Britney Spears: Oops . . . ! I Did It Again! Album Review

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Britney Spears: Oops . . . ! I Did It Again! Album Review

Score: 79/100

Top 3 Tracks: Stronger, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, One Kiss From You

Oops . . . ! I Did It Again: 8/10

One of Britney’s cheesiest songs to date, and for me at least, it has not aged well. It is not just a product of the early millennium teen pop, it is the very essence of it. Oops . . .! (geez, that title) is a harder, more in your face reworking of “. . . Baby One More Time” and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Brit sings more confidently — she knows she’s not that innocent and she’s going to tell you so. The song is catchy, but the lack of a bridge is disappointing. Instead, it is replaced with an awkward interlude and Titanic reference. I still don’t get it, to be honest. If you liked Baby One More Time, you’ll like Oops.

Stronger: 10/10

Not a big fan of the “bwam” Inception-style horn throughout, but there’s no denying that it’s instantly iconic. This song is one of my favorites. As a sequel to Baby One More Time, Britney’s song about empowerment and not letting her “loneliness kill her anymore” hits all the right notes. I love that “Here I go” bridge breakdown and the build-up back into the chorus. I even love that a song that has an uplifting message has such a dark tone to it. It’s unexpected in that juxtaposition and with a song called “Stronger” the writers could have easily gone for a more boppy tune. Instead, it feels heavy, mechanical and just bleak. And it is fantastic.

Don’t Go Knockin’ On My Door: 8/10

Or as my friends called it, “Don’t Go Walk My Dog.” Her vocals may not be as enunicated and clear as they could be, but the song offers a different kind of Britney. This is the start of the funkier/R&B type vibe that Rami, and later Rodney Jerkins, adds to the album. It has the same structure as a Britney song, but a more urban sound brings a little more life into it. “Don’t Go Knockin’” continues the theme of “Stronger” with Britney letting a past love know that the relationship is over and she doesn’t want to see him anymore.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction: 8/10

A lot of Rolling Stones fans probably think she butchered this song, but of all the Britney covers, “Satisfaction” is the best. The song reworks the original to fit in more with the teen pop queen’s sound, but adding more maturity to it. It starts with a stripped down version of the chorus before launching into the song proper with a sparse and funky R&B style beat. Several lyrics are changed to fit Brit’s media life –”how  tight my skirt should be” instead of “how white my shirt should be.” The irony isn’t lost on listeners as Britney laments about being plagued by media messages of how she should look and sound when Brit herself perpetuates such an image to young girls. Overall though, “Satisfaction” is one of the best songs they could have picked for her to sing and is one of the more mature songs on the record.

Don’t Let Me Be The Last to Know: 6/10

Obviously, I’m not a fan of Britney balllads, but “Don’t Let Me Be” is at least more interesting than a lot of Baby One More Time’s slow numbers. A song about Britney telling her lover that she needs to hear him finally say that he loves her, it brings Britney’s in-your-face rebellious image down a notch, but at least keeps her confidence in knowing what she wants and going for it. I don’t like the opening synths or the island-country vibe, but I do like her sultry “I wanna feel the way you feel/C’mon” in the bridge.

What U See (Is What U Get): 5/10

Martin and his Swedish producers keep the teen pop going with this upbeat track that could be read as Britney’s big F**k You to not only the media, but the parents of her young fans who disapprove of her more sexual image. I like the idea of the song and most of Brit’s teenage fans can probably relate to it, but the problem is that this is typical Max Martin-produced beats. It’s more middle of the road and the instrumental sounds exactly like anything found on Backstreet Boys’ or NSYNC’s albums at the time. It’s catchy and danceable, yes, but original? No.

Lucky: 7/10

Honestly, I think “Lucky” reaches, if not surpasses the heights of cheesiness that Oops! set at the beginning. In this classic, Britney distances herself from her troubles by singing about her alter ego, Lucky, a famous movie star who is unhappy even though her life is seemingly perfect. She’s not clear about what makes her unhappy, but it’s obvious that something is missing. Like with Oops! I’m disappointed by the lack of a bridge and the inclusion of a weird interlude instead, but the last choruses really bring it home for me. I would love to have heard it as a stripped-down ballad without the gloss of the pop production. The song is also a little sad for me to hear now, given what Britney would go though just seven years later.

One Kiss From You: 8/10

I didn’t like this song when I was younger, but now I appreciate it a lot more for the simple fact that it is a surprising refresher from the other homogeneous pop tracks in the first half. The track has a more reggae-style beat that brings up fond memories of “Soda Pop” from the previous album. “One Kiss,” though it feels like a Mandy Moore song, is a cute feel-good pop song that kicks off the sweet love-sick Britney half of the album. Here, she’s ready to kiss a boy (or do more) and insists that she knows exactly what love feels like and what it means. They’re bold typical adolescent statements, especially in a song where she also says that “one kiss to make me feel whole.” But her assertions that she’s an adult combined with such teenager-ish statements are what make the song fun and complex.

Where Are You Now?: 7/10

Probably my favorite Britney ballad.  I love the beautiful simple instrumental with the guitar and, like “Lucky,” wish it was really just the guitar and Britney’s voice without the choir background. This underrated gem on the album showcases some of Brit’s best vocals of her entire career, and even though it gets sentimental and cheesy towards the end, it doesn’t feel overpowering.

Can’t Make You Love Me: 6/10

The robotic packaged teen pop comes back for one last song in this rather forgettable track. It keeps with the theme with Brit lamenting that she may be at the top of the teen pop world, but at her heart, she’s still a girl who can have a crush and wants the simple things in life, y’all. It’s the Lucky of the second half of the album, but at least here she’s less vague about what’s missing from her life, love.

When Your Eyes Say It: 7/10

Another track that I didn’t fully appreciate til I was older, again because it’s a different type of sound on the record. It’s a little long for my liking, but I love the 90′s pop “You Gotta Be” feel to it.

Dear Diary: 4/10

I should really give this no stars, but I credit Britney for her first writing to be included on an album and her earnest vocals. But ultimately, this song is a disaster for me. It is too cheesy with the little piano chord synths and where the whole album, Britney has been declaring who she is and what she wants and not holding back, it’s an odd choice to end the album with a song about her writing in her diary (journal would have sounded more mature, but Dear Journal doesn’t have the same ring to it, I guess) and it’s all about how afraid Britney is to approach a guy. It maybe would have worked on Baby One More Time, but not for Oops.

Conclusion:

Oops . . . ! I Did It Again corrects all the mistakes that Britney’s debut album made. Producers go for more dance and urban-oriented pop here with top-notch tunes that propel Britney’s iconic popstar status further. This album is Britney’s statement about her media image — she is no longer innocent and is ready to assert her new confident and sexier self and willing to take ownership of it, no matter what anyone says. Oops! from the very beginning is a pop cheese fest and doesn’t back down from that sentiment one bit. Max Martin’s signature spaced-out robotic beats, choir singers and layered choruses are in full effect and while most songs sound dated now, they are the very definition of early millennial pop and were songs that were emulated again and again by other pop acts. Above all, it’s one of Britney’s most consistent records to date and one that ingeniously works by creating a parallel between Britney’s media image and every teenage girl’s world. She did indeed do it again, but this time better.

Also, I don’t want you for one minute to forget these Pepsi commercials existed.

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