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* 1/2 BRITNEY SPEARS, "Oops! . . . I Did It Again," Jive

May 14, 2000|NATALIE NICHOLS

With such semi-engaging numbers as "Can't Make You Love Me" strongly recalling the mechanical groove of her first hit, ". . . Baby, One More Time," Spears' sophomore collection has all the brass and burble millennial adolescents expect from their ear candy. More jaded listeners will hear the same slick soul-pop, metronomic beats and overwrought balladry as before, but, really, who cares what they think?

Spears may be a poised pop star with a mega-multi-platinum debut album, but at 18, she hasn't escaped that awkward stage between childhood and maturity. Angling for the latter, her dance-pop rendition of the Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" sounds merely plodding and lust-free. But she fails to be convincing even in more fitting roles, whether it's the title track's perpetual flirt, the tough rejecter of "Don't Go Knockin' on My Door," the lonely celebrity of "Lucky" or the mooning crush-holder of "Dear Diary" (co-written by the singer).

This dearth of emotion is due largely to the almost fully automated music, but Spears doesn't even convey the sense of fun she exuded the first time around. Some interludes of chatty dialogue about cute boys and poor little rich girls seem intended to inject more personality into the mix, but they sound every bit as hollow and fake as the songs.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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