“Passenger,” a possible song for Britney Spears’s upcoming album “Britney Jean,” leaked online yesterday afternoon, and it’s sublime. A reliable source confirmed that the track is indeed from the “Britney Jean” recording sessions, although we don’t know yet if it will make the album’s final track listing.
At the outset, “Passenger” kind of sounds like a warped version of “Jingle Bells,” but then some rapid-fire Nintendo-style bleeps and bloops start to bleed through the noise and the song’s rich electronic landscape begins to take shape. Over an electric guitar and ambient synths, Britney sings about the thrill of letting go in a relationship and just going along for the ride: “I’ll let you lead the way now, ’cause I want you to take the wheel, I’ve never been a passenger though, I never knew how good it would feel.” The driving metaphor is a little cheesy, sure, but Britney sounds so wonderfully present and genuine throughout the song, it’s hard to hold it against her (ha).
That’s right, folks, “Perfume” wasn’t just a fluke – Britney Spears sounds like a real live human being again on “Passenger” (…for the most part). This is clearly an unfinished version of the song and there are a couple spots that sound too heavily edited (check out the 1:54 mark, for example), but we’re still light years away from the slickly auto-tuned BritBot who appeared on most of “Femme Fatale” and “Blackout.” Full writing and production credits for “Passenger” are unknown, but producer Antony Preston (“Work Bitch,” Nicole Scherzinger’s “Boomerang”) took to Twitter yesterday to defend Britney’s vocal performance on the track (some people are still complaining that she sounds too processed – you can’t please ’em all!), so it’s a safe bet that he had a hand in crafting it.
Britney wasn’t just blowing smoke with that whole “most personal record yet” thing, was she? “Britney Jean” is truly shaping up to be a totally different offering from the pop icon. I hope the whole thing doesn’t end up leaking three weeks ahead of schedule like “Femme Fatale,” but I’m kind of glad “Passenger” came along when it did to give us a sneak peak of the album’s sound. It’s been a little tough to determine who Britney actually ended up working with on “Britney Jean.” Luckily, Bradley Stern over at MuuMuse did some stellar investigative work this week, so we now know that Dev Hynes, Darkchild, and Naughty Boy are all out as possible producers. That just leaves us with will.i.am (who is supposedly just “guiding” things), one track from William Orbit, one track from Dr. Luke, and rumors of a possible Afrojack collaboration. That’s not much to go on, but I imagine things will become more clear as we get closer to the release date. I was feeling pretty blasé about this project after “Work Bitch,” but suddenly it’s become one of my most anticipated upcoming releases. Fancy that!
Listen to “Passenger” via B. Scott here. What do you think of the song? Does Britney sound like Britney again or is there still too much studio magic going on?