It's Britney, b--ch! That's right: for this week's top 10 list, we're taking a look at the pop diva's greatest hits! Now seems a more appropriate time than ever, given the star's destroyed conservatorship (Yay, #FreeBritney!), her recently-announced pregnancy, and subsequent social media hiatus. Britney deserves some time to herself - she's been through so much.
Britney Spears rose to fame in the 90s and early 2000s. She was basically the 90s version of Olivia Rodrigo; after starring in The Mickey Mouse Club alongside former flame Justin Timberlake, she broke off from The Mouse and started releasing her own pop songs. She's known for constantly reinventing the wheel of what pop can be, and her musical concepts - as well as her music videos and live performances - are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unforgettable pop culture.
For this list, we'll be reviewing a mix of Britney tracks: critical and commercial successes, fan favorites, and even a hidden gem within her discography. We know you're just as excited to scroll through this list as we are to present it, so without further ado, here are our picks!
10. "(You Drive Me) Crazy"
Boy, does this song make us nostalgic for the late 90s. This track was featured in the soundtrack for the teen comedy Drive Me Crazy, and was also included on Spears' debut album. It reached platinum status in several countries and also received an MTV VMA nod.
Infectious and digestible, "(You Drive Me) Crazy" was designed to be a radio station staple. We love Britney's fun dance moves in the music video, the subtle "You Spin Me Right Round (Like a Record)" reference in the song's first verse, and the catchy melody. It drives us crazy!
No, not the Kelly Clarkson track, nor the song by Kanye West! Britney Spears released a song in 2000 called "Stronger," which was dropped right after "Oops!...I Did It Again" and "Lucky." While "Stronger" isn't the most mainstream Britney track, it is considered a fan favorite thanks to its message about perseverance, electronic music production, and interesting vocoded vocal bits.
It's interesting to look back on "Stronger" now considering all the chaos Spears has been through. Listening to the lyrics now, you can almost say this jam is her theme song. After the #FreeBritney movement, "Stronger" is more relevant for Spears than ever. Many fans can say their idol saved them, but not many idols can say their fans rescued them.
This is the title track off Britney's 2008 concept album of the same name. "Circus" launched a new era in Spears' career. While we can't help but look at the lyrics in a slightly darker light now that we know all about Spears' conservatorship and her struggles with paparazzi ("Spotlight on me and I'm ready to break," EEP!), we still think "Circus" is a darn good song. The melodies in the verses, pre-chorus, and chorus are so varied and sassy.
In the track, Britney compares her love life to the chaos and grandiose of a traditional circus - in addition to showing off what she can do as a performer. The song was very well received by contemporary critics, with reviewers complimenting Spears' confidence and the song's cool electronic production.
“Circus” was also a commercial success, peaking inside the top ten in Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, and Sweden, while reaching top-twenty positions in many European countries.
The biggest girl anthem Britney's ever given us! "Womanizer" is just one of those empowering songs you can't help but love. It was released as the lead single and first track from Circus, and was deemed a comeback single for Spears by critics.
"Womanizer" is a warning song made for all the arrogant men out there who think it's okay to cheat on women. "It’s basically saying, ‘We know what you’re up to,’" Britney said about the track during a Z100 interview. "It’s about guys cheating on girls. It’s a girl anthem. That’s why I like it."
The song was an instant commercial success, peaking at the top of the charts in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Sweden, and the United States. It also reached the top ten in every country it charted in.
6. "I'm a Slave 4 U"
"I'm a Slave 4 U" is one of the most important songs in Spears' career. One might call it a milestone. Of course, there's the snake moment associated with this song during the 2001 VMAs. But more than that, this was the song that transitioned Britney from an innocent schoolgirl to a more sophisticated and mature performer.
"I'm a Slave 4 U" was released as the lead single of Britney's self-titled third studio album. The sexy track achieved great commercial success, peaking inside the top ten in almost every country it charted.
In a 2001 interview with Daily Record, Britney described this track with the following statement: "It’s talking about me just wanting to go out and forget who I am and dance and have a good time. That’s kinda where I am now right now. I love working, but at the same time, I love having a good time."
5. "Breathe On Me"
If you're confused about why this random song from In The Zone has made the middle of our list, just give it a listen. You hear that? Those sultry, wispy vocals? That ridiculously catchy beat that's tailor-made for an EDM rave?
Yeah, we don't know how the public slept on this breathtaking jam, especially since Britney gave a killer live performance of it in 2003 during the height of her career. But it's definitely one of Spears' most technically masterful - and underrated - songs in her discography.
