Everyone has the flu, unless you work at Goldman Sachs, in which case you’re Johnny Amlerica, and your bonus check has too many zeroes. Children with the names of birds choke the sky in experimental flying vehicles, until it turns out they really don’t (Where the Wild Things Weren’t), and all the helicopter pilots west of the Mississippi go back to smoking crumpled cigarettes and grumbling about the clouds in the flight deck coffee. A president wins a Nobel Prize and everyone snickers, a panda conducts home invasions in an attempt to hawk Chinese food, and the world waits for word from the 1990s economy relay tower that it’s transmitting a schematic for how to fix everything. Too bad, because the software required to transmit that information wasn’t invented until 2006, which means it’s game over man, and we’re stuck out here with the hissing wind and a bad case of the Kardashians. There’s no control; we’re just grinding metal. And pop radio is full of mouse-click sleek songs that go nowhere beyond text speak platitudes and the lifted choruses of four-year-old Imogen Heap songs.
And then Britney, a French dude, and motherfucking Akon show up, and suddenly we’re in the pipe five by five. Sic transit gloria mundi.
In Britney’s case, it’s a debut for the ages. These days it’s a knee-jerk reaction to give the girl shit — that’s how handily she destroyed her career. But she’s steadily made a case for herself as the reassembled woman, riding beeps and rhythms that emulate downmarket analog and robot zombie spare parts even as they’re conjured with the aid of modern digital materials. First there was “Womanizer,” then there was “Circus,” and now there is “3,” her newest #1 and the first single to debut there in over three years. Black Eyed who?
The new news: “3” is uncut fishscale gibberish. It’s a nightmare punch, like suddenly coming to on a dancefloor built inside a three-story hamster wheel just as a Drew Carey golem is set to give it all a spin. Brit coils a fuzzy-digi version of her non-singing voice around a snare effect that slaps all over the keyboard pulse like an undead sturgeon ripped from the river Styx, and the high ends pop blood vessels in the corners of eyes. Give it a push, and it goes nowhere. Try to get around it, and you can’t find the corners. Tunnel underneath, and it turns out to be a sphere. Walk inside, and it’s bigger there than it was on the outside. It’s a wasteland, but one where the echoes sound like a party that could give a fuck. And that’s the kind of attitude we could all use right now. Livin’ in sin is the new thing.
And then there’s Akon, who was recently hired by your goldfish to sing a chorus. He might be the R&B equivalent of a guest verse from Ludacris, but Akon has no shame in the shamless department, which makes him the perfect foil for David Guetta on the Parisian house music DJ’s international hit “Sexy Bitch.”
“She’s nothin’ like a girl you’ve ever seen before,” Akon sings. OK, we’re with you so far. “Nothing you can compare to your neighborhood ho’.” Wait, what? Akon goes on, and tries to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful. He gives up, and longs for the days when the inserted “clink-clink” of a jail cell door would do the trick. In lieu of that, he drops the hook over Guetta’s hard count Paris electro. “Damn, you’s a sexy bitch.” Cue the soap shooting from artillery, bikinis fashioned from edible blood diamonds, and a hole in the sky where God threw up blood.
If the world is going to end, it might as well be while the pop songs sound like they’re in full autorotation, remaining aloft despite no power, no sense, and no class. When a crash is imminent, things suddenly make sense, and Akon wins the Nobel prize for pieces of ass.
Britney’s a star again, and Peter, Paul & Mary are gettin’ down with 3P.
Audio: Britney Spears – “3”
Each week Johnny Loftus will select a song from your hit parade to explicate, celebrate, or humiliate.