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The Ultimate Guide to Britney Spears Music Videos

Updated on March 2, 2014
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Andrea loves to write on the zodiac, Myers Briggs, and texting. She is an expert on romance and relationships. She also has two cats.

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Britney Spears began her music career when she waltzed onto Star Search as a child. A few years later she teamed up with other later to be Hollywood sensations, like Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguliera for the Mickey Mouse Club. Britney Spears pop music career began with a splash with her first album "...Baby One More Time"

The following hub space is used to help explain why her videos stood out for their time, give some history, and help you to see why Britney Spears has been a pop sensation for more than ten years (most pop celebrities disappear entirely before reaching the five year mark.)

Britney's first big music video was her single:

"...Baby One More Time"


The famous music video came out in 1998 with Spears dressed as a schoolgirl with pigtails. The whole video is a snapshot of life in high school in the 90s. The track suit pants, gym class, the clunky shoes, ponytails, and not to mention random backflips and playing sports? Britney Spears was pretty much given the persona of sporty spice with blonde hair. Britney was hardly known at this time and instantly she clicked with a few different crowds, young girls who didn't see the overt undertones of the music video and guys who did. Spears was criticized for sexualizing the idea of the schoolgirl and for showing her midriff. The sexual tones were not like Blurred Lines; it was more the zeitgeist of 90s American high school. Obviously, later in Britney's career she becomes much more a sexual icon, but here I think it's actually pretty tame and fairly in line with a Disney like image or after school like image. The song would not survive today if it had appeared, and this song was the spark that began her career. It's one of the most representative artistic pieces of the 90s from the grainy lighting to the particular camera framing and camera focusing. "The video was ranked at number four on a list of the ten most controversial music videos in pop by AOL on September 29, 2011."

The hair... Britney didn't stay this kind of blonde for the media for long. Also, checkout the Baby Spice like hairdo when she wears the pink top and white pants combo. Clearly, she was being marketed toward a similar pop sensation that at the time was just beginning to wane, the Spice Girls. Not only that, but she was framed like an innocent, introspective schoolgirl. This was an excellent way to start her career at this age. Had she began her career as the sex icon she would later become, she may have never amassed fans. Also, what one does at 18 should be categorically different then at 32.


In 1999, Britney's music video for "Crazy" was released. There's a lot to be said of this video in how it relates to the time. For one thing, there is Sabrina the Teenage Witch in the video, and if you recall TGIF Britney appears on the family sitcom at one point. This video is similar to many N'Sync videos with the same kind of flashy clothing; many of you would know too that Britney and Justin Timberlake have a long friendship and even rivalry. The video fits well for its main market: teenagers. Britney starts in the video in the role of a typical teenage job -- waitressing. Her team of producers still have her in the she's the cool girl who might live next door to you and is probably the head cheerleader. It is the longest running video by a female artist on TRL, staying on the top ten for seventy-three days.

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Crossroads

In the 90s and early 2000s, Britney Spears' main competition was Christina Aguliera, Mandy Moore, and Jessica Simpson. Britney was portrayed, quite clearly seen in "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart" as a friendly, homey girl next door kind of midwesterner. Her clothes are not off putting, she actually looks pretty adorable with short hair in a hat. Keep in mind that the 90s were full of songs from Mariah Carey and Boys II Men; it was full of slow dance songs. Her entire first album screams high school. In this video she is seen playing football with a love interest. She's at home singing on the front porch -- this album was not meant for the type of audience that would later become Britney's.

Then came the "Oops!.... I Did It Again" album. Britney's first music video was a huge sensation playing off the Armageddon films that spotlit Hollywood. Britney goes to Mars, and she wears a red leather-pleather outfit, and she still shows off her midriff and does high choreography. The music still is cutsy in the background, and she definitely has some hair extensions reminiscent of the Star Trek aliens that worked against William Shatner decades ago. This music video had a greater deal of... lighting and camera focus. Whatever happened on Britney's first tour allowed her a better budget for overall quality. The album has sold 20 million copies to date, making it one of the highest selling albums of all time and Spears' second best selling album after "Baby One More Time."

