Twitter: It's great for making all sorts of friends! Sure, most Twitter relationships result in nothing more than craven attempts at networking or awkward flirting, but occasionally they produce something tangible and lasting, like the latest Rihanna-Britney collaboration.
Rihanna took to Twitter a while back to ask her fans which artist they wanted her to work with. The winner: The complicated musical/celebrity industrial complex that is Britney Spears. The result, a remix of "S&M," dropped this morning:
»With AutoTune taking over pop music, is it possible that in the future all our musical starlets will sound exactly the same? We've listened to this song three times, and we're still not exactly sure where Rihanna's digitized vocals end and Britney's begin.
»OK, that's sort of a lie. Britney's computer-voice still retains its nasal edge, while Rihanna's synthetic vowels have long sing evolved into a perfectly synchronized blend of human and machine.
»After reading Autostraddle's horrifically depressing story on how Britney has been forced to cede all autonomy over her own life to her father, we don't know whether to be happy or sad over her repeated refrain, "Chains and whips excite me." After watching Brit's mope dead-eyed through her recent appearances, can we be forgiven for wishing that something does?
»Let's talk semiotics for a bit. You think Britney is the Ghost of Pop Music Future for Rihanna, showing how the music industry can mess you up in the worst ways? Or is Rihanna Britney's Black Swan, showing how a teen star can seamlessly transition from sugary pop to darker adult material, as long as she's not constrained by artificial notions of "purity"? (For another cautionary tale on the same subject, see also Cyrus, Miley.)
»(Also, this is maybe a touchy subject, but are "urban" artists free from the baggage that accompanies other teen pop stars? Taylor Swift is basically the same age as Rihanna, but she seems a generation younger because she's still singing about high-school-level romantic drama.)