Keepin’ It Nonpositive, the worst singles of the decade: LiveOnRelease – I’m Afraid of Britney Spears (did not chart, April 2001)
Back in the days when we all drove wood cars and thought that Michael Ricketts was the future of English football, there were two radio DJs: Steve Lamacq and Dave Pearce. Younger readers might like to imagine two less suicide-inducing versions of Gideon Coe and Kissy Sell Out if it helps them picture the pair. Anyway, the latter’s show ran into the former’s show, and that always created a problem: Pearce played dance music (in the fallow era between the commercial peaks of pop trance and funky house), and Lamacq played guitar music, during the lowest commercially performing period for guitar bands since the 1930s. There was a problem: what to play in between the two shows?
Did they go for the kind of band who could bridge the two shows? Some post-Big Beat, Brighton beach style steez? Both shows got away with the occasional hip-hop track, why not go for something radio friendly and unchallenging like Jurassic 5 or Dilated Peoples or whatnot?
Instead, Radio 1 just played Some Pop Metal or PunkBullshit most of the time. I forget if 3 Colours Red had broken up by this point, but if they hadn’t they were a perennially here. Band after band after band of shouty motherfuckers with riffs and hooks stolen from 70s AOR bands. Do you eagerly remember FenixTX, The Dum Dums, Trucks, or British Beef? Of course you don’t.
You would hopefully have also forgotten about LiveOnRelease, who may have be formed solely to prove that it was possible for Canada to produce a all-woman female rock group worse than Kittie.
It’s hard to know where to start with “I’m Afraid of Britney Spears”. In some kind of rough order: amateur night Lenny Kravitz cover riff opening, band apparently believing their target audience fan is “rapey frat boy”, THOSE FUCKING VOCALS that sound a little like someone talking in their sleep (except louder and whinier), “and-cris-ti-nu-a-gu-le-ra” (I know the woman has a foreign surname but it’s a pretty common one, there’s no need to come across like the dude at the call centre shouting every syllable of your name out individually and still pronouncing it wrong), the fact that the major argument against Britney Spears is that her dance moves don’t match up to the standards demanded by 13-year-old Canadian punk poppers nowadays, “muh-lee-vun-nih-luheee”, and the fact that the “hilarious” Britney drag dudes are still a lot more feminine than the drummer, who bears a stunning resemblance to Paul Jewell in a Ronald McDonald wig.
As a representative of that entirely fucking tedious “Major label signed act asserts INDIE CRED over other major label signed act” style of the early 2000s (Marshall Mathers stand up), it deserves unrelenting hatred. As an utterly abject song devoid of all wit, technical ability, or popness, it deserves scorn. And it was on the soundtrack to “Dude, Where’s My Car?”. If it wasn’t for “Chelsea Dagger”, this would be the worst single of the past eight years.