Lyric Videos: Is this a trend now? Britney Spears' 'Criminal' joins the YouTube fray


Lyric videos: They aren’t just for your kid sister’s Justin Bieber fan clips anymore.

Yesterday, Britney Spears released an official lyric video for “Criminal,” her upcoming fourth single off Femme Fatale.

First of all, awesome: That song has a darker edge than some of her previous work, but still retains her trademark computer-y syrup-y sweet voice, if that’s your thing (and it’s kind of mine).

But it got me wondering: When did lyric videos become an official, publicist-touted release? Spears still plans to be put out a traditional music video—in fact, she’s been making headlines across the pond for her Criminal video shoot. So apparently, this lyric video is just to build buzz and get you talking about the song.

Check it out below:

Intrigued? I don’t quite understand how this builds any more buzz than simply having the song on the album. It will definitely help with your drunk karaoke, but it’s not like a lyric video is going to go viral.

Although, I’ve got to say, a good one is certainly hypnotic. The first big lyric video I can think of that really captured my attention was Cee-Lo Green’s ubiquitous hit, F*** You.  I remember hitting replay over and over (though that may have just been because of the catchy tune). The basic white text over the bright backgrounds—it was the best PowerPoint presentation I’d ever seen.

Besides Spears and Green, other artists dabbling in lyric video artistry include Jason Derulo and P!nk. But not all are on board: Both Rihanna and Katy Perry’s most recent singles have an official audio video on Youtube, featuring just a stock image or moving design — no lyrics on screen.

Interestingly, most don’t even have photos of the artist in question. I could kind of understand this phenomenon if fans were getting a sneak preview of some kind, or behind-the-scenes shots of their favorite singers.  But typically, they don’t. Are we to think of these as placeholder videos, to be subbed out once the real thing is finished?

Tell us what you think: Are they just a hopeful buzz builder, or is something else at play? And do they hold your interest, or just make you want to hold out for the real thing?

Read more:
‘Parenthood': Cee-Lo stops by Adam and Crosby’s studio — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
‘Pop-Up Video’ is back! Do people still care about the words in the bubbles?
Britney Spears: 26 Career Highs — and Lows

Comments (57 total) Add your comment
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  • Sarah

    Katy Perry had a lyrics music video for her song ET featuring Kanye West. That’s the first “official” lyrics video that I remember seeing.

    • MM

      actually I think she had one for Teenage Dream and that one was actually really cute because it was just pictures from her music video. But it was cute!

      • Lem

        Yeah the Teenage Dream one was the first I remember seeing – and it was cool since it used video stills before the vid came out.

        Anyways, bow to the Queen of Pop – Britney Jean Spears – for making headlines off a lyric video.

      • Hmmm.

        This is actually one of the better songs she’s put out in a while—and I like the lyric video. Does anyone else think this would be a perfect mashup with Madonna’s “Miles Away?”

      • Bree

        This song has to be her worst ever. I don’t know what you guys are talking about.

    • sam

      I remember a couple others too. ‘Moves Like Jagger’ was my favorite.. prob because it was before the song was played to death on the radio.

      • Kelcie

        “Moves Like Jagger” made more sense because it was done to premiere the song and before the video came out.

      • Bree

        Moves like Jagger was so stupid and gay. No thanks.

  • Rachael Wise

    The Cee lo’s orignal F*** you video was a lyrics video. I actually liked it better.
    kinetic typography can be a really wonderful medium, but this Britney video is kind of crappy.

  • dee123

    Damn it! I actually really love this, mainly because it isn’t a ‘pack the dance floor full of people’ song we usually get from her.

  • Craig

    Best kinetic typography video I’ve seen to date was for Korn’s “Get Up!”

    • Cameron J

      On the other side of the music spectrum, I loved the lyric video for Ximena Sarianna’s song, ‘Different”, although that’s hardly typography, it’s an actual video with lyrics in the video. Pretty cool.

  • Bus Driver

    Probably better to put out an official, well-produced lyric video with the imagery and typography you choose, than let a bunch of self-obsessed hacks create their own crap on YouTube.

    • guest

      I’ve never made a lyric video myself, and yes I do think an official lyrics video from the artist is better, but still the fans who make those videos aren’t self obsessed hacks. They do it because they’re fans. And frankly many of them are teenage kids. Comments like yours bother me because it comes across as really arrogant and self-righteous. Not to mention rude.

    • Santana

      I’ve actually made one of those lyric videos, for Katy Perry’s ET. I made it because I was experimenting with my video making program and I liked the song, not because I’m a “self obsessed hack”. Also created it to share the song with more people because you can’t watch Vevo videos (aka the official ones) on your phone or ipod.

      • Just Me

        You download the Vevo app.

  • KDH

    It’s not as though the concept of a lyric music video is new. George Michael made one back in1990 for his single “Praying for Time”, when he wanted the message of the song to be the focus instead of his then-very-popular image.

    • Lisa

      This isn’t the official video, though. That’s the point. The actual video was shot in London with Brit & her real-life boyfriend playing a Bonnie & Clyde scenario, it’ll be out next week.

  • jasper

    and he’s got my name tattooed on his arm. i’m his lucky charm.

  • Mike

    Guess it’s just a way to keep building hype for singles while they can’t promote / before a video release. I’m actually really digging this track, actually. Pretty different from what’s on radio, it reminds me of a Britney take on Fleetwood Mac or something.

  • Lien

    Love this song, I play it all the time in my car

  • ice

    If you’re in a foreign country, and you like American pop culture, and you want to learn English, why not learn English from Britney? Videos like this will help Britney sell records and concerts in new markets.

    • ks

      Works the other way too. Many Europian bands have had these videos out for years.

      • ice

        Exactly! The media in the US thinks everything ends at its borders. So, Britney making a video with words must be strange… unless you’re one of millions of people who are fans, despite not understanding the words she’s singing.

  • Flip

    Criminal is the best song on Femme Fatale…so glad it’s a single so everyone who didn’t buy the album will get to hear it!!

  • fancypants

    Criminal is very similar in theme to Rihanna’s Man Down. Even down to the over use of “mama” in the lyrics.

    • Lisa

      lol how? that song is about Rihanna killing a man in self-defense, this song is about Britney falling in love with a criminal

    • Santana

      Yeah, they don’t really sound alike and the lyrics don’t have too similar of a theme. I don’t really see how they’re alike.

  • PNK

    This is Britney’s answer to ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ by Madonna.
    Anyway, artists could pull a George Michael and not appear in their videos, that would be arty-cool.

    • dee123

      Actually is sounds like it could have come off American Life.

  • PNK

    ”Trip to Your Heart” may be the best song on the CD, it is trippy and I can almost hear Debbie Harry singing it! It is definitely different and it’s the one I put on repeat.

    • Ben

      Perhaps an actual human can re-record those songs and sing them. Right now, they are all performed by a computer.

    • Dan

      AIRTEL, IDEA, BSNL, RELIANCE, VODAFONE sabhi customer ko luttae hai, yeh sab company apne fayde ka sochti hai baad main customer ka. 0Was this answer helpful?


    Cee Lo’s “F*** You” had a lyric video, and it went viral. Did you miss that?

    • Fatima

      Considering it’s mentioned in the article, my guess is that she didn’t.

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