It’s been five years since Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers hit theaters and we know what you’re thinking. Five years? That’s nothing! But in the case of Spring Breakers, the very ethos of which is to celebrate all that is shallow and manufactured and temporary, the milestone seems all the more appropriate.
In the half-decade since the polarizing crime indie hit theaters, nothing has endured so much (except for maybe James Franco’s whisper of “Spraaannng Breeaaayyyyk”) as the jarring scene in which three of the girls (played by Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine, all of whom remained in Florida after Selena Gomez’s wholesome character wisely fled), wearing pink tiger swimsuits and “DTF”-printed sweatpants, cover their faces with pink unicorn beanies to violently rob their spring-breaking peers, all while Britney Spears’ melancholy 2004 ballad “Everytime” plays.
Surely this can’t be the only great cinematic use of the Princess of Pop, right? A handful of movies have invoked that familiar vocal fry, to varying degrees of success. We rank 11 instances of Britney songs in movies, below.
11. Superstar — “Thinkin’ About You”
Listen closely or you might miss it, but this …Baby One More Time deep cut plays softly in the background while Mary (Molly Shannon) ogles Sky (Will Ferrell) in the cafeteria before he compliments her dance moves, triggering her elaborate fantasy about a choreographed group dance. There are so many crucial musical moments in Superstar (the “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” robot routine of Mary’s cafeteria daydreams among them) it’s just an honor to be included, really, but this instance of movie Britney hardly makes an impact.
10. Drive Me Crazy — “(You Drive Me) Crazy”
For a movie that takes its name from a Britney Spears song (the music video of which features the teen rom-com’s stars Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier), Drive Me Crazy sure squanders its title track by using just the hook for a lazy transition to a teenage house party where everyone gets drunk, cheats on their fake girlfriends, dumps their fake boyfriends, and otherwise generally drives each other crazy.
9. Knocked Up — “Toxic”
In an instance of remarkable foresight, “Toxic” plays quietly in the car as Ben (Seth Rogen) and Pete (Paul Rudd) drive to Vegas in Knocked Up, which came out a full six years before the Princess of Pop began her residency there. Even more incredible is the possibility that the music supervisor beat Katherine Heigl to the punch and intentionally snuck in “Toxic,” arguably the greatest Britney Spears song of all time, because they knew that Knocked Up itself could be called “toxic,” for its inarguably sexist worldview!
8. White Chicks — “(I Got That) Boom Boom”
This is for all those Southern boys out there! Britney’s In the Zone collab with the Ying Yang Twins precedes White Chicks’ dance-off, and while we do not appreciate that the underrated Britney track was not used for the dance-off itself, it gets points for setting the stage flawlessly.
7. I Could Never Be Your Woman — “Oops! …I Did It Again”
In her first film credit, a precocious Saoirse Ronan parodies Alanis Morissette with some cynical new lyrics to “Ironic” (about “moronic” George W. Bush, among other topics), but is much harder on poor Britney, whom she tears down with the ungenerous rewrite: “Oops! I got a career / by shaking my rear / and making guys leer / oh baby, baby / Oops! I’m gonna sing more / and dance like a whore / I’m just not talented.” We cannot reward this inaccurate, ice-cold disrespect to Queen Brit, even from an otherwise delightful 13-year-old Saoirse.
6. The Bronze — “Work Bitch”
You want a hot body? Britney’s greatest workout jam is a natural fit for The Bronze, in which the song plays over a montage of gymnasts competing in the Olympics, punctuated by a few shots of our heroes (Melissa Rauch and Haley Lu Richardson) flashing each other their NSFW secret handshake from across the stadium.
5. Bridesmaids — “I’ve Just Begun (Having My Fun)”
Bridesmaids’ Vegas bachelorette party is over before it even starts after Kristen Wiig’s Annie has an iconic drugged-and-drunk meltdown on an airplane, but the ill-fated attempt at a pre-nuptial girls’ weekend is framed, brilliantly, by twin music cues of Britney’s “I’ve Just Begun (Having My Fun).” If there was ever a song to get everyone readyyyyyyyyyy to PAR-TAAAYYYYYYYYYY, this is it.
4. Robots — “…Baby One More Time”
In the final climactic battle sequence of this children’s movie about a world inhabited by robots, when Robin Williams’ Fender is momentarily overwhelmed by his adversaries, he summons the strength to defeat them by pausing for a quick Britney dance interlude, as we all have done.
3. Austin Powers in Goldmember — “Boys”
In a truly extraordinary instance of early-aughts brand synergy, Britney Spears appeared briefly in Austin Powers in Goldmember as herself (but a fembot; of course Britney was a fembot) performing “Boys,” and Mike Myers appeared briefly in her “Boys” music video as Austin Powers, charming Britney and hanging out with Pharrell.
2. Crossroads — “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”
Crossroads doesn’t just star Britney, it is Britney. Spears plays Lucy, a shy high school valedictorian who loves rock & roll and really just wants to express herself with tender pop ballads instead of going to med school. Over the course of her cross-country journey of self-discovery, she pens a thoughtful poem about how she isn’t really a girl anymore, you know, but also, still not quite a woman, not yet. Then she sings it in a Britney moment — and in an essential Britney outfit — for the ages.
1. Spring Breakers — “Everytime”
Spring Breakers’ “Everytime” is just the right song in just the right setting, the unexpected gloss that makes the otherwise obscene sequence the perfect embodiment of the film’s general aesthetic of candy-coated trash. Between this memorable use of her great Justin breakup ballad and the spring breakers’ spontaneous parking lot singalong, Britney Spears, whose voice rings out above all others on the bubblegum soundtrack of American millennial girlhood, is written irrevocably into the very DNA of Spring Breakers — a movie about, among other things, former Disney starlets behaving badly.