/ music

Fact-Check: Britney Spears' "3"

Recently, it has come to our attention here at Dashes.com that the lyrics to Britney Spears’ single “3” contain some inaccuracies and poor decisions, and as a result, we’d like to offer some corrections, as a public service to Britney and her staff.

First, the chorus:

1, 2, 3
Not only you and me
Got one eighty degrees
And I’m caught in between
1, 2, 3
Peter, Paul & Mary
Gettin’ down with 3P
Everybody loves [labored moan]


The “180 degrees” reference here works, and we congratulate you for avoiding any unfortunate “69” references in a such a number-heavy song. However, the “Peter, Paul & Mary” reference here is inexplicable. First of all, we’re pretty sure one of them is dead, and the other two are close, and while the “threesome” concept tests well with focus groups (and is great for ranking in Google!), “necrophiliac threesome” is considerably less popular. Also, this reference is to a group that peaked roughly 40 years ago, putting the target demographic somewhere in their late 50s or early 60s — not the image you should be shooting for. Finally, while information about Woodstock is hard to find on wikipedia due to it having happened about half a century ago, we’re pretty sure that two of these folks are dudes and that is, again, something that doesn’t test as well.

In lieu of the “Peter, Paul & Mary” lyric, here are some suggested replacements featuring younger protagonists and the preferred MFF arrangement suggested by public polling and a series of very systematic Twitter searches:

  • “1, 2, 3 / Jack, Janet, Chrissy” – While a “Three’s Company” mention also predates your lifespan, the target audience could be as young as 35, and therefore constitutes an acceptable target demographic for a pop culture reference.
  • “1, 2, 3, / Velma, Scoob, Daphne” – Everybody loves Scooby-Doo. Some might balk at the inclusion of a dog in the lineup here, but this is still clearly better than an old person, let alone an old dead folk singer.

The “3P” is a nice touch, and a video game reference feels a lot more contemporary than the rest of this Summer of Love stuff. “1, 2, 3 / Princess, Toad, Luigi”, perhaps? Continuing on, we have the pre-chorus after the initial verses:

Are – you in
Livin’ in sin is the new thing (yeah)
Are – you in
I am countin’!

Here we have another factual error. “Livin’ in sin” is not the new thing, unless this is supposed to be a period piece taking place around the same Woodstock timeframe in which Peter, Paul & Mary is a relevant reference. More importantly, the concept of “living in sin” seems to have been completely abandoned by our culture at some point around the turn of the millennium — is this another one of those Louisiana things? Let’s get some folks to tight this part up. It’s sort of nonsensical for a twice-divorced single mother of two to be using this line as seduction, at any rate.

Finally, the bridge:

What we do is innocent
Just for fun and nothin’ meant
If you don’t like the company
Let’s just do it you and me
You and me…
Or three….
Or four….
– On the floor!

We have a conceptual issue here. While the beat to this song is certainly insistent, and the bridge has a profoundly conventional boom-chik backing track, the outro/vamp that follows this section actually don’t use a traditional four-on-the-floor drum pattern. Clearly, this is just sloppy songwriting (or this was written to a different track, while the final one was still rendering in ProTools), so it’s not your fault this wasn’t caught in pre-production. I suggest letting this slide, as it’ll be a useful snippet of “vocals” for producers to use on the club remixes. No harm, no foul!

Thanks again for your time, and we hope you’ve found this bit of fact-checking useful. We appreciate the effort you’ve made to simplify your lyrics to ease our task (although we do miss the good old days, where “Womanizer” only used 6 different words and no complete sentences!) and hope all’s well with you.

Anil Dash

Anil Dash

Building @Glitch 🎏 — the friendly community creating the best stuff on the web • humane + ethical tech advocate • I 💜 funk, civics, mangos, justice & people • he/him

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