Britney’s search for independence takes center stage on “Overprotected.”
To celebrate the flawless Darkchild remix turning 17-years-old this week, we’re taking a close look at one of the most treasured Britney tracks of all time.
Britney’s catalogue bares a striking resemblance to her personal life more than casual music listeners care to realize. “Overprotected” is an entire song dedicated to Britney’s quest for personal freedom. In 2002, at just 21-years-old, Britney had already experienced unimaginable success. She’d already sold millions of albums, broken longstanding records, embarked on several tours and ruled the media. Whether she liked it or not, Britney had the Midas touch, and that insurmountable fame erected golden walls around her. Sure, it became a more difficult climb for users to reach Britney, but it was also a way to keep the singer tucked away.
You’re going to have to see through my perspective
I need to make mistakes just to learn who I am
And I don’t want to be so damn protected
“Overprotected” is eerily relevant all these years later as we find the princess of pop bound to the legal restraints a conservatorship provides. The Britney Army is well aware of the likeness the song shares to her present day public persona. So much so that fans pressured Britney’s ********** creative team to include it in the show. It would have marked the first performance of it since The Onyx Hotel Tour in 2004.
Max Martin produced the original (and co-wrote it), but Darkchild stripped away the famed producer’s rubbery pop beat and transformed it into an R&B-tinged club banger. Both versions of the track are precious gems, but the Darkchild re-working is a grittier take on Britney’s unsettling admissions. She’s asking important, soul-searching questions about her future, but the only person that has the answers is herself.
What am I to do with my life?
(You will find it out don’t worry)
How am I supposed to know what’s right?
(You just got to do it your way)
I can’t help the way I feel
But my life has been so overprotected
I think “Overprotected” is such a staple song in Britney’s discography because it connects with listeners on a very basic level. I’m not convinced anyone at any age has it all figured out, especially a 21-year-old ultra famous pop star. An unsettling awareness about life’s upcoming events is one of the most essential ingredients to being human. All of us want to know what’s right, but it’s the act of simply living life that holds the answers.
Around the time of the release, Britney was asked to clarify whether she was overprotected, or over controlled.
“I think overprotected,” she said. “I’m not over controlled because I’m a control freak myself. I have to control everything.”
“I think I could probably relate more to that song like three years ago,’ she continued. “When I was in high school with my mom… but now I think she trusts me. I’m off traveling so if I’m protected in any way now it’s necessary.”
The interviewer points out that sonically, the original “Overprotected” sounded like something off Janet Jackson’s Control album. It’s worth mentioning that Britney pays homage to Janet in the remix video. What did Britney feel she had control over?
“When I wanna work, when I don’t wanna work. When I wanna be off, when I don’t wanna be off,” she said.
Many years later, in 2011, during an overseas promotional tour for Femme Fatale, an interviewer overstepped Team B’s guidelines and asked Britney whether she ever feels overprotected by the people around her. “No, cause I’m here right now,” she quipped. The interview ended there.
The Chris Applebaum-directed video for the remix sheds light on Britney’s rebellious spirit and her stance towards the media at the time.
It begins with Brit and her girl friends goofing around in their hotel room, but a breaking news report interrupts the moment to slander our queen. Fed up with the chatter, Britney turns off the tube, changes into something **** (a big middle finger), and sets out for a night on the town with her gal pals. Because she’s feeling overprotected, Brit deploys a clever mission to distract her security guard so she and her squad could sneak out sans supervision. To us the concept is cute, but this is a situation Britney actually dealt with. Partying in an expanding limousine and dancing in the rain were just the appetizers, cause it leads up to a moment where she tries sneaking inside of a nightclub, only to be met by a hoard of paparazzi and not a single guard in sight to help. See the conundrum of Britney’s attempt at freedom? She’s always heavily protected, so she makes a run for it, but in doing so encounters a situation where she needs protection. It’s an ominous precursor to the events that lie ahead in 2007.
Several months after announcing her work hiatus, Britney reportedly checked herself into a mental health clinic. Right now she just needs a little time, love and space.
“I need… me.”