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Every Britney Spears Song Ranked

The world keeps counting her out, and Britney keeps coming back stronger than ever. So let’s celebrate one of the most influential artists of the last 25 years by counting down every song she’s ever done — from world-changing hits to under-appreciated classics to “E-Mail My Heart.”

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All hail the pop queen: It’s Britney, bitch. The legend. The innovator. The one and only Mrs. Oh My God That Britney’s Shameless. The woman who’s built up one of the all-time great pop songbooks, even as the world keeps trying to dismiss her as a fluke. It’s crazy how we’re nearly 25 years into the Britney Era, yet people still underrate her artistic impact, because they fixate on her image or her fashion. But of all the gifts Britney Spears has given this planet, it’s her music that comes first.

So let’s celebrate that music. And let’s break it down: all 170 Britney songs, counted from the bottom to the top. The hits. The obscurities. The flops. The deep cuts, B-sides, bonus tracks, covers, duets, loosies, soda commercials. Her club classics. Her radio jams. Her buried treasures. “E-Mail My Heart.” All of it. 

As Rolling Stone’s resident Britney expert since the TRL days, I’ve been writing raves about her brilliant music since “…Baby One More Time” was her only song. I got used to people telling me how wrong I was to praise her records to the skies — hell, Britney was one of those people. (How she laughed at me when I told her “Satisfaction” should be a single! Well, you called that one right, B.)

But she’s one of the most influential, innovative pop savants ever, with a massive impact on how music sounds now. It’s been a long-running kick to see her keep evolving, from MTV teen princess to Vegas diva to avant-disco pioneer. No matter how many times she gets written off as a joke, she always surges back, stronger than yesterday.

These days, people love to argue about Britney — her scandals, her controversies, her brave fight for independence. Yet it’s still so taboo to give her credit for her actual music, because people want to pretend she’s some kind of innocent bystander on her own hits. Sorry, but that’s just not credible, given the freakishly consistent sicker-than-the-remix excellence of her artistry. She’s always made the fizziest, splashiest, bestest pop tunes of the moment. I get why you might have issues with calling it “brilliance,” but I do not happen to share those issues — she’s on her own Mount Olympus of brilliance, and always has been. She deserves to be celebrated as one of history’s boldest pop visionaries, not just a case study in celebrity.

The songs on this list aren’t ranked by commercial success, just the level of Britney splendor. Every fan would compile a different list — that’s the beauty of it. You’re guaranteed to disagree, especially when you get to “Dear Diary.” Some of these songs are classics; some are total disasters; one is “E-Mail My Heart.” But let’s face it — they’re never boring. Britney does not do boring.

We’ve seen so many pretenders to her throne come and go. We’ll see more of them. People keep waiting for Britney to be over. They can keep waiting. When people stop claiming Britney’s over, I guess that’ll mean she’s finally over. But they won’t. And she won’t be. So thank you for these songs, Britney Spears. And gimme more.

From Rolling Stone US

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‘Chillin’ With U’ feat. Jamie Lynn Spears (2013)

A lovey-dovey duet with her sister, Jamie Lynn, from the dark days of the conservatorship. The Spears gals bond over all their happy family memories, clink wine glasses, and sing, “When I’m witchoo, I’m chillin’, I’m chillin’!” Riiiiight. Considering Britney’s testimony about all that went down with her sister and her parents in her long years of captivity, “Chillin’ With U” deserves its own wing in the That Aged Poorly Hall of Fame.

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‘Big Fat Bass,’ feat. Will.I.Am (2011)

Imagine how bad a Will.I.Am production for Britney called “Big Fat Bass” might be. Now multiply that by 10. You have just imagined “Big Fat Bass.”

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‘E-Mail My Heart’ (1999)

Look, Britney wasn’t wrong. Everyone is doing e-mails! But 23 years later, does she get any credit as a prophet? No! “E-Mail My Heart” has been mocked as Britney’s worst song since the day it came out; even songwriter Eric Foster White admits he’s humiliated by it. (When asked if there’s anything he’d change about the song, he replied, “Not write it?”) Fine, go ahead and laugh, but “E-Mail My Heart” sounds impressively undated now, a prescient warning about social media addiction. “All I do is check the screen, to see if you’re OK” — is that so different from how you’re spending today? Admit it, Britney accurately predicted your damn life. So is it actually a good song? I was hoping you wouldn’t ask that. No. Kinda sucks. But still not as bad as “Chillin’ With U.”

