By Anthony Cesario
“I’m Mrs. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous / I’m Mrs. ‘Oh my God,’ that Britney’s Shameless’ / I’m Mrs. ‘Extra! Extra! This just in!’ / I’m Mrs. ‘She’s too big, now she’s too thin’.”
Britney Spears’ fifth studio album Blackout – commonly referred to as the “Bible of Pop” – turned 15 yesterday. Over the years, it’s become regarded as one of the most influential albums of all time, and rightfully so; its impact can be felt all across the world of pop ever since its release.
2007 was a tumultuous time for Britney, to say the least. Her personal life was becoming a very, very public punching bag, and she was subject to some of the most intense media scrutiny one could ever imagine. This culminated in some of the most infamous events of her career, including her notorious performance of Blackout’s lead single “Gimme More” at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. But while the rest of the world was tuning into the spectacle of her life as nothing more than amused bystanders, Britney had been turning to the studio to make her boldest, darkest, and most cohesive record to date: the album that would soon be known as Blackout.
Blackout is a monster of a pop album, twelve back-to-back slam dunks that could all be huge radio hits. But to simply call it a pop album would be to reduce its legacy. It’s more of a statement, proof that Britney had long since surpassed “pop star” status and had settled well into “pop icon” territory.
With its icy, Danja-helmed production – which still sounds futuristic today – Blackout quickly became the template of what pop music on the radio sounded like in the late ‘00s. Songs like “Freakshow” (my personal favorite on the album, and one of only two tracks on which Britney nabbed a co-writing credit) were key players in the dissemination of dubstep music to the mainstream, while songs like “Piece of Me” are some of the most prominent examples of pop musicians tackling their image in their tabloids. (One could draw a clear line from this to Taylor’s album reputation, released a decade later.) The album’s opening tagline has transcended space and time and become irrevocably ingrained into the culture of our society. And ultimately, the music is just great from start to finish.
Ask any hardcore fan, ask any music critic: for anyone looking to dive into Britney’s discography, Blackout is the place to start and the place to end. It’s her magnum opus; it’s one of the best pop albums of the 21st century. It’s Britney, bitch.