#1 Britney Spears – Circus

I wish I could see your face right now. I wish I was sitting there when you read that the best album of 2008 was from the recovering psycho Britney Spears. I wish I could hear you cuss under your breathe telling me that I have no idea what I am talking about. I wish, though, more than anything, that you will take the time to read this and trust me educated and experienced opinion on why this album might not only be the best album that she has ever written and the best album of the year, but maybe one of the best albums that we will ever listen to.

Britney has had some issues. In the last year she has gone from deadbeat mother to divorcing her back up dancing “figure” father to going bald and slamming umbrellas into the side of her car. Oh, did we forget about the part where she gave her child a cigarette, dropped her baby on concrete, and spread eagle getting out of a car while hanging with another figure of our media, Paris Hilton? Well, there is more to it than that, much more to it actually, and for once I will suggest you read her interview with Rolling Stone. (It was in last month’s issue and is very detailed and quite comprehensive. And they do not always agree with the things that she says. It is a nice article from a magazine I tend to disagree with.)

But Britney released an album called Blackout at the end of last year that flopped. It was terrible. It had one decent song on it and a video that made her look like a stripper. It was a sad attempt at a much needed comeback that pushed her deeper into her depression of the industry. But she had talks at the start of the year that she was working on what she called her official comeback album. There was nothing much announced about it until she dropped her first single only a few months ago. It was Womanaizer and became an immediate club hit with it’s techno beats and its pure dance grooves that made you not only sing at the top of your lungs, but hit repeat and do it again until you lost your voice. And speaking of voice, hers was better than it has ever been. That is something I will touch on here in a few moments.

So there is a lot of talk leading to her release this December. It was a late release and I was curious why she waited so long to release it coming in the middle of this great recession we are said to be in and this close to Christmas. But it’s not like she needs the money of the Christmas rush. She doesn’t have access to her money anyway. Her father does. But that is a different story all on its own.

So about a month before this album is to be released I did a Google search to see if there was a track list, a sample of the songs, a story behind the delay; just anything I could learn about the album. And to my absolute shock I found a link that I was so happy I clicked on I passed it around my office, to my friends on AIM, Facebook, and to just about everyone short of the staff at Panera Bread. I found a link to a leaked version of the album. It was high quality. It was full length. It was the album. And it was over a month early. I got so excited I even wrote an article on www.indyconcerts.com about the link hoping that more could experience this album before it’s official release date.

I listed to the album all the way through. From the first listen I was in love. I was in love with her before but this album has fortified that and pushed me into a whole new category of love of her music. Here is why.

Her vocals are the first thing that you notice. The album does not have a consistent feel from start to finish. You have tracks, like Womanaizer that starts the album. She makes you want to dance a minute into the album. But then a few tracks in you are taken aback and given slow, soft, meaningful lyrics. And I am not saying that all the lyrics on the album are not meaningful. The title track, Circus, is a direct interpretation to her current status in the media. The way that the media can put her on such a high pedestal and simply make her seem to be worthless other than a good story is incredible to me. But there is something that a lot of you do not know. Britney is not crazy. She is not a party animal anymore. She does not go out and drink till the early hours of the morning. She is in bed before 10PM every night. She has a very strict diet. She has become a respectable adult. And just in time for the release of this album.

You get a few tracks into this album before you start to get an appreciation for how hard she has worked to make such an incredible set of songs. After you listen to it a few times you feel an almost pattern to the way you are brought up to the dance floor and then back down to the couch as you just sing to your loved ones. The track that I consider the best on the album comes in about the middle. It is called Unusual You. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are computers at use to make her voice sound the way it does in songs like this. But that is OK. (Please ignore the fact that Kanye West has released an entire album of voice modification. That is just stupid. When you have a song that is said to be from Kanye but sounds like someone, something, that you have never heard before you can not help be get angry at the purpose behind that.)

I could go on for days about why this album is the best album of the year. But I want to leave this a little bit more for your own personal discovery. So go listen to Ms. Spears as she will blow your mind with her latest release. This is by far the best album of the year in my opinion.