Lost Hit: Britney Spears’ “Unusual You” Should Have Been A Single
In this franchise, we highlight album tracks that should have been released as singles.
Britney Spears cemented her title as the Princess of Pop with the release of Circus in 2008. One year after traveling to the depths of the clubs on her groundbreaking Blackout, the hitmaker returned to her pristine pop roots. Reuniting with the likes of Swede-pop genius Max Martin and “Toxic” producers Bloodshy & Avant, the album rocketed to the top spot on the Billboard 200. It also spawned some of her most commercially successful singles to date.
Lead single “Womanizer” stormed the Billboard Hot 100. After debuting at number 96, it flew to the top spot in its second week. This signified the icon’s second time topping the charts as a solo artist and her first number one single since 1998’s “…Baby One More Time.” Buoyed by a dramatic video shot by frequent collaborator Joseph Kahn, the track made a massive impact.
She enjoyed a similar run when she unveiled the title track as her second single. Peaking within the Top 3, it has gone on to become a defining hit in her discography. Brit netted her third Top 20 single of the era when she rolled out the Max Martin-produced “If U Seek Amy.” The tongue-in-cheek anthem featured one of her brightest productions in years and made a respectable showing despite being edited on radio. However, she hit a stumbling block when she dropped “Radar” as the fourth single off the project.
In the midst of The Circus Starring Britney Spears, the icon dropped the Bloodshy & Avant-produced banger to little fanfare. A left-over from last year’s Blackout, it was added to the LP as a bonus track after plans to unveil it as a single fell apart in 2007. After listening to it on two records, fans were not quick to support the track on the radio. Unfortunately, it stalled at the lower rungs of the Hot 100 and effectively brought the Circus era to a close.
However, Britney could have easily continued dropping singles off the album. In particular, she could have had a massive run on the charts had she rolled out her tender electro-ballad “Unusual You.” On an album of buoyant, bubblegum pop, the track is a stunning stand-out. Another production from Bloodshy & Avant, it offered a moment to slow things down as Brit reflected on an unexpected romance.
“Nothing about you is typical. Nothing about you is predictable. You got me all twisted and confused. It’s all you,” she coos over moody bass and spacy synths. Her voice is gentle as it soars over the electronic production on the unique love song. After dealing with unreliable lovers for so long (as evidenced by the LP’s lead single), she is unprepared for the high of this romance. “Didn’t anyone tell you you’re supposed to break my heart? I expect you to, so why haven’t you,” she fragilely announces.
In an era defined by bright anthems, this is a particularly raw moment. Perhaps because of that, it immediately resonated with fans. Inexplicably, the track never had a chance. Despite garnering warm reviews and being recognized as a highlight on the album, it never even received a performance. Britney famously snubbed the majority of Circus’ tracklist while on tour. “Unusual You” was no exception. Had she released it as a single and promoted it with a video, this offered an opportunity for the siren to show a different side of herself to the public. Instead, it remains a favorite amongst her most devoted fans.
“Unusual You” remains a beloved hidden gem in Spears’ discography. Many fans list it as one of her best tracks ever. Some go as far as to label it her second-best ballad (behind In The Zone’s “Everytime”). With any luck, she will be able to recapture the magic with the release of a new body of work in the near future. As the icon gears up to hit the road on the final leg of her Piece Of Me Tour, rumors are reaching a fever pitch that something is in the works. While we wait for confirmation, revisit Britney Spears’ gorgeous ballad below!