In 1989, Michael Jackson beckoned MTV viewers to watch him so that he could tell them to “Leave Me Alone.” In 2002, Whitney Houston asked, “Why you lookin’ at me?” in the hook of her single, “Whatchulookinat.” (Why do you think, Whitney?) And now, in 2023, Britney Spears has just released the most recent entry in the look-at-me-don’t-look-at-me microgenre of pop songs, “Mind Your Business.” It’s her first single since last year’s dance-ified retrospective medley of Elton John songs, “Hold Me Closer,” and another collaboration with frequent partner will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. (Together, they previously put out “Scream & Shout,” “Big Fat Bass,” and “It Should Be Easy.”)
“Mind Your Business” is an ask to the public to mind its own business—specifically to, “Mind yo business, bitch.” The electronic track toggles between half-time and frenetic stomping beats, but the pummeling doesn’t stop there. It’s repetitive, even for the man who wrote, “Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it/And do it, and do it, let’s live it up/And do it, and do it, and do it, do it, do it/Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it,” in “I Gotta Feeling.”
“Where she at? Where she at? Where she at? Where she at? Where she at?/There she go, there she go, there she go, there she go, there she go/What she do? What she do? What she do? What she do? What she do?/Too much watchy-watchy, watchin’ me, watchin’, watchin’ you,” goes one part. Spears makes vague threats about dogs in another: “If they don’t get up out my face, I’ll send the dogs out (Woof)/Five seconds and then the dogs come out (Woof)/You know what happens when the dogs come out/None of your business-ness.” Well, geez, way to leave us hanging. We are left to wonder whether they are the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark, they shoot bees at you? Well, go ahead, Britney!
It’s so repetitive that “business” is said multiple times with its final syllable tacked on twice (“businessnesssnesss”). Unsurprisingly, Spears also takes aim at the paps: “Uptown, downtown, everywhere I turn around/Hollywood, London, snap-snap is the sound/Paparazzi shot me, I am the economy/Follow me, follow me, follow me, follow, follow me.” Telling paparazzi to mind their business is like yelling at a cloud, “Stop raining!” I get it, but it’s useless. Then again, who said content had to be useful?
In a recent CBS Mornings interview, will.i.am said (via satellite from St. Tropez) that the song expresses everyone’s need for privacy. “Just because you want to share things doesn’t mean you want to share everything,” he explained. Fair point! One of his lines involving a cookie jar (“Just because you want to share things doesn’t mean you want to share everything”) does not merely refer to celebs, according to the producer/rapper. “It has to do with privacy and every one else, every individual out there that feels they are not living a private life in social media, whether data is manipulated for whatever business reasons, you know,” he said.
He was vague about whether this collaboration was a one-off or the start of a new project, though he does have a solo album coming out in the fall, about which he said, “Especially in the age were AI’s right around the corner. I just want to create from ‘this is 100 percent human made (made).’” What’s funny is that if you told me this song was AI doing Britney, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all. I hope her book is better.
For Spears’ part, she posted a link to the track in her Instagram stories. Her most recent grid post, which went up about an hour before “Mind Your Business” dropped, is a painting of a sliver of a person’s face. She captioned it with three poodle emoji.
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