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April 5, 2011

"Femme Fatale"

Courtesy of amazon.com

There’s not much that can be said about Britney Spears that hasn’t been said already.

She’s gone from teen pop idol, dancing in a schoolgirl skirt, to train wreck, shaving her head and attacking paparazzi cars with an umbrella.

And now she’s a comeback queen, who has managed to put her life back together again and is ready to reclaim her place at the top of the pop charts.

With her seventh and most recent album, “Femme Fatale,” Spears is back in full force with a series of pop dance tunes sure to do just that.

She kicks off the album with “Till the World Ends,” currently getting radio airplay as the second single of the album. The radio-friendly song has fun, sing-able lyrics and a good dance beat.

But so does “Hold It Against Me,” the second track and first single of the album. In fact, it’s hard for me to distinguish the two songs unless I concentrate on the lyrics. Both are good songs by themselves, but nothing really sets them apart from one another.

I assume Spears and her people selected these two tunes to be singles because they want her to play it safe right now with songs that remind people of classic Britney from the late ’90s and early 2000s. After all, “Femme Fatale” is supposed to be Spears’ comeback, after her 2008 album, “Circus,” generally failed to impress.

But I wish Spears had taken a risk and put out “Big Fat Bass,” which features Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas fame, as her first single. The song is catchy, but different enough so it sticks out against “Till the World Ends” and “Hold It Against Me.” The combined star power of Spears and Will.i.am would have surely made it a radio hit.

Another good lead single would have been “I Wanna Go,” which features a fun whistle backtrack behind Spears’ voice. It reminds me of European techno music, in the best way possible.

But “(Drop Dead) Beautiful,” featuring Sabi, is possibly my favorite song on the album. The tune includes this gem of a lyric “Your body looks so sick I think I caught the flu.”

Yes, it’s cheesy and ridiculous, but Spears makes it work in the song.

Some of the tracks fall short, though, including “Inside Out.” I do like the nod to old-school Britney with the “hit me one more time” lyric, but in general the song failed to hold my attention. If I heard it on the radio, I probably would change the station.

“Femme Fatale” is strong in general, but after listening to it in full, I felt like something was missing. I was hoping for a vulnerable ballad along the lines of “Everytime,” my favorite Spears song. It would be nice to actually hear Spears voice just a little Auto-Tuned, instead of computerized beyond all recognition.

Despite this, I’m sure “Femme Fatale” will be a success for the pop singer. After all, people seem invested in Spears, whether they love her or hate her. They were morbidly fascinated with her during her downfall and now people seem happy that she’s managed to put her life back together again.

I don’t think Lady Gaga, Ke$ha or Katy Perry have to worry about Spears knocking them completely off the top of the pop charts, but they’ll definitely have to make a little room for her as she retakes her place.

Grade: B+

Download: “Big Fat Bass,” “(Drop Dead) Beautiful” and “I Wanna Go.”

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