Dance-pop diva Britney Spears seems to be a busy girl since these days, and for a change, the news is being kind to her. Last week, she became the latest not-quite-a-victim of an Internet leak and subsequently released her catchy new dance single “Work B**ch” a day early, which is already expected to bow on the Billboard Top 20. She’s following that up with her eighth studio release on December 3. And this week, she announced on Good Morning America that she has agreed to a 50-show, 2-year residency in Las Vegas titled “Britney Spears: Piece of Me” starting in December.
All this good news may add up to a much-needed shot in the arm for Spears’ music career. Or will it?
The way I see it, there are both good and bad signs with these developments. Let’s take a quick look at this from both sides.
Truth be told, with Spears’ manic, erratic, spiraling-out-of-control behavior still fresh in people’s minds from a few years ago (even spilling over into some volatile moments on The X-Factor last yer), any news that focuses simply on her music may be good news in and of itself. Spears is currently presenting herself as a woman who is in control of her life and her art. Even her single seems a bit self-reflective, like she’s talking to herself: “You want a hot body / You want a Bugatti / You want a Maserati / You better work, b**ch.” In short, Britney Spears seems to be going back to work, not merely in celebrity-appearance type stuff, but as a performer. If she keeps on this track, it definitely could create a career boost for her that could even put her back on top for awhile.
Here’s the thing: her upcoming residency in Las Vegas is—well—a residency in Las Vegas. While from one perspective this puts her in the same league with some real entertainment icons, from another, a Vegas residency is something aging icons tend to do toward the end of their run, not at their peak. At 31, Spears is one of the youngest musical artists to set up shop in Sin City, and while it’s steady income, it also carries some psychological baggage with it, subtly suggesting that her career is actually waning, not surging.
And there’s this: Kurt Melien, the Vice President of Entertainment at Ceasar’s Entertainment (who has engaged Spears for the residency) tells Billboard that this is a North American exclusive contract. This means that for the next two years, the only place Spears can perform in the U.S. or Canada is at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. And that means no tour for Britney Spears when her new album comes out—at least in this country. This seems almost counterproductive, if not a bit presumptive. (Artists much bigger than Britney is right now are still out touring their new records, not setting up residencies in Vegas and asking people to come to where they are.)
SO WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Your guess is as good as mine—but at least we can guess. My guess is that ultimately the good will outweigh the bad on this one. Given Spears previous history of irresponsibility, a regular gig might be just the thing she needs at this point in her life to keep her on track—and as long as her new record meets a standard of excellent, it should sell well without tour support.
In other words, if Britney Spears is going to have a career revival, this might actually be the only way it’s going to happen. Just saying.