Britney satisfies her indulgent needs on this In The Zone era unreleased track.
In BreatheHeavy’s RX series, “B-Sides,” we take a closer look at some precious unreleased material from the princess of pop. A version of this b-side hit the Internet during the In The Zone era as a frenetic, unnerving remix crafted by Quentin Harris for DJ sets, but (what we believe is) the original popped up a decade later, and it’s extremely special.
Britney recorded a treasure trove of gems for In The Zone, an album jam-packed with ***-laced bangers, but there are a couple of offerings that shed light on Britney in a way that most of her discography hadn’t done yet. She had a story to tell, but the pages of that book were tossed to the bin and replaced with tracks about self-sensuality, feeling hungover and hooking up. In The Zone‘s most vulnerable release is “Everytime,” a haunting piano ballad about the fallout surrounding her fizzled relationship with Justin Timberlake. The iconic number resonates with far more people than “Guilty” would have. If “Everytime” is her sorry, then “Guilty” is her “go f–k yourself.”
Brit trades sincerity for anger, sinking her teeth into a guy we presume is Timberlake, boasting about her sexcapade with another man while in a relationship, and quite frankly she’s not sorry about it. If you view this track through the lens of her imploding relationship with JT, you’ll find an unapologetic pop star scorned. Hey, she warned him.
Neglected, Britney wastes no time kicking off the takedown with a harsh truth: yeah, she kissed another dude (that wasn’t her boyfriend), what about it? Homeboy is guilty for leaving her to her own devices, and she’s guilty for flirting. Nobody wins here.
“Stop pointing the finger / I warned you you were in danger / It’s true I’m nobody’s angel / Convict me… I’m guilty,” Britney sings over production made famous in Prince’s massive 1986 hit, “Kiss.” It’s worth noting that Prince haaated when artists covered his songs, so it’s curious his music was sampled at all. You’d think if anyone could get away with borrowing from Prince, it’s the princess, but apparently the late singer wasn’t a huge fan of Britney’s. Prince also publicly shaded Justin Timberlake at one point – which makes this all the more interesting.
It’s no secret the pop starlet strayed in her relationship with Timberlake, presumably with her choreographer at the time, Wade Robson, and “Guilty” might be the closest confession we ever get.
Brit sharpens her claws after the song’s electronic breakdown (insert choreography there) when she sings about her former flame making her cheat. MAKING!!! “It wasn’t a plan / My God it was out of my hands / You sit there say I’m filthy when you’re the one who made me guilty.” She simultaneously reveals one of the biggest admissions in her discography while admonishing any ownership of her actions. Can someone’s disappearance make you cheat? According to Britney on “Guilty,” absolutely.
“I don’t cry… I did nothing wrong / That’s why I decided to sing a song about love makin’, girls heartbreakin’ / I was out cheatin’ and screamin’ yours and fakin,” she sings. Elsewhere, “And if losing you is what I gotta do to satisfy all my needs / Then I guess that makes me guilty.”
According to a publishing on ASCAP, Danish producer Cutfather (Kylie Minogue, Pussycat Dolls), Joseph Belmatti, hip-hop artist Balewa Muhammad, Karen Poole (Lily Allen, BoA) and Britney herself co-wrote the song. Britney personally had input on the lyrics about cheating on someone just a short while after her split with Justin… let that sink in. No wonder he lost it.
If we are to believe “Guilty” takes shots at JT, then Britney blames Timberlake for leaving her high and dry. What’s a rich and famous pop superstar to do when her man is out on tour? Apparently toss gasoline on an ember. I’m certainly not condoning Brit’s liaison, however it does frame “Cry Me A River” to make a lot more sense. Imagine your girlfriend cheating on you without remorse (at least in “Guilty”) – then his break-in to stalk faux-Britney and film a video of him kissing another girl in the “Cry” video seems understandable. Including “Everytime” on ITZ instead was the right move, but it’s honestly refreshing to see this side of Brit considering most everything about her brand is carefully calculated. Do you think Britney in 2019 would release a song about her fury aimed at Sam Asghari for making his career a huge priority? Justin Tranter, are you reading this?
“Guilty” is also precious because of Brit’s vocal talents on it. She’s not showing off her pulsating vibrato or serving up a laugh. She even tossed the helium baby vocal aside for the occasion, because let’s be real: singing about dicking over your ex requires a bit of a growl now doesn’t it? For all intents and purposes, “Guilty” is a highly underrated bop that touches on something meaningful, albeit ****** up, but all fans want from their princess is vulnerability, and on this unreleased b-side… Britney does not disappoint.
Oh, and if you want to relive the good ol’ days with this trash-fire remix, click play below. It’s an artistic representation of the media explosion that took place following Justney’s breakup, but it certainly doesn’t hold a candle to the original.