• Al Jennings

#InRetrospect - Britney Spears - Glory

Everybody loves a comeback Queen, and that is exactly what Glory is. A return to greatness. Released in August 2016, Glory is the ninth studio album from pop princess Britney Spears. Upon its release, Glory, received mostly positive reviews from the critics, who praised Britney’s vocal performance and touting it as her most involved and engaged records in over ten years. Debuting at 3 on the Billboard 200, Glory sold 111,000 units in its opening week, with 88,000 coming them from physical copies. In todays In Retrospect, we take a look back at the creation, the legacy and the songs of Glory.

It’s without a doubt that Glory was the most invested album Britney had worked on since Blackout, which was released 9 years prior. Whilst in the mean-time Spears had released 3 previous albums, the Blackout-lite Circus, the Euro Dance effort of Femme Fatale and the, ahem, personal; Britney Jean. Glory began its creation in 2014, whilst in the midst of her Vegas Residency. Six months into recording to album came “Pretty Girls”, a Little Mix penned collaboration with Iggy Azelea which came out in May 2015.

Pretty Girls received a mixed reception from critics, but it was wasn’t Britney’s best effort. Britney then brought in Karen Kwak as executive producer of the album. Kwak wanted to recall the sounds of Blackout and In the Zone for Glory and brought on board producers based on that. When interviewed about Glory, Kwak stated that; “Britney pursued the songs that she wanted to do for herself. She came up with the concepts and melodies. It’s her baby”. What came was a primarily pop, R&B, and dance pop album – with a splattering on EDM and hip-hop influences. Thus, Glory was born.

Sonically, Glory smooth, sexy and one of Britney’s finest vocals efforts. Following the damp squib that was Britney Jean, Britney needed to pull something out of the bag that could solidify her alongside the pop girls of the time. The opening track “Invitation” calms those fears and does just what is needed to open up this victory lap of an album. Invitation is a sexy, soothing and stunning downtempo track that ushers the listener into the album grabs their attention. Britney’s breathy texture have been used just the right way to elevate the track.

Glory was preceded by the tropical house synth inspired “Make Me”, and whilst it wasn’t an instant pop classic – it was the kind of song that grows on you and creeps up on you gradually and blends the tropical house sound into something a little bit more sensual and plush. Whilst we’re not into banger territory just yet – we are in full-on musical foreplay. Glory’s best track, for me, comes in the form of “Man on the Moon” which is wistful, dreaming, yearning number which during a lockdown I think we can all relate to. It’s a starry-eyed, romantic effort which would sound perfect on a summer rom com. The focus isn’t necessarily on the bittersweet lyric, but rather on the vocal in which Britney sounds at her peak and the middle eight where she counts down in French is a moment.

Britney does sexy and sultry mid-tempos perfectly on Glory, there are also a few moments of Hi-NRG dance and pure pop moments in the shape of “Do You Wanna Come Over?” which takes the listener back to her heyday, “What You Need”, “Hard to Forget You”, “Clumsy” and the experimental “If I’m Dancing”. But nothing says experimental more than the final song of the deluxe edition, a little ditty known as “Coupure Elecrique” which is sung entirely in French. The titled translates into “Power Outage” or more commonly known “Blackout” which is a nod and a subtle reminder that Glory is the matured older sister to Blackout. Even in French Britney still sounds as Britney as ever.

The story doesn’t end there, however. There was another song recorded for the album that only saw light of day on the Japanese edition of Glory.

The DJ Mustard produced; Mood Ring. A trap-pop infused sexy little number, Mood ring was eventually released as the third single from Glory in May 2020. A whole four years after the album’s original release. Following a #JusticeForGlory campaign launched by fans on Social Media during the Covid-19 pandemic, Britney revealed a new cover art for the album which was uploaded to various stores and streaming services. Three weeks later, Spears announced that Mood Ring would be released worldwide on all download and streaming services on May 29th 2020. Upon being released it went on to the Top of iTunes Chart in various countries and rumours have begun to swirl about a potential Music Video for the song being released in the future. Whether anything comes from these rumours remain to be seen, but it’s a good sign to see that Britney, who turns 40 in just a couple of years, is still an in-demand artist.

Glory is by far one of the best and strongest efforts that Britney has produced in recent years. It is cohesive from beginning to end and every song has been given the love and attention that it deserves thus creating a strong and glorious body of work. Britney has been working on B10 over recent months and years, and the world waits with anticipation, will it live up to the stature of Glory. I, for one, cannot wait to see what Britney does next.

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