Friday, November 06, 2009

Britney Spears: The Singles Collection

Britney Spears' Singles Collection arrived in stores Tuesday. I've never been one to be interested in compilations as I think their pointless considering iTunes playlists work as a more efficient and cheaper alternative, however I've always been one to roll over every time Spears snaps her fingers. The new collection is the second in Spears' discography, following 2004's My Prerogative: Greatest Hits, which featured three new tracks--the singles "Do Somethin'," and the cover of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" both becoming top 5 hits in the UK and electronic studded "I've Just Begun (Having My Fun)" which I've never been too fond of. It's a bit odd she's releasing another compilation only after two albums. Unlike her previous compilation, the tracklisting is sequenced according to the order of release and only features one new track, her third US #1, "3." Here's a closer look at the singles:

1. ...Baby One More Time (US #1, UK #1)

Her first single still remains her most paramount piece. Produced by Max Martin who had previously stuck gold upon the teen-pop genre with the likes of N'Sync and Backstreet Boys, "...Baby One More Time," quickly solidified Britney as a household name, According to Wikipedia, topping charts in almost every country in charted in, establishing the song as one of the most successful debuts ever. It was the biggest selling single of 1999 in the UK going 2x platinum, selling a sturdy 1.5 million copies. You couldn't have asked for a better debut.

2. Sometimes (UK #3, US #21)

Britney's more slower, frothy second single wasn't as big of a hit as her first, although still successful as it reached the top 5 in most countries it charted in, save for the US, which found the single charting at a disappointing #21 due to delays with the physical single, however the single became another platinum seller in the UK.

3. (You Drive Me) Crazy [The Stop! Mix] (UK #5, US #10)

"(You Drive Me) Crazy" was a brief return to prominence on the charts for Britney, the single scored Spears her second top 10 in the US and third top 5 in the UK. The single itself proved Spears to be the ultimate pop powerhouse of her time; crashing basslines, solid vocals and booming chorus, "Crazy" is an undeniable stomper and possibly among the best singles in her discography.

4. Born to Make You Happy (UK #1)

Despite not being released in the United States and only selected regions in Europe, which technically means it wasn't a single in the US, "Born to Make You Happy" is still being included on the original tracklisting. One might wonder why "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart," isn't included--it was single in the US but not in any other country. The single joined a string of slick frothy pop songs, which easily became Spears' forte--not as energetic as "Crazy" but no less brilliant, backed with strings, soaring background vocals, drums and a knockout chorus. Born to make (me) happy indeed. The single earned Spears her second #1 in the UK, also becoming the first #1 of the decade in the process, not too shabby for a fourth single.

5. Oops! I Did it Again (UK #1, US #9)

Shortly after everyone and their mother had a copy of ...Baby One More Time Britney quickly released "Oops! I Did it Again" to promote her second album Oops!... I Did it Again and to keep the momentum going--that title would be used to mock her eventual breakdown 7 years later. Not wanting to mess with the formula "Oops!" pretty much acquired the same pop froth blueprint as "...Baby" and whether you think that was cheap or consistent in either case it became yet another hit for her, nabbing her third #1 in the UK and third top 10 in the US reaching #9, according to Wikipedia this was mainly due another physical delay--I learned this was done to boost album sales, so it would be important to mention that Oops!... I Did it Again still holds the title for fastest selling female album in the US, selling a mass of 1.3 million copies in its first week.

6. Stronger (UK #5, US #11)

Narrowly missing out on a fourth top 10 for the singer was follow-up single "Stronger" a statement of self-proclamation as she references her first single: "My loneliness ain't killing me no more." This was Spears' first single to acquire a slightly more aggressive tone--a far cry from "Born to Make You Happy." The single scored Spears yet another top 5 in the UK, peaking at #5. Whilst I was never too in love with the song, I've always loved the video.

7. I'm a Slave 4 U (UK #4, US #27)

If your a fan like me, you've noticed so far two singles have been left off the album "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart" and "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know," which had some success in the UK, peaking at #12. Late 2001 and Britney has a adopted a more sultry sound and a sexier image and capitalizing on the transformation was "I'm a Slave 4 U" the lead single from her third self-titled album Britney which was her first album feature little involvement from Max Martin to make slight distance from her poppy roots which would explain why "Slave" acquired such a urban-doped, seductive sultry sound thanks to the Neptunes. Although Spears' was at her ultimate celebrity peak at this time the single still managed to under perform in the US, only reaching #27, the first in a string of under performing singles from this era, however in the UK the single became a seventh top 5.

8. I'm Not Girl, Not Yet A Woman (UK #4, US #102)

No "Overprotected"? Strange. Capitalizing on the bridge between her morph from a teenage girl to a woman was piano and string laced ballad "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman," released to promote her first film Crossroads (2002). I've always loved this, it's such a fine ballad--a bit unorthodox title but it doesn't detract from its meaning. Whilst a hit in the UK its chart performance in the US was abysmal becoming her second to miss the Hot 100 completely possibly why this isn't included on the US version of this compilation. Apparently around this time Britney was being blacklisted by pop radio, can anyone confirm this?