The other music video from this album I would like to touch upon is "Lucky" the tale of a Hollywood girl having everything but not feeling fulfilled. This song features a girl named Lucky and Britney tells the story of her and the girl's misfortune. At this point in Britney's career, it is almost as though she is giving warning to the famous girl to find other avenues to find her happiness. This video is oddly prophetic and somewhat frightening considering the black holes Britney would later face in her career. Also, later on Britney's music videos would come less and less like narratives being told by Britney and rather a journal into the woman's life with paparazzi following, boyfriends that may only want her for money and her body, and other outlandish circumstances. "Lucky" is one of the last Britney Spears music videos of the teenage genre she launched her career with.

According to Wikipedia, a writer of Rolling Stone said that "Lucky" is best known for "being the first Spears video to focus on what would become a recurring theme: her conflicted relationship to fame."

The game changer for Britney Spears came with her third album "Britney." Spears and her producers were looking for a more mature audience and a more adult sound. She didn't completely jump to being a sex icon at this point, instead some of her songs on the third album still played off the idea of not quite being a woman not still being a girl, the rather odd in between state. Controversy started to build for her and the fans were somewhat upset with the suggestive material coming from her album. Meanwhile, her main rival Christina was having a lot dirtier of music videos and was facing the same lash from her fans. "I'm A Slave 4 U" definitely didn't have the high school like feel; instead it was trying to show off sexiness in every way possible. Lots of dancers, sweat, bright pink, and a location that seems underground... it's not like her first music video that comes off playful in a high school gym.

Near the end of the third album, Britney makes "Boys" which features none other than Austin Powers. The song plays off the famous Janet Jackson song "Nasty", this song may not have been big but it was obvious that Britney Spears was being used to sell the Austin Powers franchise, and was being portrayed like the vixens in those movies such as Heather Graham and Beyoncé -- keep in mind Beyoncé is the same age as Britney Spears, and Beyoncé just came out with "Crazy in Love." Pharrell Williams, one of the biggest producers in Hollywood, has a cameo appearance in this music video as well. Pharrell sings in both "Get Lucky" and "Lose Yourself to Dance" and also was alongside Robin Thicke for "Blurred Lines." Pharrell clearly is behind the scenes of many frontmen in the music industry.

But let us go back to Britney. In this video we see her playing off the idea of seduction, even the Garden of Eden with the forbidden fruit and random exotic animals, such as the zebra. This video shows off exclusion, power, and wealth, because... it does happen at a castle.

Source

Though Britney's last song was an anthem to boys, her first release off "In the Zone" is a play of two divas with some same sex overtones. Madonna was Britney Spears icon for a number of years before meeting her. The experience of collaborating with Madonna was surreal for her, and this music video and the VMA performance that went along with it in 2003 were big markers of her career. At this point, she had abandoned the teenage pop image she started with. Her album was a great deal about controversy, paparazzi, and sexual liberation.

Madonna and Britney act as though they are playing cat and mouse in this video directed by Paul Hunter. The rest of the people in the video seem to be unaware of how these two are communicating and running toward each other. It was a blending of different generations key diva spokeswomen. To say Madonna was over at this point is stupid as she has continued to sell new records, concerts, and has somehow gotten a younger look over the years. In many ways, this video shows an initiation process for Britney to be taken by the older diva practices and given a passing grade rather than be typecast for girl-next-door albums. The two are offset in different colors to show a sense of duality, a mixing of good and evil, and to contrast against each other to grab the audience's attention.

Then Britney's next video "Toxic" came with clear inspiration from the hit TV show, Alias.

Britney is no longer coy, she is downright being direct about her flirtatious advances in Toxic. She goes from costume to costume to hairstyle to hairstyle to defend... whatever it is she is defending. This video is similar to a later video "Womanizer" in that both use different disguises in order to overthrow men, as well both show more of Britney than perhaps necessary.

Toxic is another zeitgeist music video. Obviously, the country was intrigued by shows about spies. Alias with Jennifer Garner was a huge success, and the country was fresh from 9/11 therefore there was an intrigue about identity, evil, spies, and the like. We can tell by this point that Britney's life isn't so much about the suburban locales, rather most of her videos now take place in an urban life. Her videos are less about friendship, and more about seduction, personal interest, and fame.

After Janet Jackson's fiasco with the Super Bowl, Toxic was deemed too racy for daytime on MTV and the video was subsequently moved to nighttime programming.

Toxic was given high acclaim by both Rolling Stone and Pitchfork both calling Toxic as one of the best songs of the decade.

