Britney Spears

In the Zone

Does Styx ever use that robot-voice filter on “Mr. Roboto”? I can’t remember, but that’s the only song in the history of pop that should be allowed to get away with it. Britney shouldn’t be allowed, yet she succumbs to the artificial allure of sounding like a “Freakazoid robot” on at least two songs on her latest, In the Zone. As America’s favorite naughty little girl (Does she?) transitions into Ms. Thang (She does!), she’s using all the grown-up tricks—robot voice, canned club beats, copious amounts of sexy breathing and a posse of all-star guests (Moby, R. Kelly and the queen of the grown-up girls, Madonna) to help us forget all about those cute little Mouseketeer ears. “Brave New Girl” (with “Material Girl” sampling) has a super-catchy Madonna-esque chorus, and I actually dig her little machine-gun raps, but then there’s the damn robot voice! Overall the instrumentation is dull and over-compressed, and other than the decent hit “Toxic,” the remix of “Me Against the Music” and the pretty, piano-accompanied “Everytime,” In the Zone is too forgettable to be much of pop album.