As a happy member of the MTV generation, I feel like pop music videos were nowhere near the leagues of rock bands and the likes of Meatloaf ballads until Britney Spears music videos hit the scene. She was indisputably the princess of pop, now coming off being a headline act in Las Vegas (the type of shows that legends are made of) — Spears is back to kill not just the radio star, but all the other video stars in the game. Her bubbly and bright video with Iggy Azalea "Pretty Girls" delivers all the fun (and pink) that we expect from Britters.
For me, Spears' videos encapsulate my childhood perfectly. The looks are the things dreams and adolescence are made of — the looks your mother refused to ever allow you to recreate (though you’d still tie up your school shirt and channel "Hit Me Baby One More Time"). Looking back, I’m glad the cheesy glamour of it all is something that I still aspire to in my everyday wardrobe. But looking back, I also wonder why the hell I didn’t think of wearing a Swarovski nude bodysuit with a massive yellow python to prom.
To anyone growing up in our generation, there’s a little bit of Spears in all of us. From channelling her amazing inner strength, to perfecting that balance of cute with sexy, and, of course, to bouncing about your room pretending you’re in a red leather catsuit on the surface of Mars.
So let’s give it up to some of the maddest (or most brilliant?) looks Spears has served us over the years in her music videos.
1. Space Age Air Hostess: "Toxic"
The Swarovski nude look from the "Toxic" video would be just too easy to pick and Spears' air hostess look just gave the perfect Fifth Element vibes and a new twist on sexy air hostess.
2. Britney Brought Bad Blood Long Before Taylor Swift: "Toxic"
Taylor's inspo maybe? Definitely — Spears is everybody's inspo! The "Toxic" video brings it again but I especially love this because Spears takes a step back from the innocent blonde look and starts the trend of more than one hair color in a music video. I personally pine for the days when Pink had 50 wig changes in one vid.
3. Underwear As Outerwear: "I'm A Slave 4 U"
Just as Brit inspires the pop icons of today, she got inspired by the queen of pop herself, Madonna. Spears' look is a lot more early noughties than a cone bra, though! The best bit? Those shiny leggings underneath her pink panties are actually flares. I couldn't love this more if I tried.
4. Glamour Housewife With A Secret: "If U Seek Amy"
I love that Spears continued to use text speak even when it was Officially Over. I also think this might be one of my fave Spears songs ever. She evolves her innocent/sexy duality in this video and takes the piss out of anybody that thinks a person could ever be as squeaky clean behind closed doors as they are to the public. This song made me feel all kinds of seductive and confident as a 15-year-old and it does so even more now that I'm actually more in tune with those feelings!
5. UV Cutout Office Wear: "Me Against The Music"
Spears in a suit would be enough to slay me. Spears in a cutout suit would be enough to slay me. When she's dancing around in a plastic top hat earlier on in the video? Consider me slayed. When she stepped it up to glow in the dark workwear, contrasting with Madonna's coming across almost like a virgin all in white on a swing? I'm done, I'm dead, thank you Britney.
6. School Girl: "...Baby One More Time"
It just couldn't be a Spears-y outfit compilation without "Hit Me Baby One More Time!" It's a classic.
7. Being "Pretty" Is Ageless: "Pretty Girls"
From the oldest Brit vid to the newest — I love this look! It's the perfect trashy aesthetic! Spears is still killing it and not letting anybody forget that she's the original pretty girl.
8. Glamour Puss: "Lucky"
This old school Hollywood glamour look is pretty standard, but that's the genius of it for Spears! She can, has, and will experiment with any look (and pull them all off). Right down to the drawn on beauty mark, she perfects this look.
9. Casual Cliff Climbing Looks: "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman"
This outfit is not suitable for climbing cliffs next to a massive green body of water and the impracticality screams "ridiculous noughties looks" (and is kind of a rip off of Shakira's looks, if you ask me). But the bottom half of flared jeans is the half of Spears that's still a girl, and the barely-there bralette is "Britney The Woman" making her way to us. And that's just so Britney.
10. The Catsuit: "Oops! I Did It Again"
Yeah, that catsuit. The one our pre-teen selves dreamed of and our moms had nightmares about. The ultimate Britney Spears ensemble.
Images: Getty; BritneySpearsVEVO/YouTube