If like me you’ve recently watched The New York Times newest documentary, ‘Framing Britney Spears’, you’ll know that it is all anyone is talking about right now. The abhorrent treatment of one of pop’s most beloved stars by the media, paparazzi and even her own family has shocked the world. Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship for 12 years, with her finances, career plans and day to day life being controlled by her father Jamie Spears. She has been berated, bullied and humiliated in the world’s media, labelled an adulterer and a bad mother amongst other vile and slanderous characteristics. Britney is an icon of pop culture, with her music consistently hitting number one and going platinum, while simultaneously defining era after era. I have been inspired to write a piece that celebrates one of my favourite artists, an artist who has soundtracked my life, made me feel empowered, confident and strong and has filled me with joy since my childhood. So without further ado, here is a top ten ranking of the best Britney Spears singles, with love from her biggest fan.
This song is one that my two best friends and I used to listen to on repeat when we were younger and for that reason is an essential feature for the top 10. Lucky tells the story of a Hollywood actress, who despite being rich, famous and loved is lonely and unhappy inside, a poignant narrative when comparing it with Britney’s own life. It’s such a sweet song, with a beautiful melody and gorgeous vocals from Britney. I still listen to Lucky now and it will always be a song I love.
Featuring Pharrell and full to the brim with hip-hop and R&b funk, Boys is a slick, sophisticated Britney hit. Originally written for Janet Jackson, Boys is stylish, sexy and cool, with critics recognising elements of 70s funk and a Prince-like sound throughout the track. Boys differs from Britney’s distinctive pop sound and I absolutely love that about it.
8. Gimme More
Gimme More is an absolute classic! I remember loving it when it first came out and that hasn’t changed 14 years on (don’t ask me how this song is 14 years old). The perfect nightclub anthem, Gimme More is a dark, grungy piece of electropop. Gimme More also features a spoken intro, in which Ms Spears utters the now iconic words, ‘It’s Britney bitch’, thus making history.
7. …Baby One More Time
Featuring one of the most famous music videos of the era and a costume that has been replicated at every fancy dress party since the beginning of time, …Baby One More Time is one of Britney’s most beloved tracks. …Baby One More Time went platinum three times and was even the best selling record in the UK during the year 1999. The track was crazy successful and it is so clear to see why. Fun, flirty and incredibly catchy, Britney’s first ever single is an absolute classic that will stand the test of time.
6. Me Against The Music
For this track Britney is joined by another pop princess, Madonna. A sensual, sassy game of cat and mouse, Me Against The Music with its hip-hop infused sound and rapid-fire duet is one of my favourite Britney tracks. The video, featuring Britney in a latex fedora dancing her legs off is incredible and Madonna and Britney are a collaboration made in heaven.
5. I’m A Slave 4 U
I don’t think there’s a person alive who hasn’t wanted to dress in Britney’s famous Slave 4 U VMA costume, complete with a giant white snake draped over their shoulders. The track, produced by Pharrell Williams was said to be Spears’ most mature record, one that saw her shedding her ‘girl next door’ image. It’s sexy, cool and edgy, full of R&b style and a breathy vocal sound. I love I’m A Slave 4 U and it’s guaranteed to get me straight up on the dance floor (minus the python.)
4. My Prerogative
A cover of Bobby Brown’s 1988 track, My Prerogative has widely been interpreted as a perfect representation of Spears’ battle with the media and their perception of her life. The opening of the song features Spears breathily stating, ‘People can take everything away from you / But they can never take away your truth / But the question is, can you handle mine?’, before bursting into, ‘They say I’m crazy, I really don’t care’. This track hits back at the slanderous lies the media published about Britney, and I think it’s a really sassy, strong f-you to those who treated her so badly.
3. (You Drive Me) Crazy
One off Britney’s debut album, (You Drive Me) Crazy was also been remixed again in the Stop! edition of the track and I absolutely love both versions! Heavily influenced by R&b and full of that classic Britney pop groove, Crazy made it to the Top 10 in numerous countries worldwide. My new year’s resolution is to learn the routine to this song and buy a metallic green crop top to match Britney’s, although I doubt I’ll ever reach her level!
2. Oops! … I Did It Again
During the intense boredom of lockdown one, I took it upon myself to learn the choreography from the Oops I Did It Again music video and I can honestly say I have never been more in my element. The space-themed video, featuring Britney in her head mic and red latex catsuit is one of my absolute favourites! With a bridge that features a reference to the necklace from the movie Titanic (But I thought the old lady dropped it into the ocean in the end, well baby, I went down and got it for you), along with one of the catchiest choruses in music, Oops I Did It Again topped the charts in at least 15 countries and remains one of Britney’s most well known and loved singles.
Oh my god, this song is just so good. With a music video that made everyone either want to be, or be with Britney Spears, the most recognisable opening string section and an iconic diamond encrusted body stocking, Toxic was widely credited for changing the face of dance pop. Toxic is a song I never get sick of. I love the whiny Bollywood inspired strings and the bumble bee synths that proceed the chorus. Toxic is a timeless dancefloor classic and one that shows off Spears’ sensual vocals perfectly. I don’t know one person who doesn’t drop it like it’s hot as soon as they hear the opening refrain. If anyone were to ask me why Britney Spears is one of my favourite artists, I’d just play them Toxic on repeat as evidence. Iconic.
Framing Britney Spears is available to watch on NOW TV. Listen to Mads’ playlist of these songs below.