Fun year to be a Britney Spears fan, right? So much fun. What a wonderful year for everybody all around. Are you having fun? Same. Definitely.
Since basically nothing about the present is particularly joyous, despite B-Girl’s own recent sage words of advice – live in the moment, baby – let’s throw it back and dwell on the past instead…which is basically what Britney fans have been doing anyway for the past 1,000+ days since her last studio album, 2016’s Glory. (Some even launched a podcast dedicated to everything she’s done up until this year – I heard it was pretty good.)
Many (man on the) moons ago, in the year 2007, Britney released a really cool, indie, under-the-radar (REFERENCE) chilly dance record called Blackout at the height of paparazzi fever, during an era Britney scholars loosely refer to as “Rebellionney.” (The formal name, of course, being the “rebellion-snippet.mp3” era.)
The world watched, and largely mocked, a once top-of-the-pops princess for her up-and-down (and-up-and-down-and-up-and…) lifestyle, marked by increasingly erratic behavior in the public eye – a Vegas “joke” wedding, an unglamorous, occasionally unflattering UPN reality TV show, two children, club nights with Paris Hilton, a divorce, late night drives to nowhere, British accents, lighters, barefoot gas station sprees, the M&Ms Tour, upskirt shots, a head shave, tattoos, an umbrella attack, photo shoot meltdowns, rehab, streams of consciousness, Remembrances of Who She Is, going to the light and seeing Jesus, and everything in between.
We’ve seen and heard all that, and – unless you’re one of the teens with a Twitter account just joining us on this journey – we all lived through that, too. (Have a listen to the “2007” episode of It’s Britney, Bitch! while you’re at it for a refresher, anyway.)
At the time, Britney bit back with a still-fierce, still-relevant electro-pop anthem called “Piece Of Me,” a musical middle finger to the tabloids, and the public, for criticizing her appearance and her behavior.
What we didn’t have until this very moment was the bare bones of the track: the demo, produced by Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg (otherwise known as Bloodshy & Avant) and Klas Ahlund, featuring the Honey-ed guide vocals by none other than the legendary Queen of Swede-Pop herself, Robyn.
While any stan worth their weight in French-only “Anticipating” CD singles knows that Robyn can clearly be heard in the heavily manipulated chorus of the song as-is, we’d never heard the much-rumored Robyn version of the song…until now.
Likely due to the Indefinite Work Hiatus drought, Robyn’s “Piece of Me” demo surfaced on Tuesday (August 13).
There aren’t any lyrical or vocal surprises to be found here: it’s Robyn delivering reliably Robyn-esque vocals for a song which feels like a cross between Robyn’s own ahead-of-its-time 2005 record Robyn and the early DNA of what would become her own 2010 opus Body Talk, especially the sassiest of songs, like “Fembot” and “Criminal Intent.” At the same time, it’s clear that “Piece of Me” was never meant for Robyn: the Britney-related lyrics remain untouched in the demo, including “Oh my God, that Britney’s shameless.” (She also didn’t write the song.)
While the odds of new Britney anything in the next God-knows-how-long seem slim to say the least (nor am I expecting to hear anything from her soon…or possibly ever again, honestly), hearing how “Piece of Me” sounded at its starting point in Sweden before being given the Britney treatment and polished to perfection is still enough of a nostalgic thrill.
Photo credit: Clare Shilland / RCA Records