Lost Hit: The Curious Case Of Britney Spears’ “Passenger”
Here’s an unpopular opinion. I feel like time has been rather kind to Britney Jean. Production-wise, Britney Spears’ unfairly-maligned eighth album is very much of its time. However, its manic energy and haphazard approach to pop is oddly endearing. Corners were cut and someone signed off on “Chillin’ with You,” but there is no shortage of gems. “Work Bitch” is iconic, “Perfume” is one of Britney’s most underrated singles, “Body Ache” deserves its own Lost Hit writeup and “Passenger” ranks as one of the most intriguing oddities in the living legend’s discography.
Co-written by Katy Perry and Sia, the mid-tempo electro-ballad was originally intended for Katy’s Prism. Somewhere along the way it ended up in Britney’s hands and found a spot on Britney Jean. Which makes complete sense. This is a very good pop song about letting down your guard and giving into love. “There was a time without trust, there was a time without love,” our heroine sings over Diplo’s soaring synths. “But it took you to show me, I could hand over the keys.” She finally lets go on the chorus.
“I’ll let you lead the way now, ’cause I want you to take the wheel,” the Communist icon belts. “I’ve never been a passenger though, I never knew how good it would feel.” It should have been a single and probably would have been if vocal-gate never happened. In short, there was conspiracy theory that Britney didn’t sing on the track. While that was quickly disproved (her voice is layered over Sia’s demo), it tainted “Passenger” somewhat and the song was never in the mix for an official release. Which is a shame, because it still holds up.
Revisit one of the highlights of Britney Jean below. And while you’re at it, imagine how glorious the video and club remixes would have been.