In 2002, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake ended their relationship of three years. Justin Timberlake famously put out "Cry Me a River" in response to the break up.

According to Britney Spears friend Artani, "Every time" was written in large part as a response to "Cry Me a River" as well as various radio interviews. Artani explained, "He was getting personal. Here, she had a different type of image, and he was really exposing some stuff that she probably didn't want out there, and in front of her little sister... I remember her sister being mortified and her being mortified. I'm sure that that really hurt her." [1]

The music video for Spears showed her being hounded by photographers and paparazzi and by the end she drowns herself in a bathtub from overdosing on prescription drugs. Spears received a great deal of criticism for the music video because it seemed to glorify suicide and that with such a large fan base, especially a young fan base that it could lead to drastic unfavorable actions by those viewers. Britney Spears felt the video more portrayed the idea of reincarnation, and that through the break up she experienced a death and by the end scene she was being transformed into a new self. It was much darker than her previous videos, and also didn't feature dancing, her hallmark talent.

The video portrays several religious connotations, especially since this video appeared around the time of The Passion of the Christ. Britney while in the tub wears a red string, a custom associated with Kabbalah Jews; it is a talisman to protect against the "evil eye" an ill-wishing look from others who are envious. It is meant to protect and ensure good luck. While Britney is in the tub, her hand bleeds in a way that is similar to stigmata, these are sores that are meant to indicate and replicate that of Christ's.

Spears is found in the last portion of the film to have her ghost wandering a hospital during her death scene and ends with her finding a newborn baby in the hospital.

"Dominic Fox commented, "Even in its bowdlerized form, the 'Everytime' video presents a moment of existential indecision, a fugue of suicidal ideation in which the singer fantasizes about her own death." Rolling Stone in their 2009 article "Britney Spears: The Complete Video Guide", called it "horribly prophetic and depressing" and added that the clip foreshadowed Spears's struggles with fame and mental instability during 2007 and 2008." [2]

Fastforward a few years and Britney has two kids, a divorce, a mental breakdown with her shaving her head... the paparazzi is eating her up and destroying her. They attacked her for her weight gain, reckless behavior, and various romantic relationships. Her next few albums would focus on the discontent she has with her relationship with the paparazzi and her struggle to manage this life, with her children, and her confused romances. Piece of Me intended to take a sarcastic view at this whole situation. She mocks the whole paparazzi image, and though this isn't considered her big comeback... she isn't exactly giving up either. In a landslide, Britney Spears ended up winning several VMA awards for Piece of Me which she admitted was strange because some of her earlier work was better. She received criticism for her video because it seemed as though there was too much digital alerting to make her look about ten years younger.

MTV held a contest where fans could make their own Piece of Me video by splicing together paparazzi footage of Britney Spears to the song. The winner of the contest was selected by Spears herself.

I'm baffled as to why Break the Ice didn't receive more media attention for its music video. It is one of her most groundbreaking and innovative, instead of her live self dancing and crusading through hungry photographers, her director made an artistic choice to make her into an anime. The narrative of the anime is interesting enough to me that more should have been made with it, like the Interstella 5555 phenomenon that Daft Punk had. Britney Spears' animated version is based off the Toxic persona.

The Britney Spears animated version breaks into a research facility where clones are made, particularly of pop stars being one of herself. This is interesting commentary on the capitalistic world, because if you could retain the kind of Britney that will continue to create massive amounts of revenue, don't you think corporations would do so? This video plays off the idea of liberating the self and taking such a creative idea, patent, copyright out of their hands. It is reminiscent of the Matrix series in trying to break free from the grid and "free your mind." This video plays off many of the stereotypical ideals that cartoons and video games use, even the "To Be Continued" tag at the end which supposedly was meant to connect to another video in the future. Which -- I wish they would play off this video or even make a series. It is compelling and sheds light onto Britney's life in a way that reveals the real truths about music business.

For the music video Circus, Spears chose Francis Lawrence, who previously worked with her on Im a Slave 4 U, since he was the "only person who could capture it, make it really twisted, eccentric and different" (Circus Bonus DVD, JIVE).