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‘Right Now (Taste the Victory)’ (2001)

If anyone could turn a soda commercial into a great piece of pop trash, it’s our girl. But not this time. Docked a few notches for the title.

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‘Crazy,’ Kevin Federline feat. Britney Spears (2006)

Yeah, so K-Fed’s hip-hop career didn’t go far. Who saw that coming? “Crazy” is from his album Playing With Fire, soon after he and Brit immortalized their whirlwind romance in the MTV reality show Chaotic. Yet his rap fame, like their love, was a butterfly too beautiful for this cruel world. He boasts about his “Tupac juice” thug life: “As I march through the valley of the shadow of death/Dark hair on my chest/Wife on my left!” Brit sang the chorus, but even she sounded embarrassed, and this is the woman who sang “E-Mail My Heart.” Federline soon moved on to star in Celebrity Fit Club, alongside Sebastian Bach and Bobby Brown.

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‘Pretty Girls,’ Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea (2015)

Ms. B has the ever-amazing ability to redeem flimsy songwriting with her larger-than-life personality — that’s her superpower. But she can’t rescue “Pretty Girls,” a half-assed attempt to reinvent the “Hollaback Girl” wheel, already a reject from the U.K. girl group Little Mix. Neither Brit nor Iggy seemed to want credit for this flop. (Brit axed it from her next album.) Let’s just say the charms of Iggy seem a bit elusive here.

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‘Scream and Shout,’ Will.I.Am feat. Britney Spears (2012)

Remember when Johnny Knoxville went on Jimmy Kimmel Live to present an allegedly deleted Britney scene from Jackass 3D? Where she gets locked in a Port-o-Potty, then launched on a bungee cord, for a sewage cocktail of total disgustingness? Then she punches Knoxville in the nads? Good times. (And totally fake, obviously — Brit was on the show that night to do “Till the World Ends.”) Anyway, “Scream and Shout” sounds how that stunt looked, except she’s locked in a Will.I.Am solo album.

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‘What It’s Like to Be Me’ (2001)

Justin Timberlake shows off his beatbox skills in this song — just a few months before he slimed her in “Cry Me a River.” Sorry, but a Justin-Britney collabo from 2001 is like Germany duetting with France in 1940. 

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‘Tik Tik Boom,’ feat. T.I. (2013)

Britney sounds totally bored, but that just proves our girl has taste. T.I. is in even sorrier shape, boasting, “She love the way I eat her, beat her, beat her/Treat her like an animal, somebody call PETA.”

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‘Heart’ (2000)

Britney delivers a tearful apology to her most long-suffering companion: her heart. “Heart, I know I’ve been hard on you,” she sniffles. “I’m sorry for the things I’ve put you through.” Listeners who sit all the way through this ballad might have their own apologies coming.

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‘I’ll Never Stop Loving You’ (1999)

Not to be confused with “I Will Still Love You.”

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‘I Will Still Love You’ feat. Don Philip (1999)

Not to be confused with “I’ll Never Stop Loving You.”

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‘It Should Be Easy’ feat. Will.I.Am (2013)

Britney was the singer who proved how fiercely expressive a voice could be with digital robo-glitch distortion — she uses AutoTune the way Elvis used the echo chamber, the way Bob Dylan used the harmonica, the way Hendrix used feedback. Some of her most soulful performances come through a haze of synth fuzz. It’s just one of the many ways she changed how pop music sounds. But Will.I.Am can’t even hear it, so he just punches in her vocals syllable by syllable, till it sounds like a “blink twice if you’re in danger” hostage crisis. An atrocity, especially the way he makes her sing the line, “You bring me Zen.”

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‘Body Ache’ (2013)

One of those filler tracks so anonymous that you wonder if Britney’s even heard it. If she missed “Body Ache,” lucky girl. 

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‘Before the Goodbye’ (2001)

Some of us will always adore Brit Brit in her tearjerker-ballad mode — even in her early TRL days, she could transform slush into magic. Some of us even go to bat for “Dear Diary.” (Just keep reading.) But even I have to admit this one is just depressing. A bonus track from Britney, where she tries to teach herself to be all “OK, fine” about all the ways men will let her down and destroy her self-esteem. Yeeesh.

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‘Love Me Down’ (2016)

Her dancehall infatuation has taken her on some ups and downs. As you can guess from the title, this is a down-down-down.

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‘My Baby’ (2008)

Mama B’s ode to her kids is too sweet-hearted to dislike (“I smell your breath, it makes me cry”), but not a track meant for anyone else to hear twice.

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‘When I Found You’ (2001)

The Britney songbook recycles so many similar titles, which might come from her preference for Swedish songwriters who learn English on the job. “When I Found You” is not the same song as “Now That I Found You,” but who’d bother to tell them apart? Probably not even Britney.

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‘The Girl in the Mirror’ (2000)

A soliloquy where Britney tries to get to know the “Girl in the Mirror” better. She’s crying! She has stories in her eyes! Lullabyes and goodbyes! “Girl in the Mirror” got cut from the U.S. version of Oops! I Did It Again — that’s right, we’re talking about a ballad too sappy for an album with room for “Dear Diary.” Respect! It surfaced on NSync & Britney Spears: Your #1 Requests … And More!, a CD sold exclusively at McDonald’s, which makes all the sense in the world. 

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‘Thinkin’ About You’ (1999)

How many times have you sat around the apartment on a stoned Saturday afternoon asking yourself, “What exactly is the most Steely Dan-influenced Britney song?” All the time, right? The answer: “Thinkin’ About You.” So won’t you smile for the camera?

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‘Brightest Morning Star’ (2013)

A sincere attempt at capturing the pathos of Madonna’s “Little Star,” though it could have used a few more minutes of effort in the songwriting department.

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‘Where Are You Now’ (2000)

A reject from her debut, exhumed for the second album. Points deducted for the line “close the doors of doubt.”

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‘Shadow’ (2003)

In the Zone was such a shocking departure for Britney at the time, going full-tilt into club smut and burning her Mouseketeer bridges. A true visionary, doing true visionary shit. “Shadow” is the only hedged bet on the album — a wretched Matrix ballad the label could take to radio in case her dance experiments failed. But fortunately, her experiments didn’t fail — quite the opposite, as you’ll see way up on this list — so “Shadow” just got left behind by history.

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‘(Drop Dead) Beautiful,’ feat. Sabi (2011)

Best moment: the feline “Oooow” that kicks it off.

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‘Someday (I Will Understand)’ (2005)

Britney, awaiting the birth of her first child, prays for insight into “God’s plan.” But truth be told, the Lord would probably rather listen to “Toxic” like the rest of us.

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‘Hold On Tight’ (2013)

Even though Britney Jean was stronger than people gave it credit for, they sure made her sing a shitload of goopy ballads, which isn’t really her jam.

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‘Trip to Your Heart’ (2011)

You know the scene in The Godfather when Marlon Brando weeps over Sonny’s body and says, “Look how they massacred my boy”? Part of being a Britney fan is feeling that way at least once per album. “Trip to Your Heart” on Femme Fatale — why? How did this happen? Who would do such a thing to her? We never wanted this for you, Britney.

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‘What You Need’ (2016)

If only she covered the INXS song — or even better, “Devil Inside” or “Don’t Change.” Or “Never Tear Us Apart”? “New Sensation”?

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‘What’s Going On’ with Various Artists (2001)

A celebrity charity video for “Artists United Against AIDS Worldwide,” produced by Jermaine Dupri and Bono, with a brief Britney cameo. 

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Til It’s Gone’ (2013)

“You never know what you got till it’s gone”? Guess this is the closest we’ll get to a Joni/Britni duet.

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‘Don’t Cry’ (2013)

Another chintzy ballad from the botched second half of Britney Jean. Her “Don’t Cry” doesn’t even compare to Axl Rose’s.

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‘Now That I Found You’ (2013)

One of the weirdest production disasters in her entire catalog. For the first 90 seconds or so, “Now That I Found You” is a sparse love ballad, with subtle U2-style guitar, not far from what Taylor Swift did on “Tis the Damn Season.” So promising! Then somebody opens the wrong door and it turns into the fugliest goddamn faux-Abba disco-polka jingle you’ve ever heard in your life. Britney deserves a do-over, not to mention an apology from the producers. 

