Britney Spears’ Las Vegas show “Piece of Me” is currently running, but this pro has two decades in the business. While she is a tabloid fixture, Britney’s career has played a huge role in defining pop music.
We’re revisiting some of her most iconic and groundbreaking music videos that highlight not only her notorious celebrity but also her important role on the music industry.
“…Baby One More Time”
This music video introduced the world to 16-year-old Britney Spears–formerly a member of the Mickey Mouse Club–as the new Princess of Pop. With her school uniform on and pink pom-poms in her hair, Britney dances her way down a school hallway and into history with her youthful vocals, her dance moves and her never-ending supply of clear lip gloss.
At the time, we were meeting the future of pop music, the trends transitioning from 90s grunge rock to pretty pop.
“(You Drive Me) Crazy”
The third single and music video from Britney’s debut album solidified her status as a pop star. Remixed for the soundtrack of the high school film Drive Me Crazy, starring Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier, “Crazy” highlights Britney’s ability to play for her audience. Full of light effects, shiny costume changes and the return of her pom-pom ponytail hairstyle, this is when Britney started to learn what her fans wanted from her.
“Oops!…I Did It Again”
The highly anticipated second album from the Princess of Pop did not disappoint, as it became a huge success financially and critically. The album also gave us yet another iconic music video, featuring Britney in a red latex catsuit.
People everywhere are still trying master some of the dance moves from this video.
Britney goes dark with her “Stronger” music video, debuting a more grown-up look. Plus, can we talk about the chair dancing? Before that moment a lot of people just saw her as a pretty face and pleasant voice, but this proved she had a lot more talent than met the eye.
“I’m a Slave 4 U”
“I’m a Slave 4 U” is the most memorable single and music video from Spears’ Britney album and she sets the mood and standard for the other pop stars of the time. The music video features several memorable fashion choices, including her pink cloth bikini top and shredded jeans. The music video marks a major change in Britney’s career, as she introduced a sexier version of herself to fans.
Not only her dance moves but the music is more blatantly sexual than her past singles, featuring moans, pants and a more sultry vocal range from Britney. The music video and album makes the statement that Britney is her own woman who is just that—a grown woman.
Many songs are co-written by Spears and her coming music videos feature a more creatively in control Britney Spears. Britney introduces us to the new Britney, and “I’m a Slave 4 U” highlights her sexual awakening publically.
“Me Against the Music” ft. Madonna
In 2003, we meet yet another new Britney Spears and we are introduced with “Me Against the Music.” Britney is recovering from a very public break-up with Justin Timberlake and, instead of hiding, Britney embraces her romantically independent self. The music video has Britney in her sexy suit and tie dancing in a maze as she searches for Madonna.
The speed Britney sings at shows a vocal maturity that was heard throughout her album, In the Zone, and the music video shows that she’s growing more confident in her sexuality. The music video is a key moment in Britney’s career because of Madonna whose presence shows her respect for Britney.
A single from her In The Zone album, “Everytime” is one of Britney’s darkest videos. The song, rumored to be about her breakup with Justin Timberlake, was co-written by Britney Spears and deals with some heavy lyrical emotions.
She writes of her dark emotions, including failing as a person, feeling hopeless with her lover and dealing with the regret of ruining what seemed like a perfect relationship. The music video captures the madness Spears was surrounded by in 2003, post-Justin Timberlake.
The most eerie element of the music video is an unconscious Britney gurneyed out of her hotel with paparazzi shuttering away with their cameras–a situation Britney found herself in a few years later.
“Piece of Me”
After a period of what can be described as her “lost years,” Britney teams up with her original managers, who reintroduces her to the world with “Piece of Me.” Now a mother, her dance moves aren’t as fast and her outfits are less iconic, but we get a chance to see old Britney with the crop tops, glitter and back up dancers dancing in a bathroom.
A single from a mess of an album, “Piece of Me” gives fans their Britney back. This music video is more important to Britney herself than to fans as it shows her return to a healthier lifestyle.
What could have been a raw and real song about the circus she lived in for a few years, “Circus” instead is a light pop song about being a pop star. The music video is great because we begin to see more of a classic Britney with her glamorous costumes and elaborate set.
Her dancing, again, is not the same but her moves are perfection anyhow. The music video has live animals, sparks and fire effects. Introduced in a widely watched MTV documentary on her return, Britney reminds us why we fell in love with her.
While this music video is by no means her best video, it marks the Britney Spears of the future. As the years pass, her music videos become less iconic and the songs become more digitalized, but her desire to keep doing what she loves shows her strength. The entertainment industry chewed her up, sexually shamed her (thanks to a certain ex-boyfriend who revealed when she lost her virginity), almost killed her and she’s still here.
If this video does anything, it highlights that Britney Spears isn’t going to let anyone destroy her. You better work, bitch!