Two artists with 15-year histories released new songs in the past week. The dichotomy between them’s kind of interesting, so why not review them both simultaneously? So here’s my take on new songs from Britney Spears and Fiona Apple.
It’s been fifteen years since Britney donned the schoolgirl outfit and belted out “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” and since that time she’s slowly descended from her peaks into the world of safe, over-produced EDM. That said, her latest song feels more like a dance track from five years ago. It certainly works to some degree, but the heavy instrumentals, vocal contortions and continued use of supposedly shocking language (“It’s Britney, bitch” was cute, but this just seems over the top after that awful will.i.am song earlier this year) indicates she and her handlers have no idea how to keep her relevant. They were on the right track with songs like “Womanizer,” which was dancey and catchy, but this misses the mark somewhat.
Meanwhile, Fiona Apple surprises again, this time recording “Pure Imagination,” the Willy Wonka classic, for, of all things, an app and film for Chipotle Mexican Grill. Apple’s probably better suited to take on this track than most, as she can create a world of whimsy in a 4-minute song better than just about anyone. She doesn’t disappoint here; the song has her trademark flourishes while keeps faithful to the mood and feel of the original. It’s a hauntingly beautiful rendition; tally another point for Apple.