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In 1999, the world was introduced to the phenomenon that is Britney Spears. Little did the world know the tabloid fodder that would follow with quickie marriages, babies and breakdowns for years to come. But, between all of that, Spears has managed to crank out some monster hits. So, here’s my list of the top 10 Britney Spears songs.
10. “Overprotected (The Darkchild Remix)” - Off of her 2001 album simply titled Britney, this song expressed Spears’ frustration at leading a sheltered existence, even though she was one of the most popular artists in the world at the time. The song is filled with references to Spears’ coddled life as evidenced with the lines, “I tell 'em what I like/What I want/What I don't/But every time I do I stand corrected.” The video has Spears letting loose with friends though still flanked by bodyguards. It’s a great song to blast whenever anyone but you is making the choices that determine the course of your life - hasn’t everyone felt that way at one time or another?
9. “Lucky” – Off of Spears’s 2000 album aptly named Oops..I Did It Again, this song seems to be yet another foray into Spears’ thoughts on her private life. By this time, she was a worldwide sensation but as the lyrics of this song reveal, all wasn’t totally rosy in the Spears dimension as evidenced by lines like, “She's so lucky, she's a star/But she cry, cry, cries in her lonely heart, thinking/If there's nothing missing in my life/Then why do these tears come at night/Lost in an image, in a dream/But there's no one there to wake her up.” The video has Spears playing double duty, first as the diva, then as the girl who wants to help the diva rediscover what life is like outside the spotlight. It’s a good lesson to learn that while on the outside it might look like you have it all, behind closed doors, you might just be crying yourself to sleep.
8. “Oops…I Did It Again” – The title track off of Spears’ 2nd album, this song is a play on words. Outwardly, it sounds like a crack to the critics who didn’t think she could churn out a follow-up to her smash debut. But if you listen to the lyrics, Spears is really saying she isn’t as sweet as her last album, or as her image had proclaimed her to be. This is clear from such lines as, “Oops!...I did it again/I played with your heart, got lost in the game… You think I'm in love/That I'm sent from above/I'm not that innocent.” The video has Spears as a sexy space chick romancing and ultimately deserting a besotted young astronaut. The tight red leather bodysuit Spears wore in the video sure drove home her point…innocence WAS NOT her style!
7. “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” – Another off of her 2001 release Britney, on this track, Spears proclaimed that she was at an emotional fork in the road of her life and in her career. Released along with Spears’ acting debut in the movie Crossroads, the lyrics talk about a girl in transition, and what girl hasn’t been there? The song includes lines like, “Feels like I'm caught in the middle/That's when I realize.../I'm not a girl/Not yet a woman/All I need is time/A moment that is mine/While I'm in between.” It was a proclamation all her fans could relate to, even her haters, though they probably wouldn’t have admitted it. Spears was trying to show her vulnerable side and though Crossroads was a flop commercially, the song got the message across loud and clear.
6. “Sometimes” – Off of her smash 1999 debut …Baby One More Time, this song portrayed Spears’ initial squeaky clean image as the lyrics speak of Spears pushing the guy she loves away and if he loves her he’ll wait until she’s ready to commit. For her teenage fans, it was the perfect missive to send with lyrics like, “But if you really want me move slow… Hope that you will wait for me/You'll see that you're the only one for me.” The video even had Spears in a virginal white outfit singing to her sweetheart as she watched him frolic on the beach with his dog. Isn’t that every teenage girl’s fantasy? Anyway, the song has a good dance beat and Spears’ sweet vocals solidified her status as the reigning pop princess.
5. “Womanizer” – Off of her 2008 album Circus, this song could be construed as referring to Spears’ ex-husband, backup dancer Kevin Federline. Whomever Spears is referring to in this song, it’s apparent she’s got his number with lines like, “Faking like a good one, but I call 'em like I see 'em/I know what you are, what you are, baby… Boy, don't try to front/I know just what you are… You're nothin' but a Womanizer.” The video has Spears dressed as all sorts of different types of women the “womanizer” attempts to seduce, but Spears turns the tables on him, showing him she isn’t going to be played the fool. It’s got a great hook and is incredibly danceable, besides being an anthem for every girl who’s had to deal with a cheating husband or boyfriend.
4. “Stronger” – Another track off of Spears’s 2000 follow-up Oops…I Did It Again, this song conveys Spears' contention that even though her heart has been trampled on, the experience has toughened her up. With lyrics like, “I’m not your property as from today… Stronger than yesterday… My loneliness ain’t killing me no more,” Spears is asserting her independence from a guy who didn’t value her. It’s another song with a catchy hook and her assertive dance moves and skin-tight black outfit in the video proved Spears wasn’t going to let any guy make her feel small.
3. “Baby… One More Time” – The song that made the name “Britney Spears” a household name. The title track off her monster 1999 debut album, the video even turned heads with Spears tying up her shirt and causing a fashion blitz. This song is a high school girl’s dream come true, a young pretty girl singing about the guy she let get away and now wants back. How could this song not have been a hit? With lyrics like, “When I'm not with you I lose my mind… A reason I breathe is you/Boy you've got me blinded,” it’s like Spears reached into every teenage girl’s psyche. I remember not being able to turn on my radio in 1999 without hearing this song, which firmly announced Britney’s arrival.
2. “(You Drive Me) Crazy (Stop Remix)” – Another track off of Spears’ 1999 debut album, it peaked in the top 10 and on the singles charts of 17 countries. Although it was the third single on the album, the remixed version was included on the soundtrack of the 1999 movie Drive Me Crazy, which starred Sabrina, the Teenage Witch alum Melissa Joan Hart and future Entourage star Adrien Grenier. Hart and Grenier also had cameos in the track’s video, which had Spears as a dorky waitress, who all of a sudden morphed into a club-dancing hottie, complete with equally efficient dancer buddies. Its lyrics talk about another universal right of passage for teens, going crazy over a crush. In this case, I’m no teenager and am someone who is long past obsessing over crushes, but the infectious dance beat of this song even won me over.
1. “Piece of Me” – Off of Spears’s 2007 album Blackout, this song conveys Spears’ aversion to the paparazzi that have hounded her for years…but in a fun, joking sort of way. The lyrics of this song could be applied to anyone who thinks someone else is just too much up in their business. Spears sings about the perils of being constantly hounded by the paparazzi and critics with lyrics like, “I'm Mrs. Oh my God that Britney's Shameless/You want a piece of me… I'm Mrs. 'You want a piece of me?'/Tryin' and pissin' me off/Well get in line with the paparazzi/Who's flippin' me off/Hopin' I'll resort to some havoc/And end up settlin' in court/Now are you sure you want a piece of me.” The video is a cavalcade of incidents that have befallen Spears in her relationship with the media, but the fact that she’s poking fun at it with this song, makes it a fun one to blast when you’re on the town maybe channeling some of Spears’s more questionable antics.