Despite still serving the people the bops we deserve, Britney Spears’ ninth album, 2016’s Glory, didn’t make the impact on the pop landscape that it should have. Beloved by fans, it reassured the Britney Army that the pop queen could still deliver after the will.i.am.-produced Britney Jean missed the mark. But even Britney Jean served us an iconic single — “Work Bitch” — that reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Queer megaproducer Justin Tranter, who is helming Spears’ upcoming 10th album, recently tweeted that fans should expect a “whole spectrum of bops” from the new LP. But as we’ve seen in the past, bops are sometimes not enough. Here are a few things Spears’ team needs to give her 10th album the pomp and circumstance it’s due.
1. A radio-ready lead single.
This is not to shade “Make Me …,” which is a mood! But, lead single? Glory marked the first time the singer attempted a down-tempo number as a lead single, but it isn’t exactly the BPM that was the problem. In the 2016 radio landscape, there didn’t seem to be much room for the song, which debuted at #17 —its peak— based off pure enthusiasm for Spears, then quickly fell to #52.
Enlisting Tranter to helm her album is promising, given that he’s very good at making pop music. His work on Glory included one of the album’s best songs and its second single, “Slumber Party,” so we’re pretty confident he can steer the ship into the Billboard port.
2. Just the right singles in general.
“Slumber Party” is a great second single, and, unfortunately had the tough job of reviving radio interest in its parent album. After “Slumber Party” didn’t take, despite a pretty great visual, it’s easy to see why it was also its last. But, from an outsider perspective, it couldn’t help but feel like Glory, her best album in years, had been given up on in same way. Glory has a ton of radio fodder to choose from, but several of them, like the sonic masterpiece “Do You Wanna Come Over?” were released early to create buzz. Knowing that Glory had the same number of singles as Britney Jean should be concerning!
3. A much more queer album rollout.
Despite Britney’s status as a gay icon, it hasn’t felt like she’s really going for the gay audience as much as she should. Glory’s rollout went for the big name appearances: a segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which is as straight as you could go. Yes, she appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but the only thing gay about the show is Ellen. And then she appeared on “Carpool Karaoke” which sounds gay on paper, but is very not!
During the rollout for In the Zone, Spears’ very queer and very good fourth studio album, Spears performed at several gay clubs unannounced, including New York City’s now-shuttered Splash. Am I saying the queen of Vegas is going to show up at your local watering hole? No, but maybe she should! More than just live performances, it’d be nice to see Spears eschew Middle America and focus on her biggest fans — the gays.
4. A striking visual.
The visual for “Make Me,” in the words of Drag Race’s Monique Heart, is not stunning. Though a clip of the originally David LaChappelle-directed video leaked online and had fans salivating —Spears looked sexier than ever and was really bringing the choreo — that version infamously never materialized. The video set off a firestorm for the wrong reasons: Huffington Post and BuzzFeed both published pieces decrying the lackluster final visual.
But it wasn’t just that the video was lackluster or that fans had been promised a much better visual. When something as high profile as the video for your lead single goes astray, you condition your audience to expect a mess. After Britney Jean and the video fiasco, Glory started its promo behind the 8 ball.
For Spears’ next album, a really striking first visual — think Grande’s “Thank U, Next” or Rihanna’s “Work” — could be the difference between a failed rollout and success.
5. To let her go back to Blackout.
Listen, it’s not just me: Britney Spears fucking loves Blackout. In the months before Britney Jean congealed into its final form, Spears even tweeted her fans about the album’s anniversary, saying she’d love to make a Blackout 2.0.
I heard Happy Birthday Blackout was trending earlier... thank u all for loving the album as much as I do. Blackout 2.0?
— Britney Spears (@britneyspears) October 27, 2012
But I’m not talking about a retread here. One of the reasons Blackout is so beloved is because it was unexpected. Blackout proved Spears could both cross and blend genres. After years in bubblegum pop with tinges of R&B, she went full dance-techno-hip hop and you know what, it worked. Don’t remake Blackout to remake Blackout. Remake the “spirit” of Blackout. Let Britney make music she loves and surprise us a little bit.
Given her father’s illness and her “indefinite work hiatus,” it might be up to a year before anyone gets new Spears in their airpods, but that just means she’ll have more time than ever to give #BS10 the TLC it deserves.