By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated November 17, 2003 01:00 PM
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In case you’ve been living under a rock, Tuesday will bring Britney Spears’s new CD, “In the Zone,” into record stores.

The latest report from her media blitz: The pop princess, 21, insisted to the BBC on Sunday that she is still a role model for young girls, despite recent revealing magazine covers and the sexually explicit lyrics on her new album.

The New York Times, meanwhile, came out Monday with its review of “In the Zone.” In short, it ain’t good, starting with a carp about its very brief running time of 50 minutes. The disc features 13 songs, though that’s really 12 songs plus a remix.

Times critic Kelefa Sanneh opines that Spears spends too much time complaining on the CD about the annoying demands of stardom and explaining how much she’s matured rather than projecting any personality or musical assuredness.

Sanneh considers “Me Against the Music,” Spears’s high-energy duet with Madonna, an overstuffed series of party chants, and Spears’s collaborations on the CD with such stars as Moby and R. Kelly as merely contributing to the overall sense incoherence working against “In the Zone.”

As for her British fans, Spears said in the BBC radio interview (to be broadcast Monday) that parents should not be worried if their children wish to emulate her.

“I probably have more older fans than the younger ones, but I think the reason why everyone talks about the younger fans so much is because the parents are concerned,” Reuters quotes Spears as saying.

“And in the end they shouldn’t be concerned because they should trust their kids and believe in their kids,” she advised.

Spears also reportedly defended her recent revealing magazine photos, saying, “I’ve just recently done some covers that are a little bit explicit and sexy. And a lot of people do think this is very over-explicit, but that’s their opinion.”