Sexuality in Britney Spears’ Music Career

9 Dec

Throughout time, the music industry has sexualized and objectified young women either with music videos or song lyrics. Objectification of women in the music industry is not something new but it’s being discussed more and more and becoming an issue now. The music industry wanted to market female artists to demonstrate an alluring, sexualized image to get the career and the fame they wanted.

Today, artists express sexuality in the media industry, which is the norm, such as Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion, etc. I wanted to analyze sexuality further so I chose an artist who has shown sexuality in most of their music careers and who have been in the industry for a long time. I decided to focus on Britney Spears and her music career is very oversexualized, especially when starting her music career at a young age. Alicia Keys who was also known as a pop star in the early 2000s was not oversexualized and the media she was labeled as a tomboy because of “unfeminine” appearances and limited makeup. 1Murphy. “Sex It Up, Or You’re Going Down

Artists like Britney Spears paved the foundation in the early 2000s so that music now can be able to be more accepted in society.  Britney Spears is an American singer who was referred to as the “Princess of Pop,” in the late 1990s and early 2000s, due to her reviving teen pop.

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Britney Spears is a renowned pop star that got a jump off her career by appealing to her audience by sexualizing herself. Spears has had many popular songs that made the charts and made her go platinum many times and most of her songs were produced at a young age. Either her lyrics, outfits, or actions would be oversexualized, even when she first started out. One of her most popular songs, “… Baby One More Time,” currently has 554 million views and is continuing to grow to this day. The song was released as her debut single in the early 2000s, where Spears was only 16 years old.

The song is known as a teen pop song and in a C minor key but begins in a three-note motif in the bass range of the piano. 2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…Baby_One_More_Time_(song)#:~:text=%22…Baby%20One%20More%20Time%22%20was%20released%20as,Me%22%20as%20the%20other%20two. According to Blender magazine, the song was composed of guitar lines and EKG-machine bass slaps. 3Staff, Blender. “The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born – Blender”. Blender. https://www.cs.ubc.ca/~davet/music/list/Best5.html

“… Baby One More Time,” introduced Britney Spears as an innocent, young singer with her “sexy” schoolgirl outfit but the lyrics did not match. Most people believe that the song was too sexual for a 16-year-old but it balanced out with her innocence. Most of Britney’s songs are sexualized with match up with her outfits. Most of her outfits are provocative due to her trying to please the media.

Britney Spears did not have a voice when it came to publicizing her body, but instead, have the media dictate whether it for her. I decided to contrast one of her oversexualized songs to one of her calmer songs. I compared one of her popular songs “Toxic” and not a very popular song “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.” I noticed that “Toxic” was produced in a major key, more upbeat, produced with drums, surf guitar, and synthesizers, which came out to be more popular. While “I’m not a girl, yet a woman,” was calmer and produced with a piano and a guitar.

Toxic “explores the thrills of loving a man who’s no good while ensuring Britney Spears’ maintenance of her sexual dominance.” 4Mamo, Hernan. “Villainizing and Victimizing Love Through Britney Spears’ “Toxic”” March 1, 2019. https://medium.com/@heranmamo/villainizing-and-victimizing-love-through-britney-spears-toxic-f4ac015213da Spears has to give the audience want they want which is upbeat music and something catchy to remember. The video also has to match, because it would be known as the “airplane video” that she has produced.

Her Song “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman,” was different from most pop songs she sang, due to the atmosphere it created. One of Britney’s song lyrics stated “All I need is time / A moment that is mine” which struck out to me because it highlights that she craves to be human for one second. She did not have control of her music career options since she has to be oversexualized in her music career. There is a different emotion being evoked from this song compared to “Toxic” or “… Baby One More Time,” the emotion felt calmer and a song you would sing by yourself rather than the other songs you would hear at a party.

Another song that was also at the top of the charts was “Oops!.. I Did It Again,” which was released when she was 19 years old.  The song was also oversexualized from the lyrics to the outfits. The song’s context is that the female views love as a game and uses that to play with her lover’s emotion. This song was also composed in the key of C minor and has a moderate tempo. There was very positive feedback from the audience which also keeps the song very popular to this day. The song has been compared to “…Baby One More Time,” and was stated that this song was more hardcore, yet played on the innocent yet raunchy side. Her outfit choice was a red leather suit which also added to the sexual themes in her music career.

