Britney Spears

Music for the Apocalypse #44: Till the world ends, by Britney Spears

OK, I don’t think this song is set to be an apocalypse classic, but you have to give her props for exploiting the 2012-Mayan-calendar-end-of-the-world theme. I’m surprised more pop-stars haven’t gone for it, to be honest.

The first half of this song is fairly standard mindless noise that doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with the apocalypse, but keep with it, around 2:35 it kicks off into something a bit different and more interesting:

See the sunlight, we ain’t stoppin’

Keep on dancing till the world ends

If you feel it, let it happen

Keep on dancing till the world ends

It’s still a pretty simple lyric, but the timbre shifts from the standard dance beat to a softer, more open sound as the melody rises to echo the rising of the sun in the lyric and I have to admit, I get a tingle. It is evocative of a survivor emerging from their hidey hole after some tumultuous disaster has swept over them, to see the still destruction in the dawn light. It’s not Mozart, but it earns it a place in our post-apocalypse playlist.

Credit is also due to director Ray Kay for creating a music video that is rather more spectacular than the song. This is a pretty stunning depiction of the apocalypse. I’m not quite sure what sort of apocalypse it is, but I’m also not quite sure that I care. It’s very pretty. Equally, the frenetic choreography of the dancers (who are maybe engaged in some kind of sex-death ritual, maybe zombies (probably sex-zombies, if there is such a thing), or just the world’s most committed ravers) evocatively capture what  all songs of this type are getting at: i.e. whether you’re dancing like it’s 1999 or like it’s the end of the world the music is taking you to a frenzied beat that shakes passion off it like sweat. It’s the ‘quick! The four minute warning! Find someone to screw!’ impulse mixed with dancing like your life depends on it. Both themes are exciting and evocative of the sex-death link that has fascinated theorists like Freud.

It’s a simple idea with no real distracting depth, but it’s nicely realised. It’s a 2012 themed song – I felt it did have to make the list before the year was out.

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