Fifteen years after “…Baby One More Time” first graced our ears, Britney Spears is still the same girl next door-turned-living legend.
That, essentially, is the general takeaway from I Am Britney Jean, the 2-hour World of Wonder-produced documentary that just aired tonight on E!. And oh, what a much-needed reminder it was.
Far from the alarmingly stiff 30-minute 2011 MTV special I Am The Femme Fatale, I Am Britney Jean gave the fans exactly what we wanted to see: Danceney. Personalney. Bossney. Awkwardney. Humbleney. Sillyney. And everything in between.
The special was shaped almost exclusively around Brit Brit’s preparation for her upcoming residency in Las Vegas, Piece Of Me (or Live In Las Vegasney: The Bitch Is Back), with occasional glimpses into her home life as a mommy, as well as some traces of Britney Jean promotion. (There’s footage of “Work Bitch” and “Perfume” being shot — but for the most part, the last four months have been all Vegas, all the time.)
Unlike some of her more, uh, less engaged promotional interviews as of late, I Am Britney Jean showed us that the Holy Spearit is doing just fine, thank you very much. In fact, she’s having a great time! The special seemed to tap into what made all of B’s past documentaries so great — she’s getting a little Introspectiveney about her role as a pop star (For The Record), giggling about sex and allowing cameras to see her interacting with her boyfriend (Chaotic) and openly expressing her pre-show jitters (In The Zone And Out All Night).
But the thing I liked most about I Am Britney Jean is that, for all the glitz and glamour of her upcoming residency, the special made no attempt to veil what we all know and love about Britney: She’s awkward, anxious and endlessly dorky.
The girl was shy when she became the American Dream at 17 (REFERENCE), and she’s just as shy and down to (Heaven On) Earth now: The documentary makes that point loud and clear, from Larry’s insightful interview about Britney The Pop Star versus Britney Jean, to calling Ellen “ma’am” backstage. She’s our polite brightest morning star. You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the Godney.
Seeing her make weird, nervous sounds before greeting the massive crowd at her Vegas premiere or pounding down a bag of Skittles in between interviews is exactly the kind of Britney I love to see. She’s real! She’s a human being, y’all. What U See Is What U Get, as one might say. Above all, she’s got a huge heart. And that’s what makes her the best.
Here are just some of the best Brit bits…
Consider this a new addition to the Spearitual lexicon: Like vanilla candles and Starbucks frappes, Brit Brit cannot live without some watermelon bubblegum. “Watermelon bubblegum, man. It’s the best,” she tells us. (Also, is that a subtle nod to Justin’s 20/20 Experience track, “Strawberry Bubblegum”?) Shade, but yes. Has anyone confirmed whether or not Britney ever actually stops chewing gum — even in her sleep?
I’m not a “Kitty Kitty,” not yet a “Titty Titty.”
If you ever thought she was saying “kitty kitty” in “I’m A Slave 4 U” (it’s “get it, get it”), you are officially wrong. Sorry! If you thought she was saying “titty titty” however, you are officially amazing.
She Will Still Love You
Above all else, love is what really matters in the world of Britney. “You should always go beyond reason to love…I think it’s why we’re here as people,” she urges at one point. Translation? Hug someone today. Britney really wants you to.
Let’s Talk About Phonography
Britney stays thirsting for the D. D on the brain. Often and endlessly. So much so, she’s even got an unusual (you) metaphor for brainstorming ideas while conceiving a show: “I print them all out and I send them to the director, and once we put our brains together and come up with something really cool, it’s just like usually is…uh, an orgasm.”
There’s A Lot Of Mean Things On The Internet
Our world is so nice.
She Lives For The Opposite Of The Applause
Paws down, Little Monsters. I’m not shading Gagaloo — I’m just saying Britney is quite literally terrified of the applause. Did you see how nervous she was to attend her own Vegas premiere? Britney’s a shy girl naturally, and she’s not trying to be in the spotlight all that much. She’s Britney Spears The Pop Star on stage, and that’s it — it’s all about that Ugg Boots, Starbucks cups and oversized Snoopy tees life from there. “I’m particularly not really made for this industry because I am so shy,” she explains at one point — perhaps one of the most candid pieces of commentary in the whole documentary. Just let her be (REFERENCE).
Britney’s verdict on her past tour costumes? The …Baby One More Time Tour: “Ugly.” The Onyx Hotel Tour: “Sexy.” The Femme Fatale Tour: “Kind of simple.”
She Don’t Remember That Allure Shoot, Y’all
While sitting down and looking at photos for Britney Jean, Britney had no idea she even did one photo shoot. Oh, that? That iconic shoot was in 2007. So…I mean. Um.
