My favorite Britney Spears karaoke song is "Till the World Ends." But this is not about me.
This is about the ultimate Britney Spears karaoke power rankings. The single most definitive, conclusive and indisputable Britney Spears karaoke power rankings of all time, until someone else makes another ultimate Britney Spears karaoke power rankings.
Why are Britney karaoke power rankings essential? If you aren't singing karaoke to Britney Spears — especially now, with her much-anticipated memoir "The Woman in Me" finally in print — what are you singing karaoke to?
Britney karaoke about confidence: confidence in your skin, confidence in your desirability and confidence in your moves (even if you need that extra shot of liquid confidence). Britney karaoke is less about vocal runs and more about repeated syllables (gimme more m-m-m-m-m-more and d-d-dance till the world ends) and lines that don't always make logical sense (it's not rational, it's physical.)
Yes, Britney karaoke is mostly a frivolous, gyrating nightclub fantasy, but an accessible and uplifting one. You don't need any of the Beyoncé otherworldliness, Rihanna fearlessness or Taylor Swiftvulnerability to pull off Britney karaoke. You just need to master the nasal coo-ing and be a little chaotic.
Let's review the methodology developed with our previous ultimate karaoke rankings: First, there's a difference between a good song and a good karaoke song. In karaoke, the best karaoke songs are recognizable to a diverse crowd. You have to consider your audience and the song's nostalgia factor.
Because of this, the top 23 Britney Spears karaoke songs were chosen by considering which ones were popular on karaoke apps (such as Karafun and Singa), online and over-the-air music services (as measured by Billboard, Spotify and Pandora), and fans' "Best Britney Spears karaoke songs" lists, either published online or told to us anecdotally.
Once the top songs were chosen, we turned to music analysts Hannah Glass and Lisa Light from Pandora's Music Genome Project. Glass, in addition to contributing data to previous karaoke rankings, helped The Times create the ultimate karaoke song generator by sorting our selections by mood, time period and vocal range.
One axis of these power rankings measures how challenging the song is to sing, based on Pandora's metrics for vocal technical demands. The other axis measures how fun the song is to sing. (Note that the scale goes from fun to super fun. We don't make power rankings for karaoke songs that aren't fun.)
Sing whatever you want in karaoke. But here are Britney Spears' 23 unarguably best karaoke songs, ranked.
One of the first hits that she co-wrote, "Everytime" is for the fans who grew up with Britney Spears. It felt like a rare glimpse into her soul, which was sometimes lost amid a sea of empowering dance tracks and glittering pop packages. Released in the aftermath of her well-publicized breakup with Justin Timberlake, it also felt like a quiet response to Timberlake's vengeful "Cry Me a River." This one's for when you feel like crumbling into your insecure teenage self and emoting breathily about how it feels like every time you try to fly, you fall.
Super fun scale: 2
Best karaoke lines:"I may have made it rain / Please, forgive me / My weakness caused you pain / And this song's my sorry"
22. 'Work Bitch'
This is the song for people who want to talk through a karaoke performance with their best English accent. "There's lots of room for attitude," Glass said, but the chorus adds some difficulty with the high notes and high jumps. This song was also co-written by Spears, and it can be read two ways: She's not only rallying her followers to bring their A-game, but she's also standing up to her haters. Whether she was delivering No. 1 hits or nailing elaborate dance routines, she knew how to work. "The best part of this song is the bass drop, which you can only karaoke by headbanging," Glass added.
Super fun scale:4
Best karaoke lines: "You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? / You want a Maserati? You better work, bitch"
21. 'I Wanna Go'
This fast-tempo dance track is about having the freedom to explore the freak and the dirt without shame or judgment. It's a teaching moment: a lesson that when there's pressure building up internally, whether inside a volcano or inside your heart, you need a release so you don't erupt. It also has the repeated consonant syllables that Britney tracks are known for. "I, I, I wanna go-o-o all the way-ay-ay." Chef's kiss.
Super fun scale: 4
Best karaoke lines:"'I, I, I wanna show-ow-ow / All the dir-irt-irt / I got running through my mind"
For those who grew up in the '90s, this ballad represented the tension between your good-schoolgirl identity and your burgeoning desire to get your bellybutton pierced and wear scandalously low-rise jeans. This nostalgic song is in the mezzo-soprano range and has slow, approachable tempos, Light said. But she warns that it changes keys twice, which provides a challenge.
