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93. Criminal (2011)

(Martin, Shellback, Amber)

Album: Criminal – Single / Femme Fatale / B in the Mix: The Remixes Vol. 2

Not since “My Heart Will Go On” had a pop song included such a prominent flute solo. Chosen via fan poll as Femme Fatale’s fourth and final single, it stands apart from the other club-ready tracks as the only midtempo. Spears’s voice sounds pitched up in the verse, a technique that worked to much greater effect in a couple Blackout tracks. The chorus is definitely the song’s strongest asset and perfectly suited for Spears’s throaty vocals. The radio remix that received the single release is an improved version that adds clarity and punch. Though considering how remarkably faithful it is to the original mix, it seemed like an odd choice to feature on her sequel remix album B in the Mix: The Remixes Vol. 2, where the other remixes are stark departures from their original versions. The video depicts a high society Britney lured into a life of Bonnie and Clyde-style crime with then hubby Jason Trawick. Considering the strength of some of the other Femme Fatale tracks (especially “How I Roll” and “Inside Out,” not to mention some stellar bonus tracks), “Criminal” wasn’t equipped to sustain the momentum of the previous three top 10 hits.

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