I've never really paid much attention to Britney Spears except when the newspapers and radio made it unavoidable.
But, I recently bought a book on her "story" because, when I saw it, it seemed like something that was worth being aware of -- the book was "Britney Spears: Little Girl Lost" by Toronto author Christopher Heard. I found it to be a sympathetic account and it gave me some appreciation for how hard she has worked to achieve her dream and how the realities of being in the spotlight could cause someone to act out the way she has in the recent past, even though I wouldn't completely absolve anyone of responsibility for how they behave. Thankfully, she seems to be on her way out of that mess.
It make me interested to follow up by listening to some of her music.
Her first three albums -- "...Baby One More Time", "Oops!... I Did It Again", and "Britney" -- are standard, catchy but straightforward pop albums, with the latter hinting at a change in direction to something a bit more sophisticated.
The next album, "In The Zone", completes that change in direction to a more mature pop sound that, personally, I don't find as catchy at first listen but is more likely to be the type that lasts and grows on you after repeated listens.
But what I was most surprised by is how the subsequent album -- "Blackout" -- has grown on me over the past few days. This is a very, very good pop/dance album that I really disliked at first and almost dismissed outright. I had certainly done that when it first came out, in the middle of her public meltdown. But, I was wrong -- it's a great album. It grew on me in the same way Mariah Carey's "Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel" did and followed a similar path from outright dislike to "let's give it a chance" to becoming something I regularly turn on to listen to. The overly-sexual lyrics are a bit annoying, but the musicality of it is impressive and, dare I say, unique.
The album that came next, and her most recent ("Circus") is also decent and blends some of her earlier pop elements with the outright dance elements of "Blackout".
I can't help notice, though, that somewhere along the way she stopped singing. She actually does her best singing in her first album, as far as I can tell. After that, it went more and more in a direction of talking forcefully over music.
Still, I think "Blackout" is her best. I don't think you can go wrong with any of the albums, really, as they all have their strong points. And, I also recommend Christopher Heard's book.
Here are a few new favourites: