“Boys” by Britney Spears
The addressee of “Boys” is a romantic interest of the singer’s. Apparently she is now seeing him for just the first time, in a party or club or somewhere else where he is gracing the dance floor.
Indeed, it is quite common to come across pop songs where a male vocalist becomes enamored by a female dancer in a public setting. But “Boys” flips the script, as in a female singer rather being smitten by a “sexy” dude getting his groove on.
And as far as the title of the track goes, as used in the chorus it doesn’t really have anything to do with dudes in plural. Or rather the point being made is that yes, there are in fact quite a few “boys” out there in the world. But as for the singer and likeminded individuals, they ‘just need one’ to hold them down. That way, they can mind the relationship better. Or as Brit feministically puts it, then the woman is in “control”.
And the one “boy” that she does wants, once again, would be the primary addressee. So in the first verse, she dances her own way to his side, still on the dance floor. Then she proceeds to try to lead him someplace private, or at least in the moment take him away from his own “boys” so that she can “see what (he) can do”.
The second verse is a bit more challenging to understand. But maybe what Britney is saying is something like in the process of dancing sexily and seducing her intended victim, other dudes in the spot have become attracted to her also. But, as put forth earlier, it is only this particular one that she is interested in.
And in the bridge, the singer makes her intentions with the guy more apparent. Whereas the chorus may come off as being more relationship-centered (though sexual nonetheless), at the end of the day what she is particularly desiring reads like, excuse us to say, a quick hit.
Yes, it would seem that the two of them do some bumping and grinding in the club. But as revealed at the beginning of the second verse, the goal is to take him “off the dance floor”. And once that has been achieved, she is entreating the addressee that they have to do their thing right now, as they can’t take for granted meeting each other in the club again next week.
So it ain’t really like she’s trying to lock him down in the future.
Key Sentiment of “Boys”
Thus at the end of the day, labeling the primary sentiment behind this song confusing may be a stretch.
It is pretty clear that the singer wants to do something sensual with the addressee. But at the same time, she is displaying what can be deemed as two logically-opposing characters.
One is “a nice girl” who fantasizes about that special someone. She can play the field if she wants to but would rather be in a monogamous relationship with someone she truly loves. And the other is the type of lady that meets a dude on the dance floor who is so sexy she wants him then and there, with no guarantee of the two of them meeting again in the aftermath.
So maybe she’s the type who, in more modern times, would be referred to as a serial monogamist. In other words, yes, she does only date one dude at a time. However, how long that time may be is up in the air.
Or yet another way of looking at the overall scenario is that the “boys” she is speaking to in the chorus are the other dudes in the nightclub. And basically what she is telling them is to back off, as she has already seen the one she intends on going home with.
A Single Release
“Boys” served as a single from two different albums. One was “Britney” (2001), which was Spears’ third full-length. And the other was the soundtrack for Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), aka the Austin Powers’ movie in which Beyoncé co-starred.
In terms of “Britney”, it was the sixth and final single released from the project. And for Goldmember it was the second and final single. And on both occasions the release date of the tune, via Jive Records, was on 29 July 2002.
It should perhaps be noted that the Princess of Pop makes a couple of cameo appearances in the Goldmember film. And Mike Myers himself, taking on the role of Austin Powers, also pops up in the music video to “Boys”, doing a dance with Britney referred to as ‘the Pigeon’.
There are also other actors that popup on the scene, such as Taye Diggs, Jason Priestley (of 90210 fame) and Justin Bruening. The latter plays Britney’s romantic interest on the clip.
Did Britney Spears write “Boys”?
No. “Boys” was written and produced by The Neptunes, which as you probably already know is a musical duo consisting of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams. The latter, of course, is a superstar pop musician in his own right.
In fact it is a version of the song (called The Co-Ed Remix) featuring Pharrell as a vocalist that was actually released as a single from the aforementioned projects, not the album version of “Boys”.
And to note, The Neptunes were regular co-workers of Britney’s during the earlier part of her career. And the first single she released that was produced by the pair was 2001’s “I’m a Slave 4 U”.
More Interesting Facts about “Boys”
“Boys” proved to be a big hit across the pond, where it reached number one on the UK Indie Chart and number seven on the UK Singles Chart proper.
It did not appear on the Hot 100 stateside, though it did make it onto Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40. And overall it performed impressively internationally, charting in 20 nations and being certified gold Down Under.
The music video to this song, which Dave Meyers directed, proved to be well accepted, as in getting nominated for a 2003 MTV VMA.
Many critics and laymen alike have noted that this song sounds like something that a vintage Janet Jackson would drop. And verily, that similarity is more than mere coincidence.
In fact Miss Jackson had gone as far as to record her own version of “Boys” before it ended up in the hands of Spears, meaning that The Neptunes shopped it to her first.
Some of the notable venues in which Britney Spears has performed this song include Saturday Night Live on 2 February 2002 and the NBA All-Star which was held that same month on the 10th.
Britney Spears was 20 years old when this song came out.
The last phrase featured in the pre-chorus, which references the singer and addressee’s “own little nasty world”, was actually derived from a track a girl band called Vanity 6 dropped back in 1982 entitled “Nasty Girl”.