Friday, July 8, 2011

Who Is #1? Britney Spears and The Prisoner

So I got to thinking: if you're super young and you have a #1 album, and then you have a bunch of #1 albums, if you then put out an album that does not make it to #1, then are you like, "What the fuck? Why didn't that one make it to #1?" Like, do you get blasé about it? I asked Joe (my husband) this, and he said it reminded him of an Adam Ant lyric that's something like "There's nowhere to fall at #1 except down." (Of course I can't remember the name of the song or the exact lyrics, even with some deductive Google-ing, so I guess you'll have to take my word for it.) So then what happens as you get older, if you peak really early on, do you have nothing to look forward to? That is, if your goal early on is to be a super famous pop star? Maybe the best scenario for someone who that is their main goal is to spend many years having #2 albums, and then sometime when they're much lode, maybe right before they retire, they have a #1 album...? And then they can go out on top.

Of course, not everybody who goes into music has their main goal as being a #1 album. Not all success is measured in sales and money and Billboard charts of course too.I guess I am specifically referring to your typical pop stars.

Joe reminded me that Pat Benatar was a good case and point (case in point? I don't think I have ever mastered the use of that expression or even the actual wording of the expression) of someone who has their priorities straight. (We both very much enjoyed her memoir, Between a Heart and A Rock Place.) She had some big hits years and years ago and then spends most of her time with her family throughout the year and then tours in the summer to support the family. She just has fun with it and is happy. Incidentally, she has a house in Hawaii! OK, OK, whatever whatever, my point it that she just does it to enjoy it. Well, and I guess to live and have money, but ANYWAY, she makes more money now with her indie label then she did when she was on corporate record labels.

I don't think me thinking about "Where do I go from here now that I'm #1" originated from my own sense of wonderment. I think probably it was planted by Britney: Inside the Dream by Steve Dennis. He theorized that maybe Britney felt pressure to always have a #1 album each time, and if she didn't get it to be #1 that she might be unhappy, or at the least, surprised. Or maybe at some point blasé.

Speaking of Britney, I just read the comic FAME - Britney Spears: One Life No Apologies (Bluewater Comics). Oh shit oh shit oh shit. So there's this one page where they draw her sitting alone in an arena hugging her shoulders, sitting on one of those circus stools that they put the dancing bears on or whatever (circus, arena, geddit?), and she's surround by 6 big faces, her face actually. And she's questioning all these things, feeling trapped. The speech bubbles are actually boxes, different ones on different faces (boxes, 'cause she's boxed in, geddit?). And they capture all the ways she's trapped, things that I've often speculated that she might feel. I scanned it so you could see, but the picture is kind of small.

I thought that was a nice move, referencing the British TV show The Prisoner with the quotes: "I'm not a prisoner. I'm a free (wo)man, who is number one?" In the dystopian British TV show with Patrick McGoohan, he's caught in The Village and he spends the whole time trying to escape and also find out who #1 is, and they try to get him to tell him why he resigned. For Britney this works on a variety of levels. First, if you google Britney Spears "the prisoner", you full on pull up links that say things like "Britney Spears says she feels like a prisoner." What with the conservatorship and all that, bla, bla, bla. And she's trapped by the record company, and trapped by the stylings of fame and can't leave the house without being hassled, etc.

And the whole thing about #1,  always wanting to figure out who #1 is -- and then the thing about Britney always wanting to be #1, #1 hits, #1 albums, #1 sales, #1 perfume sales...It really is an effective analogy.

So I got inspired and Photoshopped this, which is weird that nobody did this already (unless they did and I didn't Google far and wide enough):

Who Is #1?

There does seem to be a lot of discussion about Britney's blaséness lately, barely dancing in her performances, her soulless eyes, etc. etc. On (devoted to articles about her father's conservatorship over her affairs) there's this quote that seems to sum up a lot of what I've been encountering about her lately:

Britney Spears used to be called Godney. Unfortunately the name Zombney would be more fitting if you see her nowadays.

Meow! Someone on that site also responded that maybe the conservatorship will end after her tour because it was legally requirted for her to tour, and that maybe Femme Fatale will be her last album on JIVE Records, who she has been with from the beginning. I think I even heard on a fairly recent episode of the podcast Gay Pimpin' with Jonny McGovern that her performance on Good Morning America I think they were talking about, that her eyes looked dead. I thought the whateverness of the performance had more to do with the fact that it was in the early stages of planning because she was still rehearsing for the Femme Fatale tour (in Chicago tonight! But so is the Slayer Mag book event at Quimby's  -- sorry Britney, maybe another time), and this was like a slimmed down version of that. But I'll tell you what, I recently Youtubed dance tutorials for her routines in songs like Slave 4 U, and compared to what she's doing in newer videos, it's true, the dance moves are a little easier in Till the World Ends. (I did also find a dance tutorial for that one and it involves boring things like marching. BORING. Although I liked the 16-18 chest pulses...You're welcome.) Just offering that for what it's worth.

Well, if you're at the United Center tonight at 7pm, tell Britney I'm sorry I couldn't make it because I was at an event about Norwegian death metal.