Super fun scale: 5
Best karaoke lines:"I've seen so much more than you know now / So don't tell me to shut my eyes"
19. 'Piece of Me'
This song is for those who want to tell a story during their karaoke performance. This is Spears' story: how it escalated from what we thought was innocent fun ("I'm Miss American Dream since I was 17 / Don't matter if I step on the scene / Or sneak away to the Philippines / They still gon' put pictures of my derriere in the magazine") to something more abusive ("I'm Mrs. 'You want a piece of me?' / Tryin' and pissin' me off / Well get in line with the paparazzi / Who's flippin' me off / Hopin' I'll resort to startin' havoc / And end up settlin' in court / Now are you sure you want a piece of me?") On the surface, it seems easy, breezy and monotone, but below, there's a darker, more aggressive undertone. One could call it a sequel to "the story of a girl named Lucky."
Super fun scale: 5
Best karaoke lines: "I'm Miss Bad Media Karma / Another day another drama / Guess I can't see no harm / In working and being a mama"
This guitar-and-synth ballad is an easier karaoke pick because of its slow tempo, Light said. Choose it for a moody night when you're ready to throw your hands in the air and admit you have questionable priorities and decision-making skills. On one hand, this ballad is a risqué fantasy about falling for the bad boy. But sung sincerely, there's emotional resonance: She's also apologizing to her crying mother for the danger she's putting herself in because she's in love with this bum, bum, bum, bum.
Super fun scale: 6
Best karaoke lines:"' Oh-oh, I know, oh, should've let go, but no / 'Cause he's a bad boy with a tainted heart / And even I know this ain't smart"
This suggestive song may not be suitable for family-friendly karaoke gatherings, Glass warned, but one could argue that having three people is also better than two for 1) playing Uno, 2) double-dutch jump roping and 3) finishing an entire pint of Cookie Monster ice cream. Although the chorus is monotone — mainly one note repeated multiple times — the melody in the verse jumps to high falsetto, Glass said, adding, "not to mention the harmony changes from major to minor [keys] throughout, which may take some mental effort."
Super fun scale:6
Best karaoke lines: "Are you in? / Living in sin is the new thing"
This one's for women who can see through the high-wire act. That superstar is fakin' it like a good one, but you-you-you know he's nothing but a womanizer. Sometimes repetition makes a song easier, but this one has some tongue-twisters. "Notice there are no held out notes," Glass said, adding that she personally finds the repeated syllables harder to sing. Once you nail the most difficult line rhythmically ("Boy don't try to front, I-I / Know just, just, what you are, are-are"), you're home free. And each successive — "Womanizer, woman-womanizer, you're a womanizer. Oh, womanizer, oh, you're a womanizer, baby" — just emboldens you to expose him for what he is, baby.
Super fun scale: 6
Best karaoke lines: "You say I'm crazy / I got your crazy / You're nothing but a / Womanizer"
This is the Britney karaoke song for those interested in existential philosophy. Nietzsche said, "There are two different types of people in the world, those who want to know and those who want to believe." Spears proposes that the two types are actually "the ones that entertain and the ones that observe." Later in the song, she further divides "guys" into two subgroups: "ones that can hang with me and ones that are scared." Vocally, this choice is slightly challenging because it's in the higher range of the mezzo-soprano chest voice, Glass said, adding that you need a strong belt and a mastery of quick words.
Super fun scale:6
Best karaoke lines:"I'm like the ringleader, I call the shots / I'm like a firecracker / I make it hot"
14. 'If U Seek Amy'
This is another one of Britney's trademark songs — along the lines of "3" and "Touch of My Hand" — that arguably aren't suitable for family karaoke sessions, unless you can make a good case of who Amy is. (Some kid-friendly suggestions: Amy Poehler, creator of Smart Girls; Amy March from "Little Women"; or Amy Jo Johnson, the original Pink Power Ranger.) "The wordplay and the triple meter — in 6 instead of 4 — make it particularly catchy," Glass said. The "Oh, baby baby" is also a fun, winky nod to her debut, " Baby One More Time." But it's a more difficult song to nail because it's wordy, Glass said, "and the melody descends in a minor scale which may take some skill."
Super fun scale:7
Best karaoke lines: "Love me, hate me, say what you want about me / But all of the boys and all of the girls are begging to …."
