But Britney’s the queen of this jibber-jabber, and you don’t fully recognize that until you hear all of her hits back to back. “I know I may be young, but I’ve got feelings too,” she purrs before launching into “I’m a Slave 4 U.” In “Boys” she coos, “For whatever reason, I feel like I’ve been wanting you all my life.” She challenges her fans in the previously unreleased “Do Somethin’ ” by asserting, “Are you ready? I don’t think so.”

Britney, how could we possibly be ready for you and your unique progressive pop?

Ready or not, this is her greatest-hits collection. It is what it is, but surprisingly much of the album is guilty fun. Britney – rather, her producers – are responsible for some of the fluffiest, most shallow, manufactured, inane, cotton-swabby music of the past five years. And no matter the album’s lack of originality, integrity, humility and humanity, Darkchild’s remix of “Overprotected” is still a silly indulgence I’ll happily rock on my iPod on a regular basis. (The only problem being, because of alphabetical order, the playlist moves directly from this album into Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska,” which makes for a rocky collision of moods.)

Thoughtfully reflecting on Britney’s short but jampacked career isn’t necessary. More important, the compilation gives us an unusual frame through which to look at ourselves, the record-buying public who created such a monster. Five years ago Britney was just another pubescent face releasing a mediocre debut album with powerful production behind it. Now just look at her. thanks truebritney.com

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