Britney Spears carries on the classic archetype of the rock & roll teen queen, the dungaree doll, the angel baby who just has to make a scene. She has nothing to do with Lolita and everything to do with Ann-Margret’s pink capri pants in Bye Bye Birdie. Buddy Holly called her Peggy Sue, Ricky Nelson called her Mary Lou, the Beach Boys called her Barbara Ann, and her boyfriend called her at Beechwood 4-5789. It’s her party and she’ll grind if she wants to. Shooting at the walls of heartache, bang bang, she is the warrior.
Britney is a solo starlet working the girl-group shoop shoop, and if she’s no Dusty Springfield yet, she’s up there with Lesley Gore, Connie Francis and Claudine Clark. Oops! . . . I Did It Again is fantastic pop cheese, with much better song-factory hooks than ‘N Sync or BSB get. The usual Swedish suspects provide sugary disco bombast along with guest producers Rodney Jerkins and Mutt Lange. In the terrific title hit, the music comes from Barbra Streisand’s “Woman in Love,” the words evoke Morrissey circa “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish,” but that brutal growl is all Britney, articulating a violently ambivalent sexual confusion her audience can relate to, kicking and screaming for the right to figure out her desires before the world decides for her. She’s in the dressing room, trying on various styles of adult sexuality that don’t quite fit yet, and her fans know how that feels. As the Crystals used to sing, girls can tell.
You can hear the same fury in her brilliant version of the Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” as she vandalizes the words (“how white my shirts could be” becomes “how tight my skirt should be” — perfect) and snarls in libidinal frustration. Let it bleed, Miss B: Clearly it’s just a matter of time before Christina Aguilera strikes back with “Have You Seen Your Mother, Britney, Standing in the Shadow?,” followed by Jessica Simpson’s “Under My Thumb,” Mandy Moore’s “Ruby Tuesday” and the Backstreet Boys’ “Back Street Girl.” That’s the great thing about Oops! — under the cheese surface, Britney’s demand for satisfaction is complex, fierce and downright scary, making her a true child of rock & roll tradition.