Whenever we’re in need of a pure pop song and video, we can always count on Britney Spears to save us from musical mediocrity. But it seems even Ms. Spears cannot resist the allure of more theatrical music videos being pioneered by the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Kanye West. Her latest video, for new single “Criminal,” trades pop dance moves and scenes for an actual storyline. Or what attempts to pass for one.
We open with Spears peering curiously about during a party, which naturally leads her date to assume she’s having a bad time and telling her to smile. She refuses to meet his gaze, which the more observant will take to mean she’s just not into him (this is a very subtle video). After a few harsh words from her date, she escapes.
Cut to the bathroom, where Spears wipes away a single tear and sprays on a copious amount of Radiance by Britney Spears (Fantasy by Britney Spears is in the background, naturally) before heading back out. It seems that Radiance by Britney Spears gives you courage, because when Spears sees her date flirting with another woman she goes for the played-out streetwalker joke and leaves. This causes her date to chase after and eventually slap her, which is seen by a party caterer (played by Spears’ actual boyfriend Jason Trawick), who beats the guy up. After he incapacitates her date, Spears proceeds to ride home with this strange man, as one does. Never mind he fact he could be a criminal (spoiler, he is).
What follows are alternating scenes of guns, sex, guns, sex, robbery, sex, attempted police capture, and presumed sex. And it’s great. It’s exactly what we wanted from a Britney Spears full-length music video—unapologetically gritty, sexy, and peppered with random shots of Spears dancing. We want a sequel.