Retrospective: Britney Spears’ Chart-Topping “3” Turns 10
Another week, another important moment in Spearstory. That’s the history of Britney Spears for the uninitiated. Just a couple days ago, we marked the 11th anniversary of “Womanizer.” The simple but very effective anthem launched the second half of B’s career and netted the Princess of Pop her second number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Now it’s time to turn our attention to her third chart-topper, the appropriately titled “3.” Why? Because yesterday (October 6), the dirty but exceedingly iconic ditty turned 10.
Britney Spears was moving quickly in the late aughts. After straightening her crown by releasing Circus in 2008, she revisited her growing discography with a retrospective project the following year. Almost five years to the date after Greatest Hits: My Prerogative came The Singles Collection. The expansive project housed remastered versions of all her singles, a couple remixes and “3.” On the new track, she reunited with the mastermind behind several of her biggest hits – Max Martin.
The iconic duo worked together on a string of winners from her first three albums. That includes her breakout hit “…Baby One More Time” and the fan-favored “Overprotected.” After some time apart, they got back together for “If U Seek Amy.” And the cheeky gem proved they still had perfect chemistry. Only, there was a slight difference. Britney and Max’s new material struck on a much sexier form of pop perfection. That was still the case come “3.” The lyrics, co-written with Shellback and Tiffany Amber, speak for themselves.
“1, 2, 3. Not only you and me,” Britney coyly teases over racing beats. “Got one eighty degrees, and I’m caught in between. Counting, 1, 2, 3. Peter, Paul and Mary. Getting down with 3P.” Yup. Britney brought a song about threesomes (and, at points four- or moresomes) to the top spot on the Hot 100. Her mind and impact. She paired the track with a sleek and minimalistic video. Directed by Diane Martel, it opens with some on-brand perfume promo before transforming into a sizzle reel of body-baring, fashionable looks.
After the jaw-dropping visual spectacles that accompanied the Circus era, this was a refreshing change-up. The video was proof Britney didn’t need outrageous sets to titillate. Just give her a couple poles to dance on, hot dancers, some choreography and watch her go. Since its release the bedroom banger has remained a staple in her discography. It’s had prime placement in most of her live shows. How can you forget the iconic countdown that led into the song for the first half of her Vegas residency, for instance? Queen of counting.
Ten years later, it remains a flawless pop anthem. In honor of its recent birthday, join me in revisiting “3” below.