I know. I thought it too: “Really? That song?” I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who have thought you’d be perfectly content to never hear it again. On the other hand, there may be some who either can’t recall or somehow escaped hearing Britney Spears’ original rendition. So if you’re curious, here’s a taste.
Photo: Flickr/Bryan Ledgard
But check it out — this synthetic, plasticized swan is improbably re-shaped into an ugly-in-a-good-way duckling by the British folk-rock journeyman Richard Thompson. His vocal approach — aggressive, and more than a little bitter — turns kittenish teen-pop into a sardonic challenge. To cap it off, Thompson bends the song to his will with his virtuosic guitar interludes, at one point even shifting it temporarily into 6/8 time. All in all, it’s been enough to banish the Britney Spears version from my mind’s ear… but I don’t purport to predict its effect on others. Judge for yourselves:
You can download the whole track (and many, many others) at the Richard Thompson store on Amazon or eMusic. His home page, “BeesWeb,” is at www.richardthompson-music.com and he has fan pages on Facebook and MySpace. Thompson has done several interesting interviews with Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air”; this episode from 2009 is comprised of excerpts from a few of them.