Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Music Review: Work B**ch!

Previously on the SDP, I reviewed "Scream and Shout", the collab between will.i.am and Britney Spears which no one was anticipating.  Now let's see whan happens when she goes solo... again... in "Work B**ch!".


"Work B**ch!"
  • Artist: Britney Spears
  • Album: Britney Jean
  • Genre: Pop, Dance
  • Single Release: 16 September 2013
  • Writers: William "will.i.am" Adams, Britney Spears, Otto "Knows" Jettman, Sebastian Ingrosso, Anthony Preston, Ruth-Anne Cunningham
  • Producer: Otto Knows

As you can see by the above list of writers, William "will.i.am" Adams is credited as a co-writer on "Work B**ch!" -- and of course, no pop song these days can exist without at least five writers, I said in sarcasm mode -- but not as the producer.  So I don't know how much influence he holds this time around, but one thing's for sure: something's rubbed off on Britney.  Much about this new song appears to have been carried over from "Scream and Shout", the last song they worked on together.  There are similarities in the song's structure, the production style, and even Britney's performance.  Case in point: we start off with Britney doing that British-accented quasi-rapping she first broke out in that other song.  The hook revolves around listing all these upper-class name-brands and other luxuries, as is de rigeur these days... but with a twist.
You want a hot body
You want a Bulgari
You want a Maserati
You better work, [noun]
 
Yeah, it turns out the finer things in life require currenty to obtain!  Whoda thunk?  And why has it taken our celebrities so long to publicly acknowledge it in their works?  Probably because of all their product placement endorsements or something.  Present company included, apparently; the music video for "Work B**ch!" features the Las Vegas Planet Hollywood plus the Beats by Dre Pill speaker.  Okay, this is a hard change to make (unless you're Macklemore).  But answer me this, Britney: just what kind of work are you commanding us [noun]s to perform?  Taking the lyrics on their own, it would be safe to interpret "work" as your day job.  But this being a club dance song, well, something tells me you didn't exactly have our contributing to our nation's GDP in mind.

I will however give credit to this song's sense of command.  Her use of the word [noun] (...you're just gonna have to take my word for it) is meant not to belittle women, as is the usual case, but to belittle you.  Yes, you, the listener.  She is asserting dominance over you and playing the role of the dominatrix, made especially plausible by the return of her haughty, out-of-character accent.  And I, for one, enjoy this use of personality, compared to so many other songs, "Scream and Shout" included, which neglect this aspect.  So tell me what else I may work for, master (mistress?) Britney.
You want a Lamborghini
Sipping martinis
Look hot in a bikini
You better work, [noun]
I'm gonna have to stop you there; you already mentioned an appealing bodily figure as something that requires work on the part of [noun]s.  And that's not the only instance of recycled examples, but I'll get back to that later.  So the chorus continues in a similar fashion until the line "Now get to work, [noun]!" and a "dirty bit" musical bridge ensues.  But among the "dirty bit"s I've encountered in my life thus far, the one here is a cut above the usual fare.  There is some semblance of a melody for once!  A repetitive melody that's just a continuation of the bassline from the chorus before it, yes, but it is a proper release of the intensity built up during the chorus.  Compare that to other examples of the "dirty bit", even "Scream and Shout", which just kill the momentum when they arrive, and this is at least a step in the right direction.

Speaking of that song, as was the case with "Scream and Shout", I'm tempted to say the lyrics in the verses don't matter.  I mean, the hook already made a rather strong statement, amirite?  In comparison, the lyrics to the verses consists mainly of egging the crowd on to have a good time and bragging about how earth-shatteringly awesome the beat is.  You know, just like in "Scream and Shout".  And besides, given the poor balance between the thumping beat and Britney's soft, sirenic voice, I can hardly make out what she's saying at just about any point in the song, much less the verses.  For example, let's go back to the start of the chorus, or wait for it to come around again, and listen to the line "You want a Bulgari?".  I thought she was saying "Bugatti" intead of "Bulgari".  Then again, that would make three car brands in the same chorus, so at least she and her writers have some standards.  Not good standards, mind you, we're still left with two car brands, but I guess we should take what we can get.

"Work B**ch!" is no example of high art, let's get that out of the way.  The melody is repetitive, although so many songs in the Top 40 these days get away with such a crime, and while the message of the lyrics is interesting, the chorus does most of the work in getting it across.  That said, I will say that this is what "Scream & Shout" should've been like.  Simply put, "Work B**ch!" has personality -- something so many hits are lacking in.  And if you expect me to stick around and listen to an entire song on the radio or plunk down the dollar-plus to download a copy, you had better bring some personality to set you apart and provide a memorable listening experience.  So in conclusion: Yes Britney, may I have some more?

(You better work, [noun].)

Lyrics: 2 out of 5
Music: 3 out of 5
Performance: 2 out of 5
The Call: 3 out of 5 (C)

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