9. Boys (Co-Ed Remix) (UK #7, US #122)

Released to promote the Austin Power's Goldmember soundtrack was "Boys (Co-Ed Remix)" featuring Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes. Fashioning a sultry combination of strings, drums, horns and whiserpy vocals, I liked "Boys" a lot. The song earned Spears an 11th top 10 in the UK, whilst proving another flop in the US.

10. Me Against the Music (UK #2, US #35)

After a year long break, Britney returned to the music scene with "Me Against the Music," an underappreciated collaboration with Madonna, promoting her fourth album In the Zone, the best album of her career. The slightly urban flavored, string ridden single earned Spears a 9th top 5 in the UK as well as her highest charting since "Oops! I Did it Again." In the US the single proved to be a decent hit, reaching the top 40 the first time she'd done that since "I'm a Slave 4 U" and also topping the Hot Club Dance Play tally.

11. Toxic (UK #1, US #9)

The following year Britney released "Toxic," possibly the biggest song of her career, following "Baby One More Time," the song made Spears relevant to the changing faces of the music industry and went on to become among the most iconic pop songs of the decade. It's not my favorite Britney single, but knowing what it did for her career always amazes me. The song gave Spears her fourth #1 in the UK, debuting ahead of Kylie Minogue's "Red Blooded Woman," whom the song had been intended for, ironic huh? In the US the song peaked at #9 scoring Spears' first top 10 in over 4 years. The song also won Spears her first Grammy for Best Dance Recording. Bond-theme pop with string, violins, poignant bassline and a catchy chorus "Toxic" is pop perfection.

12. Everytime (UK #1, US #15)

The last commercial single released from In the Zone was "Everytime," a deep heartfelt ballad finding Spears at her most vulnerable as she pours her heart out in falsetto. The song because Spears' fifth and last UK #1 and her seventh top 20 in the US. It would be the last single Spears would release for a lengthy 5 years as her personal life took a turn for the worst.

13. Gimme More (UK #2, US #3)

After a series of unfortunate events which shadowed Britney's music career throughout 2005 to 2007. An unstable Spears returned to the music scene a wounded puppy, it seemed the glittering blond-haired pop star we knew was no longer. Capitalizing on the dark times in her life, Spears released Blackout an ode to blocking out negativity, which would explain why the album lacked any depth and is the darkest album in discography. Lead single "Gimme More," pulses with synth lines and bold vocals as Spears' stepped in the electronic age of music. With no promotion (apart from that dreadful performance at the 2007 VMA's) the single was a sizable success, scoring a fourteenth top 5 in the UK and a second top 5 in the US, becoming her highest charting since since her first.

14. Piece of Me (UK #2, US #18)

Positive reviews flooded in for "Piece of Me," which earned Spears a fifteenth top 5 in the UK and ninth top 20 in the US, but Spears personal life had hit rock bottom as she was ridden off into a Physiatric Ward, leaving little hope that a recovery was actually just around the corner.

15. Womanizer (US #1, UK #3)

After four and a bit years of personal traumas, a healthy Britney returned to prominence with her ultimate comeback single "Womanizer," an electronic studded club stomper that earned the singer her first US #1 in over 8 years. Her sixth album Circus also proved a success for the singer selling half a million copies in its first week and with her fifth tour on the rise, Britney was indeed back.

16. Circus (US #3, UK #13)

Continuing her comeback trail was urban flavored the second single taken from Circus--proving yet another success becoming her first single to debut inside the US top 5, although becoming the first time her second single from an album had narrowly missed the top 10 in the UK.

17. If U Seek Amy (US #19, UK #20)

Whilst on tour Britney released the controversial "If U Seek Amy" going into its meaning is irrelevant right now. A romping pop strut that kept the ball rolling on her comeback trail although it didn't have the chart success of the previous 2 singles.

18. Radar (US #88, UK #46)

Last on the compilation disc is "Radar" originally released on Blackout but re-released as a bonus track on Circus and released as fourth single and with no promotion it flopped hard but with such a successful tour going on at the same time, did it really matter? But with "Radar" out of the way, it feels so good to say Britney's last #1 in the US was only a couple weeks ago.


Paul said...

Frankly it's unforgiveable that there is no Overprotected!! I had no idea that she had performed so poorly on the US Singles charts yet so successfully there of late! How bizarre!

ww_adh said...

The apparent "poor" performance of Britney's singles was really a fluke of the Hot 100 during the first half of this decade. Since no one was buying singles anymore, and digital singles had yet to arrive, her songs that weren't released as singles charted only on their airplay, with the tracks released to radio and video for promotional purposes. Thus songs like "Sometimes," "Oops," and "Toxic" charted lower than they would have had they been available for sale. That's why she appears to do better now--"Womanizer," "Cirus," and "3," all having been available for purchase, charted well.

Paul said...

well i wasn't having a go at her poor performances, i just always thought they charted a lot higher than most of them did! Thanks for clearing it up! Obviously her albums sales reflect the public appetite for her music!!