Controversy: Easy as One, Two, Three (The Britney Spears/David Crosby Connection)

Videos by American Songwriter


I admit it: I’ve been enjoying listening to Top 40 Radio pop music for the past few weeks. Whether it be Lil “bit too much Auto-Tune” Wayne, Miley “keep your pants on” Cyrus or Britney “won’t go away” Spears, I’ve been mesmerized by the music I’ve shunned since my high school days. Long before I discovered Son Volt’s Trace, I would turn the dial to 92.3 in my hometown of Saratoga Springs, NY, and rock out to the likes of Kriss Kross, Onyx and John Secada.

Nowadays, I’d like to think I have a more refined, mature palate, at least when it comes to good music. But I’ve always felt like I was missing out, not knowing the latest Jay-Z or Justin Bieber hit. Was I really missing out?

I think to some extent I was; pop is the music of the masses—the dancing, clubbing, Muscle Milk-drinking masses, which as far as I can tell, will probably never listen to Son Volt and could care less if its lead singer was in this other band with this guy from Wilco … etc. etc. ad infinitum. These are people who aren’t stupid; they, too, have a refined palate and enjoy a quick, catchy tune.

Well, I must say that having heard pretty much everything on the Billboard pop charts in two weeks, I have a few favorites: Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.,” which is like a little girl’s rap anthem set to music; Jay-Z’s “Run This Town,” because Jay-Z has this swagger about him that rivals the Bob Dylan of yore; and one Britney Spears’ “3,” which until today, I had no idea (a) what the words were or (b) what it was about.

Imagine my surprise when I read a little item on the about Britney’s new “threesome” video! And all this time I’d thought it was just her attempt at getting that coveted spot on Sesame Street.

Anyhow, I switched on the video and though I couldn’t make out all the words, I caught a reference to “Peter, Paul & Mary” in the chorus (did they ever get Stookey with it?), as well as something about being “caught in between,” as if this threesome was all a big misunderstanding or accident (“Dammit, it just happened on me outta the blue!/ Had no idea where those two other naked booties came from!”).

It occurred to me about halfway into “3” that it was heavily derivative of a song I’d been spinning over and over lately—and was about a threesome, no less. The song: “Triad” by David Crosby, the one that allegedly got him fired from The Byrds during the Notorious Byrd Brothers sessions. Was it possible that whomever wrote “3” for Britney had been inspired to write an updated version of “Triad,” this time about a hot young pop star and two men, not a bunch of smelly longhairs? Might this spawn a drawn-out Vai-vs.-Coldplay type lawsuit from Crosby?

Who knows? As a Byrds fanatic, I’ll take “Triad” over “3” any day—but I suppose it’s good to see Britney continuing on with carrying the torch of controversy that Crosby so eloquently did back in the ’60s.

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