Britney, the road to hell is paved with trouble ...
It seems to be OK if you start off slutty and follow that through all the way - look at Christina Aguilera; she started off writhing half-naked on the sand and was last seen getting her arse spanked in her Dirrty video and wearing chaps with nothing underneath them. Her "I’m a complete slut and can’t get enough" standpoint has seemed to garner her nothing but respect and buckets of cash. This makes it a bit annoying when she complains about this in her new song, Can’t Hold Us Down, where she sings "The guy gets all the glory the more he can score/ While the girl can do the same and yet you call her a whore". Actually, Christina, we’d call you both whores and by the way, you’re the one wearing the bottomless chaps.
Britney, though, started as the wide-eyed praying virgin and has, if that’s the way you see the world, been ploughing down the road to hell ever since. The smoking, the drinking, the increasingly see-through outfits, the hideous boyfriends, the ever decreasing possibilities of her chastity - she has taken to bad girl with abandon and met worldwide disapproval.
Entirely manufactured of course: given the gigantic numbers involved statistically, there has to be at least some crossover between those people who supported the News of the World’s awful "name and shame" of paedophiles campaign of a couple of years ago and those who dribbled relentlessly over the schoolgirl Hit Me Baby One More Time video, even though the song was such a classic it’s now routinely covered by everyone from Richard Thompson to Travis. Who was ever an innocent Britney Spears fan, unless they were eight?
So it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise that the belly-baring babe has suddenly come over all party girl. But it has - Britney being helped out of nightclubs, peeing in public and dancing on tables (go girl) has provoked shocked tabloid headlines worldwide. Even Justin Timberlake, her once supposedly innocent boyfriend, who still says his prayers before every meal (and seems terribly fixated on his mother), has been smirking to the press and saying, "yeah, we did stuff, know what I mean?" in a most unchivalrous manner.
Then there’s Fred Durst, lead singer of Limp Bizkit and officially the world’s most disgusting man (his last album was called The Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavoured Water - apologies if you’re eating breakfast). After she denied she was dating him (he is fat, old, bald and crap), he said, "that bitch Britney ... she parties way too much". He also, then, charmingly, wrote a song calling her a whore - gosh, but there’s a lot of it about.
The new single - post the gruelling Madonna snogathon at the MTV awards, where the mother of two had her own daughter perform as a flower girl before tonguing both Britney and Christina whilst making them sing her own awful new record; now that’s power - is Me Against the Music, which actually features Madonna, spouting: "Hey Britney, you say you wanna lose control/ Sexy lady, I’d rather see you bare your soul." It is actually worse than even those lyrics suggest.
The fact that Me Against the Music ("It’s whippin’ my hair, it’s pullin’ my waist/ The sweat is drippin’ all over my face") is considered the strongest song on the new album is a bit worrying. I suspect this record would have to be the new Thriller even to get a look in at a fair shot. The fact that its release date has jiggled about endlessly would seem to indicate that it is not.
The problem is that Britney is now so unbelievably famous, she’s Liza Minnelli. She’s going to be famous for her entire life, whatever she does. If she hides away there’ll be "depressive recluse Britney". If she keeps on making music, she will fail - it looks like this album is going to be a stinker. If she gets married the tabloids will hound her till it finishes. Her acting career is going nowhere - Crossroads was only saved from winning all the awards for worst movie of the year by the other pop tarts, Madonna in Swept Away, Mariah Carey in Glitter and J-Lo in Gigli - and the horrible book she "wrote" with her mum, A Mother’s Gift, didn’t really give Swan by Naomi Campbell a run for its money at Waterstone’s.
In fact, her only hope of redemption is to go through a "drugs and drink hell", prostrate herself completely, do lots of confessionals, find God again, then attempt the sympathetic resurrection. It’s a high-risk strategy. I hope she’s OK.