04. Britney Spears - Toxic


Artwork by Adam Sarpalius


As 2009, and the decade come to a close, PMA will be looking back at our favorite songs of the last ten years. We will update a list with 75 empty slots until we reach that song that changed everything. You can keep track of this list by keeping an eye on this page. We make these lists in hopes that you guys will chime in the comments and share your favorite musical moments of the noughties.

Love me or hate me for this, but if this list was based solely on the construction of a song, its mechanics, inside-and-out, Bloodshy & Avant (& Britney) would easily take the cake, right behind the song we'll be talking about next. But today, they will just have to settle for #4.


Plainly speaking, "Toxic" is pop song craftsmanship in its most perfect form. Period. In a brisk three minutes and twenty-something seconds, the Scandinavian producers Bloodshy & Avant pack in the most recognizable strings loop on the planet, and that out-of-this-world bass line that puts all others to shame, in an explosive, tight bundle.

Then you factor in the "media super-entity" the song belongs to. At the time of "Toxic"'s release, Britney Spears had been stripping off layers of the persona her label worked so hard to build. She had just released her most progressive and grown up fourth LP In The Zone and its production credits acted like a who's who in pop music in the 2000s, noting everyone from P. Diddy to Moby.

"Toxic" was released just months before Britney Spears went from Pop Icon to Oh my god, that Britney's shameless. Yes, after two years of embodying our culture's obsession with celebrities, paparazzi, voyeurism, and all around actin'-a-fool, she rose out of the ashes with Blackout, but only as a frigid tool for studio sorcery, a ghost of the dance floor. "Toxic" was a glimpse of what the future of pop music could be with Britney Spears at its throne, but, all signs point a future without that woman. The future is all yours _________.