Let’s be honest and reasonable with ourselves: Every Britney song ever deserves to be a single. Even “Mmm Papi.”
However, that’s not how it works. In fact, only a few songs from each album become singles. Usually, they’re all amazing picks. But sometimes Team Britney misses out on a real gem of an opportunity and, despite our most valiant efforts–GUYZ, SIGN THIS PETITION!1!1!–it doesn’t end up happening, and we spend a lot of our energy fighting on forums, making fan covers and dreaming up the videos, TV performances and tour choreography that never happened.
Since the Britney 2012 drought is in full swing (we’re shaking and crying for a Twister Dance commercial, y’all), and since we think about this all the time anyway, fellow Brit maniac Jordan Miller from BreatheHeavy.com and I decided to go album by album and select the one song we thought should have been a single from each era.
Check out my selections, then Jordan’s picks, and then tell me what songs you would have picked in the comments!
…Baby One More Time
“I Will Be There”
“I Will Be There” is, hands down, one of the catchiest songs on …Baby One More Time, right from the very get-go with that Max Martin power-pop acoustic guitar strum, leading into a soaring “Whoa-a, yeah-ah!”
I live for Britney’s over-enunciation of every single syllable here, which sort of makes it sound like the words are literally rolling around in her mouth before she finally spits them out. (“You don’t have to say what’s on your mi-een-dah!”) Also, that part where her voice sort of breaks when she sings “There ain’t nothin’ that I wouldn’t do-o-OO-o-O“? Like, game shut down. Your favorites simply could never.
It’s all so ’90’s. It’s all so brilliant. Plus, she’s seriously belting it out–a throwback to a time when B was still being positioned musically as a Baby Mariah rather than Baby Madonna/Janet. I mean…the bridge alone! “Just take a sta-a-a-a-nd, I’ll be here for you now and forev-ah!” That may be the best bridge of her career, still.
Oops!…I Did It Again
“When Your Eyes Say It”
Okay, I’m kind of cheating because this song was already lined up as the next single from Oops! (it was even serviced to radio as a promo)–but it never happened.
With Britney’s fluttery speak-singing on top of a slinky ’90’s R&B-tinged baby makin’ groove, “When Your Eyes Say It” is a major departure from the rest of the Swedish power-pop production of Oops!, and a foreshadowing of B’s transition into Janet-esque territory years later (see: In The Zone‘s “Touch Of My Hand.”) Britney’s always been cutting-edge sonically, but this was some next-level ish that I didn’t even truly appreciate until years later. To this day, that velvety smooth whispered intro still makes me shiver and melt right onto the floor: “I love to hear you say…that you love me.” GAH!
Not a girl, not yet a woman indeed.
This. Not even a question for me. “Cinderella” is one of the most underrated songs in Britney’s catalog, and should have been her most defining self-empowerment anthem since “Stronger.” It’s also a bit dark, and even features some Nostradamusney: “Come back. Do that. Where’s Cinderella a-a-a-t?” A song about rebelling against those trying to control her? Gee–imagine that! There’s so many incredible moments, including that deliciously chilling bridge: “I won’t return to thee.” And then it just gets better: “I’m sorry to say…I’m running away!” AND THEN IT JUST GETS BETTER: “SHE’S GOT TO GO-O-O!”
When I even begin to think about a video–which clearly would involve Britney dressed up as Cinderella in some Gothic castle–no, I just can’t. I really can’t. I cry watching the days!
In The Zone
“Breathe On Me”
Again, I’m sort of cheating because it was sort of confirmed as a single. Remixes were even commissioned! But again, it never happened following The Incident That Shall Not Be Named on the set of “Outrageous.” (Well, and K. Federflop.)
“Breathe On Me” is one of my Top 3 Britney songs of all time. All 3 minutes and 44 seconds are entirely flaw-free. The moaning. The throbbing. The coos. The throbbing. The climaxing. The throbbing. “Breathe On Me” is the epitome of Britney grabbing the reigns of her sexuality and straddling any poor sap that comes in her way. Also, Lauren Bacallney in the bridge? “Monogamy is the way to go. Just put your lips together…and blow.” (Did you know? That’s a reference to 1944’s To Have And Not To Hold!)
It’s just one massive aural orgasm: That slow build–breathe, breathe, breathe–she needs release (uncontrol-uhblee!), leading into the most hypnotic, tranced-out explosion of the senses (which don’t make sense at all). The song would have slayed every dance floor across the nation.
Blackout is probably the hardest album to choose a single from, as every song truly deserved to be a single. “Toy Soldier,” however, is practically down on its knees begging for it. (Wait, I mean “Radar”! LOLOLZ J/K).
From Sean Garrett‘s call-out hook of “Smash on the radio, bet I penned it!” (the irony that this smash never actually hit the radio is not lost on me) to Brit Brit’s playful pronunciation throughout, this track is pure fire–and one of B’s sassiest single lady moments on record. She’s whippin’ them city boys (from New Yawwwwwk) into shape! The explosions. The marching electro beat. And really, what’s more fierce than the line “‘Cause new Britney’s on a mission“? Answer: NOTHING.
My body still trembles at the thought of what could have been the video–bazookas, bullet vests, and boys in camouflage booty shorts–and the fact that she didn’t tack it onto the end of the “Boys” performance on the Circus Tour (I mean, hello–you did a soldier routine, B!) is a damn travesty.
Sigh…the ballad that never was. Like a strange, shimmering sequel to “And Then We Kiss” (and don’t get me even started on that not being a real single), the Bloodshy & Avant Circus gem is truly an otherworldly production. The deep guitar strum, the thumping pulse, the haunted background vocals, the dreamy twinkles of electronica fluttering throughout–it’s what I imagine twirling around in the enchanted forest from the Fantasy commercial feels like. There’s just something Spearitual–and kind of sad–about the production, which could only mean that it was blessed by angels and fairies.
Honestly, it makes me depressed to think that the general public never got a chance to hear something so unusual.
Fans always have differing opinions on what single they want next (isn’t that what I’m doing now?), but was there any more of a unifying cry than there was for “Inside Out” to be the next single from Femme Fatale? Sure, “Criminal” won the fan poll (adore the song–still don’t know how it happened), but “Inside Out” is THE song that needed to come next.
B’s ode to sexin’ her ex one last time is pure filthy pleasure, full of relentless, grind-ready dubstep and earnest yelping (“So, come o-o-on!”). The nods to B’s back catalog are simply genius (“Hit me one more time, it’s so amazing!”). Plus, the song would have been revolutionary on the radio at the time! Less so now, since everyone else is riding the dub-pop breakdown wave that “Hold It Against Me” began in 2011 (bye haters–it’s the truth!) Regardless, “Inside Out” is still one of the most jaw-dropping tracks in her discography. (Oh, and my honorable mention is “Scary.”)
Put your choices in the comments section below!