Britney Jean Spears, the Pop Princess, was born on December 2nd, 1981. After nearly twenty years in the industry, the American singer, songwriter, and dancer have made many headlines. However, these headlines have not been only for her music but more for her personal and legal struggles. The #FreeBritney movement is a reflection of her struggles with legal battles. So, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the pop singer has, despite all odds, established an incredible body of successes, beginning with her groundbreaking debut, “…Baby One More Time,” and continuing through later earworms like “Till the World Ends.”
This article chooses Spears’ album catalog to ponder on, ranking all 9 of them from worst to best.
9. Britney Jean
in light of what we know about her personal life, it’s hardly surprising that by the time Spears recorded her eighth studio album, she had lost all creative motivation. Only on Britney Jean does it sound like Spears has entirely checked out. Before this album, she seems to take great pride in her role as a trailblazer. It is reflected in how she constantly created new takes on familiar genre tropes in her own inimitable style. In contrast, Britney Jean is clearly lagging behind the pack.
Spears released a club-ready record that was sluggish and overbearing just as EDM was becoming old. “Work Bitch,” the album’s lead single, has become a staple in gay nightclubs. Yet its sound was already antiquated when it was released. The beats bulldoze Spears’ voice, from the blasting synths of “Tik Tik Boom” to the spiraling Eurodance of “Til It’s Gone.” It’s a shame because she still has it on slower songs like “Perfume,” which she co-wrote with Sia.
The highlights: Perfume and Alien
The lowlights: Til It’s Gone, Passenger
8. …..Baby One More Time
The release of her debut album marked the beginning of one of the most legendary periods in popular music history. In a breakthrough moment, she… As a 16-year-old, Spears rose to the top of the pop charts with the help of Baby One More Time, a song that came to define pop music at the turn of the decade. It served its purpose as an album. It gave us three fantastic songs, a cover fit for a bedroom wall, and images that portrayed her as an interesting performer.0
Along with The Backstreet Boys, Spears was an early adopter of Sweden’s pop brilliance, and the sound they created with a young Max Martin was groundbreaking at the time. However, aside from Martin’s contributions, the remainder of the CD doesn’t really hold up as anything more than a sentimental throwback. Despite its excellent melody, “Born to Make You Happy” has some lyrics that are now a bit harder to stomach.
However, Spears’ first album did much to solidify her status as a cultural icon. It’s hard to imagine stronger album numbers doing anything more for her than what this album already did, given the success of the singles.
The highlights: Baby One More Time, Autumn Goodbye, (You Drive Me) Crazy, Someday
The lowlights: I Will Still Love You, E-Mail My Heart
7. Oops!… I Did it Again
Listening to Oops…I did it again, and Baby One More Time, it’s easy to see how the two go together.
Because Spears once again enlisted Martin and Rami Yacoub for a collection of excellent singles with plenty of filler. There is little in terms of stylistic variety. Exactly what is it that makes Oops! I Did It Again maturity manifested by a more impressive track record than its forerunner. Spears would never perform “I was born to make you happy” in this location. She is “stronger than yesterday” and riding the creative freedom wave that has defined many of her greatest songs. The album’s title track is undeniably a Spears classic. The song “Stronger” is just as much of a pop hammer thanks to its forward-thinking production and bold vocal performance.
Due to Martin and Yacoub’s prominence, some of the filler is much stronger than in her debut. A few odd choices, such as a breathy cover of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and a dated, soppy closer called “Dear Diary,” drag the album down.
The highlights: Oops!… I Did It Again, Lucky, Stronger, Don’t Go Knockin’ On My Door.
The lowlights: Dear Diary, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, When Your Eyes Say It
Unlike the controversy-plagued Blackout Shattered Glass, Spears’ first tour in years was supported by a sharp and fiery performance on Circus. Naturally, therefore, it caters to a wide audience and features industry veterans like Martin and Bloodyshy & Avant. Though Circus takes few chances, it has some classic pop music examples, especially in the singles. The song “Womanizer” is pulsating and razor-sharp. At the same time, “Circus” has a catchy melody, and “If You Seek Amy” is the cheekiest middle finger she’s ever given.
To a certain extent, this is a classic Spears album, complete with memorable singles and videos. But if you look closely, it is evident that Circus has some soft spots too, which gives it more depth. We had no idea that Spears, fresh off a public mental health crisis, was entering conservatorship at the time. Even though she sounds great throughout Circus, her peak performance only occasionally comes through on tracks like “My Baby” and “Out from Under.”
