Femme Fatale is the seventh studio album from one of the most celebrated artists in pop history. In a little more than a decade, Britney Spears has sold close to 70 million records worldwide, making her the fourth best-selling female artist ever in America according to industry sales tracking system, Sound Scan.
But nothing the Grammy winner has done before will prepare fans for the versatility, innovation and sexiness Britney displays on Femme Fatale, her first studio album since her platinum 2008 set, Circus. In talking about the album, Britney frequently uses the word “different,” and for good reason: With Femme Fatale, she’s created a stunning collection that is unique among her body of work as well as compared with everything else out there today.
Given the tremendous success of Circus, Britney could have been forgiven for duplicating its powerful sound, but never one to rest on her considerable laurels, the superstar was eager to create a master work that stood apart from her past 25 Top 40 hits. “I wanted to make sure that this album was completely different from Circus or anything else I had ever recorded,” she says. “I love Circus but I wanted something darker and edgier. I also wanted to experiment with all the different types of music I love which is why you hear a mixture of pop, hip-hop, and dance throughout the album. I really wanted to play with my voice and change up my sound here and there, which was really fun.”
An artist so beloved that she inspired her own episode of Glee, Spears began crafting Femme Fatale more than two years ago, while on the road for The Circus Starring Britney Spears Tour. The lavish extravaganza grossed more than $130 million to become the fifth highest grossing tour ever by a female.
She and noted producers Max Martin and Dr. Luke, whom she’s worked with since her 22 million-selling, 1999 debut, ...Baby One More Time, started recording when the tour stopped in his native Sweden. From the first note, Britney had a vision for her new collection. “I wanted to make a fresh-sounding album for the clubs or something that you play in your car when you’re going out at night. I knew I wanted to make a dance album that was ahead of everything else out there but unique to me, which is why I was so picky with the recording process. I only wanted songs that I immediately connected to.”
It’s clear the rest of the world is connecting to the songs as well: First single "Hold It Against Me," bowed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, making Britney one of the only artists to ever debut more than one song at No. 1 on the pop chart.
Spears worked with a cadre of the world’s top producers and songwriters, also including Rodney Jerkins and Shellback. The common trait was excellence and an ability to bring the beat. “It wasn't about who made the song but the song itself,” Britney says. “The only songs that I recorded and that made the album were the ones that I felt were really different and quirky. I worked with Bloodshy a lot on this album because he always has a fresh new sound. I just wanted Femme Fatale to be different.”
There’s that word again, but one listen to Femme Fatale shows it is Britney’s most united, yet diverse, set of songs, with each tune offering the listener something special. Second single "Till The World Ends" is a club thumper that celebrates dancing until the end of days. On the futuristic, slow groove of "Inside Out," Britney pleas that her lover give her “something to remember.” The twirling "I Wanna Go" ends with whistling; a bold move that startles, but captivates. The compelling "How I Roll" features Britney reciting a stream-of-consciousness lyric that hypnotically draws in the listener.
“Gasoline” starts off guitar driven before exploding into a bumping, grinding barnburner. Britney saves the best for last on the lilting album closer, "Criminal," which opens with a seductive flute before giving way to Britney singing beautifully about the man she can’t resist as acoustic guitars and synthesizers wrap gently around each other. It’s pure pop gold with a melody that lingers long after the gem concludes. (A deluxe version offers four additional tracks, including "Don’t Keep Me Waiting," an escalating rocker featuring Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.)
Femme Fatale also gave Britney the chance to work with talents both familiar and brand new. On "(Drop Dead) Beautiful," she introduces the world to up-and-coming Los Angeles rapper Sabi. “I love to find new artists that very few people know about. It's one of my favorite things to do because it's like being part of a secret,” Britney says. “Friends and people around me are always showing me new artists that they love, and that's how I learned about Sabi. I have always wanted to feature a new artist on one of my albums and she is really cool.”
Britney, who has grossed over a billion dollars in fragrance lines through Elizabeth Arden, also paired with the Black Eyed Peas’ extraordinary frontman will.i.am, who produced and co-wrote the window-rattling "Big Fat Bass." “I love the Peas. They make incredibly catchy, fun pop/dance records and I love will.i.am’s style,” Britney says. “I have always wanted to do a song with him and would love to work with him more in the future. He is so interesting.”
Femme Fatale is unique among dance-themed albums in that the songs effortlessly flow from one to the next, united by both their dynamic beats and their themes of love and desire. “I didn't want to just record a bunch of songs and put them together,” Britney says. “I think Femme Fatale is really connected from start to finish.”
That is because with Femme Fatale, Britney has lovingly and painstakingly hand-picked a new batch of songs that she feels are destined to be embraced and loved by her fans. “I’m very stubborn when it comes to recording. The song has to spark something inside of me,” Britney says. “I know there are a lot of artists that hate songs they’ve recorded. I don’t feel that way. I love all of my music.”
A Femme Fatale is an intoxicating, bewitching enchantress who entices those near her down an irresistibly seductive path. Who better then than beguiling international pop star Britney Spears to beckon us on a thumping, melodic journey of love and lust on her new album, Femme Fatale.