Much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ segments, readers of That Grape Juice know what avid music lovers we are – especially of hits past. So in a quest to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday we introduced a new retrospective segment – ‘TGJ Replay’.
Unlike its ‘Rewind’ and ‘Vault’ predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase albums (and eras) from a library of pop music hits. Today’s ‘Replay’ presses play on pop princess Britney Spears’ 4th album ‘In The Zone’ - arguably her last great stage performance era…
Before Lady Gaga brought her bass-heavy brand of RedOne-produced ‘EDM’ (electronic dance music), Britney Spears unquestionably reigned as the Queen of electro-pop (prior to such genre titling being officially coined). ‘Blackout’ may have been the album that really pushed her EDM agenda, but its predecessor ‘In the Zone’ certainly laid the groundwork.
Spearheaded by first single ‘Me Against the Music’, the pop princess enlisted pop Queen Madonna and then-little known producers The Dream & Tricky Stewart to complete what most would’ve believed to be a dream intro for an album.
Me Against the Music ft. Madonna
But, while the video won rave reviews, the charts seem to sing a different tune with the song barely cracking top 40. That, however, did not deter first week sales of the album which debuted atop charts with a whopping 600k sold (making Spears the first female artist in history to see her first four albums debut at #1 and second female artist to have four consecutive #1s on Billboard 200).
And, with record-buyers still entranced by Spears’ signature pop potion, the set’s second single ‘Toxic’ proved no antidote. Oozing a redefined, bolder sex appeal than her three previous efforts, ‘Toxic’ slid its way right into Billboard’s top 10 and quickly became a fan favorite.
It was safe to say the songstress who once proclaimed she was ‘Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman’ was indeed evolving to become what some argued would be this generation’s “Madonna” – high octane stage shows, theatrical videos, in your face sexuality (see: ‘Touch of My Hand’), and bold lyrics to match. No further proof was needed than ‘Shadow’ and her haunting ‘Every Time’ video – one of her most artistic offerings to date.
All-in-all ‘In the Zone’ proved to be Britney’s most eclectic offering to date and her first attempt to even out her overabundance of style, but lack of substance. From electropop and dance to ballads and hip hop heavy offerings like ‘Outrageous’ (ft. R. Kelly) and the Ying Yang Twins-assisted clubbanger ‘I Got That (Boom Boom)’ – it was clear to see that Britney was well on her way out of teenybopdom into sex siren…
I Got That Boom ft. Ying Yang Twins
Unfortunately, every album since ‘In the Zone’ has seen Spears zoned out – from K.Fed to performances stiffer than Pinocchio, the past 10 years have not exactly been kind on the stagefront (despite her sales and relevance remaining relatively steady).
Here’s hoping the next album sees visually and lyrically fulfilling content like ‘Zone’ while sonically borrowing from ‘Blackout’ and even ‘Circus’.