – engineer
  • William Orbit – musician, producer, programming
  • Otto Knows – engineer, musician, producer, programming
  • Joe Peluso – mixing, string engineer
  • Anthony Preston – associate executive producer, instrumentation, producer, programming, vocal producer, background vocals
  • Julian Prindle – project coordinator, vocal editing, vocal engineer
  • Pierre-Luc Rioux – guitar
  • Nicky Romero – instrumentation, mixing, producer, programming
  • Larry Rudolph – A&R
  • Bradford H. Smith – assistant, assistant vocal engineer
  • Britney Spears – primary artist, background vocals, vocals, writing, A&R, Concept.
  • Jamie Lynn Spears – background vocals, Vocals.
  • Alan Tilston – engineer
  • JoAnn Tominaga – music contractor
  • Giorgio Tuinfort – engineer, instrumentation, piano, producer, programming
  • Michael Valerio – bass
  • Richard Vission – producer
  • Marcus Van Wattum – instrumentation, mixing, producer, programming, sound design
  • Ralph Wegner – sound design
  • will.i.am – engineer, executive producer, instrumentation, producer, programming, vocal producer
  • Adrienne Woods – celli

Charts[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
position
Argentine Monthly Albums (CAPIF)[86] 7
Australian Albums (ARIA)[87] 12
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[88] 13
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[89] 32
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[90] 26
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[91] 7
Croatian Albums Chart[92] 29
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[93] 36
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[94] 27
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[95] 36
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[96] 24
French Albums (SNEP)[97] 22
German Albums (Media Control)[98] 20
Greek Albums (IFPI)[99] 26
Italian Albums (FIMI)[100] 14
Irish Albums (IRMA)[101] 15
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[102] 17
Mexican Albums (AMPROFON)[103] 4
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[104] 22
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[105] 16
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[106] 45
Scottish Albums (OCC)[107] 30
South Korean Albums (Gaon)[108] 20
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[109] 12
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[110] 28
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[111] 9
Taiwanese Albums (Five Music)[112] 15
UK Albums (OCC)[113] 34
US Billboard 200[114] 4

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[115] Gold 40,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[116] Gold 30,000^
Venezuela (APFV)[117][118] Gold 5,000

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Edition Format Label
Australia[119] November 29, 2013 Deluxe CD Sony
Finland[120][121]
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Germany[122][123]
France[124][125] December 2, 2013
United Kingdom[126] Deluxe RCA
Canada[127][128] December 3, 2013
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Sony
United States[129][130] RCA
Japan[131] December 4, 2013 Deluxe Sony
Philippines[132] January 17, 2014 Deluxe Ivory
China[133] April 14, 2014 Deluxe Sony

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