Every Britney Spears Song, Ranked

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An attempt to rank every single Britney Spears song in order of merit.

Yesterday, Entertainment Weekly published an article entitled “Every Britney Spears song, ranked” in which they systematically rated every Britney Spears song (including bonus tracks and b-sides) in order of preference. The list was, um, an interesting read, although here at BreatheHeavy we found ourselves agreeing with almost none of it. So I, the fool that I am, volunteered to attempt to put together a counter-list from the perspective of a self-described Britney Spears stan.

It wasn’t an easy task. Britney has a startling iconic discography and sorting through it in the hopes of compiling some sort of arbitrary list of preference was, frankly, a lot harder than I anticipated. How do you sort through 156 songs effectively and efficiently? How do you compare tracks written and released in 1998 to those created in 2016? How do you choose between songs that have punctuated your childhood, defined your teenage years and mapped the beginning of your adult life?

Honestly, I still don’t really know the answer to any of these questions, but here it is, in all of its glory (wink, wink), ranked from best to worst, a list of every officially released Britney Spears song.

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156 - 101

156. "It Should Be Easy" (featuring will.i.am) (2013)

‘Britney Jean’ is a dark spot on an otherwise flawless discography and "It Should Be Easy" is the album’s lowest moment. Senseless lyrics and excessive vocal effects (not to mention the entirely unwelcome presence of will.i.am) mean that if there was a scale from one to ten our hatred for this song is a million billion.

155. "Body Ache" (2013)

154. "Tik Tik Boom" (featuring T.I.) (2013)

153. "Pretty Girls" (featuring Iggy Azalea) (2015)

152. "Ooh La La" (2013)

151. "My Baby" (2008)

150. "Chillin' with You" (featuring Jamie Lynn) (2013)

An obvious example of the infamous ‘ghost vocalist’ that plagued ‘Britney Jean’, “Chillin’ with You” is one of the most underwhelming moments of Britney’s career, especially considering the much-anticipated presence of younger sister, Jamie Lynn.

149. "Walk On By" (2000)

148. "That's Where You Take Me" (2001)

147. "I Will Still Love You" (with Don Philip) (1999)

146. "You Got It All" (2000)

145. "(Drop Dead) Beautiful" (featuring Sabi) (2011)

144. "I'll Never Stop Loving You" (1999)

143. "The Beat Goes On" (1999)

142. "Blur" (2008)

141. "Why Should I Be Sad" (2007)

140. "Everybody" (2007)

The Eurythmics sample that the world didn’t know it needed. Despite being a legitimate bop, "Everybody" doesn’t measure up to the brilliance of the rest of ‘Blackout’.

139. "When I Found You" (2001)

138. "Right Now (Taste the Victory)" (2002)

137. "Til It's Gone" (2013)

136. "Heart" (2000)

135. "Scary" (2011)

134. "Quicksand" (2008)

133. "Trouble" (2008)

132. "Girl in the Mirror" (2000)

131. "Rock Boy" (2008)

130. "Don't Hang Up" (2003)

One of Britney’s numerous glorious odes to phonesex, "Don’t Hang Up" was relegated to bonus track material on her fourth album, ‘In The Zone’. It’s easy to see why – the track isn’t as infectious or immediate as the main body of the album.

129. "Outta This World" (2007)

128. "Thinkin' About You" (1999)

127. "Dear Diary" (2000)

126. "Selfish" (2011)

125. "Autumn Goodbye" (1999)

124. "Rock Me In" (2008)

123. "Don't Cry" (2013)

122. "I'm So Curious" (1999)

121. "Up n' Down" (2011)

120. "Mmm Papi" (2008)

One of the more controversial moments of the largely-vanilla ‘Circus’ given the theorised link to ex-boyfriend Adnan Ghalib, "Mmm Papi" is a relentlessly-catchy (if not totally bonkers) song.

