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One of the strongest themes in Britney Spears’ repertoire of hits has been her desire for independence and her contempt for the media, whose overbearing treatment of her arguably led to the conservatorship that was placed on her in 2008, as outlined in Hulu’s 2021 documentaries Framing Britney Spears and Controlling Britney Spears.
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From her 2000 empowerment anthem “Stronger” to her cover of Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative,” Spears has no problem advocating for herself and her freedom. And as shown in her defiant middle finger to tabloid culture, “Piece of Me,” she’s willing to go after the people who won’t leave her alone.
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— “My Prerogative” (2004)
Technically, these are Bobby Brown’s lyrics, but there’s a reason why Spears covered his 1988 hit. To this day, there’s few people the media will talk about more than Spears.
I’m Mrs. ‘You Want A Piece Of Me?’ tryin’ and pissin’ me off / Well get in line with the paparazzi who's flippin’ me off / Hopin’ I’ll resort to startin’ havoc and end up settlin’ in court / Now are you sure you want a piece of me?
“Piece of Me” (2007)
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— “Kill the Lights” (2008)
This hidden gem from Circus — almost a sequel to the iconic “Piece of Me” — sees Spears continuing to challenge the media.
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— “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman” (2001)
Britney released this coming-of-age anthem when she was just 20 years old, the age where this song’s message hits the hardest. She may be advocating for independence, but that doesn’t mean she won’t make mistakes along the way, like we all do.
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— “Work Bitch” (2013)
There’s nothing that says independence more than Spears telling us to “work, bitch.” Fun fact: The U.S. unemployment rate reportedly went down by 50% in the years after the song was released.
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— “Cinderella” (2001)
This underrated deep cut from Spears’ self-titled 2001 album is about the singer leaving a toxic relationship, but it’s just as much a metaphor of her own desire for independence.