Since the release of “Sometimes” in late 1999 — her debut single, “… Baby One More Time,” didn’t actually impress me much at first — I have been an avid follower of the pop princess and anyone who knows me even remotely can attest to this. I have defended her tirelessly when the media seemingly wouldn’t, exalted her to friends whenever they tried (and failed) to put her down in my presence, and whenever there’s a new release from Britney, it tends to take over any music device that I own for days on end, and that’s exactly how it’s been with “Make Me,” the first single to her long-awaited ninth album, Glory.
Filled with a sultry-imbued confidence that most haven’t heard from Spears since before her highly-publicized 2007 breakdown, the tune seemed destined to finally place her back where she belonged, alongside the queen herself, Madonna, as one of the most effervescent and intriguing pop stars to come out of the genre. The stage was set for an all-out prominence comeback, and all she needed to do was release the right video for “Make Me.” And for a moment, it looked like that was about to happen.
Day one: ✔️ pic.twitter.com/UVGcVkkBUm
— Britney Spears (@britneyspears) June 3, 2016
With iconic photographer David LaChapelle at the helm, the teases that were shown for the “Make Me” visual, both official and not so much, thanks to certain leaks that occurred weeks ago, were sexy, over-the-top, thought-provoking, and in the words of one of Spears’ past tunes, outrageous. In short, it was classic Britney, something that fans once believed that they would never see again from the 34-year-old mother of two. It was proof that at some point between her choice to heavily alter the visuals to past singles “Work B**ch” and “Perfume” (the latter of which, was supposed to see Spears emulate the life of a love-struck assassin, according to Buzzfeed), and the lackluster release of “Pretty Girls” in 2014, Britney found and got her groove back.
And then, oops, she lost it again.
On Friday, more than three weeks after the “Make Me” single dropped (and more than a month after Spears shared a behind-the-scenes shot from the shoot on Twitter), the music video quietly made its debut, and fans, including yours truly, were outraged. Just as it had been rumored on by Breathe Heavy, the video we got was not the video that was originally shot. Gone was what supposed to be a heightened play of Spears’ life and times, and in its place was a gender-switched remake of “As Long As You Love Me” by the Backstreet Boys.
The thing is, as upset as people are over the “Make Me” music video switch, we can’t force Britney to publicly display something she isn’t comfortable with. We get that, and we respect her wishes, which is why none of the LaChapelle visuals other than the one she promoted herself will be seen in this post. However, it does bring up an interesting, albeit worrisome, question about the furthering of her now 18-year-long pop career: In a field where one is required to push boundaries to maintain attention and relevance, just how long can a withering Spears continue to survive?
Interestingly, this exact moment reminds me of an old-school MAD-TV sketch where during a video shoot for the song, “Lick My Baby Back Behind” (a parody of Spears’ “… Baby One More Time”), Britney refuses to don sexy lingerie for a choreographed scene. After a swift, no pun intended, reminder of just how replaceable she is by the video director and her own mother, she relents.
Ironically, whereas the MAD-TV moment came at the beginning of her career, the same thing goes for Britney right now, especially when it comes to the never-changing scope of pop music: You’re only as good as your last move, and frankly, shirking away from the original “Make Me” music video is not a good move at all. In fact, it actually solidifies something that has been whispered since she dropped 2009’s Circus, just two years after she nearly lost everything she held dear: Maybe she doesn’t want this pop life as much as others want her to have it.
It’s a sad truth to even begin to accept, but again, keep in mind that this is a person who has been at this game for nearly two decades, and that’s not even counting the days of The All-New Mickey Mouse Club. Not everyone is meant for longevity in the entertainment field, and honestly, that’s okay. Look at everything she’s done!
Britney Spears has sold 100 million albums worldwide and is one of the best-selling artists in the history of music. She has had her name and face attached to several brands, both self-created and otherwise, performed on stages around the world, and with legendary acts including Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, and Madonna, someone many considered Spears to be the heir apparent of. She also currently has a net worth of $63 million, if a report by Money Nation is to be believed (Forbes claims that it’s actually closer to $30 million, but that’s still a lot of dough). Perhaps the time has come for everyone, fans and Britney Inc. alike, to let her take her final bow and go.
However, if that’s not the case and this is just another display of uneasiness from someone who once performed with a boa constrictor around her neck, then the following, which is being said with love, needs to be understood: Britney Spears, make me, the entire Britney Army, and the world believe that you still want this. Stop using Las Vegas as a crutch, and your children as a reason to downplay your sensuality, and get back out there and properly slay this industry, like we know you can. If you want to be done with it, then don’t waste anyone’s time. But if you want everlasting Glory? Then, you better… well, you know.
[Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP Images]