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Britney Spears [ft. Madonna]: "Me Against the Music"
Oops! Looks like it's all over for your girlfriend, and it's not just 'cause her fanbase has grown up-- Britney's been accosting all of us too fucking long with her Disney-fried, sub-Abba teen-pop, and now, like the awesomely savage barbarians we are, we want blood. Even her record label seems to want to end it here: they've tossed her "Me Against the Music", one of the greatest disasters in pop music history, as a surefire ship-sinker.
An abomination even by Spears' standards, "Me Against the Music" is rank enough that last weekend's SNL audience was as reluctant to applaud for it as they were to acknowledge Jimmy Fallon's mock-Asian accent. The ridiculously defiant title ambitiously pits her-- not a typo-- against the music, suggesting a final showdown in which Britney suits up to, once and for all, eliminate that colossal aural evil by turning it on itself. It almost works: I think I felt a ripple in the fabric of sound around the 3:30 mark. There are so many subtle intricacies here conspiring to form the ultimate musical horror: the frogthroat effect buried at the bottom of the a capella intro, the blink-and-miss-it prechorus lyric "chic-a-tah" (seriously! like four times!), the orchestra hits slamming like a Fox news update, and-- okay, this one isn't so subtle-- Madonna.
The Material Mom-- desperately paddling to float her own tanking career after bombing with American Life and her recent "Into the Groove" rehash-- follows a dialogue with Britney that actually tops Wendy & Lisa's intro to Prince's "Computer Blue" for most heated inane Lesbian-themed discourse in a song ever. The breakdown is shameless, and not just from the obvious sex-sells angle, as a sultry (did I mention 40-year-old?) Madonna pants, "Hey Britney, you say you wanna lose control/ Come over here, I got somethin' to show ya/ Sexy lady, I'd rather see you bare your soul."
"Me Against the Music" is a true feat: it not only hideously topples "Lucky" in terms of sheer patience-testing, but actually ranks, with ease, among the all-time most devastating pop chart embarrassments: Bobby Brown's "On Our Own" from Ghostbusters II; C + C Music Factory's "Things That Make You Go Hmm" and Twisted Sister's cover of "Leader of the Pack". If there's ever a hall of fame for American culture's laughable nadirs, this one'll have its own room. --Ryan Schreiber