1. Alien – William Orbit’s co-production on the album opener is austere but isolating, as Spears travels across the cosmos to find some comfort in a barren universe. “The stars in the sky/Look like home, take me home,” she coos before concluding that she is, thankfully, no longer alone.
2. Work Bitch
The effervescent “Work Bitch” allows Spears to assume the identity of a headmistress who recognizes that work (bitch) is the best way to secure both a hot body and a Bugatti. The bass drop at the 45-second mark is still worthy of provoking one to call the police, the governor, and his or her local radio station on its own.
Sia’s co-writing work is evident on this mid-tempo ballad, in which Spears cops to some insecurities and attempts to “mark my territory” with some well-sprayed perfume. The production sashays forward as Spears nicely alternates between breathy confessionals and forceful declarations of doubt.
4. It Should Be Easy feat. Will.i.am – “You bring me zen, yes, you bring me zen/You make me feel like a million, billion,” Spears’ robotized voice states in this return to the dance floor. David Guetta, Giorgio Tuinfort, Nicky Romero, Marcus van Wattum and Will.i.am all had a hand in this surprisingly heartfelt duet, on which synth fireballs bookend the tiptoeing keyboard line.
5. Tik Tik Boom feat. T.Iacing electronics in the vein of Daft Punk’s “Contact” and a final minute full of hold-up-your-lighter moments. The track powers down before surging back to life under Spears’ command.
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8. Passenger – Co-written by Katy Perry and produced by Diplo, “Passenger” noodles around with some EDM impulses before imploding into brooding pop-rock. Spears does her part by delivering resonant melismas and lyrics about giving your inhibitions over to another: “I’ll let you the lead the way now, cuz I want you to take the wheel/I’ve never been a passenger/Though, I never knew how good it would feel,” she confesses. Vulnerable and vibrant.
9. Chillin’ With You feat. Jamie Lynn – “I drank some red wine and now I’m walking on the sky…,” Spears sings, grasping at happiness over lush synth-pop before her younger sis steps onto the scene. Jamie Lynn offers a twangy yang to Brit’s yin, but “Chillin’ With You” is a mishmash of ideas that cannot stylize its odd arrangement.
10. Don’t Cry – The Spaghetti Western-esque whistle opening segues into a crackling break-up coda, as Spears offers her “last goodbye” while the percussion stomps the album to a close. “Don’t Cry” almost plays out like a winking “To Be Continued…” card, closing out the standard edition of “Britney Jean” on a speculative note.. – Spears is trapped in a “Tron”-like environment but remains extremely direct in her sexual prowess on “Tik Tik Boom.” As complex beats crawl like spiders across the track, T.I. sounds raw and wicked atop the neon glow of the production.
6. Body Ache – Another Guetta/Will.i.am hydra that sounds massive from the jump. The dense ping-pong snaps from “Scream & Shout” multiply until the arrangement becomes too busy, but the production finally simplifies itself for Spears’ chorus cry, “I want to dance till my body ache/Show you how I want ya” chorus. “Body Ache” never really explodes, but at least it simmers.
7. Til It’s Gone – The red herring piano intro morphs into one of the most intense dance tracks of Spears’ career, with r