13. 'Make Me'
This one's all about the euphoric oohs. "Oooh, oooh, oooh, oooh" is the majority of the chorus, Light pointed out. There's some falsetto and varied melodies, she added, but the hardest part is the G-Eazy rap that you can recruit a valiant co-star to handle. Lyrically, it's about communicating what you need from a partner to be satisfied. So when you croon the lines, you need to both gently guide them so they're not intimidated, but also motivate them to be an independent self-starter.
Super fun scale: 7
Best karaoke lines:"I just want you to make me move / Like it ain't a choice for you, like you've got a job to do"
This song exemplifies the classic confidence of a Britney Spears dance song. Her letting him know that he's on her radar is the highest compliment. With the infinite amount of suitors vying for her attention, he should be so lucky to even be on her radar. The verses are easier to sing because they are low, Glass said, but the choruses — "I'm checking you, so hot, so hot" — are high and belted. You have to belt it with as much enthusiasm as his rough edges inspire.
Super fun scale: 7
Best karaoke lines:"A man with a Midas touch / Intoxicate me, I'm a lush / Stop, you're making me / People are looking at us"
In the pivotal karaoke scene in the rom-com " Fire Island," director Andrew Ahn and writer/star Joel Kim Booster let actor/comedian Bowen Yang choose the song he would perform. "For me, the choice was clear," he told Vulture of his pick: Spears' "Sometimes." "I think it has to be a song that is somewhat campy and ironic, but also so earnest and pure," he said, calling it a perfect Britney song. "[It's] so light and airy and about just being vulnerable and the fear that sort of gets paired along with that."
Singer Alyssa Navarro, an expert consulted in The Times' ultimate guide to finding your go-to karaoke songs, says "Sometimes" is her favorite. "It's a little bit of a show-off song, but people also like to sing along to the chorus because it's very simple," she said. "And then there are also dance moves." Most of it can be sung beginner-level, Glass said, because it's not too high. And if you have chops, the bridge — "The way that I-I-I-I trust in you" — is the time to bring out the embellishments.
Super fun scale:7
Best karaoke lines: "Sometimes I run / Sometimes I hide / Sometimes I'm scared of you / But all I really want is to hold you tight"
"This is a story about a girl named Lucky," the narrator begins. This is the song choice for the singer who enjoys delving into character study. This star has nothing missing in her life, so why do these tears come at night? "Lucky" has "simple quarter-note and eighth-note rhythms in a lower range," Glass said, adding that it's less about the vocal technique and "all about the storytelling." The audience never does find out why she cry, cry cries in her lonely heart, though. It's mostly a call for reflection, if you like that in a karaoke song.
Super fun scale:7
Best karaoke lines: "Lost in an image, in a dream / But there's no one there to wake her up / And the world is spinning, and she keeps on winning / But tell me what happens when it stops?"
This is a coming-of-age track that's about figuring out who you are. "The melody is vocally intuitive — it mostly goes by step, no jumping — but there are plenty of notes to hit," Glass said. The call and response in the chorus is full of validation: "What am I to do with my life? (You will find it out, don't worry) How am I supposed to know what's right? (You just gotta do it your way)." Singing it may make you feel nostalgic for when you were young and suffocated by your overprotective parents, but the message is also relevant for any adult at a crossroads.
Super fun scale: 8
Best karaoke lines:"I say no, no, nobody's telling me just what I wanna do, do / I'm so fed up with people telling me to be someone else but me"
8. 'Till the World Ends'
Sometimes there is a division between songs that are good for karaoke and those that are good for dancing. "Till The World Ends" is definitely a better dance song than a karaoke song — but because of the finality of the lyrics ("We'll be d-d-dancing till the world ends"), this is a solid choice to end the karaoke night. At this point, everyone has already emoted to the ballads and swaggered to the raps, and all that's left to do is jump and down belting, "Whoa oh oh oh oh oh oh ohh." Give it your all, don't leave any ounce of sweat behind.
Super fun scale:8
Best karaoke lines: "I can't take it, take it, take no more / Never felt like, felt like this before / Come on, get me, get me on the floor / DJ, what you, what you waitin' for?"
