Britney Spears – ‘I Wanna Go’

Song: ‘I Wanna Go’
Artist: Britney Spears
US chart peak: 7
Release date: June 13, 2011
Writers: Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Shellback
Producers: Max Martin, Shellback
Quintessential Max moment: The whistle hook or “…Lably, lably, lably”
Video synopsis: Britney, dressed as Avril Lavigne, causes havoc in a paparazzi-bashing daydream

In some ways, ‘I Wanna Go’ – the third single from Britney’s consistently very good ‘Femme Fatale’ album – can be read as the sequel to ‘Blackout’’s ’Piece Of Me’. Whilst not as overt in its criticisms of the way the general public and the media treat her, ‘I Wanna Go’, along with its knowing video, make sly digs at people’s expectations. One key line is “Shame on me, to need release”, which not only speaks to the way women’s sexuality is treated generally, but also specifically about how Britney’s own virginity at the start of her career was used as a way to mock her as she grew into womanhood. Why shouldn’t she let her freak out? Or let out all the dirt she’s got running through her mind? Even the line “Lately, people got me all tied up, there’s a countdown waiting for me to erupt” could be read in relation to the public’s thirst for her expected breakdown. It could also just be about sex too, but there we are.

Obviously I’m aware Britney didn’t write the song – it was actually originally registered in 2009 as ‘I I I WANNA GO O O’ (amazing) – but as a subject she often brought out the best in Max and his collaborators. In fact, here’s a nice quote from Britney about their working relationship: “His melodies are incredible and he is always coming up with weird sounds, which I love. The whistle on ‘I Wanna Go’ still gets me every time I hear it. Who would have thought of that? There is nobody I feel more comfortable collaborating with in the studio.” Ah, that’s sweet.

The video makes the song’s statements about running away from the life she’d found herself in more explicit. Taking place in a daydream, Britney is able to “be a little inappropriate”, which involves flashing a policeman, stealing his handcuffs, groping a fan and attacking robot paparazzi with a microphone. In the end she’s rescued by actor Guillermo Díaz who drives her off in a convertible before dousing himself in milk (!). It’s at this point Britney realises he too is a robot and can’t be trusted, which says a lot about her trust issues when even the subjects of her daydreams are duplicitous.

I haven’t even mentioned the song’s best moment, which is obviously the whistle riff! Well I have now…It’s great, basically.

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