Britney Jean Spears is an icon. She is the literal definition of pop music. She’s an institution to the pop music world; without her you wonder where pop music would be.
She redefined pop when she first came out with ‘…Baby One More Time’ back in 1998 and her career has spanned so much to pop culture – school girl uniform (…baby), air hostess (toxic), the 2007 era coined the meme “if Britney can get through 2007, I can get through anything”, the snake, the Madonna kiss, double denim, “it’s Britney bitch” is a term that even my mother knows…a Radio 2 listener. She’s had her ups and downs and the media has always used Britney as a target – in 2007 she was a laughing stock for her mental health issues; when she started she was accused of sexualisation of music with her image; she’s had lip syncing drama; even when she’s performing an intense choreography, she’s been accused of being trailer trash & not being able to sing. She has recently taken some time out for herself to look after her father, and headlines soared after she chose to check into a mental health clinic, “sectioned one more time”.
The piece I’m writing is a celebration of some of her more obscure tracks. Sure we all love ‘Stronger’ and ‘Born To Make You Happy’ but within Britney’s discography, there are some incredible gems & I’m going to share five with you…
‘Before The Goodbye’
The rumour is ‘Before the Goodbye’ was the original first single from Britney’s third album instead of ‘I’m A Slave 4 U’ & I can’t imagine a world without ‘Slave’ however ‘Before the Goodbye’ is an outrageously incredible track… the track details a lover leaving. On face level, one may think he’s leaving for work however a deeper look into the track suggests an impending split.
‘And Then We Kiss’
The track was originally recorded for ‘In The Zone’ & came from the same session of ‘Breathe On Me’ and its a refreshing, slightly techno love song. It’s about finding that special someone and enjoying their company in an intimate setting. Junkie XL spruced up the track for her ‘B In The Mix’ record and it identifies as one of Britney’s strongest album tracks.
‘Heaven On Earth’
Among the party tracks on ‘Blackout’ is the sweet, bouncy ‘Heaven On Earth’. The track was penned by Cathy Dennis and inspires the image of the perfect lover…it has this euphoric state of being in a relationship and her vocals heathen over the beat “fell in love with you and everything that you are”. In the original demo the spoken words were at the end of the track and it felt like this perfect love story was dwindling down.
‘Circus’ is quite the enigma among Britney’s discography. On paper the album identifies itself to be about the rebirth of Britney the Popstar however hidden among the likes of sneaky ‘If U Seek Amy’ & playful ‘Mmh Papi’ comes ‘Mannequin’. Its one of Britney’s only writing credits on the album & lyrically & sonically its one of Britney’s most bizarre & personal tracks. It details a working hard woman who falls from grace…there’s this heartbreaking “you told me you’re lonely / can’t hear you / how dare you / and then you were frozen, imposin’ / there’s no way you want me / watch me, dress me / can’t impress me / I’m not changing, I’m just”. This self doubt & internal anxiety is harrowing and the track has this sound of a scream throughout the chorus but a deep & low scream thats much more internal. It’s a really interesting song.
Possibly one of my favourite Britney tracks ever recorded. The track details identifying a vulnerable woman waiting for her lover to break her heart but he’s not & she’s confused. Its heartbreaking, heartwarming & absolutely stunning.
A bonus track on ‘Circus’ is the 80s track ‘Amnesia’ where Britney details a lazy lover of hers so she jokingly forgets she’s dating him. The track is pure Britney to the core and its a shame it was demoted to bonus track status as it should have been a single really.
‘He About To Lose Me’
‘Femme Fatale’ was a pure EDM record from beginning to end however there were some slower moments on the record (including single four ‘Criminal’) and one of them being the bonus track ‘He About To Lose Me’ was a great vocal moment from Britney. The chorus does feature a higher vocal from a backing singer sadly however the track details a flirty Britney discontent with her relationship & other men are giving her the eye.
‘Man On The Moon’
‘Glory’ was a big comeback for Britney. It’s considered part of her elite records alongside ‘In The Zone’ & ‘Blackout’ and is ridden with gems… one of them being ‘Man on the Moon’. Her vocals are angelic and the song is just beautiful. Its another love song but I can’t fathom how beautiful she sounds.
I could be here all day. Other mentions are:
‘I Run Away’
‘Breathe On Me’
‘Trip To Your Heart’
‘Why Should I Be Sad’
‘All That She Wants’ (cover)
‘I Got That Boom Boom’