One, Two, Tree
The Holy Spearit is a known size queen, which is why it’s not surprising to see that she was not too impressed by her initial Tree of Lifeney. Like her bass, she prefers the tree to be big-gah. And big-gah she got: The new tree is massive and amazing, and sort of terrifying all at the same time. It ran over a dancer’s foot! It’s got fire spraying out! And she’s got to swing from the branches into the water! But B-Girl’s up for the challenge — she’s never afraid to take on a little extra wood. And so, in her “Larry, fireworks!” moment, she finally faces her fears and goes swinging — and screaming — to new heights. Swing, mama!
What’s that song on your new album that you want to do in Vegas called again? Oh, right. “Fart.”
The “Alien” Is Landing
Brit Brit was dying to perform “Alien” during the first leg of Vegasney, but alas — there was no time to squeeze it into the final set list. But don’t worry: She’s adding it for the second round of shows, because it’s going to be a single next year. “At that point, it’ll be a single anyway,” Larry casually explained to Britney when he gave her the bad news. “Yeah, cool!” she agreed. YASSSSSSSS!
She’s Performing “Everytime” As An Angel Descending From The Heavens And I Really Just Can’t
Um, I’m already crying and dead. Bury me in the gift shop at Planet Hollywood. Seriously, y’all.
Watching Britney interact with her kids — like when they were playing the piana (getting ready to learn “Everytime” no doubt!) — as well as the touching visit to the children’s hospital reaffirms why she is truly “Godney” in our eyes. She’s a sweet, well-intentioned angel sent from above to bless us with her slay-sational good deeds onstage and selflessness offstage. We remain deeply, completely unworthy of her being.
It’s Cheesy, Bitch
“I love dramatic and over-the-top. I think cheesy is good. Extra cheese, honey.” Wait — is that about the show or cheesy grits?
Me Against The Frying Pan
There are seven sections of the show, beginning with a grand opening in some sort of…vessel. Or is it an egg? (Hola, Gaga!) Or is it a massive Confessions On A Dance Floor disco ball? (Hola, Madonna!)
No, like. She’s dancing. Really! She’s seriously dancing — more than Femme Fatale Tour, at the very least. It’s more than Spearitual armography this time!
LOL, What Album?
In the entire two hours of the special, not even once do we see B-Girl hitting the studio or talking about writing and recording for her album. (Remember that? She just released one three weeks ago.) Seeing all the hard work she’s been putting into Vegas for the past 4 months, it’s understandable: She’s been rehearsing constantly, and it all looks quite exhausting. Should they have waited until the first Vegas run to release the album? Uh, probably. The fact that there was almost zero focus on the album in this documentary, apart from the brief moment inside the listening party, is more than telling: Vegas is the focus. Luckily, the show looks incredible…and hey, we just happen to have a new record on the side. So, let’s take it as an extra Spearitual #blessing and let that be that.
She Truly Was Born To Make Us Happy
The Britney Army’s sort of been through it this year, yeah? When Britney Jean dropped without much promotion or fanfare earlier this month (apart from being told repeatedly that it’s Her Most Personal Album Ever in a few Twitter Q&A sessions), some fans were left feeling a bit Sadney about the final product. Not everyone, obviously. A lot of people really, really love the album! And that’s great, but it all still felt a bit…incomplete.
And now we know why.
I Am Britney Jean very much felt like a revelation — a redemption (or a Remembrance Of Who I Am, if you will) — for those whose faith was briefly shaken during this era’s ups and downs (REFERENCE), from the wobbly Planet Hollywood announcement in the desert to the occasional I’d-rather-be-dead interviews she’s been doing. Fact is: She’s been really busy getting ready for Vegas, bitch! As a result, she’s got good days and bad days — and it really shows on camera. But that doesn’t mean she’s completely over it. It’s just life as a pop star. “This is all I’ve known my entire life…I wouldn’t know any other way,” she explained.
Here, we see a very alive, engaged Britney being assertive and putting together her show like a boss bitch (switching up costumes, brainstorming concepts, pitching songs, approving visuals) and working hard in the dance studio. And when she’s not in beast mode, she’s getting cozy at home with her family as a loving Motherney. It was genuinely — get ready for it — personal. (And cool. And urban.) As a fan, what more could I ask for? She looks happier than ever. Why should we be sad?
As far as selling Vegas show? Well, this more than did the trick. The brief glimpses we got into the show make this look like the most amazing live spectacle on the planet: There are projections. There are lighting gags. There’s a Wheel of Death. There’s a Ring of Fire. There’s a jungle section. There’s a giant ass tree. There are silver “Stronger” chairs. There is bungee jumping. There is water. There is fire. There is WATER ON FIRE. There is “Everytime.”
I Am Britney Jean was a solid 2 hour block of non-stop goodness for fans (and, probably, a good amount of casual observers) — certainly on par with beloved fan favorite, For The Record. Except this time around, there weren’t any tears of frustration and despair — just a whole lotta love.
“I must confess…I still believe,” the world’s best pop star once declared. Ain’t it the truth.
You can currently watch the entire documentary right here (until it’s eventually pulled from the net).