Boys (Britney Spears song)

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"Boys"
Single by Britney Spears featuring Pharrell Williams of N.E.R.D.
from the album Britney
Released July 29, 2002 (2002-07-29)
Format
Recorded 2001
Genre
Length 3:28 (album version)
3:46 (remix)
Label Jive
Writer(s)
Producer(s) The Neptunes
Britney Spears singles chronology
"Anticipating"
(2002)
"Boys"
(2002)
"Me Against the Music"
(2003)
Pharrell Williams singles chronology
"Formal Invite"
(2002)
"Boys"
(2002)
"When the Last Time"
(2002)

"Boys" is a song recorded by American singer Britney Spears for her third studio album, Britney (2001). It was written and produced by Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams (known collectively as The Neptunes). A version of the song, entitled the "The Co-Ed Remix", was released as the sixth and final single from Britney on July 29, 2002. The new version also served as the second single from the soundtrack of Austin Powers in Goldmember. "Boys" is a R&B and hip hop song, including funk influences. The remix carries a slower tempo than the album version, and both versions are noted to be reminiscent of Janet Jackson. Some critics praised Williams and Spears' chemistry, as well as the production on the track, while others did not think the song worked well.

While the song did not perform well on the Billboard charts in the United States, it reached the top ten on the Belgian charts and in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and charted in the top 20 in Australia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. The song would later be certified Gold in Australia. The song's accompanying music video, directed by Dave Meyers, was nominated at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards for "Best Video from a Film." The clip features Spears and Williams at a party. The singer has performed "Boys" a number of times including at the 2002 NBA All-Star Game, on Saturday Night Live, and on several of her concert tours.

Background[edit]

"Boys" was originally recorded by Janet Jackson before it was given to Spears.[1] The song was originally included on Spears' third, self-titled studio album.[2] It was written and produced by The Neptunes (Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams) — members of American rap group N.E.R.D..[2] The song was re-recorded as "The Co-Ed Remix", with a slightly different sound, and added featured vocals from Pharrell Williams.[2] Following its inclusion on the Austin Powers in Goldmember OST, it was released as the second single from the soundtrack, following "Work It Out", performed by one of the film's stars', Beyoncé Knowles.[2] The release also made it the sixth single release to come from Britney. A press release for Maverick Records called the track a standout from the film's soundtrack, and said that Spears' cameo in the film "brings superstar status to the Fembot brigade."[3] The release also stated that the song and video "stays true to the fractured funk [at] the heart of the film."[3] AOL Music premiered the new track on June 13, 2002, and it was streamed more than 1.35 million times, setting a new record an AOL Music "First Listen."[2]

Composition[edit]

A sample of the Co-Ed remix of "Boys", with Spears trading lines with Pharrell Williams

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Boys" is a song that combines R&B with hip hop.[4] According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by EMI Music Publishing, it is set in the time signature of common time and has a tempo of 108 beats per minute.[5] While the original Britney version features Spears solely, "The Co-ed Remix" which was released as a single, sees the singer and the song's co-producer, rapper Pharrell Williams trading lines.[6] The remix version of the track contains a slower tempo then that of the original.[6] According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Williams and Spears put on a "rap-lite teen-pop tease."[7] The song also includes influences of funk music.[3] During the time of the album's release, her official site stated that the song had aspects of 70's soul music and influences of Prince's music.[8] According to Alex Needham of New Musical Express, the track takes influence from Janet Jackson.[6] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly said the song was "cut-rate '80s Janet Jackson."[9] Lyrical content sees Spears eying a guy with an intent to "get nasty."[10]

Reception[edit]

Critics were divided concerning the production of Pharrell Williams (pictured) and Chad Hugo on "Boys."

Critical reception[edit]

Calling the song a "a decidedly lubricious duet", Alex Needham of New Musical Express said that "She sings about boys, he sings about girls. A simple concept, but an effective one, resulting in Britney ’s best single [in] ages."[6] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly said that The Neptunes' productions on the album, "I'm a Slave 4 U" and "Boys" "swaddle her in writhing, kick-the-can beats, but never have a groove and a verse been so betrayed by a limp chorus."[9] Nicki Tranter of PopMatters said that the remainder of the album was "tried and tested" dance-pop, noting "Boys" and "Cinderella" revisiting "old Britney territory exploring predictable issues including her love being irreplaceable, her use of the dance floor as an appropriate courting place, and her much-loved girl-ness."[11] Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly called it a "popping, Janet-esque groove."[12] Yale Daily News writer Catherine Halaby considered the song "an envelope-pushing (when you consider her claims of wholesomeness) smutfest."[13]

