• Record Label: Jive
  • Release Date: Dec 2, 2008

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. Circus is a top-rate pop album that, with a little bit of justice, will be afforded the same sort of longevity as her brilliant early singles.
  2. The singer does double duty as a dance diva and brokenhearted balladeer. It's no easy feat, but when Spears shoves aside the tabloid trauma and hooks up with the right producers--on this album it's Guy Sigsworth, Danja, Dr. Luke and Max Martin--she is in a class of her own.
  3. Halfway through, Circus shifts from defiant booty calls to subtler material; suddenly, it's a first-rate electro-pop album.
  4. For better or worse, Spears is, as she says on the title track, "a put-on-a-show type of girl," and when she sticks to that credo, Circus works.
  5. The clubby, adventurous pop on her sixth album--her first since getting committed and losing custody of her kids--would have made a fine follow-up to 2003's In the Zone.
  6. Most of her new songs are crisp, cunning dance-pop with a touch of schoolyard singsong. Just before they grow mechanical, they’re zapped with new effects or catchy melodic interludes.
  7. The fistful of dance tunes are fashionably stern, saddled with ominous strut and anonymous throb. But Britney is a palpable presence here, a flesh-and-blood singer.
  8. 70
    Tipping a decade long residency within the music industry, Spears’ “comeback” is more so a restoration than a reinvention.
  9. If Circus had ended at eight songs, it would be a curveball pop classic but sadly--as with recent Beyonce, Alesha Dixon and Pussycat Dolls releases--the album bloats to twice that length.
  10. Obviously all is still not perfect in Britney's world, but Circus still does more than enough to remind us of why she's one of the world's most iconic pop stars.
  11. Wildly if transitorily enjoyable at turns, vacuous and ignorable at others, Circus doesn't quite feel like a comeback, but I'm sure Brit's not above merely bringing pre-comeback.
  12. If she feels marginally more connected here than she did on "Blackout," it's a Pyrrhic victory, as Circus never feels as sleek or addictive as its predecessor.
  13. Circus isn't bad as pop albums go, but whether by default or design, it's substantially less edgy and exciting than its predecessor.
  14. 60
    Trying to express her actual feelings, instead of inhabiting a fantasy, she leaves us looking for an authenticity and vulnerability that isn’t in her skill set.
  15. Not everything hits the target, even with her hands gripped tightly around the controls, but she’s offered us something intermittently wonderful that proves she can still black us out even when she’s on the up and up.
  16. "Blackout" seemed like it signaled a more club-orientated path for Spears, like Madonna or Kylie Minogue, but Circus is a hodgepodge of pop themes that never really finds a face.
  17. Her voice--treated and autotuned to within an inch of its life throughout--still sounds like that of the Mouseketeer who brought us '...Baby One More Time’, with every breathy “Mmmm… yeah!” and all the oh-so-naughty lyrics, such as the ones above, sounding forced and unconvincing. Of course, on a large number of the tracks here she has the solidly cool-sounding (no doubt expensive) backdrop of futur’n’b pop.
  18. The cartoonish sound compensates for Spears' lack of range and lung power by allowing her to ham it up.
  19. It's too bad the best songs here don't really match up with her best performances, but that's nothing new for Spears.
  20. Spears is immersed in an often trite, intensely narcissistic look at her existence, crafted almost entirely by songwriters other than herself. That’s not to say that some of the songs aren’t catchy or danceable, but they’re wasted on a singer who brings no real personality along for the ride.
  21. Cynical vocodered mediocrity.
  22. Circus is a saddening step back to her glossy yet unengaging "In the Zone" era, which is a shame.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 515 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 50 out of 515
  1. JamesB.
    Jan 5, 2009
    I love it. Amazing!
  2. Mar 25, 2016
    amazing album the best album of 2008 she did her thing on this album it was really her comeback album she nailed it with Circus and Blur andamazing album the best album of 2008 she did her thing on this album it was really her comeback album she nailed it with Circus and Blur and the album is timeless. Full Review »
  3. Oct 13, 2015
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. The best comeback ever.................................... Amazing!!!!!!!!!!
    Circus Womanizer, Unusual You, Blur, Amnesia, Quicksand, If u seek amy, Phonography and out from under and shattered glass and Lace n leather the best.
    Full Review »