“Breathe on Me” incorporates trip-hop influences with sensual lyrics that use heavy breathing as a metaphor for, y'know...hanky panky. Why is this song electrifying and relaxing at the same time? We know there have to be several banger remixes of "Breathe On Me" out there.
4. "...Baby One More Time"
The song that started it all! Whenever people think of Britney Spears, this song usually comes to mind first. (Case in point: Emma Stone's hilarious impression of this song.) Before "...Baby One More Time," 16-year-old Britney was only known for her stint on The Mickey Mouse Club. Once this bop was released, Britney became an overnight entertainment sensation.
“…Baby One More Time” attained global success, reaching number one in every country it charted. It also received numerous certifications around the world, and is one of the best-selling singles of all time, with over 18 million copies sold. "...Baby One More Time" is also the first track on Britney’s debut studio album of the same name. It was released as the lead single of the album on October 23, 1998.
The upbeat song was originally written for 90s girl group TLC, but they turned it down. If they had taken it, perhaps we wouldn't have gotten Britney's renowned schoolgirl outfit and those killer dance moves.
3. "Gimme More"
"Gimme More" came out during the "leave Britney alone" era, and yet it showed just how talented of an artist our queen still was despite all the pressure that was being put on her. In fact, "Gimme More" sees Britney taking jabs at the paparazzi and society's expectations of her. One critic from The Guardian even called this song "futuristic and thrilling," which was a pretty accurate statement given how this banger has aged like fine wine.
With breathy vocals and a very danceable beat, the atmosphere of "Gimme More" is so easy to sink into. Perhaps that's why it was used during a memorable montage scene in the 2019 movie Hustlers. And it gave birth to Britney's iconic catchphrase...
"I believe it was Jim Beanz who came up with the line “It’s Britney, b-tch,'" singer/songwriter Keri Hilson revealed to The FADER. "We were joking around in the studio, and I remember telling him [Jim Beanz], “Do it, go do it, put it on there.” I remember [Jim] being a little reserved about it, like, “How’s she gonna feel?” But I was like, “That’s how she’s gotta feel!” It’s cocky, and we simply wanted her to feel that way about this record. She had what I call the “f--k it factor.” She had been pushed into it. And the “f--k it factor” is actually when an artist does something bold, ‘cause it’s like, “I know this is not conventional, and I know this is not why they love me, but f--k it.”
2. "Oops!...I Did It Again"
This certified-platinum song proved Britney would not end up a one-album wonder. It was recorded for her sophomore record of the same name, and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance during the 2001 ceremony.
Commercially, this song practically shot into the stratosphere of legendary pop culture moments. Between "...Baby One More Time" and this track, Britney created her own cultural reset in the late 90s and early 2000s. "Oops!" only peaked at number nine on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, but it's easily one of Britney's most memorable jams.
Not only is it catchy, but both the song and the music video are unafraid to lean into campiness. That fire engine red bodysuit? The Titanic reference in that mid-song skit? Producer Max Martin's intention for this to be his version of Barbra Streisand’s “Woman In Love”? So cool, so crazy, and so iconic.
In terms of Britney's direction as an artist, "Oops!" was a departure from her typically lovesick songs and had her taking control. Additionally, her "not that innocent" line was the first form of departure from the 90s "good girl" image that was attributed to her.
The only Britney song to win a Grammy (Best Dance Recording), "Toxic" has been treasured by fans, critics, and music production geeks ever since it was released in 2004.
"Toxic" is a dance-pop/techno-pop bop about a dangerous lover, and the sounds on this thing are just as dangerous. With elements of bhangra music, the track features a varied blend of instrumentation - such as drums, synthesizers, and even surf guitar. It is accompanied by high-pitched Bollywood strings, sampled from Lata Mangeshkar and S. P. Balasubrahmanyam’s 1981 song “Tere Mere Beech Mein,” and Britney's wonderfully breathy vocals.
Originally, "Toxic" was offered to Kylie Minogue, but she rejected it. That probably wasn't the best call, since "Toxic" has spawned several covers, a feature in the movie Promising Young Woman, and in 2021, a three-hour radio show by Ken Freedman dedicated to its greatness. And let's not forget about that iconic super spy music video! Plane rides would be less stressful if only Britney Spears was our flight attendant.
Just like Britney not being able to keep her hands off her lover, we're quite addicted to this catchy-yet-complicated In The Zone track. Without a doubt, we're on a ride when we listen to this #1 Britney song.
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