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Riffs: Our top five Britney Spears dream collaborators

britney spearsBritney just needs to the right collaborator to set her free. (Linda Davidson/TWP)

By Allison Stewart

If Christina Aguilera is a voice, and Lady Gaga is an aesthetic, Britney Spears is pretty much just an idea. With Spears, there is no there there, nothing that defines her: She's an empty vessel, waiting to be filled up with the right beats from the right producer. She can be anything, which can be good ("Circus") or bad ("Blackout," an album from which Britney seemed so absent, we're not even sure she knows it exists).

For Spears more than any of her peers, it's essential to choose the right production team, the right combination of still-underground beatmakers and Dr. Luke-like seasoned hitmakers. (But not too seasoned: if we never hear from the Neptunes and Timbaland again, it will be too soon.) In a Gaga world, anything less would be deadly.

So far, the news leaking out about Spears' possibly-in-the-making disc isn't good: Reports have indicated that it will be piloted by usual suspects Pharrell, Rodney Jerkins and Kara DioGuardi.

Run, Britney, run! And take this easily printable list of Click Track's Top Five Britney Dream Collaborators with you:

Who: Producer/DJ Rusko

Why: He's an innovator who rarely disappoints, and, unlike, say, Dr. Luke, never makes the same song twice.

Could this happen? According to Rusko, it is happening. "It's Britney, she's got money," he explained to a reporter.

What to expect if it did: Some un-Britney-like electro/dubstep/pop.

Who: LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy

Why: Because she would look forward-minded, and he would look game.

Could this happen? Very unlikely. A potential early '00s collaboration between Murphy's DFA label and Spears didn't pan out. Murphy later told an interviewer the two couldn't relate to each other musically.

What to expect if it did: Elegant, impeccable electronica with elements of house, soul and new wave thrown in. Lots and lots of synths in every conceivable permutation.

(Britney loses extensions, finds soul? Find out after the jump.)

sleigh bellsShould Britney be there with Sleigh Bells' Derek Miller for a future collaboration? (Aaron Richter)

Who: Sleigh Bells auteur Derek Miller

Why: He excels at making schoolyard pop sound rough, earworm-y.

Could this happen? It's Britney. She's got money. If Miller was busy, maybe Dave Longstreth from the Dirty Projectors (who is similarly amazing at both beatmaking and novel female vocal arrangements) could do it.

What it might sound like: A sludge-y, dance-y Britney record that's been messed up, shorn of its hair extensions and ground into the dirt. In a good way.

Who: Producer Stuart Price (Madonna, the Killers, Kylie Minogue)

Why: He's great at making effortlessly catchy pop songs with heart. And his work on Brandon Flowers' upcoming "Flamingo" is impressive.

Could this happen? Absolutely.

What it might sound like: Poppy and danceable, but not soulless. The opposite of anything on "Blackout."

Who: A modern-day, Lilith Fair-type singer-songwriter

Why: To perform the same role Sia and Le Tigre did on Aguilera's "Bionic" (which was terrible, but not their fault) - to create smart, edgy, humanizing ballads. We'd love to see Metric's Emily Haines or the Weepies Deb Talan step in, or Lily Allen.

Could this happen? Depends on how high she reaches. Beth Orton (our ultimate dream pick) would likely never do it. Frankly, we'd settle for Colbie Caillat.

What it might sound like: Grown-up, Starbucks versions of "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman."

By Allison Stewart  |  August 18, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  Riffs  | Tags: Beth Orton, Brandon Flowers, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Colbie Caillat, Dave Longstreth, Derek Miller, Dirty Projectors, Dr. Luke, Drake, Emily Haines, James Murphy, Kara DioGuardi, Kylie Minogue, LCD Soundsystem, Lady Gaga, Le Tigre, Lily Allen, M.I.A., Madonna, Metric, Pharrell, Rodney Jerkins, Rusko, Sia, Sleigh Bells, Stuart Price, Timbaland, the Neptunes, the Weepies  
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good ("Circus") or bad ("Blackout," an album from which Britney seemed so absent, we're not even sure she knows it exists)

I can't take the rest of this article seriously after reading that. Blackout is a dance masterpiece and Circus is soulless in the worst possible way. You discuss producers with whom Britney worked without mentioning Danja, the jelly to her peanut butter. And if "un-Britney-like electro/dubstep/pop" is what you're after, I have to assume you didn't even listen to the second half of Blackout and just looked at the sales figures before deciding to dismiss it.

Posted by: ashwinip | August 18, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Not to sound like a fire breathing OMG BRITNEY IS THE GREATEST THING fan... I really think you need to take another listen to "Blackout". While I do agree on Sleigh Bells and Rusko, the part where you called "Blackout" bad is really unsettling.

You're obviously knowledgeable about music, so you more than anyone should be able to appreciate "Blackout" for what it is. It's pretty obvious that it is the album that Britney wanted to do too. (Look at the setlist for the Circus tour)

It's the anti-Britney/anti-pop album. It doesn't follow the same basic, tired Britney album formula of a few songs for potential singles, a few filler songs, and 1 or 2 ballads. "Blackout" doesn't have any of that. It's basically 80 minutes of sweat inducing, AIDS catching dance music. It was the album with a bar so low, that the only thing pushing it was Britney's public paparazzi image. Her record label probably didn't care about what was on it.

The theme that holds the album together are the producers. It gets it's cohesiveness from the production team of Danja to Bloodshy & Avant. Danja did his thing. He proved that numerous times throughout the album. He is the driving force in "Blackout". His sound defined the album. And while it wasn't a commercial success, it still shot to #2 on Billboard charts and was probably one of her better reviewed album by critics.

As a Britney fan that follows everything she does via twitter and goes to Britney message boards and forums, I can safely say that "Blackout" is probably every fan's favorite album.

I really hope you give it another chance. It's the only album in the past 3 years that I listen to almost daily.

Posted by: sexidance | August 18, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Coming from a never before Britney Spears fan until Blackout. I would have to disagree with you about the way you chose to describe Britney's Blackout. That album was absolute perfection. I listen to it on an almost daily basis. The music is mesmerizing and dark and it showed us a sexual Britney that we love. As far as the Circus follow up. I do not think that cd came from Britney I mean it did but I think that cd was made to get her whole image thing back on track. I have high hopes for the next album I believe if she collaborates with Danja again we will once again get the magic we did from Blackout.

Posted by: racheal_b10 | August 19, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

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