Pop superstar Britney Spears' banger-loaded album Blackout was released 10 years ago on Oct. 25, 2007. Following a lengthy break from the industry and a personal breakdown unfolding in front of the world, she returned with a 12-track record that flirted with the heavy media attention and let her freak flag fly high. Britney unbound was unleashed on Blackout, her darkest and most defiant effort that reveled in after-hours and ahead-of-the-curve dance music.
Since her debut in late 1998, Spears was on a roll with four hit albums that were pretty much released one after the other and a demanding worldwide tour schedule that kept her on the road. Following the Greatest Hits: My Prerogative set in 2004, she decided to take a break and start a family. The cameras from X17 and a then up-and-coming TMZ, however, still followed Britney around and captured her messy late nights and downward spiral while tabloids fed off the invasive coverage. Spears' music career was overshadowed by her personal struggles so she tried to bring it back in with Blackout.
Blackout ended the longest break between any of Spears' studio albums. It was a highly-anticipated release that saw Britney link up once again with "Toxic" hit-makers Bloodshy & Avant while taking a chance on Timbaland protégé Danja. In speaking with Fader about Danja last month, Spears said, "He gave me the opportunity and freedom to work with more urban sounds and influences." Instead of the carefully calculated pop of her past albums, Britney was riding 808 beats and the nastiest grooves. When Blackout was first announced, Spears' team said the title referred to "blocking out negativity and embracing life fully." If embracing life meant late night benders at the bar then Blackout was that album.
Britney was at her baddest on Blackout. "It's Britney, b*tch!" heralded her new direction on lead single "Gimme More." Grimy production and hypnotic synths backed Spears as she sang to her public: "They want more? / Well I'll give them more." Her breathy come-ons were playful yet pointed on this pop bombshell. "She made it OK to bounce a bit, to talk sh*t, to have harder basses and drums," Danja told Fader. Britney rightfully claimed her crown on the video game-like banger "Hot as Ice," casually slipping in: "Living legend / You can look but don't touch." She also stepped to those mocking her mental state on the carnival-esque "Freakshow," adding, "Wanna see crazy? / We can show 'em!" while being one of the first pop stars to dab in dubstep.
Spears seemingly toyed with the paparazzi on Blackout, but she snapped on the album's centerpiece and most experimental moment, "Piece of Me." Sluggish synths and Robyn on background vocals soundtracked Britney's middle finger to the media. "Hoping I'll resort to some havoc end up settling in court / Now are you sure you want a piece of me?" she challenged. Britney did not play on this aggressive electro-pop anthem. Kevin Federline, whom she divorced the year before, also appeared to be in the crosshairs on the Pharrell Williams-penned and Neptunes-produced "Why Should I Be Sad?" The ultra luxurious track saw Britney packing her designer bags. "I'm tired of singing sad songs," she sang.
Good times were still to be had on Blackout, especially with a 25-year-old Spears feeling herself and wielding her womanhood with authority. Britney was on the prowl for a man on the pop romp "Radar" with sonar-styled synths. "I got my eye on you and I can't let you get away," she declared. With the booming and blistering "Break the Ice," Britney brought the heat in one of her most assertive moments. "Once you warm up to me, baby, I can make you feel hot," she sang. The drumline-riffing "Toy Soldier" saw Spears mobilizing all the boys in her yard. "Now I'm holding that attention 'cause new Britney's on a mission," she announced. Girl later went wild on "Get Naked (I Got a Plan)," a kaleidoscopic and erotic club banger. "I'm crazy as a motherf**ker / Bet that on your man," Britney boasted.
"She had the 'f**k it factor,'" Blackout songwriter Keri Hilson told Fader. "And the 'f**k it factor' is actually when an artist does something bold, 'cause it's like, 'I know this is not conventional, and I know this is not why they love me, but f**k it.'" As the album's executive producer, Spears let loose in the studio and channeled the chaos around her into a lit collection of electronic dance jams. Following the record's release, her tough times sadly worsened until she found help and a better team that guided the fallen pop star's big comeback with 2008's Circus. Blackout is but a blur in Britney's storied career (and fortunately a dark era behind her now), but it stands as a testament of madness stoking pop ingenuity and genius.