Yup, this is probably the first One A Day post about a multi-billion dollar pop star. But I saw a Britney Spears cabaret show on Saturday night, and it really rammed home just how great some of Brit’s songs are – even if she didn’t write them or come up with the words. Fact: Max Martin, Swedish man responsible for most of what comes out of Pink, Kelly Clarkson, The Veronicas and The Backstreet Boys’ collective pieholes, has been Britney’s biggest fan ever since he sold her ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time.’ The song we all associate with the quintessential American schoolgirl-cum-raunch-o-matic was actually written with R&B outfit TLC in mind. Of course, each artist brings their personality to the table; the Veronicas their sassiness, Pink her magnificent balls and Kelly her incessant yodelling. Lets not talk about Nick Carter et al. When musical theatre-turned-cabaret performer Christie Whelan (who, may I add, was kind of like having me teenage dreams of Spears manifested inches from my face in glorious technicolour) beat her chest and slowed down the chorus, I think I finally gelled with how Birtney became one with somebody else’s songs.
‘Toxic’ is an important track here at One A Day. It marks the point when I stopped listening to the radio and D began in earnest, when I got into violent movies and D got into sexy video clips. With her phenomenal plane stewardess get-up, Britney united the disparate Seidler boys with a common goal of being able to sleep with someone even half as attractive as her before we died. Whlean, with her slinky, sultry re-interpretation of Spears as a teenager coming to terms with her sexuality in a very public way, demonstrated just how in love with Justin Timberlake the poor girl was. After all, it was Timberlake who, after canoodling in the tour bus with Spears in their late teens, walked past his security guard and said ‘Smell my fingers. That’s Britney Spears.’ It really is quite heartbreaking. The girl’s had a lifetime of being misunderstood. Shit, I’m sounding like that ‘Leave Britney Alone!’ asshole.
This song is so good because it has all the potential in the world to be bad. The pitch-modulated strings that make up the main riff still sound to me like backwards nails on a chalkboard, and everything about it screams’ cheese’ until the bass drops before the first verse and Brits brings on the seduction. In a way, the syncopated guitar line that accompanies it sounds like early Justin stuff, the ‘Like I Love You’ era. Unsurprising, they did both graduate from the same TV show. When you’re a guy, seeing a girl act out her desires in song form is the kind of thing you usually only get from watching Mariah Carey touch herself a gazillion times on celluloid. ‘Tegrity (that’s the name of the cabaret show for those playing at home) manages to blend witty repartee with slowed down versions of the hits so that they actually sound almost contextually viable. I now believe it when Britney croons:
With the taste of your lips I’m on a ride,
You’re toxic I’m slippin’ under,
With the taste of the poison paradise,
I’m addicted to you, don’t you know that you’re toxic?
Britney was in the throes of addiction. It’s probably a bit presumptuous to assume that she communicated that to whoever was on ‘hit-writing’ duties that afternoon, but I honestly can’t imagine Christina or anybody else for that matter, singing these words. They are Britney’s She owns them. And inasmuch as I despise what she has become in recent years, she’s still one of the most consistently entertaining performers in the biz. If U Seek Amy? That’s the best phonetic trick I’ve heard since No Eye Dear.
Britney Spears – ‘Toxic’
And come on, who doesn’t want to watch the clip again?