Britney Spears has recorded some of pop music’s most enduring hits, but for every “Toxic” or “Oops!…I Did It Again,” there are just as many of her songs that don’t see an official release. Thanks to the internet, many of those unreleased tracks have managed to surface in various stages of completion, and, unsurprisingly, several of them could have been potential hits of their own.
From the brooding “Rebellion,” which retains a mystique amongst fans still hungry for the full release to the optimistic “Everyday,” there’s a treasure trove of music that leaked in between official singles. I’ve rounded up 10 of her best unreleased tracks (excluding snippets, sorry “Rebellion” fans) from over the years. Brace yourself for slayage and check them out below.
10. “Luv The Hurt Away”
“Baby One More Time” introduced the world to the pop princess in training. However, the bulk of her debut album was influenced by soulful R&B as much as it was driven by bubblegum pop. That’s evident on the Full Force-assisted ballad “Luv The Hurt Away” that just missed the LP’s tracklist. Singing to a lover who has numbed the pain of a broken heart, the then 17-year-old delivered serious vocals and tackled the song’s mature subject matter with ease.
9. “When U Gon’ Pull It”
Blackout arguably remains one of the most controversial but influential releases in recent pop history. In fact, it was such a strong project that many promising songs were left on the cutting room floor including this raunchy bop. “You’ve got my legs and my head in the same direction,” she frantically groans to a capable lover on the track. It may not have be as immediate a hit as “Get Naked (I’ve Got A Plan),” which ultimately became the album’s slutty anthem, but “When U Gon’ Pull It” probably deserved a spot on the tracklist nonetheless.
8. “Get It”
In 2004 Brit teamed up with production group DFA for an afternoon of experimentation. The result of their hours in the studio is an incomplete demo, but it provides a glimpse into the creative mind of one of pop’s most renowned acts. Over a glitchy production, she unleashes a series of impassioned ad-libbed runs and assertive belts. Her voice vibrates with confidence, and it’s clear that she’s feeling the track even in its unfinished state. If only the team could have had a bit more time to bring it all together, they would have had something truly magical to deliver.
7. “Look Who’s Talking Now”
After releasing “Cry Me A River” and talking about their sex life to every publication that would listen, Justin Timberlake controlled the narrative at the end of his relationship with Britney Spears. Although she would go on to release the apologetic ballad “Everytime,” she demands a moment to correct the story on the unreleased “Look Who’s Talking Now.” The track was later recorded by K-pop diva BoA for her debut English-language album, but it takes on a new meaning when heard through the pain of her broken heart. “Controversy is like a ticking time bomb,” she cryptically declares in the song. If only she’d known just how true that statement could be.
6. “Welcome To Me”
Choreographer Wade Robson was responsible for the seductive body rolls that made the “I’m A Slave 4 U” video what it was, but he and his dancing queen also hit the recording studio to pen some potential hits. One of their songs is the aural “Welcome To Me.” The track is one of the most sensual songs Britney Spears has ever recorded, as she welcomes a man into the depths of depravity. “Let’s get out of here because you know we’re gonna love tonight,” she coos on the chorus. Add in an extended break that features some atmospheric moans, and it’s very clear that the lovers are about to get down and dirty.
5. “Kiss You All Over”
It’s Miss Spears if you’re nasty. Another lost gem from the Blackout sessions, “Kiss You All Over” is almost a tribute to the stylings of Janet Jackson. Opening with a flirty declaration of intent, she uses her breathiest vocals to entice a lover with promises of a good time. There’s a lot to love on the track; from the thirsty lyrics to the racing production it’s a mystery why it wasn’t included on the release.
4. “Strangest Love”
Things get downright mystical over lush production on In The Zone hopeful, “Strangest Love.” Recorded as the starlet was entering the absolute peak of her career and weighed down by the requirements of her celebrity status, she sings of finding a lover who is a garden of peace in the chaos of daily life. With all of the demands on her voice and body, Britney finds respite in a relationship that’s so secure she doesn’t even feel the need to speak to make her feelings clear.
Brit’s last few albums have been billed as her most personal to date, but they tend to fall short of the hype upon release. So many of the most promising tracks get left behind as she continues to embrace her pristine pop roots and sex-forward lyricism over stark honesty. A leftover from the Circus era, “Everyday” is an undeniably optimistic moment and an example of what could have been. “Every day the sun comes up again. A little hope begins, and it starts with you ’cause you get me through,” she earnestly sings over an ethereal production. Her voice resonates with warmth, and it could easily be one of the best ballads from the second half of her career.
2. “Mona Lisa”
What happens when a pop princess goes rogue? It seems that she goes to a radio station to premiere an unfinished demo and announce a new album’s worth of material without her label’s consent. That’s exactly what Britney did in 2004. The song in question was “Mona Lisa,” and it told the story of a woman on the verge of breaking down. “She was taken under, drowning in her sea. Running like an angel, she was crying but could not see,” she practically growls before demanding a moment of silence in honor of the fallen idol. The cautionary tale seems almost prophetic now, and in the song’s raw state there was a power to her almost furious delivery. Although Team Spears eventually unveiled a version of the song, the final production transformed the barbed release into a toothless pop ditty that lost its central message under the polish of perfection.
1. “Let Go”
Behind the flashing cameras and drunken nights that characterized the “Gimme More”siren’s 2007, a threatening cloud loomed over her. After the heartbreak of a divorce and amidst an ongoing battle for custody of her children, she was on the brink of losing herself in the furor. Though they were some of her darkest days, they were also some of her most inspired musically as is evident on “Let Go.” The song offers a rare glimpse of hope for a better tomorrow over the sparse keys of a piano and a metronome. “Maybe everything will be alright, so let go. You gotta let go,” she sings, daring to believe that there is an end to the suffering ahead of her. There’s a youthful sense of faith that permeates the release and makes it one of the most magical tracks Spears has ever recorded.
This article was originally by: Idolator