Britney Spears' seventh studio album arrives with a title, Femme Fatale , that might be dismissed as innocuous and generic if it weren't absurd. Sex has always swirled around Spears, from the moment she strutted onto the global stage in a schoolgirl's plaid skirt, winking at sadomasochism in an unforgettable chorus: " Hit me, baby, one more time."
BUT not every American took solace in the skyward-striving strains of ''God Bless America.'' In the winter of 1940, Woody Guthrie was bedeviled by the song: everywhere he went, Kate Smith's belting seemed to follow him; the more he heard the song, the angrier he got.
For these two Billboard critics, the progressive bent of this year's nominees raises two questions: Will cautious voters reward "songcraft" over statements? And who will call out The Donald? Jody Rosen: The big question hanging over the 59th annual Grammy Awards is the perennial one: How safe will they play it?