The video used live animals and PETA was concerned that they were used inhumanely, though there has been no proof of this or that there was any maltreatment practices. Besides PETA, Britney received favorable reviews for her music video. At this point, people are no longer questioning her girl versus woman status, they've grown to stop caring about her controversies, and they allow her to be seductive without questioning it. The Circus video is about entertainment. There are various entertainers throughout the background and foreground making it a video worth watching more than once in order to see all the hidden pieces. Britney is also at a point where she is advertising perfume, her videos also begin to rely on shots with jewelry. Though the video was up for several awards, it did not receive many in the slightest.


For Radar, Britney's music video director Larry Rudoplh wanted to make a tribute to Madonna's "Take a Bow" from 1994. Instead of the sex icon Britney had been portrayed as, he wanted to show a more classy side to her. The media was split on the departure from dance choreography, some feeling the video was too unoriginal while others commended the choice of putting Britney in more sophisticated clothes. The richness of the polo mansion came off extraordinarily elite, and as the audience we're only given so much emotion in the pull that Britney has for two different men. Honestly though, Britney does look amazing in this video and it is nice to put her in an angle that isn't oozed in sex.

In 2011, Britney Spears released her album Femme Fatale. Hold It Against Me was directed by Jonas Åkerlund, someone Britney had wanted to work with for ages after seeing his work with Madonna on "Ray of Light." But due to schedule conflicts this couldn't be worked out for years. The video is about the rise, fall, and revival of Britney, how she quickly came to fame in the late 90s, her stark downfall with paparazzi in the 2000s, to her comeback with a stronger more alluring career than ever. Interspersed in the video are old music videos that Britney did. She eventually fights her own inner demons in a fight scene choreographed by Steven Ho. Some people early on had mistakenly thought that a stunt double was hired for Britney in the dance scenes rather than as her fighting double. There was a great deal of visuals mixed into the pot including a reference to Rocky Horror Picture Show with the red lips that talk to the camera. This was one of Britney's more heavily product placement videos, she ended up receiving money from Sony for all the flat screen TVs as well as money for PlentyofFish for having the website featured.

According to Britney's dance choreographer Brian Fieldman, the dancing was difficult, but "We're playing it safe, we're not trying to kill ourselves yet, but as the video comes closer and closer, we'll definitely be hurting our backs. There was a moment while we were rehearsing where I showed Britney a section and it was something I really wanted her to do, and she freaked out. ... It's crazy when you first see something like that, how overwhelming it can be, especially when you haven't been in the [dance] studio for a year. [...] I think you can expect the unexpected from Britney. She is taking risks when it comes to fashion, when it comes to choreography, when it comes to this music — she's grown up so much, and she's pushing 30 years old soon, so she's a strong independent woman and I think she wants to show that."

—Brian Friedman talking to MTV about the music video.

After years of paparazzi, Britney's director for I Wanna Go decided instead of just making a statement, her video should confront the paparazzi head on. Spears in the past had worked on How I Met Your Mother and SNL and the director for I Wanna Go felt that her comedic timing and acting abilities were not being taken to its fullest. There's somewhat of a comedic interlude to this video, not to mention some of the hilarious actions Britney takes throughout the video. In fact, I would love to see Britney switch gears and go into acting. She's had enough experience with music that I think she could make the transition smoothly and has a sense about her and the way she portrays herself that the audience adores. There's references throughout to Britney's career, from her wearing a crop top of Mickey in pledge to her Mickey Mouse days and the easter egg of the movie sign with "Crossroads" a movie she did in 2002. The cyborg at the end is meant to play off both The Terminator and the end of Michael Jackson's Thriller where he turns to the screen with a red eyed glaze.

Before Michael Jackson died, he did end up singing live with Britney in her younger years.

Guess who got to collaborate with Britney Spears? Will.i.am did work on Britney's Femme Fatale album before the collaboration, which is probably what inspired their massive hit music video. The two instantly became friends, in fact she might compliment him better than Fergie. For Scream & Shout a sample of Britney's Gimme More "It's Britney, bitch" was used. Britney for whatever reason uses her British accent in this video. Many people compared her fashion style in this video to Brigette Bardot and Barbarella. Scream & Shout was a huge hit, and the video was fairly simplistic. The idea is mostly about multiplicity, which makes sense considering music often plays off the idea of multiplicity and the arrangement of what happens when various sounds occur at the same time. Amy Sciaretto of Pop Crush compared Spears' look on the video to a "sexy, futuristic librarian."

