Guys, what should Britney Spears do next?

With the news that Britney Spears has officially started work on her ninth studio album, it’s got me thinking about what’s next for the Piece of Me singer.

It’s fair to say that the response to her last album, Britney Jean, was not what her team were hoping for. The album’s lack of success shows that these days, Britney can’t just sell records on her name alone, which is a problem faced by many big-name popstars now.

Album nine is now a make or break moment in Britney’s career. If she comes back with something that recaptures the public’s imagination, people will quickly forget about her misfire with Britney Jean. But if she puts out another average album, and isn’t even willing to promote it, she could find it very tough indeed to recover.

There’s a danger with her Las Vegas residency that Britney will simply become a nostalgia act, who can sell tickets on the strength of her back catalogue, but has no place in today’s charts. At the age of just 32, that would be a great shame.

Here are just a few ideas about what Britney could do next, and my verdict on whether they’re strong enough to fire her back to the top of the charts.

1. Blackout 2.0

Could it happen?

Ask fans which Britney album is their favourite, and the answer will most probably be 2007’s Blackout. Rolling Stone and others have described it as one of the most influential pop albums of the noughties, but that hasn’t prompted Britney to produce a proper follow-up. Not yet at least. Britney tweeted about the possibility back in 2012, and her management knows how much love is out there for the album. Perhaps the lukewarm reception to Britney Jean will prompt them to deliver something die-hard fans really want.

Would it work (bitch)?

In theory, we’d all love to see Britney make another Blackout, or at least an album as interesting. Plus, it does feel like Britney has unfinished business with Danja, the producer behind most of the record. He was responsible for Kill the Lights, a track from 2009’s Circus LP, and has submitted songs for subsequent albums. Unfortunately, they’ve never made the final cut. Perhaps that’s a sign that the magic of Blackout cannot be recreated. It would be a shame to see Britney taint Blackout’s reputation with a second-rate sequel.

However, if Britney and co. can take just a pinch of what made Blackout so special, and add in something that will change the direction of pop for 2016 (assuming, that is, she gets her arse into gear and releases album nine next year), we could witness another Britney masterpiece.

2. Big collaborations

Could it happen?

Let’s be fair, Britney is still a pretty big popstar, and big popstars should work with other big popstars. Unfortunately, Femme Fatale and Britney Jean gave us collaborations with Sabi (of “steaming like a pot full of vegetables” fame), will.i.am and her little sister, Jamie Lynn. This is unacceptable. For album nine, Team Britney need to up their game and secure high-profile collaborations. Britney recently proposed a duet with Katy Perry, which could prove quite satisfying.

Would it work (bitch)?

Me Against the Music is proof that Britney can deliver an amazing collaboration, even though it isn’t something she does often. Granted, Britney hasn’t got quite the same pulling power she had a decade ago, but there are still a lot of artists out there who’d love to work with her. Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry would all be good choices, or even artists who are semi-big but destined for greatness, like Charli XCX.

3. A pop-rock album

Could it happen?

“I want to do something very artsy-fartsy, something I’ve never done before. Even if it’s just taking a left lane and doing something more rock or rock-pop,” said Britney during the recent promotional campaign for her line of underwear.

It’s the first indication of what we can possibly expect from her next project, but as all Britney fans know, it’s best to take things she says with a pinch of salt, particularly at this stage. Perhaps this is the album Britney has always wanted to make. But, does anyone really want an album full of Poprockney?

Would it work (bitch)?

Britney has dabbled in pop-rock on occasions, and it’s worked out okay, I suppose. We’ve seen her perform a surprise cover of Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know on the Circus tour, and she stretched her pop-rock muscles on Don’t Keep Me Waiting, a bonus track from 2011’s Femme Fatale album. But were either of these indicators that this sound was something Britney should pursue further? No, not really. I can’t think of anything less appealing than an album full of Britney attempting pop-rock. It’s not a style of music that suits her voice or skills as a popstar. Stick to what you’re good at, Brit.

4. Work with some different, exciting producers

Could it happen?

It’s often seemed like Team Britney has had the initiative to get some exciting producers on board, but then they’ve lacked the confidence to see it through. Dev Hynes, Charli XCX and Naughty Boy were all involved in the Britney Jean project at varying stages, but none of their contributions made the final cut. The internet is awash with rumours that Britney will work with Disclosure when she visits the UK later this month. If true, it’s a promising sign that Britney and her team are thinking outside of the box this time round.

Would it work (bitch)?

Personally, I’d love to see Britney record some house-inspired bangers for album nine, particularly as Disclosure have played such a big part in helping house cross over into the mainstream again. If the rumours are true, Madonna may beat her to it when it comes to working with the Howard brothers, but even if she does I’d still be interested to hear the result of a Britney/Disclosure studio session. Just imagine if Britney had recorded White Noise.

5. An album of massive Max Martin-produced bangers

Could it happen?

To be honest, this seems like the most likely of all the options. Britney and Max Martin go together like gin and tonic. He’s worked on some of her biggest and best hits and he’s also, as Britney would probably say, “a lot of fun”. He was missing from Britney Jean, and perhaps that was the problem.

Would it work (bitch)?

If Max Martin was a drink he’d be a Starbucks Caramel Frapuccino. Britney obviously loves him, and he’s been a constant in her decade-and-a-half in music. He worked on …Baby One More Time, and also delivered multiple bangers on Femme Fatale. Okay, she isn’t going to break any boundaries with a Max Martin-produced record, but at this stage I’d just love an amazing pop album, even if it is completely Britney by numbers. Femme Fatale had its flaws, but you can’t deny it was a well-produced, solid pop record.

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