So for the first ever pop fools blog post, we wanted to make a post worth reading. A post worth writing. But also a topical post. With today’s news that Britney’s latest musical endeavour (Scream & Shout with will.i.am) has stayed atop the UK singles chart for the second week in a row – making it not only her first number one in 9 years but also certifying its place with the UK public as defining Britney Spears in 2013 – what better piece to write than a retrospective on our ten favourite Britney singles? Ranked in order, of course. As a true pop fool, Britney has provided many delicious and delectable pop moments over the years, and whilst her latest musical endeavour is probably her most foolish effort yet, the corkers in her back catalogue make this task no easy feat. With that said, and knowing that our opinion on this list changes at least once a month, here it is.
10. Till The World Ends
(2011, UK peak #21)
Despite the fact that this song is essentially a Ke$ha reject, and the fact that Britney used a body-double in much of the video to pull of the choreography, this song has reached full-scale euphoria by the time the proper chorus finally kicks in at 2:34. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a masterclass on how sometimes it’s better to hold things back in pop rather than throw everything but the kitchen sink in at once. Which is presumably why renowned shy-and-retiring-type Nicki Minaj was invited to holler all over the song for its official remix, at which point she utters legendary line ‘I ain’t talking poultry when I say this chicken’s FRRRRRIIIIIIED’.
TLDR: How can you not dance to this song?
09. Piece of Me
(2007, UK peak #2)
By the time Piece of Me rolled out, it could convincingly be argued that the topics of the song had already been extensively covered in songs such as Lucky, Overprotected, and My Prerogative, it taking place in our eyes amongst the ‘meta-Britney’ songs. (Songs about being Britney Spears, often complaining about or alluding to what a hard time it is being Britney). Nonetheless, the production of the song along with the level of self-awareness present here makes this song stand out for above the other meta-Britney songs.
TLDR: Robot-ney and Attitude-ney both present and correct here.
08. Oops! … I Did It Again
(2000, UK peak #1)
Oops! almost earned this position merely on being the sole pre-Britney (album) representative here. A reminder of times old when we still weren’t very familiar with Britney Spears, when she could still get away with playing the naïve girl next door role, when all her singles seemed massive, when she wore ridiculously-tight outfits in her music videos, and more importantly when she still bothered promoting in the UK. However we must admit, listening through the song again, we had completely forgotten the insanely-placed and irrelevant Titanic dialogue, and how it turns this song into one of her best.
TLDR: Titanic, nasal-ney, era-defining.
07. Break The Ice
(2008, UK peak #15)
This song is typical of the Blackout album, whilst still remaining a fairly safe bet for the label. We can remember 2007 well and we were extremely saddened when Britney was too ill to record a video for this song and we were left with that crappy manga excuse for a video instead. Rule number one for our favourite popstars to follow is they must produce amazing videos. (We have since forgiven Britney as she was actually proper insane by this point.) The spoken intro of the song (‘It’s been a while, I know I shouldn’t have kept you waiting, but I’m here now’) summed up the Blackout era supremely well. The layers and layers of production are immense, you can really get lost in the music. The pants throughout the song are amazing. The end is a slight anti-climax though; we wouldn’t mind an extended mix of the song.
TLDR: The song is sublime, sexy and suave.
(2004, UK peak #1)
We have to confess to not being the biggest fans of Toxic. Whilst it is undeniably a killer song, the one Britney song it was cool to like, and a necessary hit for Britney in the UK, it also has come to define Britney Spears as a popstar in and of itself. No one song should ever box an artist in such a way, and we think some of Britney’s troubles in the UK stem from expectations from certain quarters for a Toxic 2.0. Anyway, the song does indeed remain amazing; who can forget the ‘Aaaah-aaahs’ which form the middle 8 of the song? Who can forget the video? Who can forget the words? Will Britney ever release anything which has a bigger impact on the cultural zeitgeist than this single? We doubt it.
TLDR: Amazing song.
(2002, UK peak #7)
We are a massive fan of The Neptunes producing Britney Spears. We are a massive fan of provocative, tantalising, sexy songs. This ticks all the boxes and more. The news that Britney herself is a fan of this song, evidenced by its constant re-appearance on tour set-lists, only further confirms our love for it. The remix which features Pharrell himself on rapping duties is also worth a mention as it is very decent itself. The lyrics are a little lazy, but the way it is performed and produced in this case far outweighs this one little niggle.
TLDR: Did you just say that? (‘What will it take for you to just sleep with me?’)
04. Me Against The Music (featuring Madonna)
(2003, UK peak #2)
This song deserves this placing on the list for the extreme fast-talk on the bridge alone. The way, in this part, the vocals guide the beats rather than the other way round, is quite remarkable. We also adore the not-so-subtle reference to the album title in the song, even if Kylie did that first. Throw in a guest spot from a still-relevant Madonna, kiss-gate, and some tight beats, and you have yourselves all the ingredients for an absolutely stunning song.
TLDR: Britney: ‘It’s me against the music… it’s just me’ Madonna: ‘And me… Hey Britney’. We’re guessing this could be interpreted as Madonna stalking Britney. This is quite an exciting concept.
03. I’m A Slave 4 U
(2001, UK peak #4)
As we hinted at earlier, the sounds of The Neptunes on production duties and Britney on vocals gives us chills down our spines. Our notes for the song include the word eargasm, and that one word says all you need to know. The beats, the production, the vocals, the treatment of the vocals; this is Britney at her best.
02. Gimme More
(2007, UK peak #3)
The decision of the record label to release this as lead-single and Britney’s first proper “comeback” still slightly astounds us to this day. We’re very glad that it happened, but this song is really quite left-field for Britney. The iconic introduction ‘it’s Britney bitch’ has since been immortalised a hundred times over in popular culture, the latest reincarnation being on Scream & Shout with will.i.am, thus guaranteeing its legacy. The beats of this song are what propel it to the heights of this list. We like the idea of Britney directing her own music videos, we like the idea of the pure arrogance of the ‘it’s Britney bitch’ announcement, we don’t like the VMA performance, we like Danja’s talking, we like the fact that the instrumental of the song would stand up by itself, we like singing and dancing along to this.
TLDR: “It’s Britney, bitch”
(2004, UK peak #1)
First up, a disclosure. We are not here for ballad-Brit any more than you are. You may notice a distinct lack of ballads, or indeed anything not dance-floor worthy, on the list thus-far. However we truly believe that this is the single best thing, and the best single, that Britney has ever done. If we’re having a bit of an emotional day, we sit down and listen to Everytime and maybe shed a little tear. More so than this, this song is imperative for two reasons. One: it puts to bed any accusations that Britney ‘can’t sing’. With minimal vocal processing and minimal accompaniment, this song really is Britney showing us her talents. Secondly, the myth of the song dictates that Britney wrote it – HERSELF – sat at her piano, post-Timberlake break-up. A song so fantastic, written on the whole by Britney herself – no wonder why the vocals feel and sound so much more genuine than anything else she has ever done. You can feel and hear her vulnerability, and the beautiful vocals are matched by a striking video. It is our favourite Britney single ever released and we don’t think she will ever top it.
TLDR: Beautifully haunting.