With Glory, Britney Spears has made it clear that she’s not retiring any time soon. (Thank Godney.)
The splashy, smirky new studio album — her ninth — is a bold step forward for Britney, especially since 2013’s low-energy Britney Jean pretty much fizzled into the ether. And while it doesn’t reach the peaks of her career circa 2003 (which gave us “Toxic”), nor is it her best album (that honor belongs to 2007’s Blackout, fight me!), Glory at least has the distinction of being her longest and most varied yet, with the deluxe edition containing 17(!) songs that straddle more genres than Britney usually acknowledges.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the pop star worked with far more producers than usual to create Glory. Some of those producers have previously worked with acts ranging from Rihanna to Kelly Clarkson, Kanye to Charli XCX, Justin Bieber to Lil Wayne, and their diverse experience shows; Glory spans a wide array of song types, from slow jams to full-on bangers that can soundtrack every peak and valley of your night out.
Still, 17 songs is kind of a lot to process all at once, so here are the five songs that best show off Brit’s range — or, okay, its autotuned equivalent — on Glory.
Note: Only the deluxe edition of Glory contains 17 songs; the standard edition contains 12 songs, starting with “Invitation” and ending with “What You Need.” But you should really spring for the deluxe edition, because most of the best songs live in those bonus tracks.
The Banger: “Do You Want to Come Over?”
The most obvious banger on Glory — an album that flirts with several in that category — is also its best. Britney has always shined brightest when she caters to clubs, and “Do You Want to Come Over?” — produced by Swedish duo Mattman & Robin, who’ve previously worked with Carly Rae Jepsen and Selena Gomez — is a sterling example.
The thumping bass line paired with rhythmic guitars in the choruses keep the song moving, pulsating, beckoning. It’s no wonder Britney has already folded it into her Vegas show; it’s just fun.
Honorable Mentions: “Love Me Down,” “Clumsy,” “Hard to Forget Ya”
The Off-Beat: “Better”
A few of Glory’s songs exist fairly far outside of Britney’s usual straight pop bubble, and “Better” is the best of these. It was produced by BloodPop, the artist formerly known as Blood Diamonds who’s worked his EDM threads into songs for Justin Bieber and Grimes. On Glory, BloodPop infused “Better” with some grimier, choppier beats, while still letting Britney wrap her (digital) voice around cascading verses.
It’s not quite like any song Britney’s done before, which is impressive, considering she’s been at this game for 20 years.
Honorable Mentions: “What You Need,” “Private Show”
The Wild Card: “If I’m Dancing”
There’s no two ways about it: “If I’m Dancing” is weird. Its opening notes sound like Rednex’s “Cotton Eye Joe” put through an EDM meat grinder — and then the song quickly transitions into a rhythmic verse that pops and locks à la Timbaland before finally widening out into a synth dream. Basically: No matter what tempo you’re into, “If I’m Dancing” probably has you covered.
This entry also gets bonus points for inspiring a meme even before Glory was technically released. (Just like so many other Britney albums, this one leaked a week early.)
*If I'm Dancing comes on shuffle*— sadhoeflo (@sadhoeflo) August 25, 2016
Friend - "You better not..."
Friend - "Please don't do it"
Wendy: "After Pretty Girls, I've lost faith in Britney"— ＧＬＯＲＹ8/26 (@americandream49) August 22, 2016
**If I'm Dancing comes on**
Honorable mentions: “Better,” “Liar”
The Slow(er) Jam: “Man on the Moon”
If this were a list of Glory’s five best songs, “Man on the Moon” wouldn’t be on it. But it has to be said that Britney’s slower songs — which rarely qualify as ballads — are often much blander than her higher energy songs. “Man on the Moon” keeps things interesting with some funky syncopated rhythms, swooping strings, and a chorus that has a way of burrowing into your brain and staying there until you realize you’ve been singing to your shopping cart and everyone else in the grocery story is patiently trying to ignore you. But if they can’t appreciate a tight pop hook, hey, that’s their loss.
Honorable Mentions: “Invitation,” “Coupure Electrique,” “Just Luv Me”
The After-Hours Club: “Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortes)”
Another Mattman & Robin joint, the slick “Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortes)” runs on classical Spanish guitar and Britney’s breathy purr, a combination she also used to great effect on Blackout’s underrated “Ooh Ooh Baby.” “Change Your Mind” doesn’t hit either of Britney’s two typical sweet spots — it’s not a song for pregaming, nor is it fast enough for the sweaty height of your night. But it’s great for the delirious end of the party; throw it on when you’re starting to come down from the high of dancing your face off, but still want a beat to writhe to as the night fades away.
Honorable Mentions: “Slumber Party,” “Make Me Move,” “Just Like Me”
Glory is now available on iTunes and Spotify.