For a good week it will be all about Britney (B**ch!) on A Bit of Pop Music. Her debut single ‘…Baby One More Time’ turns 20 this month, so we decided to look back at the highlights of her career so far, and believe me when I see there is quite a few. We are kicking off with her 20 best album tracks that definitely should have gotten the single treatment. Each and every single track in this top 20 could (or at least) should have become a hit! Scroll all the way down to listen to the playlist!
20. Do You Wanna Come Over? (Glory, 2016)
After the lacklustre Britney Jean album from 2013, Britney Spears fully redeemed herself with the more varied, better produced Glory. It sounded like she was actually enjoying making music again and ‘Do You Wanna Come Over?’ arguably shows that off most. Britney sounds cheeky, full of life and more personality shines through in the way she delivers these lyrics than on any track of its predecessor. This sure would have been a fun single choice to show off Britney’s more playful side.
19. Can’t Make You Love Me (Oops!… I Did It Again, 2000)
Admitted, back in 2000 it did not really matter what song Britney would release as a single, because everything she touched would turn to gold. Still that is not an excuse for the crime of leaving ‘Can’t Make You Love Me’ rotting on the album without giving it the chance to shine on the radio. That chorus simply is too instantly memorable to not have topped the charts. It might sound like nostalgia these days, but the composition is as strong today as it was back then.
18. He About To Lose Me (Femme Fatale, 2011)
‘He About To Lose Me’ was only a bonus track on the deluxe edition of her album Femme Fatale, but it sure was one of it stand out tracks. A lot has been said about the vocal performance not exactly being done by Britney, but to me it just sounds like some excessive use of vocal effects. You should know that is what you get when listening to a Britney album and with that in mind you have more time to focus on the swinging, yet also slightly heartbreaking composition. Lyrically it is about wanting to take a guy home on a night out, because your man at home is not giving you his love and attention anymore. Relatable, huh!?
17. What It’s Like To Be Me (Britney, 2001)
The Britney album, released in 2001, marked the start of Spears not being that innocent anymore, exploring her sexuality, but also showing off a more confident and feisty attitude in general. Album closer ‘What It’s Like To Be’ is a good example; She tells a potential partner off for having no idea what it is like to be in her shoes. You tell ’em, Britney! Ironically, the track is co-produced by Justin Timberlake and he did a great job there. It is exactly the explosive type of pop track that was perfectly on trend back then. They even managed to shoehorn some cowbell in!
16. Showdown (In The Zone, 2003)
Fourth album In The Zone saw Britney explore a more R&B and hiphop inspired sound, while also experimenting with some middle-eastern rhythms and instrumentation. ‘Showdown’ perfectly represents the sound of the record which makes it even more surprising that it never was released as a single. The production by Bloodshy & Avant (who were also responsible for ‘Toxic’ and parts of the Blackout album) might have been ahead of its time, but that hook would have been a hit in every form or shape!
15. Just Like Me (Glory, 2016)
For most of Glory, Britney worked with contemporary hit writers like Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter and Nick Monson. The four of them wrote the emotive midtempo tune ‘Just Like Me’, that describes the moment Britney finds out her partner is cheating on her with someone that looks exactly like her. Her intimate vocal performance sounds better than she has in a good while and the light, minimal production with the almost hypnotic chorus works wonders for her. I think Britney would have been able to positively surprise the general public by dropping this as a single!
14. I Will Be There (…Baby One More Time, 1999)
While Britney’s debut was well promoted with five singles from a 12-track record, they could have gone for another hit with ‘I Will Be There’. The guitar-based earworm with the feel good chorus, produced by Max Martin, could as easily have become a classic like ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Crazy’ did. It completely embodies the pop sound of the late 90s and that of course is a massive compliment.
13. Man On The Moon (Glory, 2016)
‘Man On The Moon’ seemed to be one of the fan favourites after the release of Glory. The track written by a team of hit producers, including Phoebe Ryan, has some interesting tempo changes going on and every different part has its own (strong I may add) hook going on. The chorus is this wave of sweet and sugary early noughties pop realness. Give us that thing that we love!
12. Mannequin (Circus, 2008)
‘Mannequin’ surely is one of Britney’s more quirky moments with an unusual production full of ear catching sound effects and vocal trickery. The chorus definitely is not your usual soaring, vocal hook, but a punchy affair full of repetitions and hard hitting beats. The lyrical message is clear as day: “You can cry your eyes out of your head, baby I don’t care, you can cry again, my face like a mannequin.” Can you imagine the reactions if she and her team would have dared to drop this as a single!? Now that would have been a big pop moment!
11. Gasoline (Femme Fatale, 2011)
Femme Fatale was a more than decent pop album, but I think we can all agree that some of the single choices were exactly that: choices… I’m not saying that ‘Criminal’ or ‘I Wanna Go’ were bad tracks, but to me ‘Gasoline’ screamed ‘hit’ way more than those two. The Benny Blanco and Dr. Luke produced tune breathes summer with an equal amount of funky guitars and bonkers beats. The ‘you set me on fire’ hook might have sounded a bit morbid on first listen, but after two or three you were probably singing along loudly!