7. '(You Drive Me) Crazy'
"One thing that makes a pop song very singable, in my opinion, is when the chorus vocals are doubled with group backup vocals," Glass said. "(You Drive Me) Crazy" is a prime example of this. This karaoke choice is harder than it seems, though. The lyrics are pretty slow and straightforward — she's blaming her crush for her insomnia — but she belts in a higher vocal range. And "this has a couple awkward vocal jumps for the inexperienced," Glass said.
Super fun scale: 8
Best karaoke lines:"Baby, you spin me around / The earth is moving, but I can't feel the ground"
6. 'Gimme More'
This is a strong karaoke choice, because it's the song that gave us the memorable opening line and catchphrase "It's Britney, bitch." The entire one-note chorus is two words over and over — "Gimme, gimme (more), gimme (more), gimme, gimme (more)" — so it's easy for people to sing along to, and "the verses are high and slow in her head voice," Glass said. Amateur tip: Zero in on a potential object of desire in the crowd, so you can both feel as if there's "no one else in the room (but you)."
Super fun scale:9
Best karaoke lines:"You've got me in a crazy position / If you're on a mission / You got my permission"
5. 'I'm a Slave 4 U'
This pick is a bold one because "the choruses bridge the range between chest and head voice, which is difficult for some singers to do, especially in one breath," Glass said. But remember when people were scandalized over teenage Spears moaning about leaving behind her name and age? Remember when the music video was shot in a bathhouse with sweaty dancers gyrating on top of each other, and when asked about it, she insisted the song was about being a slave for the music, and not whatever the Parents Assn. of America was asking people to boycott over? And then, when she showed up at the MTV Video Music Awards with a yellow Burmese python on her shoulders? If so, this karaoke song is for you.
Super fun scale:9
Best karaoke lines:"Get it, get it, get it, get it (whoa) / Get it, get it, get it, get it (whoa) / (Ha-ha-ha)"
Performing Spears' debut hit — the one that launched her image as a pop princess with the loose-fit schoolgirl outfit and braided pigtails — is a nostalgic karaoke choice. People will know it. There's an easier, safer way to sing the song — holding the longer notes — but Glass encourages singers to have fun with Spears' improvised runs. ("I shouldn't have let you go-o-o-o-o.") "Her embellishments are so iconic on such an iconic song," Glass said.
Super fun scale: 9
Best karaoke lines:"When I'm not with you, I lose my mind / Give me a sign / Hit me baby one more time"
Hush, just stop. There's nothing you can do or say (baby) to stop Britney from walking away — because there is a spinning silver chair she needs to dance on. This breakup anthem has one of the larger melodic ranges on this list, according to Glass. "The verses go very low, and the ending descent belts higher, but it's slow and digestible," she said. It's a strong(er) karaoke choice because the message is clear, simple and powerful: The loneliness that was killing her in " Baby One More Time" "aint' killing me no more."
Super fun scale:10
Best karaoke lines:"Stronger than yesterday / Now it's nothing but my way"
"Toxic" is the Britney Spears song that even music snobs respect. In order to sing this banger in karaoke, you need to surrender to the high falsetto. But once you're on the ri-i-ide, there's a lot to play around with vocally. The melody of "Too high, can't come down" goes too high before it goes awkwardly down. The "You're toxic, I'm slipping under" is hypnotically singsongy, like you're falling under a trance. "Amazing, iconic, flawless 100%," Glass summarized.
Bonus: There's a "Karaoke Diamonds Version" of "Toxic" on the "Greatest Hits: My Prerogative" DVD, which is a lyric video featuring Spears dancing in the sheer diamond bodysuit from the official music video.
Super fun scale:10
Best karaoke lines: "With a taste of a poison paradise / I'm addicted to you / Don't you know that you're toxic?"
At the end of the day, a classic Britney Spears song is fun, breezy and not too deep. Just like the girl you thought was your soulmate but, oops, she was just playing with your heart and got lost in the game. (That is just so typically me.) The song has a wide melodic range, Glass said, but it's approachable because of its simple eighth-note rhythms.
Also, for the karaoke drama kings and queens, you can't beat the bridge, where you can perform a short dramatic sketch of a man in an astronaut suit going to the bottom of the ocean to get the blue Titanic "Heart of the Ocean" diamond for Spears. And all she can say is, "Aw, you shouldn't have." Brutal!
Super fun scale:10
Best karaoke lines: "Oops, you think that I'm sent from above / I'm not that innocent"
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.