The Five Best Britney Spears Songs You Probably Don't Know
By John Mitchell Posted Mar 29th 2011 08:50AM
Critics are loving Spears' latest set, with Rolling Stone giving it four stars and Entertainment Weekly saying in its B+ review, "The album is a ballad-free, treadmill-ready playlist of tireless dance beats and top-shelf production." In honor of Britney's big day, we thought we'd take a little time to introduce those less familiar with Kentwood, Louisiana's most famous export to some essential Spears. We're not talking singles, kids. When it comes to Brit, we're not exactly amateurs, so we dove deep into her catalog to bring you her five best non-single album tracks. Without further ado, here is PopEater's guide to the Five Best Britney Spears Songs You Probably Don't Know.
1. 'Breathe on Me,' 'In the Zone'
It was a tight race for the top spot, but as with all things Britney, a dance jam ultimately ruled the day. 'In the Zone' marked a major transition for Spears. If she was 'Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman' on her previous set, 'Britney,' Spears made the transition (and then some!) for 'Zone.' She's never been sexier than she is on the Mark Taylor-produced 'Breathe on Me.' With its swirling beats and pounding bass, 'Breathe' is the type of song we can imagine ourselves sweating to under the hot lights of the dance floor deep into the night. The track -- which begins with the lines "Ooooo, it's so hot and I need some air / And boy, don't stop cause I'm half-way there" -- and several others on 'Zone' were game-changers for Spears, who finally seemed ready to drop the winks and playful nudges and let the world see that she was all grown up ... and ready to party!
2. 'Unusual You,' 'Circus'
Spears has rarely acknowledged the private turmoil that plagued her for years and culminated in a brief stay in a psychiatric facility in early 2008. But in the lyrics to her moody, beautiful Euro electro-ballad 'Unusual You,' she does allude to those dark times, singing, "Did so many things when I was someone else / Boxer in the ring trying to defend myself." Simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful, the track arguably features the most compelling lyrics of any Spears song, and you can tell from her delivery that she means every word. Why the best song on Spears' "comeback" album wasn't a single boggles our minds to this day.
3. 'Heaven on Earth,' 'Blackout'
We're not the only ones who think 'Heaven on Earth' is the best track on Spears' best album. Asked by Ryan Seacrest during a promotional interview, the singer told the 'American Idol' host it was her favorite song on 'Blackout.' "It's a cool track," she said. "It's like, I love the producers who did that and it's kind of different from all the other songs." A synth-heavy dance tune with a pulsating electro beat and catchy chorus -- "Fell in love with you and everything that you are / Nothing I can do I'm really crazy about you / When you're next to me it's just like heaven on earth / Tell me that I'll always be the one that you want / Don't know what I'd do if I ever loose you / Look at you and what I see is heaven on earth" -- delivered in a breathy, sexy cadence reminiscent of early Britney, 'Heaven on Earth' was co-produced by former 'American Idol' judge Kara DioGuardi.
4. 'Early Mornin,'' 'In The Zone'
Exhausted after making it home at dawn, Spears recounts "getting a little messy" but lets us know she's ready to "do it again" on this dark 'In the Zone' jam. Without the four-on-the-floor urgency of the other dance tracks on 'Zone,' 'Early Mornin'' is a slow-burn with a laid back pop groove. In short: It's the dirty little sister of 'Breathe on Me,' which is saying something. Something good!
5. 'Toy Soldier,' 'Blackout'
After her tumultuous marriage to Kevin Federline, Britney was ready for a real man. Not one of those "toy soldiers"; no, she "was simply sick and tired of those." The track's lyrics seemed to be directed right at Federline, with Spear's taunting "bet he gonna wish he knew the type of fun I'm getting into" and "This time I need a soldier, a really bad-ass soldier / That knows how to take, take care of me / I'm so damn glad that's over." Bloodshy & Avant, the Swedish team behind many of Spears' best songs ('Toxic,' 'Piece of Me,' 'Unusual You') produced 'Soldier' alongside Sean Garrett, the mega-producer with 15 No. 1 singles from artists like Beyonce, Usher and Ciara under his belt. Spears and her producers hit the theme home with a drill team breakdown and in-step vocals.
BONUS: 'Do Somethin,'' 'Greatest Hits: My Prerogative'
We know what you're thinking -- "This was a single, I totally know this song." And you're half right. 'Do Somethin,'' yet another collaboration with Bloodshy & Avant, was released as a single in many countries outside of the United States, but the track and its bubblegum video, which featured Spears riding a car on clouds and hitting the club, was not intended for American audiences. Though it never received an official release here, 'Do Somethin'' charted on many of Billboard's component charts in 2005 because of digital download sales and even cracked the Hot 100.
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