Sexy. Slammin'. Outrageous. Hurl all the adjectives you want, but one word says it all: Britney. (Ms. Spears if you're nasty.) The Grammy-winning pop diva storms the stage with a fierce mix of fan-favorite hits and hot new tracks from her latest album, Femme Fatale, in this concert special taped before a sold-out crowd in Toronto. Whether you're in the market for bodacious dance moves, killer costume changes or that make-you-melt Louisiana drawl, Britney's bringing 'em all - bigger and better than ever. Written by
It takes a great star to carry a spectacle this empty. If only
Musically this is not all terrible. Arrangements are in a spare, energetic dance club style (I'm sure there's a name for it, but I wouldn't know) well-suited for giant venues. It's better than many of these (occasionally awful) songs deserve, and only "Toxic" (a terrific single) is diminished by this treatment.
To break up the potential monotony there's a dull wraparound story that will have the viewer wishing for some monotony.
The stage show surrounds Britney with excellent dancers, which has the unfortunate effect of making Brit look like a well-rehearsed non-dancer going through the motions but not really caring what she's doing. Brit and dancers act out little vignettes during the music, Brit emerging from a disco speaker, sitting on a cute motorcycle, in a cute car, and so forth.
Brit does a duet with a videotape of will.i.am where he says he's the (going from memory) "big fat bass" and Brit says she's the tweeter. Is this metaphorical? If it helps.
No musicians are depicted, and the only pretense of this being a live musical performance is the head-worn wireless microphone. I'm told at least one song was sung live at each concert if any such performance was captured here, it was re-dubbed later because Britney's lip-syncing is unconvincing throughout the show.
Almost any healthy young woman given a month or two of rehearsal could do about as well. Whatever favorable associations the viewer may have regarding Britney will need to be summoned because she comes off entirely blank in this performance. It's as if no audience showed up, but her tyrannical father made her do the show anyway, and she didn't know it was being recorded.
Aside from liking a couple of her songs, I have few preconceptions watching this, and found her uninteresting as a singer, performer, sex object or campy failure. It's hard to ignore this because she's the focus of the show, making the flashy spectacle seem especially empty.
If you need a comparison, Kylie Minogue whose music is as occasionally interesting to me as Ms. Spears' pulls all this off quite well in the two videos I've seen by her, "KylieX2008" and "Showgirl: The Homecoming Tour". Her shows have the same lip-synced minimal pretense of live music, with tons of dancing and flashy staging and costuming and sensational if meaningless imagery, yet the exuberant Minogue is totally on top of it, where Spears looks drained and lost.
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