Erin Strecker
October 16, 2013 AT 03:30 PM EDT

In 2001, pop princess Britney Spears told the world she was “not a girl, not yet a woman.” Now, it seems, the sickly sweet, Auto-Tuned lyric that best describes her life is “not the top pop star, not yet old enough for the public to let her retire for good.”

Spears has hit the promo circuit for her eighth album, Britney Jean, and yesterday told BBC1 radio, “It’s very exciting, and this album is different from any other album I’ve done. It’s very moody and electric and different so, it’s pretty cool.” She also explained that Britney Jean might be the last music we hear from her for some time. “I’ll take a break after this one,” she predicted.

It wasn’t clear from the interview if that means she won’t tour to promote the record — she’s already booked for a 50-performance residency in Las Vegas, but no one would blame her if that was all she felt like doing. If she is in fact publicly hinting she might back out of the limelight for a longer period of time, can any fan of hers not say that that might be for the best?

“Work Bitch,” the lead single off Britney Jean, is a joke, and I mean that not meanly but that it literally seems like a prank. The video features Ms. Spears not so much dancing as robotically hitting certain marks, all the while occasionally yelling, “You better work, bitch!” It’s a dance club-ready single that seems phoned-in on every level. Her legacy deserves better.

Girl has been at this since she was a child, and often seems much more world-weary than her 31 years suggest. The behind-the-scenes personal issues clearly still haven’t been resolved — Spears’ father still has the conservatorship —  and, from the outside, it seems like Spears would be much happier without the additional pressures that come from being in the public eye 24/7. Open a dance studio! Paint! Develop a passion for cooking!

Oprah and the ladies on The View tell me that your thirties are all about doing you, and, as someone who (poorly) learned all the dance moves to “Oops!…” and watched Crossroads and cringed through 2007 and excitedly downloaded Circus, my greatest hope for Spears is that she is now truly doing whatever it is she personally wants. If that’s music, fine, I want Spears to continue to sing and strip to her heart’s content. But if she’s slowly coming to the realization that being in a studio, on stage or on The X Factor (cringe) isn’t really what she wants for the rest of her life, I hope she has the agency to begin to step away and conquer some new challenge one day at a time.

If not, there’s always Smurfs 3.

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