Today Britney Spears is allegedly filming the music video for the first single of her forthcoming, untitled ninth studio album, according to the Las Vegas Sun's Robin Leach. When asked about the direction of the new record in a V Magazine interview last month, the popstar said she's "proud of the work, and it's very different; it's not what you would think at all."
While we want to believe she's right, it's a cliched answer we've heard one too many times. So, we thought we'd offer up a few producer suggestions who are definitely Not Who You'd Expect, but would help her break free of the curse of 2013's Britney Jean. Some of these are pipe dreams, others are within the realm of possibility, but all are capable of making hits.
Bloodshy & Avant
Spears' 2011 album Femme Fatale aged badly within a year of release, so it's easy to forget that for a mainstream release, it was kind of progressive for a minute. This sounds like faint praise, but hear me out—it dropped in early 2011, months before dubstep took off in pop music with Taylor Swift's Red and other songs you may remember with a slow, refined chuckle. All of this is to say that on an album stuffed with American dubstep, steeped in planned obsolescence, one weird song stood out—"How I Roll."
With a beat courtesy of Swedes Bloodshy & Avant (two-thirds of Miike Snow), it was a fizzy, welcome change of pace in the middle of the record, and it still holds up today as Sophie-lite (see below) for the tween set. Considering they're also responsible for "Toxic" and a handful of other Britney hits, this one's a safe bet. But they can be pretty experimental—let's hope they push it in 2016.
While Dubbel Dutch's entire 2014 remixes EP is worth snatching up, it's the "2 On" mashup that really proves the New York-based producer knows his way around pop production. My suggestion: Britney should scrap the tropical house track her A&R team is inevitably workshopping and hop on a custom "hyperwine" beat instead.
If Kaytranada's become enough of a household name to get the "ft." treatment à la Zedd, maybe it's time to image a mellow Britney album closer that becomes a fan favourite despite never getting the single treatment. Sure the Montreal producer's got his own forthcoming album to promote, but that hasn't stopped him for providing blissful beats for others, like Azealia Bank's "Along The Coast" off her recent mixtape Slay-Z.
This one's been mocked up for illustrative purposes by SoundCloud user Rasuul already mashing-up the "Work Bitch" vocals over Danish producer Kid Antoine's "Motion Sensor." There's no reason this would ever happen in real life, but in a way it's not much more ridiculous than the original production, is it? And how good does Auto-Tuned Britney sound over that beat—that icy, icy beat? Drink in this fantasy friends, taste the feeling.
Sophie's pop track record so far: his harsh sound design paired excellently with Charli XCX's impenetrable vocals on the Vroom Vroom EP, while "Bitch I'm Madonna" fared worse with a mismatched Diplo chorus. Proto-pop bop of the decade "Lemonade" ended up inspiring just about everyone—and we all know where it eventually ended up. The fact that Sophie's working within the mainstream record industry at all is a true self-fulfilling prophecy, so I trust him to have a Britney-sized hook laying around on an SSD somewhere. This will happen if we let it.
Concept: Britney's English accent on a total belter, a complete banger, just an absolute pumper, etc. East London veteran DJ Zinc could do this because Zinc can do anything. And you know what? So can Britney Spears. She's an icon who can afford to keep her fans on their toes, and we assume the microeconomy backing her can afford it too. Let's mix it up Brit—it's time for a return to form.
Josh Parto is on Twitter.