What We Talk About When We Talk About Seeing Britney Spears Live

Categories: Britney Spears

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When Britney Spears does anything, it's on a large scale and is nearlyimpossible to avoid. It's been this way since she was an underage pop starlet topping the charts in a crop-topped schoolgirl outfit cooing "...Baby One More Time." She set the bar for early millennium pop after '90s pop could barely hold a candle to the Madonna and Michael Jackson reign of the '80s. She's a living legend, an icon, and musical royalty.

And, yes, she lip-syncs live. It's a controversy that has trailed her for years, but has never felt like much of a threat to hurting her career. That is, until now.

See also: Fair Cher: With "Work Bitch" Britney Spears Becomes a Next Level Gay Icon with Few Equals

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Britney Spears Demonizes the Poor in "Work, Bitch" Video

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The music video for Britney Spears' "Work, Bitch" dropped yesterday and was received by the citizens of the world with the applause Lady Gaga is still waiting for. It's filled with glitzy clubs, tight outfits, late-night parties, and some incredible dance moves to remind us all that Brit's still got it. It's also a searing condemnation of the world's poor. As her Republican perm-and-pressed slogan goes, Brit Brit wants everyone to "WORK, BITCH."

See also: Fair Cher: With "Work Bitch" Britney Spears Becomes a Next Level Gay Icon with Few Equals

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Fair Cher: With "Work Bitch" Britney Spears Becomes a Next Level Gay Icon with Few Equals

Categories: Britney Spears

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Within the past week, Princess of Pop Britney Spears blessed fans with a new song and a very exciting but not very well-hidden piece of news. "Work Bitch" debuted on Sunday, a day early due to a low-quality leak, and Spears announced her upcoming two year residency in Las Vegas. The single, an EDM heavyweight-helmed dance song in the vein of her will.i.am collaboration "Scream & Shout," is not what we've known from the pop star. Since Blackout, she's been pulling away from the merely coy and sugary pop that helped her break out post-Mickey Mouse Club and become the prototype for today's Mileys and Selenas.

More than just extracting the saccharine from her sound, Britney has reinforced another important cultural influence she's had: her mainstay as a gay icon.

See also: Britney Spears Covers Madonna, Because Hey, Why Not

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Fake Scott Walker's "Scream & Shout" Is Better Than will.i.am and Britney's Original

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Scott Walker woke up one day last week (if he indeed sleeps) and decided to cover "Scream & Shout" through the body of comedian Adam Buxton. It is the best thing that has happened to the song since someone in will.i.am's recording studio said "Hey, maybe we shouldn't make this song because it's pretty shitty" but no one listened. Here are three reasons why.

See Also:
-Scott Walker 30 Century Man: Melodrama, Studio Footage, and Fucking Sting
-Britney Spears Covers Madonna, Because Hey, Why Not
-Will.I.Am Kickstarts The Perhaps-Inevitable Trend Of Naming Albums After Hashtags

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Radio Hits One: Hot 100 Peaks Only Tell Half The Story For Cee Lo, Britney Spears, And Other Year-End Winners

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One of the most frustrating things about discussing the Billboard singles charts is how a song's peak position—the highest spot it occupied on a chart during its run—is almost universally regarded as the permanent measurement of its success or popularity. Any song that reaches No. 1 is embalmed forever as a chart-topper, the biggest of the big, and any song that didn't is presumed to be less successful in every way. And in the iTunes era, peaks can be even more misleading, as songs by artists with big fanbases rocket up the chart the week after they go onsale, and then have to slowly pick up momentum in the slower moving world of radio to actually stay on the chart.

That's why I love looking at Billboard's year-end charts: you finally get authoritative rankings of how successful songs were relative to each other, based on their entire chart lifespan during the year, not just how popular they were on the particular week they reached critical mass. You can always use anecdotal evidence, or more complicated statistics like sales figures or radio spins to measure a song's staying power, but the 2011 year-end Hot 100 lays it all out, in simple single- and double-digit numbers as easy to understand as a chart peak. Of course, as my colleague Chris Molanphy has noted, the year-end chart runs from the beginning of December to the end of November, and heavily favors songs that broke earlier in the chart year. But even taking that into account, the 2011 list handily debunks the validity of the chart peak as the final word.


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Underwhelmed And Overstimulated, Part III: Occupying The Year Of The Woman Cliché In Hopes Of Blowing It Up

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Kanye West at Occupy Wall Street; confused woman.
Sound of the City's year-end roundtable, with contributions from Tom Ewing, Eric Harvey, Maura Johnston, Nick Murray, and Katherine St. Asaph, continues. Follow along here.

Hello all, and thanks! I'm honored to be here. Let's talk about the collapse of the global economy.