Chart performance[edit]

The song failed to make much of an impact in the United States, only appearing on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart, where it appeared at number 22. "Boys" is so far Britney Spears least successful single in the U.S.[14] It appeared on the Billboard Pop Songs chart at number 32.[15] In Canada, on the Canadian Singles Chart, the song performed better, reaching number 21.[16] "Boys" fared better internationally, appearing in the top 20 in several markets in which it charted. On the UK Singles Chart, the song peaked at number seven.[17] It also peaked in the top ten of the Irish Singles Chart and both the Belgian Flanders and Wallonia Ultratop charts.[18] On the ARIA Singles Chart in Australia, the song spent 12 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 14.[18] "Boys" would go on to be certified Gold in Australia by the Australian Recording Industry Association.[19] Furthermore it peaked in the top 20 of the charts in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark.[20]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Boys" was directed by Dave Meyers.[21] In the video, a man DJ Qualls, tries to get into a castle which is hosting a party being attended by Spears. When the security guards refuse to grant him access, he begins to scream for Spears. As the music starts, Spears, readying herself for the party in one of the castle's towers, is dancing with a group of women. The scene shifts to a castle courtyard, where Spears and a man are sit at opposite ends of a long table. Following this, Spears walks around a pool, in which she sees a man (Justin Bruening) swimming. As they begin to interact with each other, Pharrell is at the bar with a woman. Spears walks over to him and they begin to talk. Following this, Spears dances with a group of people, including Mike Myers as Austin Powers. Actors Jason Priestley, Justin Bruening and Taye Diggs also make cameo appearances in the video. Its choreography was favorably likened to Janet Jackson.[22] The video was nominated for at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Video from a Film, but lost to Eminem's "Lose Yourself."[23]

Live performances[edit]

Spears performing "Boys" on Britney: Piece of Me show in 2014.

Spears performed "Boys" on multiple occasions. She performed the song on February 10, 2002 at the 2002 NBA All-Star Game.[24] She also performed it on the twenty-seventh season of Saturday Night Live on February 2, 2002.[25] She performed the song as a mash-up with "I'm a Slave 4 U" on her ABC special, In the Zone, to promote her fourth album In the Zone.[26] In the United Kingdom, Spears performed the song on CD:UK. On the 2001 Dream Within a Dream Tour, Spears performed it wearing a tank-top and suspenders.[27] In the tour's extension in 2002, she replaced the original version with the remix on the tour.[27]

On the The Onyx Hotel Tour in 2004, it featured male dancers pushing her while she was standing in luggage carts.[28] During her performance of the song on The Circus Starring Britney Spears, the singer performed wearing a military costume, while surrounded by her dancers, some of them riding bicycles.[29] The rendition was described as a "Rhythm Nation-like military stomp."[30] On 2011's Femme Fatale Tour, Spears wears a golden cape for a snake charming number of the song.[31] Spears included "Boys" on the setlist of her 2013-15 Las Vegas residency, Britney: Piece of Me. During this performance, she and her dancers wear neon outfits. Sophie Schillaci from MTV considered the performance "crowd-pleasing".[32]

Usage in media[edit]

The song has been performed in a mash up with Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" by Kevin McHale and Darren Criss (respectively as their characters Artie Abrams and Blaine Anderson) in the musical TV series Glee in the second episode of season four, "Britney 2.0" (aired on September 20, 2012), which is also the show's second tribute episode to Britney Spears.[33]

Track listings[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[19] Gold 35,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United Kingdom[49] July 29, 2002 CD single RCA
Japan[50] September 3, 2002 Sony
Germany[51] September 30, 2002

References[edit]