119. "Seal It with a Kiss" (2011)

118. "Let Me Be" (2001)

117. "Clumsy" (2016)

116. "Anticipating" (2001)

115. "Gasoline" (2011)

114. "Phonography" (2008)

113. "Brave New Girl" (2003)

112. "Lace and Leather" (2008)

111. "Before the Goodbye" (2001)

110. "Toy Soldier" (2007)

One of the most interesting vocal points of ‘Blackout’, "Toy Soldier’s" dry drawl (“like them city boys from New Yawk”) and rousing beat are only slightly diminished by the less than adventurous production, especially in comparison with the rest of the album.

109. "Bombastic Love" (2001)

108. "Intimidated" (2001)

107. "Big Fat Bass" (featuring will.i.am) (2011)

106. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (2000)

105. "Get Back" (2007)

104. "Ooh Ooh Baby" (2007)

103. "When Your Eyes Say It" (2000)

102. "One Kiss from You" (2000)

101. "Don't Keep Me Waiting" (2011)

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100-51

100. "Brightest Morning Star" (2013)

‘Britney Jean’ may well be remembered by fans as a disaster, but "Brightest Morning Star" proves that the album isn’t all bad – a song undoubtedly written for Spears’ children, it’s reminiscent of Madonna’s "Little Star" and the earnest, reverent lyrics are classic Britney songwriting.

99. "Out from Under" (2008)

98. "Soda Pop" (1999)

97. "Private Show" (2016)

96. "Passenger" (2013)

95. "Can't Make You Love Me" (2000)

94. "Shadow" (2003)

93. "Perfume" (2013)

92. "He About to Lose Me" (2011)

91. "I've Just Begun (Having My Fun)" (2004)

90. "What You Need" (2016)

The closing track of the standard edition of Britney’s latest effort, "What You Need" represents the songstress at her most vocally adventurous in over a decade – the urgency of the track is both obvious and delightful. It’s a shame that the producers elected to use electronic rather than live instrumentation – a horn section could have taken "What You Need" to the next level.

89. "Criminal" (2011)

88. "Hold on Tight" (2013)

87. "Deep in My Heart" (1999)

86. "Just Like Me" (2016)

85. "Trouble for Me" (2011)

84. "Amnesia" (2008)

83. "Early Mornin'" (2003)

82. "What It's Like to Be Me" (2001)

81. "Shattered Glass" (2008)

80. "I Run Away" (2001)

One of Britney’s most cruelly underrated bonus tracks, "I Run Away" is haunting, melodic and cinematic. Despite boasting a decidedly dated violin stem, "I Run Away" is still as emotive today as when it was first released.

79. "Trip to Your Heart" (2011)

78. "Liar" (2016)

77. "Perfect Lover" (2007)

76. "Outrageous" (2003)

75. "Where Are You Now" (2000)

74. "Invitation" (2016)

73. "Chaotic" (2005)

72. "Love Me Down" (2016)

71. "Hot as Ice" (2007)

70. "(I Got That) Boom Boom" (featuring Ying Yang Twins) (2003)

‘In The Zone’ represented a transition into musical experimentation for Spears and no track thought outside the pop-box quite like "Boom Boom". With a banjo solo, an absolutely banging beat and, of course, the inexplicable presence of The Ying Yang Twins, "(I Got That) Boom Boom" is still a gem.

69. "Hard to Forget Ya" (2016)

68. "Heaven on Earth" (2007)

67. “Mona Lisa” (2005)

66. “My Only Wish (This Year)” (2000)

65. "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart" (1999)

64. "What U See (Is What U Get)" (2000)

63. “Over to You Now” (2005)

62. "The Answer" (2003)

61. "I Will Be There" (1999)

60. "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" (2001)

Lifted from the Crossroads soundtrack, "I’m Not a Girl…" is the perfect symbol of teen-angst and melodrama, but was a decidedly less efficient attempt to age Britney, especially in comparison with the highlights of 2001’s ‘Britney’. It is, however, a Spears classic, not least of all for that key change.

