Britney Spears "My Prerogative" # # # # #
Aside from a select few American Idol contestants over the years, there is no commercial pop artist around today who picks and performs covers as cleverly and uniquely as Britney Spears does. Whether you find her versions of "I Love Rock 'N Roll" or "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" good or bad, you at least have to agree that Britney is the only pop star who could have made them. Her cover of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative," the lead single off her first greatest hits collection, is certainly no exception and, actually, makes sense as a Britney single in 2004, both stylistically and thematically. Can you think of a more appropriate way to start a Britney song of this era (outside of "It's Britney, bitch") than, "They say I'm crazy..."? And the video highlights this key statement in a very big way: showing a (crazy?) Britney in a car jump a massive walled gate into a swimming pool. Cutting out the music at the song at this point was a clever idea, not only adding emphasis to this statement but also proving that you can stop a song in a music video without downplaying the importance of the actual music.
On paper, the rest of the video sounds like the usual as far as Britney video goes: over a series of scandalously sexy outfits, Britney comments on her sexual image. But visually, at least through the first chorus, she generates new ideas out of something that's she had been doing for years. In what could be described as an off-the-wall homage to Sunset Boulevard, Britney wanders through an Old Hollywood mansion, reminiscent of Norma Desmond's home, eerily shot like a moody, color take on film noir. There's something mysterious about this setting that suggests far more than it explicitly shows. And then there's Britney, first lingering seductively over a sexy maid, then, clad in beautiful, surprisingly tasteful lingerie, walking in on a man watching home movies of her rolling around in a bed. Like I said, it doesn't say anything new we haven't seen before in Britney's videography--commenting on Britney's sex symbol status and how the media/public plaster this image of her to the point where she can't escape it, even in her own home--but it's done with such stylistic flair that I remained riveted. The final half of the music video falters, lumping in some big twist at the very end that feels both unnecessary and thematically. But, just as her "Toxic" video did previously, although not as strongly, "My Prerogative" makes a vivid enough first impression that you can almost forgive the video's collaborators for dropping the ball at the very end. All in all, not a bad way to market a cover of a Bobby Brown song.