The New Paper
24 August 2016
I've always been a Britney Spears sceptic.
When the former Mouseketeer first pranced around in her sexy schoolgirl outfit for her Baby One More Time music video in 1998, I rolled my eyes and dismissed her as another flash-in-the-pan pop tart.
Turns out I was wrong, because Spears went on to become a pop princess and survive 18 more years in the music industry.
Her ninth studio album, Glory, which will be released this Friday on iTunes and in digital music stores, is billed as a comeback for the 34-year-old US singer.
In truth, it's just the latest in a series of comebacks for Spears, who has been through many ups and downs in her career.
While her 1999 debut album Baby One More Time racked up 30 million global sales, her last record, 2013's Britney Jean, was her least successful, selling 700,000 copies worldwide.
In a fickle world where most artists have the shelf life of a packet of keropok, she alternates between staying fresh and reinventing herself, and risking getting stale with the same old shopworn ideas.
So is the 2016 Britney Spears growing Stronger, or suffering from a case of Oops!... I Did It Again?
Over the years, Spears has favoured full-on sexy costumes a la her I'm A Slave 4 U era that leave little to the imagination.
She often looks like she is posing for a 90s issue of Playboy, and the black-and-white lace lingerie-inspired outfits in the MV for new single Make Me... are no exception.
Would it kill her to be more fashion-forward and ooze sex appeal in a classier way? Seems like Spears is stuck in a fashion time warp... and a serious rut.
VERDICT: OOPS!... I DID IT AGAIN
Catchy dance anthems like Womanizer and Toxic have always been a staple for Spears.
But her attempt to stay current with Pretty Girls, last year's pop-rap collaboration with Aussie rapper Iggy Azalea, was a flop.
She might have more luck with her latest offerings though. Make Me... and Do You Wanna Come Over? combine that classic sultry Spears vibe with slick dance beats. It's familiar to fans, yet has a fresh electronica sound courtesy of songwriters Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels, who also worked on Justin Bieber's Sorry.
During an interview with On Air With Ryan Seacrest this month, Spears said of the 12-track Glory: "It's cool, it's really different. I think this is probably the most hip-hop album (I've done).
"There are like two or three songs that go in the direction of more urban that I've wanted to do for a long time now...
"It's a really good record, and I'm very, very proud of it."
She added: "It's kind of like my baby and I took it very seriously."
In her heyday, Spears could really command the stage.
Her last performance of Gimme More at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) in 2007 was shot down for being dull, but she'll have another chance to wow audiences at this year's show with Make Me...
Her return to the VMAs stage is one of the highly-anticipated highlights of the annual ceremony, which will air over MTV Asia (StarHub TV Ch 533/SingTel TV Ch 350) on Aug 29 at 8am.
Having helmed her Las Vegas residency show Britney: Piece Of Me since 2013, Spears has had lots of practice honing her dance moves and stage presence.
No wonder she received rave reviews for her electrifying performance at the Billboard Music Awards in May, where she shimmied to hits like Work B**** and I Love Rock 'n' Roll.
There's nothing particularly fresh about her moves, but she dances like a woman recharged and raring to go.
Poor Spears has not had much luck with men.
She has been married twice, to childhood friend Jason Alexander and to former backup dancer Kevin Federline, with whom she has two sons, Sean Preston, 10, and Jayden James, nine.
She dated TV producer Charlie Ebersol for eight months before splitting up last year and she broke her engagement with former agent Jason Trawick in 2013.
Still, she called herself a "hopeless romantic" during an interview with Australian radio show Rove and Sam on Hit 104.1 earlier this month.
She said: "I've been through horrible relationships, but unfortunately, I still believe in love and I think you should protect your heart and stuff like that."
Looks like her quest for love is set to continue... for now.
VERDICT: OOPS!... I DID IT AGAIN
Spears has managed to retain her retro 90s appeal while pulling some new tricks out of the bag. She is clearly chasing Glory with her latest album and with a long-overdue style overhaul and hopefully a great new man in her life, she could soon be having it all.
See photos related to the article in the gallery below.