  1. ^ "All Projects". Startrak. 2002. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Britney Spears World Debut of `Boys -Co-Ed Remix- From Austin Powers in Goldmember Streamed 1.35 Million Times in 24 Hours, Smashing AOL Musics Previous `First Listen Records.". Business Wire. Goliath Business/The Gale Group. June 13, 2002. Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Get Funky With "Austin Powers" Sizzling Soundtrack". About.com. The New York Times Company. July 2, 2002. Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  4. ^ Nissim, Mayer (November 20, 2009). "Britney Spears: 'The Singles Collection'". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi Médias. Retrieved December 1, 2012. 
  5. ^ Chad Hugo, Pharrell Williams (2001). "Boys: Britney Spears Digital Sheet Music". Musicnotes.com (Musicnotes). EMI Music Publishing. SC0012017 (Product Number). 
  6. ^ a b c d Needham, Alex (July 22, 2002). "Spears, Britney : Boys". New Musical Express. Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel : CD SPOTLIGHT". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. NewsBank. July 26, 2002. Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Britney The Album". Britneyspears.com. NVU Productions. Archived from the original on August 3, 2002. Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Browne, David (November 12, 2001). "Britney (2001)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Britney – Plugged In Online Album Reviews". Plugged In. Focus on the Family. Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  11. ^ Tranter, Nicki (November 6, 2001). "Britney Spears: Britney". PopMatters. Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Britney Spears - Britney: We Rank 17 of Her Greatest Hits! - Photo 1 of 18 - EW.com", Greenblatt, Leah (Entertainment Weekly), 2009-11-26, retrieved 2012-03-09 
  13. ^ Halaby, Catherine (November 9, 2001). "For Spears, maturity is, like, cool". Yale Daily News (The Yale Daily News Publishing Company). Retrieved January 6, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2005). Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100: 1959–2004: Joel Whitburn Presents. Record Research. ISBN 978-0-89820-162-8. 
  15. ^ a b "Britney Spears Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Pop Songs for Britney Spears. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  16. ^ a b "Britney Spears Album & Song Chart History" Canadian Hot 100 for Britney Spears. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  17. ^ a b "Britney Spears – The Official Charts Company". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b c "Ultratop.be – Britney Spears feat. Pharrell Williams – Boys" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  19. ^ a b "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2002 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b "Austriancharts.at – Britney Spears feat. Pharrell Williams – Boys" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  21. ^ "Boys Co-Ed Remix – Britney Spears – Music Video". MTV (Viacom). Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Ranking all of Britney Spears' music videos - PopWrap", Wieselman, Jarett (New York Post), 15-02-11, retrieved 2012-03-09  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  23. ^ "2003 MTV Video Music Awards Winners List". MTV (Viacom). Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  24. ^ "All-Star 2002". NBA.com. Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Saturday Night Live: Britney Spears [2]: Synopsis". MSN Movies. MSN. Retrieved January 12, 2011. 
  26. ^ "In the Zone (+ Bonus CD) (2003)". Amazon.com. Amazon, Inc. Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  27. ^ a b Reid, Shaheem; Moss, Corey (November 2, 2001). "Britney Goes Bald, Plays Tiny Dancer, Gets Caught In The Rain At Tour Kickoff". MTV (MTV Networks). Retrieved February 11, 2011. 
  28. ^ Stout, Gene (March 13, 2004). "Britney ready for Vegas in a show rated 'R' for racy". Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Hearst Corporation). Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  29. ^ Shriver, Jerry (March 4, 2009). "Britney in concert: The Circus is finally back in town". USA Today (Gannett Company, Inc.). Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Britney Does Boston: The Review", Stern, Bradley (MuuMuse), 03-09, retrieved 2012-03-09  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  31. ^ Meyer, Carla (June 17, 2011). "Spears finds groove, Minaj mesmerizes in Sacramento concert". The Sacramento Bee. The McClatchy Company. Retrieved June 17, 2011. 
  32. ^ Schillaci, Sophie (December 28, 2013). "Britney Spears Pours On ‘Cheese’ (And Glitter) For ‘Piece Of Me’ Las Vegas Kickoff". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved May 10, 2014. 
  33. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (September 5, 2012). "'Glee' Season 4 to Feature Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears Songs". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 5, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Britney Spears feat. Pharrell Williams – Boys". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  35. ^ "Ultratop.be – Britney Spears feat. Pharrell Williams – Boys" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
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  38. ^ "Chartverfulgong > Spears, Britney > Boys – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  39. ^ "Chart Track: Week 31, 2002". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  40. ^ "ブリトニー・スピアーズのCDシングルランキング、ブリトニー・ORICON STYLE" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  41. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 38, 2002" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  42. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Britney Spears feat. Pharrell Williams – Boys". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  43. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Britney Spears feat. Pharrell Williams – boys" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  44. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Britney Spears feat. Pharrell Williams – Boys". Singles Top 60. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  45. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Britney Spears feat. Pharrell Williams – Boys". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  46. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 2002" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Hung Medien. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  47. ^ "Rapports annuels 2002" (in French). Ultratop 50. Hung Medien. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  48. ^ "UK Year-End Chart 2002" (pdf). The Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 11, 2011. 
  49. ^ http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boys-Britney-Spears/dp/B000069JAY
  50. ^ http://www.amazon.co.jp/Boys-Britney-Spears/dp/B0000DESM9
  51. ^ http://www.amazon.de/Boys-Britney-Spears/dp/B00006H1EE

External links[edit]