UPDATE: Two months later, Britney has (finally!) added the song to her VEVO this evening, along with a legendary handwritten postcard. #SomethingMorePersonal! Let us shake our umbrellas and pour the milk in celebration — and demand a full single treatment.
Good things come to those who wait. They…also come to those who can’t be bothered to wait for two more months. (Go figure.)
Earlier this afternoon, after a steady stream of low quality voice recordings started to spill, the full version of Britney‘s cover of Suzanne Vega‘s cult classic “Tom’s Diner” made its premature debut on the Internet.
Britney’s take on the track is an ideal musical meeting point between the two icons: While “Tom’s Diner” certainly doesn’t require much of a vocal range on her part, Britney’s delicious speak-singing voice still makes each and every syllable feel utterly, undeniably Britney — even when heavily vocoded and layered to a “Piece Of Me”-like degree — as she slowly moves her eyes across the diner in a daze. (“Instead, I pour the milk…”)
Moroder, ever the synth-pop pioneer, compliments B’s vocals with his own stomping space beats and dramatic strings. Those dark drops after the chorus, especially, provide a more fresh, complex update to the original. (It’s hot!) The legendary synth producer even makes a cameo in the bridge — the one she didn’t finish recording, for whatever reason — providing a kind of unexpected robot strangeness. It’s jarring, but for Moroder’s own album, it’s also kind of the perfect move.
Yet the true, actual brilliance of Britney recording a song like “Tom’s Diner” is that Britney Spears has no business singing about a solo trip to a Manhattan diner. Think about the scenario for just a moment: It’s preposterous to imagine she’d make it more than even a few minutes before the inevitable fan panic and paparazzi swarm that would quickly overtake her anonymous newspaper reading session.
In that way, “Tom’s Diner” as sung by Britney Spears takes on a whole new meaning: It feels like the fantasy of somebody who hasn’t been Of The People since she was 17 years old now flirting with the idea of being entirely anonymous. (Diner Fantasy, coming soon to your local Kohl’s!)
There’s a For The Record-like sadness to the idea of Britney daydreaming about flipping through the paper, entirely disconnected from the events happening around her. (“There’s a story of an actor who had died while he was drinking, it was no one I had heard of…”) It’s genius, in my opinion.
Where Moroder’s chosen to end Britney’s version of the song is also, intriguingly, more mysterious (or menacing?) than the original: “I’m feeling someone watching me, and so I raise my head…” And then what, Britney? AND THEN WHAT? It’s a claustrophobic ending, with no real resolution that’s entirely open for interpretation — a Sopranos finale in song form.
Whether or not “Tom’s Diner” gets any mainstream attention is irrelevant — although I’m optimistically thinking that “Tom’s Diner” might pique the interest of some of the more elitist outlets that otherwise wouldn’t give your average Britney Spears song a chance.
As far as those promises of a more “out there” ninth studio album? This is exactly that: It’s an unexpected song choice (which she asked personally to cover, let us not forget!) that leaves an incredibly haunting, lasting impression. (And, in case you don’t want to think, it’s still something you could bust out on the dance floor.) This is the Adultney I want and need.
Welcome. Please seat yourself.
‘Déjà Vu’ will be released on June 16. (iTunes)