Like Spears, she caters to our obsession with woman as time bomb all foibles, frailties, and fuckery and helpfully provides a textbook case in cultural appropriation and modern day blackface, from her style to her album title to her lyrics. What are the uses of visualizing and verbalizing postfeminist shame and self-hatred while looking back at pop history, à la Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good"? Are these ways to inject new danger or backhanded authenticity into the predictable girl groupgirl singer machination? Just turn to this fall's Aretha Franklin compilation, Rare and Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul (Rhino/Atlantic), to find that bad can ring as contrived as good. True soul just sings for itself.
TOPS IN 2007
•Rhythm method: Aesop Rock, None Shall Pass (Definitive Jux); Battles, Mirrored (Warp); OOIOO, Taiga (Thrill Jockey)
•Soft shuffle: Bill Callahan, Woke on a Whaleheart (Drag City); Charlotte Gainsbourg, 5:55 (Vice), Mariee Sioux, live
•Popping out: the Besnard Lakes, The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse (Jagjaguwar); Lavender Diamond, Imagine Our Love (Matador); Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (Polyvinyl)
•I hear rainbows: Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dandelion Gum (Graveface); Radiohead, In Rainbows (self-released); White Rainbow, Prism of Eternal Now (Kranky)
•The Davis family reissue korner: Betty Davis, Betty Davis (Light in the Attic); Miles Davis, The Complete On the Corner Sessions (Sony Legacy)