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In honor of Britney Spears's new X Factor gig, here is a list of seven songs from each album that should have been mainstream singles. Spears has a massive back catalog of hits, from her 1998 debut single, “...Baby One More Time,” to last year's “Criminal,” that she could potentially perform on the show. Inspired by recent posts from Breatheheavy.com's Jordan Miller, MuuMuse's Bradley Stern, and Spears's official blogger, BRITannica, this list features tracks that never received the music video treatment or hit the radio airwaves, but have instead been standouts on Spears's different albums
1) “I Will Be There” from 1999's ...Baby One More Time
From Britney's debut album, “I Will Be There” is a teen pop jam with an inspiring message. The guitar backing Spears gives the song a Natalia Imbruglia “Torn” vibe. Spears promises to be a friend to the end as she delivers one of the best vocal performances of her career.
2) “What U See (Is What U Get)” from 2000's Oops!... I Did It Again
Britney ups the ante on this lesser known gem. “What U See (Is What U Get)” gave Spears a hard edge over her earlier friendly sounding pop songs as she was then approaching her 18th birthday. She sings about not being one to be messed with on this track and makes it known with the attitude in her vocal delivery. “You'll be looking for trouble if you hurt me,” Spears sings.
3) “Cinderella” from 2001's Britney
“Cinderella” is from Spears's days of not being a girl nor yet a woman at age 20. Spears takes on Cinderella's persona in this beautifully produced dance track, but ditches the damsel in distress shtick, taking matters in her own hands. “I'm sorry to say I'm running away now,” Spears defiantly sings on this enchanting track.
4) “Breathe On Me” from 2003's In The Zone
With In The Zone, Spears officially shed her teen pop image as she sang of more mature themes. “Breathe On Me” is a pulsating track about sex with a loved one. This was Britney's Madonna Erotica moment. “Monogamy is the way to go / Just put your lips together and blow,” Spears whispers on the sensual track. She sings in her high register on this song, making it one of her best vocal moments. The song was set to be a single, but was scrapped after Spears' knee gave out while filming the unfinished music video for "Outrageous" in 2004.
5) “Heaven On Earth” from 2007's Blackout
Blackout is arguably one of Spears's best albums in her catalog. The album was released during her very public personal troubles in 2007. This disco and new wave inspired track reflected the experimental quality of Blackout with its euphoric song production. Spears sings about finding the perfect love. “Fell in love with you and everything that you are / Nothing I can do, I'm really crazy about you,” Spears professes.
6) “Unusual You” from 2008's Circus
This mid-tempo electropop track was released with Spears's comeback record, Circus. Spears's vocals have a spectral presence in this track about finding unexpected love. “Break my heart, I expect you to / So why haven't you?” she sings on the glowing track. “Unusual You” is definitely one of Spears's more sincere moments in her catalog. The song was released as a single in Australia, but overlooked in the U.S.
7) “Inside Out” from 2011's Femme Fatale
“Inside Out” was released with last year's Femme Fatale album. The raunchy track features references to Britney's past hits “...Baby One More Time” and “(You Drive Me) Crazy” as she sings, “Hit me one more time, it's so amazing / How you shook my world and flipped it upside down / You're the only one who ever drove me crazy.” The song has influences of dubstep and sports a more industrial sound for Spears who sings about one last fling before a breakup. Her voice hits an amazing crescendo as the chorus starts. “Inside Out” lost to “Criminal” in a fan poll deciding Femme Fatale's fourth and final single.
Here's to hoping Spears performs one of these underrated songs on X Factor this fall.
Did you agree with this list or have other Britney song favorites? Sound off in the comments below.