Britney Spears mastered the music video at the very start of her career when she strutted down a high school hallway in pigtails and a slinky school uniform. She spent the next few decades playing in a league of her own, producing some of the most iconic visuals in pop history. Now that she’s inching back into releasing music again, we can hold out hope for more videos in the future.
In celebration of Spears’ birthday today (Dec. 2) and her return to the music industry, we look back at the best and brightest of her past video efforts. From “Womanizer” to “Toxic,” here are 10 iconic music videos from Britney Spears.
The video for “Womanizer” is a sort of “Toxic” 2.0. Spears seemed to subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, using a heavy amount of CGI and costume changes in the same fashion she did in the earlier video. It worked like a charm despite being a little repetitive. This video along with “Circus” helped to reignite Spears’ career in the mid-’00s.
“Circus” ushered in a rebirth for Spears’ career in 2008. The music video covers all the typical Spears talking points: heavy choreo, glitzy costumes and a crowded house party. There’s only two types of people in the world / The ones that entertain, and the ones that observe, she sings in the song’s opener. In this video, Spears is undoubtedly the former.
8. “(You Drive Me) Crazy”
“(You Drive Me) Crazy” is often overshadowed by “Baby…One More Time” and “Oops!…I Did It Again,” but it’s every bit as good. This video truly showcased Spears’ dancing chops for the first time. It’s innocent. It’s cute. It’s fun.
7. “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman”
Written for Spears’ film Crossroads, “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman” is one of the pop phenom’s strongest ballads. The video for the song is unique, too. The visual is striking with the singer donning cowboy boots and standing on mountains in Arizona.
While a lot of Spears’ videos tend to lean towards amped-up performance pieces, she does have a few emotionally-driven visuals. The video for “Lucky” is one such visual where Spears plays an actress who struggles with fame. She sings, She’s so lucky, she’s a star / But she cry, cry, cries in her lonely heart, thinking.
5. “Oops!…I Did It Again”
What do a red leather bodysuit, a trip to Mars, and references to Titanic have in common? Almost nothing, but they work together seamlessly in Spears’ “Oops!…I Did It Again” video. It’s one of Spears’ most recognizable videos and 00’s pop perfection.
4. “Me Against the Music”
Britney and Madonna? It doesn’t get much better than that when it comes to pop royalty. Second only to their kiss at the 2003 MTV VMAs, the music video for “Me Against the Music” is what comes to mind when you mention these two once-in-a-generation artists in the same sentence.
3. “I’m A Slave 4 U”
“I’m a Slave 4 U” was Spears’ coming-of-age moment. Unlike “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman” (taken from the same album) which saw Spears tread the middle ground, this track took sides. A 19-year-old Spears was moving into full-blown womanhood. For anyone who wasn’t sure about that fact, the accompanying music video – snakes and all – cleared it up quite quickly. It received its fair share of controversy at the time, but “I’m A Slave 4 U” is one of Spears’ most iconic videos.
2. “…Baby One More Time”
You know you’ve made something iconic when decades later people are still dressing up like you for Halloween or busting out your choreography. The video for “…Baby One More Time” set Spears on her path to superstardom. For the very first glimpses of Spears in a slinky school uniform, it was love at first sight for many a teen in 1998.
“Toxic” had to take the number one spot on this list. Her most recognizable video, the fever dream of a plot sees Spears play a secret agent out for revenge against her ex. In her pursuit, she goes undercover as a flight attendant, rides on the back of a motorcycle in Paris and waltzes away from an explosion. It’s a tour de force.
Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic