Home Music Music Lists

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.”

Toni Anne Barson/WireImage; Dave Hogan/Getty Images; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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

Play video

Lester Cohen/BBMA2016/Getty Images


‘Liar’ (2016)

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

Play video

Scott Gries/Getty Images


‘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.

Play video

Chris Weeks/Liaison/Getty Images


‘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!”

Play video



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. 

Play video

Diena Brengola/WireImage


‘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.”)

Play video

Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture-alliance/dpa/AP


‘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.