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Britney Spears

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At this point everyone knows there's nothing too special about Britney Spears: when undoctored by a squad of expensive producers, her voice is overly nasal and rather grating; she's a little spazzy when it comes to the fancy footwork; and really, she ain't even all that cute (her handlers seem to have noticed recently that she looks better when you can't see both of her eyes). But someone's got to play marionette for the record execs or all that irresistible pop music would have nowhere to go. We've watched Britney's slow progress from Mouseketeer to Girl Gone Wild, and her six-year striptease of a singing career is definitely turning out to be worth the wait--her latest album, In the Zone (Jive), is an unabashed cross between Samantha Fox raunch and Kate Bush wisp, with the Ying-Yang Twins thrown in for good measure. Britney gurgles on and on about undoing her zipper, passing out on couches, hooking up in hotels, and masturbating (though the trashiest element on the album is the liner notes, where she thanks the Lord "first and foremost"). The pillow talk must be thrilling if you're 16, but for the rest of us the music's the thing--a slammin' concoction of rambunctious beats, rave-ups, and blastoffs, glittering with bits of Deliverance-style banjo, high-energy Eurotechno vocoder, and tawdry pseudo-Middle Eastern exotica. Yeah, plenty of other singers could fill those no-rise pants just fine, but Britney's the one who's sacrificed her soul so we can grind our asses. Kelis (see Rock, Etc. in Section One) and Skye Sweetnam open. Friday, March 19, 7:30 PM, Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim, Rosemont; 847-635-6601 or 312-559-1212.

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