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On November 25, 2013, Britney Spears released her eighth studio album Britney Jean. Or not exactly, but it was actually put out for streaming for free through the iTunes store and iTunes radio. The official release would come on November 29 in Australia and some European countries, and on December 03 in the United States. Executive produced by will.i.am, with whom she had already collaborated in 2011 on Big Fat Bass, 2012 on Scream & Shout and early 2013 on the remix for the latter, the album features mostly pop and EDM sounds, with a mixture of up-tempo club bangers and ballads. Announced as her most personal album ever, the lyrics talk about a variety of topics, covering aspects of fame and its effects, in songs such as Work ***** and Alien, heartbreaks and breakups in Perfume or Til It's Gone and even touches more spiritual themes in songs such as Brightest Morning Star and Now That I Found You. The album features will.i.am himself on the track It Should Be Easy, rapper T. I. on Tik Tik Boom and her sister Jamie Lynn on Chillin' With You. The standard version of the album leaked online on November 20, days ahead of the planned release date. About the event Britney tweeted: "To those of you listening to the leaks... I hope you love... I made this album specifically for my diehard fans so I'm just hoping every song touches you because each one is a piece of me" The album debuted and peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200, with the lowest first-week sales out of all of her albums since ...Baby One More Time, 107K units. Which was still impressive considering the leak two weeks prior, the week of free streaming and the lack of promo. It went #1 in China and #2 in Venezuela though, reaching Top 15, Top 20 and Top 30 in the majority of the other countries it charted. No more singles were released besides the two that had already been put out before the album release: Work ***** and Perfume. On her documentary I Am Britney Jean, Alien was suggested to be released as a third single eventually, but this never happened. Audio clips for Now That I Found You and It Should Be Easy were uploaded to her Youtube channel in 2014, but nothing happened afterwards. In the following months, several songs of the album were sent to various radio stations across the US for testing purposes. Radio campaigns organized mostly by Exhalers were done in order to request such songs on each of the stations. It Should Be Easy was eventually sent to radio stations in Italy too. Though they weren't released for commercial purposes, official remixes for It Should Be Easy and Tik Tik Boom were issued in early 2014, but they were sent to nightclubs exclusively. Some fanmade CD's are still making the rounds on the internet. Where it all began As early as August 2012, while she was participating on The X Factor as a judge, anticipation for her eighth studio album started to show in the music scene, since this record would mark the end of her recording contract, which was owned by RCA after they absorbed Jive Records in 2011, the original label that had signed Britney Spears. People such as L. A. Reid, co-judge on the show, and Barry Weiss, the former head of Jive, showed interest in getting Britney to join their respective record labels after she was done with "B8". (She ultimately renewed her contract with RCA). In October, "Blackout" was trending on Twitter for the fifth anniversary of the album, to which Britney took notice and teased a follow up to the record with a tweet: "I heard Happy Birthday Blackout was trending earlier... thank u all for loving the album as much as I do. Blackout 2.0?" It ended up being a "Blackout 2.0" indeed, only in the sense that they both failed to hit the Top spot on the Billboard 200 chart, and they both lacked of promo performances or a corresponding tour as the other albums of hers did. Also because they're both fan favorites but anyways... It was earlier that October that she was seen on The X Factor with old collaborator Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins at the studio, while she was receiving a call from Simon. It was denied by her reps that they were working together on new music though, but in early 2013 it was confirmed that even though in early stages, she had started to work with "inspiring producers" like Hit-Boy (who remixed Scream & Shout). will.i.am was also confirmed to be part of the project. Another person denied by her reps was Elijah Blake, who had told MTV in December 2012 that he had spent some time at the studio with Britney: "I would say it's definitely the 'unexpected' Britney in so many ways, in that she's playing with new textures and stomping on new grounds and genres. From talking to her, she's definitely trying to push the envelope this time — and really talk from a more personal point of view, and with Rodney Jerkins by her side, I'm hella excited. You're talking about Darkchild, the guy who changes music over and over again and never runs out of ideas. This album is gonna be crazy!" At the set of the music video of Scream & Shout (Remix) Hit-Boy commented to MTV about working with Britney: He