Blackout

Well, this is unfortunate. While judges debate her child-visitation rights, Britney Spears has released an album whose title seems to have been inspired by a major flirtini binge. On Blackout, she's singing that she's "so damn high I can't come down," anticipating a night of "dancing tabletop," and issuing a proclamation that's enough to make Sean Preston use Jayden as a protective shield from Mommy: "Maybe I'm a freak, but I don't really give a damn/I'm as crazy as a motherfucker!"

Those words may or may not reflect Britney's true feelings — she didn't write them — but what's notable is that Blackout is the first time in her career that she's voiced any real thoughts about her life. The old provocation game is still afoot, but Britney's stubbornly holding on to her freakness — it's the only form of rebellion she's got left. With a VIP list of puppet masters including Timbaland, Pharrell Williams and Bloodshy, she's all vox-tweaked and ready to bring back the stellar heavy-breathers of her youth, from the Berlin-style New Wave disco of "Heaven on Earth" to the stadium-stomping "Ooh Ooh Baby." It's telling that Blackout's two best tracks — the tabloid-bashing banger "Piece of Me" and the paparazzi-tease "Freakshow" — suggest that she believes playing the part of the cage-dancing bear is the best way to mess with the media. "Wanna see crazy?" she sings on "Freakshow." "We can show 'em!"

When she's not gearing up for a meltdown, Britney's wielding more melting-ice imagery than An Inconvenient Truth: She's gonna "break the ice," "hit defrost on ya," 'cause she's "cold as fire, baby, hot as ice." Fire and ice — Robert Frost said the world will end in one of those two ways, consumed by passion or frozen by rationalism, and it's clear which option Brit will take. But meanwhile, she's gonna crank the best pop booty jams until a social worker cuts off her supply of hits.

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