The Problem With... Britney Spears' "Criminal"
In the last months of 2011, Britney Spears' career is the cat in Schrodinger's sealed box -- it's both alive and dead. Most often, the swan song of a pop star's career is a Lifetime Achievement Award, which Spears received at this year's MTV Video Music Awards in August.
As a contrast from her earlier dance-floor singles, "Criminal" has a folksy sound. It starts with a Ren-faire recorder and a acoustic guitar chord -- it's like the first minutes of "Stairway to Heaven" but blander.
The lyrics and video seem like a steamy romance novel -- the girl-meets-bad-boy kind. The lyrics set up this guy as a smarmy scrub (He's a loser, he's a bum... he's a sucker).
It gets worse.
"The man's a snitch," which means he doesn't even have a code of honor that most fictional mobsters or bikers have.
The problem I have is this sort of story sets women up for relationships
with sociopathic jerks. The film Last Days of Disco made a similar
argument about Lady and the Tramp. It's disturbing to a nice guy like
me, but I digress.
If the video's British setting is an indication -- and if Britney's career
path parallels Madonna's -- Britney's at the Anglophilia stage of her
career. Since Britney already tried to put on an English accent, all she
needs to do now is star in a British "fillum" that flops, marry an
English guy and drink tea at 4 p.m. every day.
From this point on, Britney's relevance is gonna see-saw as we see a few more albums and stunts. Unless Britney stars in something critically acclaimed like Evita, I don't expect this cat will wake up.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.