If you’re a pop fan, then you know all too well the feeling that comes when your fave makes a semi-good filler track a single over a much more worthy cut. It’s frustrating, disheartening and—more importantly—infuriating.
Why Britney Spears picked “Criminal” over “Inside Out” as Femme Fatale (2011)’s final single is beyond us. It is a widely-recognized pop music regret—but, much to our dismay, not the only one. Plenty of artists have made the same mistake. Here are 10 examples that were especially disappointing. (Any chance BritBrit can release “Inside Out,” though? It’s been four years, we know—but it’s so damn good!)
“Inside Out” from Femme Fatale (2011), Britney Spears
This slow burner from BritBrit’s plastic-perfect seventh studio album is pure electro-pop bliss. “Come on! Won’t you give me something to remember?” Britney wails with giddy ecstasy as a Max Martin-produced beat crashes in the background. It’s fantastic and 100 percent more single-worthy than the lackluster “Criminal.”
“Monster” from The Fame Monster (2009), Lady Gaga
The dark robo-pop come-ons of “Monster” established 2010’s mainstream aesthetic. The relentless synth beat mixed with Gaga’s hearty vocals and clever wordplay make for an unforgettable—and thrilling—pop listen. “Alejandro” is an excellent track, but it does not reach the icy intensity of “Monster.” It’s a frightening, fabulous journey.
“Beat Goes On” feat. Kanye West from Hard Candy (2008), Madonna
Hard Candy is one of Madge’s weakest offerings, but this Neptunes-cooked stomper moves briskly alongside some of her best hits. Kitschy percussion—are those kettle drums we hear?—and whoosh nightclub beats work en tandem to create something breathless. And addictive. Plus, it doesn’t hurt Kanye West spits a pretty badass rap nearly three minutes in. The beat does, in fact, go on and on.
“Love Affair” from Fever (2001), Kylie Minogue
Dance-pop doesn’t get any better than this frothy Eurodance delight from Lady Minogue’s magnum opus. “I am only here for a little while. Would you like to take me out tonight?” Kylie coquettishly asks a gentleman caller as twinkling beats throb in the background. It’s the type of pounding, sweaty nightclub cocktail that gets more delicious—and dangerous—with each sip.
“Let There Be Love” from Lotus (2012), Christina Aguilera
Christina finally worked with Max Martin on her seventh LP, and this electrifying slice of pop glitter is their golden child. Christina’s never sounded more uninhibited and fun than this near-perfect study in bubblegum sonics. The intensity is high (and Christina’s voice even higher) in “Let There Be Love”—a hit of seismic, orgasmic proportions.
“Freakum Dress” from B’Day (2006), Beyoncé
This ode to thirst-trapping received a music video but not the single treatment. What gives, Bey? The almost-manic energy of this wonderfully 2006 tune is magnetic. Granted, B’Day was chock-full of similar sure-fire anthems, so we almost understand this not making the cut. Almost.
“Hands On Me” feat. A$AP Ferg from My Everything (2014), Ariana Grande
This R&B-tinged banger relies more on sleek beats and less on vocal gymnastics—a nice switch-up for Ms Grande. There’s a naughty-girl slink that oozes from this tune. It’s basically begging for radio play. What a pity.
“Real Love” from Living Proof (2001), Cher
Cher approaches her pop treats with a refreshing irreverence and dedication to the hook. “I still believe in love,” Cher proudly declares on this “Believe”-esque piece of techno fuzz. The stuttered “Time after time!” breakdown is particularly enjoyable. Somewhere, a gay pride event is blasting this masterpiece and having more fun than any of us ever will.
“Something That We’re Not” from Demi (2013), Demi Lovato
Guitars give this true-blue pop track a genuine warmth. Demi delivers the chorus in a schoolgirl chant style that will stay firmly planted in your head for months. Even years.
“Stars Dance” from Stars Dance (2013), Selena Gomez
Selena drew inspiration from Skrillex for her debut album, and that takes palpable form in this cheeky dubstep-pop hybrid. Zipping sounds (à la Rock Mafia) guide Selena’s wispy come-hither vocals straight to neon euphoria. It’s a shame SelGo’s diehard fans only know about this song.