Britney Spears – “Mood Ring” – Song Discussion

Back in 2016, Britney Spears released a new single from her upcoming ninth studio album Glory. “Make Me…” featuring G-Eazy, introducing us to this new era from the pop singer, where for the first time in a long time, she actually seemed excited to be putting out music. After the lackluster Britney Jean in 2013 and a few years just focusing on her Las Vegas residency, Britney came back stronger than ever with a record so fresh and exciting that it quickly became a fan favorite. Glory was a treat; it was a record where we saw her vocal ability for the first time since 2008’s Circus, and a focus on experimentation to make a unique pop record. Glory came and went, with another single “Slumber Party” featuring Tinashe, a music video for each of these singles, the end of her Vegas residency and a world tour. But there were lots of aspects of Glory that fans noticed weren’t being done in the best way. First of all, the fact that only two singles were officially released (although there were a few promotional singles) is an abomination to this album that contains so many well done pop tracks. The record fits the mold of modern pop but takes on a more relaxed approach, setting Britney apart from the competition and showcasing so much more potential than what was charting at the time. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard charts but we all know that with songs like “Just Like Me”, “Love Me Down”, “Man On The Moon”, along with bonus tracks like “Liar” and “Coupure Electrique”, this record should have gone to number one easily. Lots of fan speculated that Britney’s team was not promoting the record enough, but there’s only so much fans can do in that aspect. There have also been rumors that Britney wanted “Do You Want To Come Over?” as a single which unfortunately never happened either. Then came along “Mood Ring”.

“Mood Ring” was a bonus track originally only found on the Japanese version of the record, and it was highly copyrighted at the time it was released. Finding the audio of this track was impossible and the only snippets I could find were low quality, small bits of the song. I found one video of someone who organized a choreography to it and it can be heard softly in the background, and there was also a remix of the song done by Trace Adam (which was quite different than the original but just as impressive). But every other attempt at releasing the original, full length track was quickly taken down by YouTube, and the only way you could get your hands on this song was to purchase the Japanese edition which was ridiculously expensive here in the United States (have I considered it though? Absolutely). Years go by and a short while ago I finally managed to come across the audio of this song on YouTube. For some reason, it was the only version of it that wasn’t taken down but strangely enough, it wasn’t even on any official channel. The comment section was filled with things like “This would have been the perfect single”, “This is the epitome of Glory”, and “Britney’s team doesn’t want her to be big anymore”, which are all things I can agree with. “Mood Ring” has been simmering in the Britney fan base with various fan accounts on Instagram constantly talking about it, along with the Britney Army drumming up enough attention around Glory recently to have the record re-enter the iTunes charts and hit number one almost a full four years after its initial release. In response to this, Britney released a new cover for the album, and this drove fans in a frenzy. The new cover art featured the singer in a gold cutout bodysuit laying down in the desert, holding onto a silver chain. Whereas the original cover art was a beautiful closeup of her face, this one serves so much more purpose and is just a lot more interesting. But with this new cover, we still didn’t get “Mood Ring”. Little did we know, it was on its way.

This song is single handedly one of the best songs that’s been recorded by Britney in years. And if you haven’t heard it yet, trust me when I say that’s not an overestimate. The song is quite simply produced with dreamy synth during the verses which turns into an edgier synth during the chorus, all layered with a mid tempo, prominent beat. Her vocals sound amazing, the best they’ve sounded in years and the vocal stutters after the chorus are so well done to not be overbearing or too EDM like. Essentially, the production of this track is reminiscent of electronic dance music, just a lot more toned down and better organized. When it comes to the lyrics, it talks about having a lover who knows how to handle all of your crazy emotions, and it’s very well written, demonstrating this theme of having a person in your life that not only grounds you but also knows who you actually are. The opening lines “Look in the mirror / Who do I see? / Who do I want to be today? / If you’re in for a show, which role should I take?” instantly paints this idea of having various sides to a person just depending on your mood, which for the average listener is quite relatable, but for Britney being a performer herself, I’m sure it alludes to different aspects of her personal life as an entertainer. The second verse also touches on overexposure by saying “I have no secrets / Cause there’s a version of me that I don’t know how to hide” but the bridge is where the song starts to sparkle with such intensity, it’s impossible to look away from. “And in the palm of your hand, my temperature is at your command, by my demand / And now I’m falling for you, I turn to golden from blue, and you do too” is so gorgeously layered into its melody and creates this image of such a wonderful romance, it makes even me (the least romantic person alive) have a desire for a love like this too.

A few weeks goes by after the release of the new Glory album artwork, when on May 28th, 2020, Britney’s official Instagram story shows a message saying “You’ve been asking for it” with the song playing in the background. To say I panicked is an understatement; I completely lost my marbles. Shortly thereafter, the song was officially released to YouTube, iTunes and streaming platforms, with fans going wild, immediately trying to get the song to the top of the charts. It’s what the song deserves anyway and I can say confidently that I am one of those fans helping get “Mood Ring” as much exposure as possible. The song is one of the most natural sounding Britney songs in ages, where her vocals shine right along with the instrumental, and you can actually hear how genuine it sounds. Her previous releases in the same decade weren’t bad necessarily, but while Britney Jean turned into an overproduced, goopy pop mess and Femme Fatale focused on themes of just having fun and partying, Glory showed us a more focused image of the real Britney. It showed a different musical direction she wanted to head in and it’s evident by the effort put forth into this record that she had a lot of fun with it and actually cares a lot about this project. “Mood Ring” would have served as the perfect lead single and even though it was ignored during the albums initial release, I’m beyond ecstatic that we at least got it eventually. Maybe if we’re lucky enough, we’ll even get a music video for it too. But all of that aside, I’m just really hoping that this song and the new cover help rejuvenate an album, and an artist, that deserved so much more.  

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