Saturday, January 9, 2010

Videography: Britney Spears (Part I - ...Baby One More Time)

Since I got an overwhelming response to my Videography of Reba McEntire miniseries (one comment...yes!) I decided to do another one. This time, I've chosen a pop music artist who owes a lot of her fame to music videos...Britney Spears. Yes, I suppose I'm still in this mini phase but maybe "artistically" reviewing her music videos will get me out of it. I'm excited to do this one because we're dealing with pop music instead of country...and a teenager/20something instead of a 20something to 50something...and all of these videos were made over a period of 11 years versus 23.

Instead of splitting this videography into "time periods" (i.e. the early 2000's, the mid-early 2000's...), I've done it by Britney's persona, which also kind of correlates with album bare with me. In the beginning, a mere 11 years ago, Britney was a 17 year old singer with aspirations of fame a fortune. Her earliest videos walk the fine line of virgin and Lolita, but if you ask me, they lean more towards virgin. Okay, so she bares her midriff and sometimes she opens her legs and twists around while dancing...they hadn't seen anything yet.

Order: 1
Title: "...Baby One More Time"
Album: Baby One More Time (1998)
Song Premise: A girl wants one last fling with a guy she regrets breaking up with.
Video Premise: Britney is a bored Catholic school girl, but as soon as the bell rings, she is up in the hallways dancing with her other Catholic school girlfriends all sporting perfectly toned, tan abs exposed by their tied up white shirts. Later, the dancing is moved outside the school where Britney has changed outfits and is now wearing a pink sports bra and baggy white 90's pants. Finally, more dancing occurs in the gym with Britney occasionally morosely twirling a basketball. However, the bell rings and the whole video turns out to be a daydream.

Comments: This is a classic video, there's no doubt about that. After its debut, girls aged 11 to 17 started doing 500 crunches every night before bed so they too could wear crop tops...that were ordered to be replaced as soon as they walked into their school. (Remember when shirts were too short? Now shirts can pass for dresses!) I digress... All right, let's just get it out now. I was in the 5th grade when Britney Spears became popular, the very age America feared would be corrupted by her high tempo pop hits and bellybutton. But I wasn't. Trust me. As a ten year old, I didn't get the sexualized Catholic school girl thing, so maybe it was a tongue and cheek jab at all the pedophiles. Her dance moves aren't sexual, except that one shimmy. The only people who understood the implied sexuality where those old enough to make such claims.

Order: 2
Title: "Sometimes"
Album: Baby One More Time (1998)
Song Premise: A commitmentphobic young woman asks her guy to take it slow.
Video Premise: Dressed in pristine, virgin white, Britney switches from peering at a guy through one of those telescope thingies you have to pay a quarter to look through and dancing on the boardwalk with others dressed in white.

Comments: I get what they're doing here. Since she received so much criticism for her "sexy" image in "...Baby One More Time", they decided to show Britney as a sweet and innocent teenage girl who is terrified of relationships and therefore, will remain intact. I'm really surprised they didn't show her with a halo or a habit for that matter.

Order: 3
Title: "(You Drive Me) Crazy [Stop Remix]"
Album: Baby One More Time (1998)
Song Premise: A girl is driven crazy by her new infatuation.
Video Premise: Britney is a waitress at a dance club. After her shift is over, she changes into a metallic green top and parties with Adrian Grenier and Melissa Joan Hart and dances with other waitresses/waiters.

Comments: This video is the love child of Britney Spears' handlers and the producers of the underwhelming teen flick Drive Me Crazy, which was specifically named for this goddamn song. The song is good, the movie is not. If you're from my generation you might remember it. Trust me when I say, it wasn't no 10 Things I Hate About You. I like this video for the most part, despite the dated, WTF cameos.

Order: 4
Title: "Born to Make You Happy"
Album: Baby One More Time (1998)
Song Premise: Your basic “poor me, I’m hopelessly devoted to you” song.
Video Premise: Britney is sleeping peacefully and then enters a dream where she sings in a silver room. Next she dances on top of a wooden structure. Finally, an open-shirted hunk strides into her bedroom and the two playfully pillow-fight.

Comments: This is an odd one. Half of it channels "Sometimes" and the other half channels
"...Baby One More Time." So, Britney is half innocent and half attitude. They were fucking with us...which I find interesting. Also, Britney's a bit pissed in this video. Of course, she should be if her entire existence is based around making someone else happy. Again, I don't think any of the dance moves are blatantly sexual. P.S. Her boobs look HUGE.

Order: 5
Title: "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart"
Album: Baby One More Time (1998)
Song Premise: A young girl deals with her first heartbreak.
Video Premise: A bitter breakup leads Britney to pack up her Laura Ashley doll and other essentials, say farewell to her mom and little sister and catch a bus out of her small, rural town. Britney sings on a tire swing and porch wearing a Blossom hat, while she reminisces about days gone by with her ex-boyfriend. Just after she leaves, the boyfriend returns too late.

Comments: So I hadn't seen this video until just now. (And I call myself a Britney fan...tsk, tsk). Anyway, from the sickly sweet promotional pictures, I figured I'd hate it. But I didn't. This is the first one with an actual plot...well, it's more like the shadow of a plot, but it's there, damn it! It has flashback scenes, which is enough to satisfy me for a break up song. Dare I say, a few of the scenes feel a little country. They make out on a water tower! Plus, I loved the ironic ending with the boyfriend returning not in time. Serves him right.

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