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Five on it: solidarity with Britney Spears is non-negotiable

As her court proceedings continue, a reminder that standing with Free Britney is part of a fight for so much more. Plus an incredible week of new releases: Sault, Doja Cat, Tyler, the Creator and more.

25 Jun 2021

It’s Kayleigh’s week off, and – you may have noticed – I have been letting Five on it slip when it’s been my turn to write it lately. I’m swamped with work again this week (in an exciting way, as we shape the next issue of gal-dem’s print), and it means I wasn’t sure I had the energy or capacity to write this. Two things changed my mind: 1) the sheer quality and quantity of music out this week and; 2) Britney Spears.

Still, let me be succinct. I’m not gonna reinvent the wheel with a couple hundred words on this, but while a far more qualified and adept writer takes this on for something more in-depth in this vein on the site, let me just say: free Britney Spears. 

She’s an artist who, for many of us, was our first experience of the pull and excitement that pop music could bring. But now, as Laura Snapes noted in the Guardian this week in light of the testimony the artist gave to the court in an attempt to end the exploitative conservatorship she’s been under for 13 years, “Britney is a woman kept behind glass, frozen in time at the age of her first deviation from the script. It feels somehow personal: forever bound to her most visible mistake, it exposes the illusion of agency gained that we were sold; that evolution remains governed by proprietorial limits. Her denied potential is like an egregiously brutal conclusion of the planned obsolescence built into women’s pop careers.”

What has happened to Britney Spears is the tip of the iceberg for so many wider issues – how women and marginalised people in the entertainment industry are treated, how the justice system in the States works (and fails), the grim hold of conservatorships and their global equivalents on those who are disabled. As s.e. smith at Bitch Media wrote after the Framing Britney Spears doc earlier this year, “Viewers are clearly shocked by the terms of her conservatorship, and from there, we must begin to ask whether, for those not in the limelight, taking away their autonomy is truly in their best interest.” 

So when I say free Britney, I am saying this not only as a long-time fan, but also because this is a fight for so much more. 

And now for a round-up of the many incredible releases of the week.

Sault – Nine

Sault has proven themselves over and over with their albums, and Nine is no exception. The polish and depth to this enigmatic group’s sound is wonderfully smooth and taut, topped with typically thoughtful lyrics and poetry that speak on the realities of society. Get on it, as it’s only going to be available to stream and download for 99 days – they know this is special.

Doja Cat – Planet Her

I’ve been a bit itchy about Doja Cat in the past, mainly because she works with Dr Luke, but it’s proving very difficult to avoid listening when the music is just so good, and her vibes, in general, are just so fun and great. This new record is shiny, a little offbeat, and out of this world.

Headie One – ‘Pound Signs’

It’s really Headie’s time, isn’t it? The video could be a movie, the song itself is excellent with a metallic, echoey beat and his cascading, punchy flow considering the ramifications of money (dare I say, anti-capitalist king?).

L’Rain – Fatigue

Music that stretches out across genres, this is lush but jarring experimental music that flits between dream and almost-nightmare. The second album from the Brooklyn-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is an expansive, enticing, experimental delight.

Tyler, the Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost

Tell me you’re a dorky fangirl without telling me you’re a dorky fangirl? In spite of greeting everyone I know with a “Happy Tyler release day”, I haven’t listened to this yet. This is because I am saving it for the end of my workday so I can devote my fullest attention to Mr Okonma – or, should I say, Mr Baudelaire. But from what I’ve heard, my guy’s got raps, and I am so SO excited.