Britney’s back!…and better than ever. Like another female icon in music that I mentioned in another post, I grew up with Britney. A lot of her songs were constantly played throughout my childhood, there was always just something about her that kept me listening and entranced. For a while though it seemed like Britney was heading down a road musically that wasn’t great, to say the least. There were albums released (which we will get to), that were less than stellar and a single (Pretty Girls), that was pretty underwhelming..it was sad because it felt almost like Spears had given up on her music career, which honestly now I understand, but still! But it wasn’t until recently when Glory was released that I, and probably everyone else, realized that she did still care about making music and that she actually wanted to be releasing a full length album. Lately her new album is all that I’ve been listening to and needless to say, I’m a little obsessed. As I’ve listened it’s made me think about all of her past albums and what they’re like, so over the past few days I’ve decided to go back and listen to the albums that I really haven’t listened to that much or maybe not even heard at all in full length. And it got me more invested in a bunch of Britney Spears albums more than I ever thought I’d be. It also made me think that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to rank them and just see what happens …
9. Britney Jean (2013)
It’s no secret that this was a weak point in Britney’s career. This is the album that feels like Britney doesn’t want to be here and isn’t enjoying a second of it..it’s kind of depressing to listen to honestly. When I think of Britney, I always think of singles because those are her biggest selling points and for Britney Jean they were her only selling point really. That is at least with Work Bitch, which I think is probably the strongest track on the album. Another single released was Perfume which, unfortunately, is one of many whiny ballads, and let me just say..I don’t think ballads are Brit Brit’s strong points. Sure, there have been a few memorable ones here and there but usually you associate Britney with a song to dance to or even party to, she’s not exactly Whitney Houston with the vocals, which is fine! She doesn’t need to be! It’s really hard because there are so few songs that I actually fully enjoyed on this! Alien is okay?? It’s the least annoying/whiny of the slow “I’m sad” ballads, Passenger is also not horrible but even that one doesn’t really sound like Britney, more just a mash up of vocals from another singer with a sort of similar voice. Other than Britney’s bland delivery, I think that Will.i.am is another person to blame for this mess. Look, I liked Black Eyed Peas when they were good (aka, Elephunk and Monkey Business are good but the rest is yikes), but good god something about him now just annoys me, I don’t mean any offense to him but he’s just not for me. I really just think that this album was a mish mash of a bunch of random dance sounds and kind of boring ideas that didn’t work at all in the end.
8. …Baby One More Time (1999)
The issue with …Baby One More Time is that it just hasn’t aged well. I mean, you have songs like E-Mail My Heart and Soda Pop that are obviously not going to last in this day and age. It’s not a horrible debut album, it started Britney’s whole career and got her to where she is today, but it’s definitely not her best work. There are some standouts though; …Baby One More Time and (You Drive Me) Crazy are probably the best on the album for me, I don’t even really mind Sometimes either, it’s fun. The whole thing is just so sappy and full of goopy love songs that it never really makes me want to take another listen anytime soon.
7. Oops!… I Did It Again (2000)
Brit’s sophomore effort stepped up the game a little more after her debut but it still feels weak for the most part. When I said that I think of singles when I think of Britney before, these two albums took that statement literally. I think the first three albums really were strongest with their singles but these first two albums don’t feel like full albums as much as the singles are pretty great and the rest just feels like filler. The best songs here for me are Oops!, Stronger and Lucky and that’s kind of it, I love those songs but they’re really the only ones that stand out to me. There’s a weird and awkward cover of the Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, another mediocre song then #8-12 is just generic pop music which, for the time worked but once again just hasn’t aged well. Sorry Brit! It’s okay though, you had some better stuff to make up for this.
6. Circus (2008)
It’s weird because I don’t hate Circus at all really, but following Blackout it feels like a big letdown. After two albums like In the Zone and Blackout, it’s a little bit of a letdown to go back to the Britney that you kind of expect. And again, I really don’t mind this album at all! But that’s the problem, it’s kind of forgettable. Sure, you have some pretty standout tracks like Womanizer, Circus, If U Seek Amy and even Kill the Lights, but everything after that is just a tad forgettable. It’s another album where a lot of it seems phoned in, which this time might be a little bit more forgivable because this was after her big meltdown (which is still depressing to think about), but it’s still something where I know she could do better, especially after her past few albums, and she kind of just didn’t So really I think Circus isn’t bad it’s just a forgetful affair at the end of the day.
5. Britney (2001)
Britney’s third album is where it feels like she finally is kind of letting loose and doing her thing. It’s definitely a more sexually free album with songs like I’m a Slave 4 U and Boys, which I remember being a big deal at the time, but at the same time it does still have some of that same pop flavor from before. This is also the album that kind of paired with her first big on screen job, Crossroads, and even has two of the songs from the soundtrack on it (I Love Rock n’ Roll and I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman). I actually do think the best parts of the album are what people found most shocking, the sexier songs, I’m a Slave 4 U, Boys, Bombastic Love and even the more sentimental pop songs like Overprotected. There is another weird cover of Joan Jett’s I Love Rock n’ Roll (what’s with all these awkward rock covers she was doing for a while?), that just doesn’t work and kind of brings the album down for me. I think Britney is the best of her first three albums at the point but definitely isn’t the best compared to the rest.
