"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.
"Boys" was originally recorded by Janet Jackson before it was given to Spears. The song was originally included on Spears' third, self-titled studio album. It was written and produced by The Neptunes (Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams) — members of American rap group N.E.R.D.. The song was re-recorded as "The Co-Ed Remix", with a slightly different sound, and added featured vocals from Pharrell Williams. 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. 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." The release also stated that the song and video "stays true to the fractured funk [at] the heart of the film."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."
"Boys" is a song that combines R&B with hip hop. 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. 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. The remix version of the track contains a slower tempo then that of the original. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Williams and Spears put on a "rap-lite teen-pop tease." The song also includes influences of funk music. 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. According to Alex Needham of New Musical Express, the track takes influence from Janet Jackson. David Browne of Entertainment Weekly said the song was "cut-rate '80s Janet Jackson." Lyrical content sees Spears eying a guy with an intent to "get nasty."
Calling the song "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." 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." 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." Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly called it a "popping, Janet-esque groove."Yale Daily News writer Catherine Halaby considered the song "an envelope-pushing (when you consider her claims of wholesomeness) smutfest."
The song failed to make much of an impact in the United States, only appearing on the BillboardBubbling Under Hot 100 chart, where it appeared at number 22. "Boys" is so far Britney Spears least successful single in the U.S. It appeared on the BillboardPop Songs chart at number 32. In Canada, on the Canadian Singles Chart, the song performed better, reaching number 21. "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. It also peaked in the top ten of the Irish Singles Chart and both the Belgian Flanders and Wallonia Ultratop charts. On the ARIA Singles Chart in Australia, the song spent 12 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 14. "Boys" would go on to be certified Gold in Australia by the Australian Recording Industry Association. Furthermore, it peaked in the top 20 of the charts in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark.
The music video for "Boys" was directed by Dave Meyers. 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. 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."