Britney Spears' "Welcome to Me" Makes Us Nostalgic for the Old Days — LISTEN

A seriously seductive unreleased Britney Spears song,"Welcome to Me", leaked online last Friday, and it’s going to have you longing for the Spears of yesteryear. You know, the artist who occasionally sounded like she was actually feeling real feelings when she sang, not the emotionless, slickly auto-tuned diva we’ve come to know in recent years. We first heard a clip of "Welcome to Me" all the way back in 2011, but the full song wasn’t available online until just recently. Rumor has it the song was intended for Spears’ 2007 album Blackout, but fans have also speculated that it could've been taken from Spears’ mysterious Original Doll sessions in 2004 (if you haven't already done so, you definitely need to check out BuzzFeed’s illuminating piece on the elusive album). Whichever Spears album “Welcome to Me” was recorded for, there’s no denying that it’s super hot.

Clocking in at just two and a half minutes long, “Welcome to Me” does feel a bit unfinished — the verses are repetitive and the song doesn’t have much of a chorus. Perhaps it was intended to be an album introduction? I suppose we’ll never know for sure. Regardless, the track’s short running time doesn’t stop it from making a big impact. “Welcome to Me” recalls the inventive, sexually charged R&B sound of Spears’ 2001 Pharrell Williams-produced single, “I’m A Slave 4 U.” What’s more, Spears’ breathy, sensual delivery on the song doesn’t feel manufactured or forced at all— it sounds like the real deal! That’s...so refreshing. On the first verse, Spears sings:

You got me thinking about the things I’d do to your body, yeah

I can almost taste your lips, I can feel how much you want me

Bet you thinkin’ what you wanna do to me

Close your eyes and visualize me

Go with it, flow with it, c’mon, be a man, take control of it

Aside from the problematic, “c’mon, be a man, take control of it” bit, this sounds pretty awesome! On the brief chorus, Spears teases:

Let’s get out of here ‘cause we know that we’re gonna love tonight

Got a private spot, that’s not all I got for you tonight…

Whoa. If you think that’s scandalous, after the bridge, there’s a spicy interlude that can only be described as the “beats and heavy breathing” section. Every good song needs one! And then, just like that, it's all over. Damn, I was just getting into it!

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Maybe Spears’ team felt that “Welcome to Me” was too overtly sexual for her fans. True, the erosion of Spears “good girl” image was probably well under way by the time this track was recorded, but it is about hooking up with a random stranger, after all (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Whatever the reason the song was left on the cutting room floor, it’s always cool to hear Spears actually emoting. She doesn’t do that in her music very often these days.

Before its release, Spears’ last studio album, Britney Jean, was billed as her “most personal” effort yet. While there are a few vulnerable moments on the album (“Passenger,” “Brightest Morning Star”), for the most part, it’s just more of the same superficial dance-pop we’ve become accustomed to hearing from Spears. Listening to an old Spears song like "Welcome to Me" makes me wonder: does she even want to be doing this anymore?

Obviously, I can’t answer that question, but given the quality of Spears' music lately, it certainly doesn't seem like it.