Five years ago today, one of the greatest pop albums of all time graced our lives, crept to the edge of our mind and ****** our ears. When the legendary Britney Spears released “Blackout,” fans were ready for the greatest comeback of all time. Only problem was: she wasn’t.

During the years she recorded “Blackout,” Britney experimented in partying after a series of unfortunate events lead her down a path she’s still paying for today. Major producers for the album, including Danja, Keri Hilson and Bloodshy & Avant unknowingly transformed Britney’s real world into a haunting composition of electropop dance music. There’s a dark beauty to the album because it seemed to portray her struggles in real life, a direction she never ventured into before or after this 2007 release. It’s like fans got a peak into the mind of a girl that rarely allowed anyone in.

Though the album leaked to a handful of people in the summer of 07′, it didn’t make the rounds until the fall, forcing JIVE Records to move up the release date from mid-November. That same summer, paparazzi filmed Britney demoing the tracks in her Mercedes convertible, including “State of Grace,” “Baby Boy” and the notorious “Rebellion,” a track Britney wrote for the people in her old life.

Be wary of others
The ones closest to you
The poison they feed you
And the voodoo that they do

But in rebellion
There’s a sparkle of truth
Don’t just stand there
Do what you got to do

She was breaking free and wanted everyone to know she wasn’t going back to the control. Was this revolt artistic freedom? Mental breakdown? Neither? Both? It wasn’t for anyone to decide but her, so she ran. Ran from her family and management who forced her to rehab, ran from custody and court hearings and ran from herself. The only meaning fans could gather was through “Blackout,” this mysterious album that came to fruition through her personal life.

We’ll never know what really happened during those infamous years, but we do know she’s back. Why?

Cause it’s Britney, *****.

Happy birthday, “Blackout.”

Full track-by-track “Blackout” album review after the jump:

The album is chock full of heavy exhales and bass thumping hits, with an electric diverse gathering of some of pop music’s most tempting sounds mixed in. ‘Blackout’ features an eclectic group of super-star producers. Danjahandz, protégé of beat-master Timbaland, is responsible for 5 tracks on the album including “Gimme More,” “Break the Ice,” and “Get Naked (I Got A Plan).” Bloodshy & Avant, who also produced tracks for Britney’s 2003 studio album “In The Zone,” are also featured on “Blackout” in four tracks including “Radar,”’ “Toy Soldier,” “Freakshow,” and “Piece of Me.”

Gimme More,” Britney’s first single off “’Blackout,” hit airwaves with a bang. The song exploded to #1 on iTunes in less than 24 hours from its release, and debuted on Billboard’s hot 100 at number 3, making it her second highest charting song since “Baby One More Time.” The brilliant Danja and Keri Hilson crafted track, accompanies Britney’s vocals in the lead-off song on “Blackout.” With its addictive beat and panting moans, Britney provokes the listener begging them for more: “They want more? Well I’ll give ‘em more,” she sings. And with little promotion for the album, Britney has left fans wanting more, or should I say morrrre? And she can, why? Because it’s Britney, *****.

Britney’s big F U song to the media is “Piece of Me.” Composed by Swedish producers Bloodshy & Avant, “Piece of Me” is one of Britney’s most personal tracks on the album. The track debuted on iTunes at #13, and is a definite contender as an upcoming single off “Blackout.” “I’m Mrs. life styles of the rich and famous. I’m Mrs. oh-my-God that Britney’s shameless,” a clever, rebellious Britney croons. Britney taunts the tabloids and invasive media with her lyrics explaining her awareness to their stigma. “You want a piece of me?” she asks. As long as “Miss American Dream” doesn’t sneak away to the Philippines, fans and on-lookers will always want a piece of her American pie.

“Confidence is a must, cockiness is a plus” are the opening lines to “Radar,” Britney’s annoyingly catchy track produced by Bloodshy & Avant. The palindrome is said more than 50 times throughout the song, and will inevitably have you humming it in an elevator or during a mindless task. Her helium voice is supported by a background of electric waves and low-toned beeps similar to that of Soft Cell’s classic 80’s hit “************.” And with Britney’s eye on the prize, it would be hard for any man to resist her confidence, or cockiness: “you can’t shake me, cause I got you on my radar.” With “an interesting sense of style,” and a “ten million dollar smile”, you too have a chance to win Britney’s heart, or at least sing along.

Break the Ice” is the fourth track off “Blackout,” and an instant fan-favorite. Britney expresses regret for her leave of absence from the music biz in the intro to the song, but conveys it in more of a sexual whisper with a twist of desire rather than a sincere apology: “It’s been awhile. I know I shouldn’t have kept you waiting, but I’m here now.” The background, produced by Danja, is filled with a mid-tempo beat, and opera-style vocals accompanied by a synthesized trumpet-like tune. With her evident use of contrasts between hot and cold, Britney yearns to warm up her audience by seducing them with her heavy breathing and mid-song breakdown: “I like this part. It feels kind of good,” she sings amidst intense bass beats and kitten cries. The track does the job of breaking the ice, and any hearing-aids in close proximity.