10. Get Naked (I Got A Plan) (Blackout, 2007)
Blackout came out after a tough period in Britney’s life, but it became one of her most acclaimed records yet. The album as a full body of work is undeniably strong, but it did not necessarily deliver obvious hits. ‘Get Naked’ however would have been an excellent choice, as the repetitive hooks settle in your head in an instant, the production is bonkers in the best possible way and imagine what kind of racy video they could have come up with!
09. Out From Under (Circus, 2008)
Throughout Britney’s whole career, the emphasis has always been on uptempo numbers, but especially in later years, ballads starter to become even more scarce. When she releases one with a gorgeous chorus, emotive vocals and a personal story about the end of relationship, you can’t really let the opportunity pass to share it with the world as a single. Especially not if the alternative is ‘Radar’…
08. Let Me Be (Britney, 2001)
The album Britney served good options for a never ending singles run and ‘Let Me Be’ should have definitely been part of it. The punchy guitar riff based production by the pop and R&B wizard Darkchild is insanely catchy from the intro on and the chorus shows Britney at her most powerful. The track seems to be written about a failed relationship, but knowing her story, it could as well have been about the (paparazzi) press. “Think that you know me now, but you don’t… Won’t you just let me, let me be?” What a BOP!
07. Don’t Go Knocking On My Door (Oops!… I Did It Again, 2000)
Oops!… I Did It Again the album did have quite some filler material, but at the same time also one of her strongest singles runs. Still she could (or should actually) have released ‘Don’t Go Knocking On My Door’ as the fifth one. One does not simply deny a chorus that goes off like that the chance to shine on radio. Such a brilliant break up anthem!
06. Inside Out (Femme Fatale, 2011)
‘Inside Out’ is one of those tracks that is produced with the trends of that period in mind, but that does not mean it did not age well. Sure, the dubstep sound is a bit out of date, but that chorus is timeless. Britney and her team have shown to excel at both setting trends and following trends, and this is an excellent example of the latter. The killer hook, trendiness and Britney’s lively vocals could have helped this to the top of the charts.
05. Shattered Glass (Circus, 2008)
‘Shattered Glass’ is easily one of Britney’s shortest tracks with only 2 minutes and 50 seconds, but boy does she deliver. The track does not necessarily follow the standard pop song structure, as the chorus comes along only twice and there is an extended outro. The hook of both the pre-chorus and the actual one are so strong that it gets stuck in your head anyway. The production by Benny Blanco and Dr. Luke was quite progressive for 2008 and is until this date one of Britney’s most hard hitting and feisty moments.
04. Blur (Circus, 2008)
‘Blur’ is one of those tunes that sounds timeless and could have become a hit as part of any of her album campaigns. The laidback R&B production by Danja is spot on, echoing the confused state Britney is in in the lyrics. She wakes up after a night of partying (maybe a little too) hard in the bed of someone she does not even know the name of. Spears has been criticized quite a bit for sounding robotic and having zero emotion in her vocal delivery, but the detached and confused delivery works wonders for this track. I would like to think that ‘Blur’ would be a great comeback single even today and it would have gained her a hit!
03. Lonely (Britney, 2001)
Britney’s third studio album was all about showing that she does not need boys in her life to make her feel good about herself, especially not if they don’t treat her the right way. On the banging production of ‘Lonely’, she regrets the times she took this guy back, but promises herself she ‘ain’t gonna let him back in’ again. The middle-eight shows her vulnerable side, only to burst into a confident rap to show she finally moved on. Both the lyrics and the vibe and production tell the story and the chorus is this all consuming force of nature. Literally every pop artist active in 2001 would have killed to drop this track as their lead single!
02. Cinderella (Britney, 2001)
‘Cinderella’ not becoming a single is easily one of the biggest misses in the almighty career of Britney Spears. It was the first track she has ever co-written with pop God Max Martin and it showed personal growth, outgrowing the fairytale and choosing her own path. If you don’t want to go as far as to look for the personal meaning behind it, you might just as well enjoy the completely flawless pop composition ‘Cinderella’ is. There is hooks in all the right places and the build up is immaculate. What a freaking tune! Can you imagine what a great music video they could have shot for this!? I am positive if Twitter existed back in 2001, Britney Stans would have flooded social media with the hashtag #JusticeForCinderella.
01. Breathe On Me (In The Zone, 2003)
It sure was a close call, but for me ‘Breathe On Me’ is the ultimate album track that should have been a massive hit. This track brings sex straight through your speakers, but definitely not in a sleazy way. The almost futuristic (especially for that time!) synth production creates a mysterious atmosphere and Britney’s breathy vocals have never fitted a track better than ‘Breathe On Me’. The seductive whispering and those soaring high notes are heavenly. This is hands down Britney’ most hypnotic and addictive tune and in a world of pop justice, it would have been an international number 1 hit. For weeks. Or months!