Britney Spears racks up her third No. 1 hit with the trashy "3" and became the first artist in over three years to debut at No. 1.

"3", written by Max Martin, the one man responsible for what's wrong with pop today, is the sole new track to be included on Spears' forthcoming greatest hits album, The Singles Collection. In debuting at No. 1, Spears joins an elite group of artists to do so.

Changes in the way Billboard tabulated the Hot 100 in 1995 made a physical single mandatory to chart. Michael Jackson and his label became the first to take advantage of this with a greatest hits single of his own, "You Are Not Alone". The song was sent to radio without a physical single being released. The label allowed airplay and demand for the song to build for weeks until they knew they could sell a boatload of singles right out of the gate. The physical copy of "You Are Not Alone" was then released in September of that year and sold enough that the track materialized at No.1. Before the month was over, Mariah Carey did the same thing with "Fantasy".

From 1995 to 1998, nine more songs achieved this feat until Billboard reversed the rule that made a physical single a requirement for charting, allowing airplay only songs to appear on the Hot 100. Without this eccentricity, debuting at No. 1 became nearly impossible. In 2003, Clay Aiken made a No. 1 debut thanks to his exposure on American Idol and the pent up demand for his quickly release single "This Is The Night". The following three years saw three more American Idol stars repeated Aiken's feat and debuting on top became almost an American Idol rite of passage. These chart toppers stopped in 2007 when American Idol changed they way in which they released the coronation songs.

Spears' No. 1 debut will no doubt set off a string of other artists seeking to do the same thing. It's all about bragging rights. "3" also becomes the record holder for shortest chart topper, ending the five-way tie between Frankie Avalon's "Why", the Jackson 5's "ABC", Edwin Starr's "War", and two Michael Jackson hits, "Ben" and "Bad".

"3" is Max Martin's fourth No. 1 hit in a year and a half (Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl", Pink's "So What", and Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You", a classy string of hits, I know). A few weeks ago I wrote about how Britney needed to fire him for writing such tasteless pieces of s***, but seeing as how he delivers the hits, however bad they might be, I don't see that happening. Oh well.

1. "3" - Britney Spears
2. "Down" - Jay Sean feat. Lil Wayne
3. "Party In The U.S.A." - Miley Cyrus
4. "Whatcha Say" - Jason Derulo
5. "Run This Town" - Jay-Z feat. Kanye West & Rihanna
6. "I've Gotta Feelin'" - Black Eyed Peas
7. "Paparazzi" - Lady Gaga
8. "You Belong With Me" - Taylor Swift
9. "Fireflies" - Owl City
10. "Use Somebody" - Kings of Leon


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