Cate YoungMusic, Criticism

Work B*tch: Compliment Or Command?

Cate YoungMusic, Criticism


This post is painfully overdue! It's been about a week and a half now since Britney's video for her new single "Work Bitch" dropped, and I have some thoughts! Many thoughts. Critical commentary thoughts! Let's get cracking.

This song is terrible. There's no getting around that. But I actually really like the video; it's fun and energetic, and it at least makes a show of trying to return Britney to her former glory, but it never quite manages to get to "peak Britney."

Firstly, the dancing. Oh good lord the dancing.... Britney's always been a bit of a one trick pony when it comes to choreography. She's lots of arms, torso and face. That's fine, but she's been doing that since 1999, and her repertoire needs a little updating. But all of that could be overlooked if she still had the same intensity of Toxic era Britney. I know that she has a knee injury a few years back and hasn't really been as physically capable since, but there's a fire in her eyes that's been missing since her breakdown. 

Don't get me wrong, Britney looks better here than she has in a really long time. Physically she's back in fighting shape, but she looks like she'd rather be anywhere but where she is. She's no longer the Britney who enjoyed entertaining us. Which brings me to the main point of this post:                                   
Although Britney has co-opted drag culture slang for her new single, she's completely flipped the context of the epithet. In drag, "work bitch!" is a compliment akin to "You know you look good! Get on with your bad self!" It's encouragement; it's praise.

With Britney's new single, she presents "Work Bitch!" as a command, especially in the context of the lyrics of the song. Here, "Work bitch" serves as a command; a warning. You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? You better work bitch. In a way it speaks to her work ethic. She knows that if you want the finer things, you have to be prepared to work for them. On the same token however, it reads like a reprimand and a reminder. Britney is her family's cash cow. This club anthem is actually a call to arms for herself; a blaring reminder that she has no choice but to keep the monkey dancing if want to maintain her lifestyle. Britney has publicly expressed that she's no longer comfortable with her sexy image and that she'd rather just be at home with her boys, but for whatever reason, she's unable to do that.

So is this song an empowering anthem, or a metaphorical cattle prod reminding her to keep going? What do you think?