59. "Now That I Found You" (2013)

58. "Do Somethin'" (2004)

57. "How I Roll" (2011)

56. "Kill the Lights" (2008)

55. "I Wanna Go" (2011)

54. "Radar" (2007 and 2008)

53. "Don't Go Knockin' on My Door" (2000)

52. "My Prerogative" (2004)

51. "Better" (2016)

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50 - 11

50. "3" (2009)

A seductive sonic invitation to the club, "3" features Britney’s characteristic blend of dance and sex. It’s about threesomes, but who cares? When "3" comes on, all you care about is the industrial beat and throbbing baseline.

49. "Girls and Boys" (2003)

48. "Boys" (2001)

47. "All That She Wants" (2001)

46. "If U Seek Amy" (2008)

45. "E-Mail My Heart" (1999)

44. “Someday (I Will Understand)” (2005)

43. "Lucky" (2000)

42. "Coupure Électrique" (2016)

41. "Freakshow" (2007)

40. "Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortés)" (2016)

One of numerous moments during ‘Glory’ when Britney descends into a foreign tongue, "Change Your Mind" is one of the most melodically engaging tracks on ‘Glory’, which is saying something given how melodically interesting the album is. Rise Rosetta Stoneney, rise.

39. "Showdown" (2003)

38. "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" (2001)

37. "If I'm Dancing" (2016)

36. "Me Against the Music" (featuring Madonna) (2003)

35. "Break the Ice" (2007)

34. "Alien" (2013)

33. "Man on the Moon" (2016)

32. "Overprotected" (2001)

31. "Get Naked (I Got a Plan)" (2007)

30. "Cinderella" (2001)

Absolute pop perfection, it’s still a travesty that "Cinderella" wasn’t released as a single – just imagine the video. The production is still as rousing as when it was released and the lyrics still as interesting, "Cinderella" is one of Britney’s most accomplished deep cuts.

29. "Mannequin" (2008)

28. "Sometimes" (1999)

27. "Slumber Party" (2016)

26. "The Hook Up" (2003)

25. "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know" (2000)

24. "Hold It Against Me" (2011)

23. "Make Me..." (featuring G-Eazy) (2016)

22. "Do You Wanna Come Over?" (2016)

21. "Lonely" (2001)

20. "Touch of My Hand" (2003)

The finest song about masturbation since Divinyls’ "I Touch Myself", "Touch of My Hand" is an expert blend of sensuality and overt sexuality, orchestral instrumental and stuttering glitch pop. It’s also the most effective statement of womanhood that Spears had made up until the point when it was released. She certainly wasn’t a girl anymore.

19. "Till the World Ends" (2011)

18. "Born to Make You Happy" (1999)

17. "Inside Out" (2011)

16. "Work Bitch" (2013)

15. "Womanizer" (2008)

14. "(You Drive Me) Crazy" (1999)

13. "Unusual You" (2008)

12. "And Then We Kiss" (Junkie XL Remix) (2005)

11. "Stronger" (2000)

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10 - 1

10. "Circus" (2008)

The lead single that the album of the same name truly deserved, “Circus” is Britney at her finest. One of her most richly aesthetic singles, the track is expertly produced, simply but effectively written, and was responsible for the theme of Spears’ best-designed concert tour.

9. "Just Luv Me" (2016)

Much like "Circus", "Just Luv Me" would have made a superb lead single – it’s the most unreserved and vulnerable Britney’s been in years, begging a potential suitor to “just love” her. The production is current without pandering, the lyrics are personal but relatable, the vocals are sultry and yet still adventurous. "Just Luv Me" is not only ‘Glory’s finest moment, but a career highlight for Britney.

