Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Britney Spears – 3

And no-one went for the magic number reference. Tssk…


Dave Moore: She doesn’t make things easy, does she — caricatures her best album ever a year later and then caricatures THAT album a year after that with this piece of chintz, which, I mean, what, am I going to lie and say I don’t like it? Yeah, great, and at least this time she almost made the dumb-ass wordplay work (“I am counting!” just misses “I am counting on you,” heh-heh-heh, to hint at some disturbing Sesame Street crossover in which she teaches They Might Be Giants how to share. Here come the 123’s, amirite?! Er, sorry…).

Jonathan Bradley: “3” announces the return of Blackout Britney; the pop-cyborg ghost-in-the-machine who may once upon a time have been a real girl, but is today a juggernaut of studio wizardry. This could be sexual, but it doesn’t need to be; the point is in its pummel. Britney’s robot-kitten vocal dices, the synths slice, and the handclaps fricassee. Trying to resist this is like bringing fists to a knife fight.

Alex Macpherson: “3” : Circus :: Circus : Blackout

Doug Robertson: Oh Britney, you’re not even trying any more, are you? You’re happy to coast along on the remaining waves of critical appreciation that came from the “Blimey, this is actually pretty damned good” reaction to the Blackout album and just keep churning out poor quality photocopies of those tracks, happily ignorant of the law of diminishing returns. Your creative fires can be ignited without having to go through another very public breakdown, surely?

Anthony Miccio: This is yocky and slapdash even for Britney, like a “Deep House Dish” bit on SNL extended and rushed to iTunes to exploit unexpected public interest. Hopefully the “are you game? are you in?” placeholders will be excised to make room for 3OH!3 on a remix (what other male duo would be shameless enough to grace one?).

Kat Stevens: At last the vacant stare has been replaced with a familiar cheeky wink. Britney’s vocal is still nasal and robotic, but the demented harmonies on “let’s make a team/love in the extreme” embrace and amplify her madness, turning it to her advantage (the ambulance sirens are still wailing but they’re firmly buried in the background). But, most of all, it’s refreshing to hear Britney be specific about the exact type of sex she wants, after the general debauchery slathered over Blackout and Circus. And why not? Living in sin is the new thing, after all.

Anthony Easton: I actually do not think that this song is about a physical menage-a-trois. I have no idea what it is about, but the Mary Travers reference the week she died makes Brit-Brit the Nostradamus of slutpop. The slowing down and speeding up, the sheer exhaustion of the mechanically reproduced voice, how it breaks into a lovely little ballad midway through, and the revving sound when she says four on the floor — it is almost like the musical prolifagacy matches a physical one, but only because this is expected of her. She could make a cover of “The Bells of St Clements” sound both formally innovative and irreproducibly filthy.

Alfred Soto: As fungible as an orgasm, the nu-Britney proffers herself as a devotee to a pleasure principle she hasn’t shared with the rest of us. I think it’s got something to do with “fun,” as the middle-eight of this number reminds us over Coldplay guitars signifying meditation and reflection. That she has to stop her sawtooth-synth Tupperware party for this kind of nonsense says a lot about her conflict — she’s still winking and nudging about being “not that innocent.” I mean, when she says “or four… on the floor” she really does mean a “dance floor,” not something awesome happening while lying on the linoleum (not even a hint of a four-on-the-floor drumbeat either, sigh). Someone please YSI her a few Sheena Easton singles.

John Seroff: Lines like “gettin’ down with three-P” and “living in sin is the new thing” delivered in Brit-Brit’s patented baby doll, pop-bot algorithm are entirely too Transmet dystopian for me to swallow without gagging. It’s not that I’m such a prude that repping the beast with three backs raises moral indignancy; it’s that the whole enterprise feels darkly exploitative. Unlike Mariah or Beyonce, I never get the sense that Spears is cerebrally or lyrically engaged in her work, so even (and especially) when Britney dips into the whispery “just between you and me” ballad bridge, there’s the unmistakable creak of the pimp at the door. General repugnancy aside, “3” is still (perhaps lamentably) good. It’s a thrusting, hook-laden dancefloor tank that follows Spears’ decade-long habit of swapping dense, catchy production for heart and seven layers of production trickery for soul. It exposes everything but her humanity. If it were easy, there’d be three dozen other Billboard hot-shot husks dropping songs this catchy, but it’s not and there aren’t. Britney’s still the best at what she does and though what she does isn’t pretty, you can damn well dance to it.

Iain Mew: Robo-Britney is pushed even further than usual here, so shiny and hard that something with a definite direction for her to stomp over would surely be rather impressive. Instead, though, we have something rather muddled where words and tune are equally difficult to follow or get a handle on. Impressive it isn’t.

Martin Kavka: For most of this decade, it appeared as if Britney would take over Madonna’s reign as champion Pop Envelope Pusher. And then she lost her marbles, and Lady Gaga came on strong in the Performance Art events. With “3,” Britney might seem to have secured the title, simply for taking on the difficult task of suggesting a MMF threesome (“Peter, Paul and Mary”) to a guy who might be insecure in his masculinity. But musically, it’s just not up to snuff: while the prechorus and bridge are pretty, the chorus is treble-heavy, repeats too often, and is annoyingly filtered. And wouldn’t Madonna have included a lyric about crossing swords?

Frank Kogan: It upsets me that the woman who was tired of people touching her is now fundamentally going “Goo goo goo, see, isn’t sexy baby talk clever?” I’m gullible enough to think she’s way smarter than this, and has something to teach the world. Nonetheless, this is undeniably catchy.

Edward Okulicz: It’s nice to hear Max Martin back to doing cheesy Europop, nice as his Europop-rock phase was, but this is so twitchy and buzzing, in a bad, tinnitus-inducing way. As far as Britney songs go, it’s like an identikit, you can identify it on the features — the slick production, the “sexy” robot frog voice — but I can’t picture why you’d want to listen to this when you could put on, say, “Get Naked (I Got A Plan)” instead?

Al Shipley: Yeah, 3 seems about right.

Michaelangelo Matos: As you wish, princess.

Chuck Eddy: In the tradition of Jefferson Airplane’s “Triad,” Joan Jett’s “The French Song,” and (sort of) Prince’s “When You Were Mine.” Except less good. And honestly, if somebody hadn’t told me, I doubt I would have even figured out what this is about.

6 Responses to “Britney Spears – 3”

  1. I nearly downgraded this to a 9, but realised I’d spent the entire week humming it to myself which earned the extra point straight back again.

  2. […] Read a original:  The Singles Jukebox » Britney Spears – 3 […]

  3. I think “3” earns the award as the lowest common denominator pop song ever (“One” not being considered a denominator, and stuff like “2 Become 1” and “2 Times” and “Two Tribes” and “Two Princes” being declared ineligible).

  4. […] Britney Spears – 3 […]

  5. I think the song overall wasn’t so bad the video was inappropriate but my favorite part of the whole song was the bridge of the song where she singing softly and it’s just like a soft techno song it was just so nice and I loved it

  6. I agree about the bridge; it’s quite lovely. In fact, the song gets better the more I hear it, even if it is slimy; I’d give it a [9] now. Here’s a mashup that does very well by the bridge, I think.