And now to end with Britney's latest music video. This song is of course a gem because Britney had help from none other than Sia Furler, one of the best music writers in the business who has some of the best singing chops. The song is more about Britney's singing voice and softer side, which is something that honestly hasn't been done for ages. Spears described the song as "incredibly special to me because it hits close to home, and I think the story is relatable to everyone. Everyone's been through an insecure moment in a relationship that's left them vulnerable and I think this song captures that." The song is about her breakup with Jason Trawick, who worked alongside her for ages, even making an appearance in Criminal. The two ended up separating due to Jason feeling he was losing his own identity and uncertainty about adding more children to Britney's already 2.


Of course, this does act as another placement for Britney's perfume line.

Britney Spears Music Videos

Title
Director
Album
Year
"...Baby One More Time"
Nigel Dick
"...Baby One More Time"
1998
"Sometimes"
Nigel Dick
"...Baby One More Time"
1999
"(You Drive Me) Crazy"
Nigel Dick
"...Baby One More Time"
1999
"Born to Make You Happy"
Bille Woodruff
"...Baby One More Time"
1999
"From the Bottom of my Broken Heart"
Gregory Dark
"...Baby One More Time"
1999
"Oops!.... I Did it Again"
Nigel Dick
"Oops!.... I Did It Again"
2000
"Lucky"
Dave Meyers
""Oops!.... I Did It Again"
2000
"Stronger"
Joseph Kahn
"Oops!.... I Did It Again"
2000
"Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know"
Herb Ritts
"Oops!.... I Did It Again"
2001
"I'm a Slave 4 U"
Francis Lawrence
"Britney"
2001
"Overprotected"
Bille Woodruff
"Britney"
2001
"I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman"
Wayne Isham
"Britney"
2002
"Overprotected - The Darkchild Remix"
Chris Applebaum
"Britney"
2002
"I Love Rock 'n' Roll"
Chris Applebaum
"Britney"
2002
"Anticipating"
Marty Callner
"Britney"
2002
"Boys (The Co-Ed Remix)
Dave Meyers
"Britney"
2002
"Me Against the Music"
Paul Hunter
"In the Zone"
2003
"Toxic"
Joseph Kahn
"In the Zone"
2004
"Everytime"
David LaChapelle
"In the Zone"
2004
"Outrageous"
Dave Meyers
"In the Zone"
2004
"My Prerogative"
Jake Nava
"Greatest Hits: My Prerogative"
2004
"Do Somethin"
Bille Woodruff; Mona Lisa
"Greatest Hits: My Prerogative"
2005
"Someday (I Will Understand)"
Michael Haussman
"Britney & Kevin: Chaotic"
2005
"Gimme More"
Jake Sarfaty
"Blackout"
2007
"Piece of Me"
Wayne Isham
"Blackout"
2007
"Break the Ice"
Robert Hales
"Blackout"
2008
"Womanizer"
Joseph Kahn
"Circus"
2008
"Circus"
Francis Lawrence
"Circus"
2008
"If U Seek Amy"
Jake Nava
"Circus"
2009
"Radar"
Dave Meyers
"Circus"
2009
"3"
Diane Martel
"The Singles Collection"
2009
"Hold It Against Me"
Jonas Akerlund
"Femme Fatale"
2011
"Till the World Ends"
Ray Kay
"Femme Fatale"
2011
"I Wanna Go"
Chris Marrs Piliero
"Femme Fatale"
2011
"Criminal"
Chris Marrs Piliero
"Femme Fatale"
2011
"Scream & Shout"
Ben Mor
#willpower
2012
"Ooh La La"
Marc Klasfeld
"The Smurfs 2"
2013
'Work Bitch"
Ben Mor
"Britney Jean"
2013
"Perfume"
Joseph Kahn
"Britney Jean"
2013

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    • brittpinkie profile image

      Brittany Doherty 2 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      This was cool! I used to be such a big Britney Spears fan back in the day. Though I haven't followed much of her newest videos!

    • profile image

      Mark 2 years ago

      Great goods from you, man. I've understand your stuff poevirus to and you're just extremely excellent. I really like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you're saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it wise. I can't wait to read much more from you. This is actually a great site.

    • profile image

      Marylouise 2 years ago

      It's spooky how clever some ppl are. Thnaks!

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