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‘I Run Away’ (2001)

There’s a bloody brilliant sonic flourish in this commitment-issues lament — at the 3:20 point, Britney trills, “I run awaaaaay,” and her voice warps into an eight-second electro-splutter until it trails off into dying sparks. Hats off to production-writing duo Brian Kierulf and Joshua M. Schwartz, the unsung heroes behind so many peak Brit moments.

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‘Trouble’ (2008)

Britney calling a song “Trouble” is like Springsteen calling a song “Car” or Olivia writing one called “Sad.” Trouble is the oxygen she breathes, and that’s why we love her.

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‘Don’t Go Knockin’ on My Door’ (2000)

This breakup song perks up at the end, when Britney stages a little phone-chat intervention with herself — it’s like a TRL version of William Butler Yeats’ “A Dialogue of Self and Soul.” “OK, so listen, so then he goes, ‘No matter what I do for you, it never seems to be enough.’ Eeeew! I can’t believe he said that!” But Brit tells herself the hard truth. “One minute everything’s fine, and the next minute, you’re freaking out — it’s like you’re never satisfied!” It segues right into her version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

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‘Let Me Be’ (2001)

She takes a stand against her latest worthless guy, warning him she won’t be crawling back. Nice candle metaphor: “You try to breathe me/But you can’t blow me out.”

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‘One Kiss From You’ (2000)

Your basic “Oops!… I Did It Again” teen romance.

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‘Shattered Glass’ (2008)

The cool thing about “Shattered Glass” is how Brit pronounces it “glaaay-yeee-aaas.”

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‘Just Luv Me’ (2016)

Not to be confused with “Just Like Me.”

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‘Just Like Me’ (2016)

Going from “Just Luv Me” to “Just Like Me” on the same album is high concept — a real-time graph of diminished expectations. And Julia Michaels co-wrote them both.

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‘Intimidated’ (2001)

If you wade deep into the soundtrack of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and get past the opening tracks from Aaron Carter and NSync, you will arrive at “Intimidated.” There’s still time to turn back before you reach Aaron’s “A.C.’s Alien Nation.” You’ve been warned.

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‘Ooh Ooh Baby’ (2007)

Cute but cloying, in a way that doesn’t fit the bleary late-night murk of Blackout.

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‘Trouble for Me’ (2011)

When Brit decides to aim for a Rihanna clone job, she doesn’t go halfway. She’s got some excellent lovergirl patter here, as she says to the trade, “Sweet talk, let’s go, tell me something credible.”

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‘The Hook Up’ (2003)

You have to admire Britney’s commitment to making making her reggae cred happen, but this can’t hang with “Soda Pop.”

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‘Liar’ (2016)

A three-minute splash of bhangra percussion and harmonica breaks.

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‘The Answer’ (2003)

You gotta love how this Puff Daddy production steals the absolute last thing anyone would think worth stealing from “I’m a Slave 4 U,” i.e., the melody. But it could have used more personality, considering that it’s Britney and Puffy, the moment’s twin titans of pop hot-mess-itude.

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‘When Your Eyes Say It’ (2000)

Now this has personality. “When Your Eyes Say It” is all personality — a nifty example of how she can make a little Britney go a long way, relying on her winsome voice to sell this Diane Warren ballad. Love the poetry recital in the middle, when she gushes, “I love all the ways you show me you’ll never leave!”

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Various Artists, ‘Hands — A Song for Orlando’ (2016)

A benefit single after the 2016 shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, featuring Selena Gomez, Kacey Musgraves, Mary J. Blige, Gwen Stefani, RuPaul, and many others. Britney takes the opening lines. 

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‘You Got It All’ (2000)

The Jets’ 1986 ballad was ubiquitous at the time, a real tear-jerker. “You Got It All” seemed destined to be a permanent pop standard, a song we’d always hear at malls, proms, weddings — but for some reason, it did one of history’s weirdest disappearing acts. Nobody remembers it now. (One reason might be the bungled title: Everybody thought it was “You Got It All Over Him,” which is how the chorus goes.) I cherish this song, but I admit Britney’s version doesn’t exactly help the cause, since she misses half the notes in the melody. Justice for forgotten Eighties slow jams! (And don’t even get me started about Gloria Estefan’s “Anything for You.”)

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‘I’m So Curious’ (1999)

Charming fluff from the debut, written by the mysterious Eric Foster White, who penned half the album. A song like “I’m So Curious” seems easy to dismiss, but if you listen close, you notice how smartly it’s crafted to flatter her strengths.