8. "Oops!... I Did It Again" (2000)

Let’s be real for a second - "…Baby One More Time" had all the makings of a one hit wonder. It was astronomically successful, resoundingly impactful and seemed to capture a moment in pop history; not always characteristics which make for longevity or a sustained career. "Oops!... I Did It Again" ensured that wouldn’t happen. With it’s ubiquitous sound, which built on but didn’t replicate "Baby", "Oops!" was the perfect follow up and has become almost as iconic as its predecessor.

7. "Breathe on Me" (2003)

If "Touch of My Hand" captured the sensuality of a girl entering adulthood, "Breathe On Me" announced her arrival. Originally planned to be the fifth single released from ‘In The Zone’, "Breathe On Me" sexual liberation as only Britney Spears can express it. Immediate, unrelenting but fundamentally soft, the track is one of the best post-‘Erotica’ sexual anthems and it’s a cruel injustice that it never got a chance to take on the charts.

6. "Everytime" (2003)

"Everytime", Britney Spears has since declared, was the first song she ever wrote. And what a way to start. The heart-breaking ballad about the guilt and pain that comes at the end of a relationship is hard enough to capture, but writing a response to Justin Timberlake’s "pussified" "Cry Me a River" without sounding bitter or defensive is a feat that very few artists would have the humility or talent to pull off. Now, "Everytime" is about so much more than Britney’s first public break-up and is quite simply her finest ballad.

5. "I'm a Slave 4 U" (2001)

Anyone who was a fan of Britney Spears in 2001 will never forget watching her emerge from a cage with a tiger before writhing with a six foot yellow python on the VMA stage, but "I’m a Slave 4 U" is a lot more than one of the most controversial performances of Britney’s career. It’s a song which was so relentlessly current, and yet sounded nothing like anything else on the radio at the time, and which continues to define the merge between pop and R&B, even fifteen years later.

4. "Piece of Me" (2007)

The second single to be taken from Britney’s best album, ‘Blackout’, "Piece of Me" was a rare moment of total musical defiance from the superstar. Electing, more often than not, to omit her personal life from her albums, "Piece of Me" was a total shock to the listening public. Speaking of the total breakdown in her relationship with the press and the intense media scrutiny that she endured at that time, "Piece of Me" was a middle finger in the face of anyone who thought they could mess with her.

3. "Toxic" (2003)

Arguably Britney’s biggest retrospective hit (despite not hitting number 1 in the US), "Toxic" is more often than not what people think of when they think of Britney Spears. Between the iconic video, the flawless Bloodshy & Avant production and Britney’s immaculately presented throaty vocals, "Toxic" made a mark on the pop landscape that Britney’s contemporaries could only dream about. Everyone who followed Britney’s lead, and the unique way she mixed EDM and pop, owes a debt to "Toxic".

2. "...Baby One More Time" (1998)

The track that kicked this all off: "…Baby One More Time". Who’d have known in 1998 that this piece of bubble-gum pop would irrevocably change the landscape of modern music. "…Baby One More Time" is responsible for the 3:30 benchmark that pop music has since subscribed to, the stuttered repeat of a pre-verse hook, the replacement of a middle-8 with an altered, second chorus, not to mention the rise in young starlets jumping on a genre that had previously been reserved for boybands. "…Baby One More Time" is not only a defining moment for Britney Spears and ‘90s culture, but for pop music itself.

1. "Gimme More" (2007)

"It’s Britney, bitch." Try to find me a more iconic opening line in pop music, I dare you. In the world of Britney, 2007 may have been characterized by her personal troubles, but "Gimme More" reminded not only her fans, but the general public, that first and foremost, Britney wasn’t a tabloid icon but the best pop star of her generation. The forward thinking production, the skewed song structure and the smoothly designed double-entendre that sat at the center of the song all make "Gimme More" Britney Spears’ finest musical achievement. Let’s call a spade a spade here – it’s a damn good song. No matter what the track may have represented, or what it was placed in opposition to, there’s no denying that "Gimme More" is simply brilliant music.

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