Or rather, let's not; as tempting as it is to link early 2011's glut of apocalyptic dance or late 2011's druggy numbness to financial panic or cultural malaise, you'd have to glibly ignore 99% of both music and the cultural moment. Even the arguments that almost worked didn't, like the reductive meme that Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne was just about being rich, not about the experience of being black and having become rich. And speaking of the 99%, it's far too soon to anoint any Occupy Wall Street anthem. (Sorry, Jonah, Miley's track is just a fanvid.) There's been music on the ground, of course, and there's an album coming out, but it's telling (of my now-bastardized Google Reader feed, if nothing else) that my main associations between music and Occupy are three things: the Radiohead non-concert that turned out to be a new-media bro's prank, the musicians whose Zuccotti cameos were probably out of good intent but in practice indistinguishable from photo ops, and the albums in Occupy's library, which was seized after the NYPD raids—alas, the cloud couldn't save it.

Nor can megastars—they're too busy mythologizing themselves to survive in lieu of those megasales. There are exceptions; candor in interviews and mega-megasales aside, you can't really call Adele a "celebrity," at least not using that term. (Contrary to rockist belief, this is not a selling point.) But take Rihanna, who's wearing herself out being better at this sort of thing than anyone else. Icky news stories? Out-ick them on Twitter! Gossip cackling about Chris Brown? Tease it in the "We Found Love" video! Moral guardians carping about being too sexy? Send racks of raunch down the Talk That Talk assembly line!

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Radio Hits One: How The Whistle Became Pop's Secret Weapon Of 2011

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After Billboard released its 2011 year-end charts on Friday I pored over them, looking for patterns and trends with which I could make sense of the year in pop. If someone asked you to pinpoint "the sound of popular music in 2011," there are countless fads and running themes that you could point to. The insistent thump of European dance music from producers like David Guetta and Afrojack ruled pop radio, while Lex Luger's frenzied hi-hats dominated mainstream hip-hop. Questionably talented singers continued to abuse AutoTune, while rap superstars both on and off the Young Money roster jettisoned "like a" from their wordplay in favor of the ever-popular "hashtag" (or, as I like to call it, "grocery bag") punchline.

Looking over the year-end Hot 100, however, I noticed a much more mundane musical accessory that had been quietly dominating the airwaves all year: Whistling. One of humankind's oldest forms of melodic expression, the whistle has long been a tool mostly relied on by those who might not be able to sing or play an instrument. Recorded music has relegated whistling to more of a novelty, something that might pop up memorably in the occasional classic like Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay"—more of a whimsical finishing touch than a central hook.

2011 changed all of that.

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100 & Single: What Billboard's Rule Changes Mean For The Britney, Michael And Gaga Albums You Bought

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When you go see a movie at a Saturday half-price matinee, should it count toward that weekend's box office? You paid less than the guy who saw the movie Friday night. Does that mean your viewing shouldn't count?

What about if you see an old movie at a revival house: Should that count toward the box office? I don't just mean a big, nationwide rerelease like this year's The Lion King in 3D. If enough people pay to see a restored print of Blade Runner, should it make the lower rungs of the box-office chart? What if that showing of Blade Runner was only playing at one theater, like the Ziegfeld in New York or Graumann's Chinese in Hollywood? Should that count?

These questions probably seem like no-brainers. Sure, count it all, you're saying. What's the big deal? Maybe the matinee-priced movie should count half as much as the full-price, but otherwise no one would object to all movies at all theaters competing for the weekend title. In fact, that's exactly how box-office tallying works. If it screens somewhere open to the public, it's counted and charted.

Switch the medium from movies to music, however, and answering these questions becomes a matter of hot debate.

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School On Top: Lessons From This Year's Video Music Awards

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Nicki Minaj: The VMAs' Bravest.

It's been about 15 hours since the Video Music Awards blew by in a cloud of bleeped-out curses and plastic chains, which is just enough time to let the night's bigger-picture themes sink in. After the jump, a few thoughts on What It All Means For Us.


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Live-Blogging The 2011 Video Music Awards: Teenage Dreams Of Vomited-Up Cockroaches

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Sort of the way I remember it.

Welcome to Sound of the City's liveblog of the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, the cable channel's annual paean to musically borne decadence and its own self-storied past. Tonight's roster of performers includes Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Chris Brown, Pitbull, and Young the Giant, as well as a "surprise" performance by Jay-Z and Kanye West, a tribute to Britney Spears (not dead and celebrating the 10th anniversary of her dancing uncomfortably with a snake), an homage to Amy Winehouse (R.I.P.), and the looming possibility that Tyler, The Creator will crap himself onstage. The blogging starts below.


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