Circus is Britney Spears' 6th studio album which was released on November 28, 2008 by Jive Records.
During the summer of 2008, it was confirmed that Britney Spears was in the process of recording her sixth studio album. With the album's announcement came the additional confirmation of the involvement of producers Sean Garrett, Guy Sigsworth, Danja and Bloodshy & Avant.
During its development, Garrett and vocal producer Jim Beanz complimented Spears's work ethic after her much-publicized personal struggles the previous year. Spears chose to write much of the material for the album and worked to develop a more pop-influenced record with collaborators she had worked with earlier in her career.
She stated that "Circus" marked the longest time she had spent recording an album, adding, "I think it is more urban [...] I'm writing every day, right here at the piano in this living room" and also described the album as her best work to date.
Producer Claude Kelly discussed the album's initial lack of concept saying, "When I went in with [Dr. Luke] we knew we were going to maybe write something for [Britney], but there was no concept, it was just knowing her style and knowing what she does.
Max Martin, who produced Spears' debut single "...Baby One More Time", produced "If U Seek Amy" for the album. The Outsyders, an Atlanta-based production team, produced the album's first single while Fernando Garibay worked on two bonus songs for Spears.
Danja reported that he worked on the tracks at Chalice Recording Studios in Los Angeles, and Spears recorded them at Glenwood Place Studios in Burbank; the Canadian trio Let's Go to War co-wrote and produced the track "Mmm Papi".
Lil Jon, Rodney Jerkins, Sean Garrett and Taio Cruz announced they were working with Spears on the album; however, their their songs weren't included on the official track listing.
The bonus track and the fourth single from the album "Radar" was, since it was included on Spears's previous studio album, "Blackout" (which was recorded on November 8, 2006, the day after she filed for divorce from Kevin Federline) at Sony Music Studios in New York City.
- Womanizer 3:44
- Circus 3:12
- Out From Under 3:54
- Kill The Lights 3:59
- Shattered Glass 2:52
- If U Seek Amy 3:37
- Unusual You 4:21
- Blur 3:09
- Mmm Papi 3:22
- Mannequin 4:07
- Lace And Leather 2:50
- My Baby 3:22
- Radar 3:50
- Rock Me In 3:18
- Phonography 3:34
"Circus" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of over 505,000 copies. It was the second biggest debut week sales by a female artist of 2008, only behind Taylor Swift's album, "Fearless."
The album spent nine weeks in the top ten, making it Spears's longest-running top-ten album since "Oops!... I Did It Again" (which spent 23 weeks in the top ten in 2000).
The album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on January 29, 2009. As of March 2015 (according to Nielsen SoundScan), it has sold 1.7 million copies in the United States.
With over 51,000 units sold, the album opened at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, her best first-week sales in the country since "Oops!... I Did It Again" (which sold 95,000 copies in May 2000).
In less than a month, "Circus" became the ninth best-selling album of 2008, with 143,000 copies, and one of the top ten selling digital albums of the year with over 10,100 downloads.
In March 2009, the album was certified triple platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), denoting 240,000 shipped copies to retailers.
In Mexico, the album debuted atop the international chart and at number three on Top 100 Mexico, selling over 46,000 copies and being certified gold by the Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas (AMPROFON) in its first week.
In Oceania, "Circus" was a top-ten success, peaking at number three in Australia and number six in New Zealand, and was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) after three weeks for shipments of 70,000 units. It has since gone on to be certified double platinum for shipments of 140,000 units.
In the United Kingdom, the album debuted and peaked at number four on the UK Albums Chart, spending thirty-one weeks on the chart.
The album was certified Platinum in the United Kingdom. In France, the album sold 18,319 copies in its first two days of release, debuting at number five on the French Albums Chart.
In Japan, "Circus" peaked at number five on the Oricon Albums Chart and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ).
Upon its release, "Circus" received generally favorable reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, it received an average score of sixty-four, based on 22 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine provided a favorable review, describing it as a "friendly remake of the hedonistic Blackout", but preferred its predecessor for being more "sleek or addictive" than "Circus".
Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club appreciated that Spears appeared to "put some real effort into her Circus performances", rather than seeming "flat-sounding" as she felt Blackout had.
Writing for Digital Spy, Nick Levine opined that Spears "sounds more confident" than she had on Blackout.
While Chris Willman from Entertainment Weekly appreciated the overall production of the album, he was critical of Spears' recently established pattern of "putting out albums with titles that promise more self-revelation than she's ultimately able to provide."
Robert Christgau gave Circus a two-star honorable mention, stating that it was "still fun more often than not".
Jon Pareles of The New York Times expressed his enjoyment of the "crisp" material that incorporated "catchy melodic interludes".
Caryn Ganz from Rolling Stone opined that the "clubby, adventurous pop" included on the album could have been a satisfactory successor to her fourth studio album, "In the Zone."
Writing for USA Today, Steve Jones applauded Spears for being "resilient" and "[knowing] who she is as a singer" and not "[wasting] time searching for artistic direction or overthinking her appeal."
The Village Voice considered it "no better or worse than Janet Jackson's dominatrix-lite Discipline."
Alexis Petridis of The Guardian gave a more mixed review, suggesting that Spears "frequently sounds disconnected, even a bit bored" throughout the record, whereas Blackout was a "relentless, risky album made by a woman whose obituary was apparently being prepared by Associated Press."
A writer for The Independent gave a negative review, opining that Spears' vocal delivery sounded emotionless in mid-tempo and ballad-paced tracks.
Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson shared a similar sentiment, suggesting that the album's "self-actualization" gave off a "hollow" feel through the majority of the record.
Ann Powers from Los Angeles Times felt that the album served as a "bang-up job" of stating that "Spears is still a young woman trying to manage an impossible situation."
Writing for NME, Hamish MacBain was disappointed that "Spears is quite simply rubbish at being sexy", adding that the album is the "umpteenth attempt to turn the perceived chaos of Britney's transition to adulthood – she's 27 next week! – into sleazy, raunchy, dirrty adult-pop product."