4. Femme Fatale (2011)
Femme Fatale is somewhat what I wanted Circus to be, it’s energetic, has good beats and is overall just a good time. I think at times it does feel a little mish-mashy with Britney’s vocals again but it’s definitely no Britney Jean. There are actually a lot of standout songs here like Hold It Against Me, I Wanna Go, Trouble For Me and Criminal that make Femme Fatale a fun album to sit through. But with the good in a Britney album there is usually a few not so good like Trip to Your Heart and Big Fat Bass (which features will.i.am, hmm wonder why I don’t like it), they’re songs that just kind of bring down what’s so fun about really every other track on this album.
3. In the Zone (2003)
Britney was the album where Brit started to change things up but In the Zone is where she really shed her skin and tried a whole new sound. What I really liked about this album was that it has such a distinct sound throughout that really makes it feel whole and not like the previous album which just felt like singles and fillers. Starting off with a bang on Me Against the Music featuring Madonna, the album soars through a kind of breathy fun sound that’s kind of hard to explain until you give it a listen. Some of my favorites are probably Toxic, Breathe on Me, Showdown and Touch of My Hand. I said before that I don’t think ballads are Britney’s strong point and I still stand by that but I do think Everytime is the one exception. It’s a heartbreaking little piano ballad that closes the album on a kind of somber note that oddly works. The weakest points of the album are probably towards the end with Shadow and Brave New Girl where things just turn into straight up pop again which I didn’t love. But really I think In the Zone is one of Britney’s strongest albums and is a memorable one at that.
2. Glory (2016)
This blast of an album took me completely by surprise in the best way possible. The singles, which are always the leading selling point, were pretty damn weak for Glory. I thought Make Me was cute (I still think G-Eazy kind of ruins it though), but once Private Show was released I was taken aback by how odd it was and those weird ass vocals! Then came Clumsy and Do You Wanna Come Over which I didn’t love but they weren’t the worst I’ve heard. The weirdest part of the whole thing is that I really like all three of those songs now! In the context of the album they make a lot more sense versus having them as singles. Private Show by itself is just a weird pitchy song that is just off, but within the album it weirdly makes more sense and works! Do You Wanna Come Over is the song on the album that sounds the most old school Britney to me, it has that Oops!… I Did It Again or even In the Zone vibe and it’s great. I’ve been listening to the whole thing on a loop for the past week or so and I just can’t get over how great it is, and let me tell you ..there’s not really a weak song here! I’d say really the only that isn’t my absolute favorite is Just Luv Me, it’s not bad at all it just kind of slows things down a little when you’re on this high of these uptempo jams. By far, some of my standout favorites are Invitation, Slumber Party, Love Me Down, and If I’m Dancing. Also, whoever produced this album or whatever producers were on it deserve a round of applause because the production on this thing is outstanding. There’s also a lot of Britney using what is supposedly her actual voice and not the insanely auto tuned version of her?? I think that’s what they were trying to sell on Private Show and What You Need and I’m really not mad about it, she has an interestingly distinct voice that I wouldn’t mind hearing more of in the future. So if you haven’t heard this album yet, I would suggest you go onto Spotify or iTunes or SOMETHING and just listen!!! It’s a blast.
1. Blackout (2007)
This was Britney at her lowest personally but her strongest musically. It’s really depressing to think about how sometimes the best art can come from the worst places. At this time in Britney’s life, everything was just going downhill in a colossal fashion. I’ve gone back and looked at pictures of her at this time for research (if you wanna call it that), just to kind of get an idea and remember what everything was like and it’s a sad image because you could see that she was hurting inside and just didn’t know what to do. I feel like people give celebrities this bad wrap because all this media and paparazzi “comes with the territory”, but look I’m sorry no one chooses to have cameras in their faces all day every day. If you want to become a singer you’re not purposefully asking for people to be up in your business every second of every day. Everyone has hard times in their lives and when Britney was having hers the world just happened to be in her face with her.
But as far as Blackout goes, it’s still to this day a fantastic pop album. It was iconic when it came out with Gimme More and Piece of Me and I think still is. Piece of Me is still one my all time favorite Britney Spears songs, it stands out as this unique thing and brought a new sound to pop. A few of many reasons why this album works is, 1) it is a ballad-less album and just moves along in a swift motion, 2) like I said with Piece of Me, it has a unique sound that was new for Britney and everyone that listened to her and 3) every song just works so well. It’s not too long of an album with 12 songs and a run time of about 43 minutes. My favorites are definitely Piece of Me, Break the Ice, Radar, Gimme More and Toy Soldier. Glory came really close to beating this one out but really I think that Blackout is still Britney’s best effort to date and will probably stay that way for a while.
Thanks! Have a good rest of the week.