In the advent of Britney Spears’ freedom from her abusive conservatorship in November 2021, she’s made multiple references in her infamous Instagram account about her desires to return to music. As a lifelong Britney fan, I’d be remiss to expect another album, considering the allegations Spears herself to court in June 2021. The underappreciated pop masterclass Glory, released August 2016, suffered from minimal promotion and a music video riddled with creative clashes, allegedly due to the shifting nature of the conservatorship. Which was unfortunate, because Glory is arguably the strongest collection of songs Spears has recorded, to date. For anybody who doubts the place of Britney Spears in the modern zeitgeist of pop, I implore you to listen to the 2021 reissue.
There is a slight fanaticism when it comes to being a Britney fan. Personally, it stirs up feelings reminiscent of the 2000’s celebrity culture, when LiveJournal’s ONTD and the crude Perez Hilton ruled the blogosphere, only now instead of the microblogging platforms and forums, we have Twitter and TikTok leading visual conversations. This fanaticism has somehow led me to stumble upon American pop singer LIZ’s debut track “When I Rule The World,” under Diplo’s Mad Decent label, and produced by SOPHIE.
“When I Rule The World” tosses together the candied energy of K-Pop, helium-soaked Gwen Stefani quips and a blistering 4/4 beat. According to a feature by The Guardian, LIZ was incredulous to hear that Spears wanted to record the song, allegedly for the fan-speculated but eventually scrapped album, Pretty World (with theoretical promo single “Pretty Girls” featuring the now-retired Iggy Azalea). “I had to fight to get it back. But I would love to write a song for her. She taught me how to be a pop star.”
If Britney decided to do hyper-pop for her return to music, she could light the industry on fire and bring some joie de vivre back into pop. Though for any Britney fan, any direction Spears wants to take will move financial mountains. For the interested speculators, here’s a shortlist of probable musicians and collaborators, for Spears’ eventual return to the scene (unofficially named B10).
Karen Kwak, the Glory apologist
Seasoned A&R music executive Karen Kwak was a key element in the exacting curation of Glory. According to Fast Company Magazine, Spears’ deep commitment resulted into two of her most genre-bending cuts to date: vocally incandescent “Private Show” and French electro-R&B “Coupure Electrique.” Kwak says aspects of 2007’s Blackout influenced the process, but “the Britney that was taking chances, always changing, and always doing something new” was at the helm of inspiration. Let Kwak use her magic in filtering in the right mix of producers and musicians and B10 will likely find even greater critical acclaim than Glory.
Tinashe, the Water-Bearer
Tinashe, long a student of Spears’ discography, has the same pop music curatorial skills. Tinashe’s mixtapes sound like fantastical explorations of In The Zone’s genre kaleidoscope, while her larger video productions under record labels come armed with electrifying dance sequences. She’s sampled Circus’ “Blur” on her own “Can’t Say No,” and been featured with Britney herself on “Slumber Party” (curiously, her version is not included on Glory’s 2021 reissue). Tinashe has her eyes and ears set on the future of pop music; with Spears in tow, they can usher in an age of Aquarius.
Giorgio Moroder, the Godfather
How amazing it would be to relive “Tom’s Diner,” a glittering 80’s Britney moment in Giorgio Moroder’s otherwise meandering Déjà Vu (2015). Writer Brittany Spanos at Rolling Stone describes the Suzanne Vega cover as “even more sonically dynamic, with Spears evoking Vega’s subdued, almost deadpan, delivery.” If B10 channeled the spirit of Madonna’s Confessions On A Dancefloor years, with Moroder subbing in for Stuart Price’s disco duties, fans would see Spears reach new sonic distances unheard in her discography.
Danja, the Dark Wizard
Overseeing a solid chunk of Blackout, Danja and Spears collaborations have proven time and again the timelessness of their sound. Blackout still stands as the only Spears record inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s music library, originally reported by MTV in 2012. He has a penchant for dark, pulsating hip-hop beats, evoking vindictiveness and rebellion, especially once contextualized in these post-conservatorship years. Danja on B10 is a no-brainer; rumour has it work has already begun.
Mirwais Ahmadzai, the Elusive Guru
Mirwais Ahmadzai is arguably an obvious choice for B10, considering Spears danced to and enjoyed multiple tracks from Madonna and Ahmadzai’s collaborations on Instagram, namely “Nobody’s Perfect” (American Life, 2003) and “Paradise (Not For Me)” (Music, 2000). His latest work with Madonna is 2019’s critically acclaimed Madame X, featuring some of the pop veteran’s most sonically challenging to date, fired into too many stylistic cylinders. Spears curatorial taste could potentially pivot a barrage of left-of-center musicality into an experimental pop classic, akin to Madonna’s Kaballah years.
Janet Jackson, the Legacy
If B10 had only one feature, a legendary Janet Jackson collaboration would obviously be the album lead single. Danja is a massive Janet fan, proclaiming his adoration of her Rhythm Nation 1814 era on his social media, so that solves who will be producer. This could be what “Me Against The Music” hinted at, but instead of passing a torch, we could see the two reclaim narratives in both their careers. Jackson herself has gone through some tumultuous times and could use a career revival; the parallels are brimming with creative possibility.