Proving once again that bad publicity isn’t always bad, Britney Spears scores her biggest hit single in almost nine years as her new single, “Gimme More,” leaps from 68 to 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s time for Britney to have a drink … well, maybe not. Her critics will loudly point out that the song is only doing well because of digital downloads; after all, it’s not getting much radio airplay. However, people who understand radio realize that this format has become more irrelevant than the Sony Walkman.
Measuring a song’s success based on radio airplay is very inaccurate. That’s why Billboard is slowly moving to a chart system that also takes into account digital downloads and Internet streaming.
“Gimme More” was released to somewhat positive buzz until Britney’s disastrous performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. Then, the song was widely reported as a flop and Britney’s career was declared over for the tenth time. The lesson in all this is a truly good song reaches beyond all the hype. This reminds me of 1994 when Madonna’s career was declared over for the tenth time and despite a bad wave of publicity that resulted from a David Letterman appearance, her new single, “I’ll Remember,” reached number 2 and became the longest charting Top 40 hit of her career.
I have never really been a Britney Spears fan. Most of her music is more processed than bubble gum and her voice has always reminded me of a drunken girl doing karaoke. In 2004, I started having a little change of heart. Despite the backlash from her short Vegas marriage to Jason Alexander, her single, “Toxic,” the second release from In The Zone, became a huge hit and deservedly so. The hard jamming dance song was a shining light in a year that gave us nothing but boring rap songs. Then, she followed up “Toxic” with another hit, “Everytime.” If one can ever make a case that Britney has talent, this would be the song to use. Beyond the song, the video was one of the last great videos played on MTV. Britney was on her way to getting an ounce of respect – even though she still had a long way to go.
We all know what happened after she married Kevin Federline: the divorce, the crotch, the haircut, rehab, the MTV Video Music Awards, Chris Crocker, the custody loss, etc. It’s easy to poke fun at somebody when they're down, but the fact that America is taking joy in Britney’s crash says a lot more about us than it does Britney. Are we using Britney’s downfall to cover up for our own insecurities? In any case, let’s hope that the hit status of “Gimme More” is the start of Britney’s personal and professional rehabilitation.