The Britney Spears who picks MILF shirts out of her closet and nuzzles boys in street-side cafes has never been as interesting as the Britney Spears who sings on records. In the context of her music—which is to say, free of context altogether—she serves a deliriously schizophrenic mix of delusion, doubt, entitlement, and servitude, all with a snap that sounds both freeze-dried and refrigerator-fresh.
Spears isn't an especially good singer, but she vamps as well as anyone. In the kick-off track to her Greatest Hits, a new cover of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative," she does little more than writhe beneath an acid-rain spray of electronics and lightening-crack beats. She's the same Spears as she was on "Toxic": a singer perfectly content to decorate more than declare. The blown kiss of contempt and commitment to her audience in "I'm A Slave 4 U" fits Spears' forceful vacancy like latex: tight, slick, and barely breathable.
Older hits like "Oops!… I Did It Again" and "…Baby One More Time" show a younger Spears aspiring to R&B, trilling and claiming ownership over choruses that would just as soon rub her out. She still comes off coy and aware of the leers that surround her, but the vintage songs sound creepy where the newer ones sound plain crazy.