Pop Corner: It's personal... one more time
Several phrases can raise alarm coming out of a pop star's mouth.
Chief among them is when they claim their new work is "personal". If you're a singer-songwriter cliché plucking a guitar it can hold weight, but when you're a beacon of manufactured pop sheen it can sound trite.
So it's interesting to hear Britney Spears declare new album Britney Jean, released today, as her most personal yet. It's the line used to sell the LP in any of the (limited) promotions she's done, and despite Spears' troubled times in the media glare, it rarely comes across in the music (aside from stellar single Piece Of Me).
The fact that album eight arrived with the thumping dance-pop of Work Bitch only highlights how little we usually get from her on that front.
Britney yelping about Maseratis and bikinis might make for pop gold, but it certainly doesn't lift the veil on a star who has become notoriously private.
We didn't hear the full album before going to press, but the snippets we'd heard suggested a mix of relentless club tracks and a surprising amount of ballads. Sure, pop balladry is a big part of the Venn diagram of chart success from Beyoncé to Katy Perry, but it rarely factors in Britney's run of singles.
Current single Perfume, which ropes in pop's song-writing golden girl Sia, is the first time we've heard Spears emote in a while, and it works surprisingly well. Britney will never be a Mariah-style warbler, but she packs personality into what she sings when she wants to.
She's hyped her co-writing work on this new release, so it'll be interesting to see if a little introspection will occur on this new album. Maybe letting her guard down is just what Britney needs to win us over again.