ultimately didn't appear on the album Other collaborators that didn't make the cut were Scoop DeVille and Wiz Khalifa. On her interview with Shape magazine, Britney commented “the record is definitely going to be more hip-hop than pop this time around.” Where it truly began In May 2013, will.i.am confirmed to be the executive producer of the record. In an interview for Billboard he explained a little bit about the process of recording he was having with Britney: According to Larry Rudolph, Britney told him about will.i.am “I want Will to be a central figure in the album; I don’t want to have hundreds of songs sent over.” will.i.am added "Sometimes I’d write songs; some of them came from other people. But Britney wrote a lot of the songs.” (Britney appears credited as co-writer on every single track on the album). "We need to talk about what she's excited about in life. I gotta talk about the things that hurt her. I gotta talk about the things that make her concerned — she's a mother," will.i.am said. "I gotta talk to her about all the things that her fans want to talk to her about. I gotta be the vehicle between her and her fans. We can't do another song about going on the dance floor. Really? Didn't we see a bunch of Britney doing that already? Don't we want to see something that comes from her heart?" Anthony Preston worked with him as associate executive producer. Later that month, Naughty Boy and William Orbit were also confirmed to be part of the record. Naughty Boy however, ended up not taking part in it, due to the tight schedule he had while promoting his own material. In July, Britney also confirmed to have created a song with Sia. She tweeted: "Had an AMAZING writing session today with the beautiful and talented Sia. We wrote such a special song together : ) " About working with Britney, Sia commented "Britney was extremely sweet, she came in with the title ‘Brightest Morning Star’ and told me that’s how Jesus found his way. She wanted to write a kind of gospel song that wasn’t ramming it down your throat." In August, Britney shared the recipe for Album #8: In September, the day of the Desert Performance announcement of her Vegas residency Britney: Piece of Me during Good Morning America, she revealed the still untitled album would be released on December 3. She also revealed there would be a song called Perfume. In October she traveled to the UK and did a bunch of interviews to promote the Vegas show, her single Work ***** and the upcoming album. She revealed the title of the record to Capital FM, Britney Jean At Ellen she explained it was the "term of endearment" her family would call her when "she was bad" Later that month she wrote her fans an open letter and revealed the artwork of the album. ( Standard cover / Deluxe cover / Arabia Saudi cover ) In November she confirmed the tracklist of the album after it had leaked online "Sneaky hackers always trying to ruin my surprises. Here is the TRUE #BritneyJeanTrackList" Before the album leaked in full, some of the tracks had leaked already, such as Passenger and an early demo of Alien. A demo of Tik Tik Boom performed by G.R.L. also hit the net. After it was available, it was very well received by fans, at least for Exhalers Sadly, those old threads are long gone now, but I remember clearly the countless threads done in order to support every song of the album: #TeamAlien #TeamBodyAche #TeamTilIt'sGone etc were the common topics you would see those days. Every song received the fan support to be released as the next single, except maybe Chillin' With You lol Later, the album would be surrounded by controversy, after the leaking of some audios of the recording sessions of Alien, where she sounded out of tune (which William Orbit explained to be just warming up exercises that weren't supposed to be released to the public) and the allegations of Exhale's favorite backup singer Myah Marie to be lead singer on the album instead of Britney. Myah Marie has denied the claims more times than the amount of singles she's ever released: “I am so grateful for the opportunity to provide background vocals for Britney Spears on a small number of her most recent works, I most certainly cannot take credit for her tremendous talent as a singer. She is a veritable ‘living legend’ with a longstanding reputation for excellence in all aspects of her artistry.” A, now iconic, glitch that can be heard in the final version of Alien was also criticized by fans, with William Orbit blaming it on will.i.am's production. "One day the story will.be.told But right now, the future is far too bright to look back". The album received mixed reviews because of how impersonal it sounded to some after the numerous occasions it was stated this would be her most personal album ever. Its sound was also criticized for being a bit dated. To this day, though the album hasn't managed to sell lots of copies around the world, it somehow is the only album of Britney that keeps charting on iTunes on over 15 countries simultaneously in a consistent fashion, 7 years after its release. Be free to share your memories and thoughts on the album, but keep your comments nice or else I'll have to start banning some trolls