As Britney escapes to a dreamy alternate reality on “Heaven on Earth,” her fans get a glimpse of a more intimate and personal side of the pop-princess as she falls off the edge of her mind. “Tell me that I’ll always be the one that you want. Don’t know what I’d do if I ever lose you,” sings Britney in an airy voice. The vocals are supported by a dreamy background produced by Freescha and Kara DioGuardi. “Will you catch me if I jump?” Britney innocently whispers throughout the song. The distinction between jumping into Heaven versus oblivion is unclear, but the one that can catch her if she jumps must be her heaven on Earth.

“Baby, I’m a freak and I don’t really give a damn. I’m crazy as a mother fucker.” Hey she said it, not me! Britney gets down right scandalous and explicit on “Get Naked (I Got a Plan),” produced by Danja. The track’s infectious, Timbaland inspired beat with Danja’s featured vocals, combined with Britney’s low-toned sexual singing makes for a classic club hit. “If I got on top, you’re gonna lose your mind. The way I put it down boy you know should be up.” Need I say more? “Get Naked” is one of the most radio-friendly tracks on the entire album. Perhaps that was the plan.

Britney’s life certainly emulates a freak show with her endless abuse from the media and constant surveillance from the public eye. “Freakshow,” co-written by Britney, is a collaboration between super-producers Bloodshy & Avant and The Clutch, creating one of the illest tracks on the album. The track is a fun, catchy song that will have listeners attempting to imitate the sounds and twirks the song offers in clubs from 10pm to 4: “Let your inhibitions go. It’s a crazy night lets make a freakshow.” The song features claps and voice effects that are nearly impossible to create without the assistance of dexterous producers. “Freakshow” offers fans a glimpse into her night out at a club, as well as a taste of her curious photographed lifestyle documented for all to see. Encore!

Toy Soldier” is one of the most exuberant tracks off “Blackout.” The digs at K-fed are apparent, and accompanied with the over-powering fast-paced beat of the drum as Britney expresses herself through her demanding lyrics: “I’m tired of privates drivin’, [I] need a general that ain’t weak.” “Toy Soldier” is an entertaining collaboration of shout-singing that suggests she’s ready for a real relationship: “This time I need a soldier, I’m sick of toy soldiers. A boy that knows how to take care of me. Won’t be just coming over.” Produced by Bloodshy & Avant as well as Sean Garrett, “Toy Soldier” has the capability of being a huge anthem and explosive future single.

Much like “Break the Ice,” Britney draws distinctions between warm and cold in “Hot as Ice:” “I’m cold as fire baby, hot as ice.” This cocky in-your-face song adds a perfect element of bubblegum pop to the album. “Living legend. You can look, but don’t touch,” a rightfully arrogant Britney sings. Bloodshy & Avant and T-Pain produced this cool and spicy track, which features a continuous buzz and hoo-ha background vocals. Britney breaks it down on this track with howls and a low to high range of vocals.

Ooh Ooh Baby” is a tranquil upbeat track about true love. The song, co-written by Britney and produced by Farid Nassar, features Spanish guitars and soft backup vocals revealing a sensitive side: “Ooh, ooh baby touch me and I come alive, I can feel you on my lips, I can feel you deep inside,” sings a soft-toned Britney. “Ooh Ooh Baby” uncovers a sensual yet warm edge to the beat dominating album.

“Are we ready?” asks Danja in the opening line to the track “Perfect Lover,” in which Britney replies with a breathy nonchalant “uh huh.” The background is a traditional clap beat with background vocals humming away, and accompanied by exhales and inhales. “You’re the perfect lover; I’m in love with all the things you do. So seductive how you touch me, I can’t get enough of you” pleads Britney. “You’re the best, baby you got me obsessed, and I can’t catch my breath,” she continues. The track features the incessant theme of ***, breathing, and sick beats. A clear-crafted Danja track with Britney’s haunting whimpers will have fans asking “are we ready?” which deserves a breathy “uh huh.”

In what is the most revealing track on the album, Britney sorrowfully sings about her dissolution of marriage to ex-husband Kevin Federline in “Why Should I be Sad.” Produced by Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes, Britney lays down heartfelt vocals with passion and regret. “They couldn’t believe I did it, but I was so committed. My life was so restricted for you” are the opening lines to the song, accompanied by a thick beat and violin-like background sounds. “Why should I be sad, heaven knows?” Britney asks throughout the song, as if an answer will appear mid-way through the chorus. Britney is “tired of singing sad songs,” and says her farewell by repeatedly singing “Its time for me to move along. Goodbye.” A perfect ending to cool down the fiery album, and leaves an insightful aspect for her fans to interpret.

– Jordan Miller

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