What I Learned from Britney

By this time, Britney Spears' big comeback performance at the MTV Video Music Awards has been pretty well covered by every media outlet in the world. I'm actually feeling kind of sorry for her, and I wouldn't have thought that was possible a week ago, so I won't reiterate all the negative stuff, other than to say that I'm really struck by how much she resembled Anna Nicole Smith on Sunday night. There was that same glossy, half-there, "kind of amused at my own ineptitude and kind of horrified and kind of trying but kind of not, and when can I pop another fucking Oxycontin and forget about the whole thing" vibe.

The revelation for me is how much work it must take to choreograph one of those incredibly lame, lip-syched, song and dance numbers that I absolutely hate. I really think this bullshit has ruined music (along with a whole lot of other stuff, of course). The thing is, the vast majority of people don't really care whether you can actually sing or play an instrument or write a song. The basic qualifications for pop stardom -- and let's remember that John Lennon was a pop star, Mick Jagger was a pop star, James Brown was a pop star, etc -- have nothing to do with music, and more to do with your ability to look good and dance okay and do both of them well enough that some megacorporation will pay Timbaland or the Neptunes to make a song with your manipulated voice on it. This is the machinery that made Fergie a star, and turned Nellie Furtado from an interesting pop singer into a dead-eyed, booty-shaking hand puppet.

So I always thought this little booty shaking routine was total bullshit, the retarded cousin of the rock video. But Britney's performance on Sunday is exhibit A in the argument that there is some talent, or at least hard work, involved in all this pop stardom. Apparently, if you show up wasted and out of shape and then you spend all your time making out with Criss Angel, you can't even fake the fakey fake. I still find this fake song and dance thing incredibly lame, but at least now I can appreciate that some work goes into the whole routine.

Let me also be the first to nominate Britney for Super Bowl Halftime Show. If we're going to have a super lame fake song and dance number, let's at least have one that, for whatever reason, is compelling and entertaining.


1 comment:

Mike said...

I watched the Britney video online after hearing everyone gossip about it and ... well, I mean I guess it's not good, but is it really THAT much worse than the usual on-stage fakery?

Maybe the graininess of the video I saw covered up some of the awfulness.