The lyrics that were performed gave off the image that “she would stick to the same script, but would get a bit more adult in terms of age.” 5https://www.songfacts.com/facts/britney-spears/oops-i-did-it-again The video and lyrics played on her sexuality and her innocence which aimed to re-establish her as a woman. A lyric that stood out from the song was “I’m not that innocent,” where she wanted to change the media’s image of her from her hit “… Baby One More Time.”

Another one of Spears’ hit “I’m a Slave 4 U” also demonstrated the sexuality that the media wanted to see. The song lyric, “All you people look at me like I’m a little girl / Well did you ever think it’d be ok for me to step into this world,” can be telling her audience that sooner or later she would have to grow up and the audience should also come to terms with that. The world was introduced to Spears as an innocent young teenager and they still have that image of her frozen in their head.

As time went on, Britney Spears got older and so did her mindset. In her recent music videos, i.e ‘Work Bitch’, she toned down the sexuality due to her being a mother. The video that was published had a lot of editing which reduced the amount of sexuality that went into the video. Spears states, “A lot of sex goes into what I do. But sometimes I would like to bring it back to the old days … there’s not that much sex stuff going on.” 6Lewis, Hilary. “Britney Spears Toned Down ‘Work Bitch’ Sexuality ‘Because I’m A Mother'” October 3, 2013. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/earshot/britney-spears-toned-down-work-642566 The singer has realized that she is too sexualized by the music industry and she starting to realize that she cannot keep the same routine in her music career. The singer knows that she is getting older and now has to be a role model to her kids so now she has to balance being a pop star and being a mom.

Singer Sinead O’Connor stated that “All of them [music industry] want you because they’re making money off your youth and beauty… which they could not do except for the fact your youth makes you blind to the evil of show business.” 7Wyatt, Daisy. “Britney Spears: ‘I am too sexualised by the music industry'” October 4, 2013. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/britney-spears-i-am-too-sexualised-music-industry-8858611.html O’Connor warned young artists that the music industry would prey on young artists and over-sexualized them because that is what the media wants and the industries are willing to give it to them. Society, today, is more willing to see a lot of “sex” in the media because it something that catches their eyes and keeps them captivating. The lyrics and song can go a long way, especially if the tunes are catchy, but the music video is what brings it all together.

To conclude, Britney Spears had a major impact on the music industry and it started at a young age. Her career has been based on being sexualized and being provocative and it gained the media’s attention in a good way and the recognition she deserved. Her music is still popular today and is played globally, however, as of 2020, she does not plan to release any new music anytime soon. The singer wants to focus on herself and work on her mental health and gain her independence back slowly but surely.

As stated before, today’s artists are representing their sexuality in all types of intriguing and sexual ways and they are doing it at their own pace. The artists are not being pressured by the music industry even though they still face bad reviews from society. Society wants to see the provocative media but would also critique the artists on giving us what they wanted. As stated before, expressing your sexuality is being more accepted slowly but surely by society.

References   [ + ]

1. Murphy. “Sex It Up, Or You’re Going Down
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…Baby_One_More_Time_(song)#:~:text=%22…Baby%20One%20More%20Time%22%20was%20released%20as,Me%22%20as%20the%20other%20two.
3. Staff, Blender. “The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born – Blender”. Blender. https://www.cs.ubc.ca/~davet/music/list/Best5.html
4. Mamo, Hernan. “Villainizing and Victimizing Love Through Britney Spears’ “Toxic”” March 1, 2019. https://medium.com/@heranmamo/villainizing-and-victimizing-love-through-britney-spears-toxic-f4ac015213da
5. https://www.songfacts.com/facts/britney-spears/oops-i-did-it-again
6. Lewis, Hilary. “Britney Spears Toned Down ‘Work Bitch’ Sexuality ‘Because I’m A Mother'” October 3, 2013. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/earshot/britney-spears-toned-down-work-642566
7. Wyatt, Daisy. “Britney Spears: ‘I am too sexualised by the music industry'” October 4, 2013. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/britney-spears-i-am-too-sexualised-music-industry-8858611.html