On Sunday (Sept. 15), Britney Spears returned with "Work Bitch," a strange, British-inflected, ultimately great new single, presumably from her forthcoming eighth studio album. Having trouble getting on the "Work Bitch" train? Here are 10 reasons why you should love Britney's latest:
1. The BRITish Accent. Let's get this out of the way first: Britney utilizes a British accent on "Work Bitch." This is an okay thing! In a post-"Applause" world, where Lady Gaga is allowed to vamp it up on the verses, it's more than acceptable for Spears to embrace her inner Britishney and heighten the ferocity of her commands here. As Grantland's Molly Lambert points out, the use of the fake accent essentially allows Spears to assume the identity of a new character -- in this case, a no-nonsense headmistress who extols the virtue of relentless labor as a means to the purchase of many fancily named cars. Spears already explored a U.K. persona on the "clob" banger "Scream & Shout," and in the context of these lyrics, it makes even more sense. Bloody brilliant!
2. The Practicality Of It All. "Work Bitch," as its title suggests, does not abide by laziness, but also offers some solid cause-and-effect reasoning in its lyrics. Silver-spoon circumstances aside, most people have to work very, very hard in order to secure substantial funds for Maseratis, mansions and membership at Parisian parties. However, as Britney points out, a "hot body" also requires work -- a different, more physical form of work, but work nonetheless. You cannot argue with Spears' fundamental point here. This is the pop music equivalent of showing your work in math class: instead of just screaming "Work Bitch" at her followers, Spears is providing concretes examples of the importance of labor, further motivating listeners at gyms, offices and car dealerships worldwide.
3. The Big, Fat Bass. Listen to that drop at the 0:45-second mark -- the synth riff that sounded a bit tinny during the first chorus becomes infinitely more muscular, and as Spears groans in the background, the listener receives his or her first opportunity to let loose some awkward shoulder grooves. The bass cycles in and out throughout "Work Bitch," and when it flies into the forefront, the depth of that hook multiplies deliciously.
4. The Arrival Of 'Real' Britney. After teasing her fans with her militaristic "work" cries during the opening minute of the single, Spears tosses aside the British accent for the time being and kicks off the song's first proper verse with the aching couplet, "Bring it on, ring the alarm/Don't stop now, just be the champion." The way Spears releases her alter ego and allows the last syllable of each line to float skyward without resolve makes for one of the most compelling moments in the song.
5. The "Here It Co-o-o-omes" Line. How does Spears snap back into British mode? By warping that line in the first verse into a metallic candle being burned at both ends. That phrase is the sound of Spears' processed reality circling down the drain, and it's arresting.
6. The Gloriously Weird Second Verse. After the second chorus ends, Britney somehow morphs into Paul Revere and starts ringing her own alarm. "You can hear my sound/Tell somebody in your town/Spread the word/Spread the word!" she cries, as if the Internet no longer exists and the news of her pop dominance must be delivered via horseback. Then, she doubles down on the wacky concept, commanding, "Go call the police/go call the governor/I bring the treble/Don't mean to trouble ya." What musical trouble could Spears possibly be concocting that would compel listeners to phone their governors? The "treble" line is a callback to "Scream & Shout," but we're more curious about Spears' political demands at this point.
7. The Oddball Structure. About halfway through "Work Bitch," the listener realizes how daring the song is in composition. A spoken-word chorus based on the word "bitch"? Verses that mirror each other and contain multiple accents? These are not the marks of a straightforward radio offering. "The great thing about Britney Spears is that she makes dazzlingly weird songs and then tricks everyone into thinking it's mainstream," Idolator's Sam Lansky wrote on Twitter about "Work Bitch." Based on the structure alone, it's hard to disagree.
8. The Breath-Catching Bridge. Following the second verse, "Work Bitch's" beat drops out completely, and Spears appears without pretense to instruct her audience, "Hold your head high, fingers to the sky/They goon' try to try ya, But they can't deny ya." It's an epic (albeit a bit cliched) breakdown, but the thumping, anthemic bridge really deserves praise for being unpredictable. As a trio of beats crash down upon the wave of synths, Spears returns to the dance mania of "Femme Fatale," and best of all, the change-up doesn't feel forced. These 30 seconds are going to absolutely slay when delivered live.
9. The Final Onslaught. "Work" x 16. "Work it out" x 12. The synth riffs return, but they've been doused in gasoline and are eventually set aflame. This outro is breathless, pummeling electronic music. Resist it at your own peril.
10. The Individuality. "Work Bitch" smacks of "Blackout"-era Britney in production and lyrical content, and the accent and overall feel recalls "Scream & Shout," Spears' collaboration with "Work" producer Will.i.am. But Spears' new single clearly has both eyes trained on the finer moments of the recent EDM boom, and not on the success of Spears' past radio smashes. "Work Bitch" takes risks that were not present on the (highly enjoyable) "Femme Fatale" singles -- and Spears has earned the right to take risks. Those fearing a single as safe as "Ooh La La" have been given a single with a singular, uncompromising vision. This is not paint-by-numbers pop. Go tell the police, the governor, the state congressman, the barber, the guy who works at your local Burger King -- go tell whoever you need that Britney is back.