The highlights: Shattered Glass, Womanizer, Unusual You.
The lowlights: Mannequin, Mmm Papi, Lace, and Leather
Britney’s arrival only two years after her first album unveils a drastically different performer. Spears had stopped following a formula. Instead, she had developed into a pop star years ahead of the pack, exploring genres that were not yet common in pop. The urban influence is what really defines Britney. Still, Martin is back and does a great job on Spears’ empowering anthem “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman.”
His album was an attempt to distinguish Spears from her contemporaries and cement her place in pop music annals. Her public antics, such as wearing a snake around her neck at the VMAs and matching denim outfits with her then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake at the American Music Awards, were indicative of this.
The highlights: Anticipating, I’m A Slave 4 U, I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman, Boys, Lonely, Overprotected.
The lowlights: When I Found You, I Love Rock N Roll, That’s Where You Take Me
4. Female Fatale
It was another comeback of sorts when her seventh album Femme Fatale was released three years after Circus. Despite having only three Top 10 singles in the US, Femme Fatale became even more successful than its predecessor. Thanks to the success of “Hold It Against Me,” which peaked at No. 1. Spears reunited with Martin for this album, and it sounds like she’s gunning for the pop crown once more.
Popular artists such as Kesha, Jennifer Lopez, and the Black-Eyed Peas helped spread electronic dance music (EDM) to a wider audience. Spears reworked it into her own style. The plot of Femme Fatale is daring and swift, never letting up on the gas.
The lead single, “Hold It Against Me,” bursts in with a pulsating beat, while “I Wanna Go” gets drunk with reckless abandon. In order to compete with intense EDM beats, Spears is not only experimenting with her vocal style but also going for it like never before.
The highlights: How I Roll, Trip to Your Heart, Till the World Ends, Hold It Against Me, and I Wanna Go.
The lowlights: Gasoline, Big Fat Bass
If you asked Britney Jean, she’d say Spears was no longer interested. Then, glory appeared. When Spears is truly on fire, as she is on the lead single “Make Me,” her presence is undeniable.
Spears’s late-night LP, Glory, is a slinky, dark showcase that sounds like it was written in the bedroom. However, her tenderness and natural charisma shone through as she experimented with new sounds with up-and-coming songwriters and producers like Mattman & Robin and Julia Michaels. It’s gorgeously produced, with experimental touches that work particularly well on the moody “Man on the Moon” and the simmering “Just Luv Me.” Without her previous albums’ electronic dance music (EDM) productions, she can let her personality shine. In particular, Spears’ enticing vocal performance on “Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortes)” is aided by the track’s airy production.
The highlights: Make Me…, Man on The Moon, Slumber Party, Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortes),
The lowlights: Clumsy, Private Show, What You Need
2. In the Zone
If you like pop music, you need to check out In The Zone. Thus, this should be mentioned alongside seminal pop records like “Ray of Light” by Madonna and “Fame Monster” by Lady Gaga. It’s an album meant to shock, released when Spears’ fame was at its height. She collaborated with Madonna on “Me Against the Music” (the two were caught making out at the Video Music Awards) and wrote “Toxic,” a song that became an instant classic.
For a pop star at the height of their popularity, it’s surprisingly personal. She creates a spine-tingling physicality in “Breathe on Me,” “Touch of My Hand,” and “Every time” in response to her breakup with Timberlake, respectively; “Every time” is a breathtaking showcase of vulnerability; and “Touch Of My Hand” is about masturbation. Whether it’s a love song or an anthem for moving on, Spears makes you feel like you’re right there with her. It’s a bold, ethereal pop album that left an indelible mark on her career and the entire pop music industry.
The highlights: Breath on Me, Touch of My Hand, Toxic, Everytime, Early Mornin’
The lowlights: Outrageous
In the Perez Hilton era, there was a macabre interest in the fall of a celebrity. In 2007, Spears’ popularity was on the rise, and it appeared that many people were enjoying watching her fall. One of the greatest pop stars appeared to be on the verge of imploding. The response from Spears was, “It’s Britney bitch.”
Yet, in hindsight, Blackout is getting the credit it deserves. Danja, writing for The Fader’s 10th-anniversary issue, credited Spears with pioneering the incorporation of urban-style 808s into pop music with the release of Blackout. For the new generation of alternative pop artists, from Kim Petras to Charli XCX, it served as an inspiration and a blueprint for their work.
That sort of forward-thinking is what happens when Spears is allowed complete creative control over her music. But unfortunately, this entire undertaking was based solely on gut feelings. Not much planning went into it.