Local post-punk four-piece Natural Velvet is heading out on tour with a bit of a twist. They're kicking off their 10-date stretch with a cover of a Britney Spears song, 'Gimme More,' which came out on Sept. 20, 2007. For those who don't remember, this is not long after the pop singer shaved her head and attacked a paparazzi's vehicle with an umbrella—a moment memorialized on the single's cover.
Here's Natural Velvet lead singer Corynne Osterman on her relationship with Spears and the band's decision to cover the track:
"I’ve always been the biggest Britney Spears fan, and certainly the rest of the band is as well. I remember the promo Britney did with N’Sync for McDonald's in the '90s—and the only item I ever won at Chuck E Cheese’s (suburban memories, much?) was a Britney Spears Barbie in the same Catholic schoolgirl outfit as her 'Baby One More Time' video. You get the point; I was obsessed. In my current painting practice, I’ve painted Britney a handful of times, (I painted this single cover, for example) having had both a childhood love of her, and my more adult research into the business and trials of her career.
"I still truly love pop music. I’ve been especially more vocal in recent years about it, as it’s fun to poke holes in DIY music posturing. Being too cool or “anti” mainstream pop music is a common response that I hear, and it’s especially fun to dig in and give Britney’s song the Natural Velvet dark chaos that we are known for. It’s also a nod to who we are as a band—women and queer people, we’re her target demographic, and we’re not taking ourselves too seriously to NOT cover a Britney track.
"The choice of 'Gimme More' was deliberate. It is the 10 year anniversary of the single, as GM was released September 20th, 2007. At this point, Britney had already shaved her head (February 16, 2007), attacked a paparazzi’s SUV with an umbrella a mere few days later, and for the rest of the year, she was in and out of rehab. She famously performed what is considered her worst, most drugged out performance of her career with this track at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards—this performance, the subsequent dragging of her by the press, is what prompted Chris Crocker’s infamous 'Leave Britney Alone' YouTube meltdown.
"I remember watching this unfold on 'Inside Edition' (I was 16, we didn’t have cable, and it was the first show that aired in the afternoon when I got off school), and I found it all so fascinating—the feminine grotesque writ large as each drama unfolded, and the reality or non-reality of each action performed by Britney never fully discussed amid mid-2000s era mainstream misogyny. To this day, I have a love of the feminine grotesque, of the villainess, the anti-diva—they’re so much more interesting than the sweet protagonists we are trained to love as children. Our most recent record, 'Mirror To Make You' (Friends Records) deals with these same concepts, and therefore it made sense to us to record our version of this song.
"To wrap it up plainly—we as a band love Britney Spears, it’s the anniversary, plus the pop music history attached to the track including but not limited to head shaving and umbrella wielding, how could we not?"
"Dark chaos" is a pretty good descriptor here, with Natural Velvet taking some of the sheen off the fuzzed-out dance-pop original and replacing it with swirling grunge guitars and an overall rawer energy.
Listen to the cover below, and below that, the original. Natural Velvet's tour includes an Oct. 5 date at the Metro Gallery and a Nov. 4 show at the Ottobar, both of which will no doubt offer the chance to hear this Britney cover live.Copyright © 2019, Baltimore City Paper