I put Britney in my top spot—not because she has the best record this week, but because her dance bona fides appeal more strongly to our core demographic. And why shouldn’t they? From a career that could have been a one-hit wonder to a sustained run at the charts, she’s a damn survivor (of the business, of the press, of her own flashes of craziness). She’s not as au courant as Katy Perry or as outré as Lady Gaga, but I’d rather listen to her hands down than either of them. Elsewhere, two news bands—one from Texas, one from the U.K.—that may just make my year-end Top 10, a Swedish pop band’s sharp EP and a country hottie who makes it by default (and because he’s a hottie). (Also, check out the New Release Report on We Found New Music, where I’m sure to be talking about one of these acts below, though most likely not Britney.)
Britney Spears – Britney Jean. Her eighth release is not the high mark of 2008’s Circus, but it’s more than just a solid effort. A lot of advance talk has been about Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) and how his songs were not accepted for the final record. Fine. They might be great tunes; we’re just not going to know for now. While I have no special love for will.i.am, he’s the executive producer and he knows what makes a pop song work. The 10 songs here (14 on the Deluxe version) may not be world-beaters, but they’re uniformly good. And two of them are more than that. “Perfume,” produced by will.i.am and written by Spears, Sia and Christopher Braide, is a first-class triangle song with a twist. And whatever the haters want to say, there was no better club banger of 2013 than “Work Bitch,” which not only makes you move but has a tasty little moral at its chewy center.