“Circus” is a song by American pop singer Britney Spears from her sixth studio album of the same name. It was released on December 1, 2008 as the second single from the album. The song, produced by Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco, talks about Spears abilities as an entertainer and explains the emotions she feels while performing on stage. Musically, “Circus” is an uptempo dance song, with influences of R&B.
“Circus” has received positive reviews from music critics, many praising the song’s production. The single became Spears’ first top-three debut on the Billboard Hot 100 and has sold 2.5 million copies in the US. The song has been certified platinum in Australia and Denmark and reached top ten positions in eleven countries worldwide.
The music video features Spears as the ringleader of a circus and was directed by Francis Lawrence. The song has been performed on Good Morning America to a TV audience of over 20 million as well as The Circus Starring: Britney Spears world tour. Spears opens the show with “Circus”, while wearing a ringmaster-stlye outfit complete with a whip.
The music video was filmed from October 28, 2008 until November 2, 2008. Confirmed by her manager Larry Rudolph, Francis Lawrence, directed the music video. Spears chose Lawrence, since he was the “only person who could capture it, make it really twisted, eccentric and different” . The shoot was confirmed by Spears herself on November 6, 2008 at the MTV Europe Music Awards, while on set shooting it. She was seen sporting a curled bob hair style. An exclusive three-second clip was shown during a promo for her documentary Britney: For the Record. A 30 second preview/teaser of the video was released by Spears’ Jive Records-run YouTube channel on November 25, 2008, with a second being released on December 1, 2008.
The video leaked on to the China video sharing website Tudou on December 3, 2008, although this was later confirmed that this was not the final edit of the video. The finalized video was to be officially premiered on December 5, 2008, on Entertainment Tonight. However, due to the leak and public interest, Entertainment Tonight and Spears’ management decided to change the date of the world premiere to December 4, 2008.
The video starts off with Spears at a vanity, putting Curious on as well as putting on earrings by BVLGARI. Then her shadow is seen, she is holding a hat in front of her face while birds fly out of a hat. Then Spears is shown in front of a red curtain, with the spotlight on her. She puts on a jacket and proceeds with her dance crew. As the chorus begins, they are all shown dancing. Then Spears is shown with a leaf-like bra on, dancing around chairs. Also, she is seen moving in slow motions with fireworks coming down behind her. Spears and her crew dance around a ring of fire. Throughout the video Spears is also seen next to lions and elephants.
The entertainment website, Digital Spy, described the music video as being “cheeky, seductive and more than a little bit ridiculous”, and said that Spears “delivers some killer dance routines”. PETA has criticized the music video, which they claim uses cruelly-trained lions and elephants. PETA director said: “Britney may think her life is a circus, but for the animals who are whipped, chained, and beaten to perform under the real big top, the cruelty is very real. She may be headed for a comeback, but when it comes to animals, she still can’t get her act together.” This is the second time PETA have commented on the singer, the organization criticized her for dancing on stage with a yellow python at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. The video won the award for “Best Moves” at the MTV Australia Awards 2009.
The music video has received over 55 million hits since its release on YouTube alone. Total viral views total over 70 million.
On August 4, 2009 it was announced that the song’s music video had been nominated for 5 awards at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards: “Best Art Direction”, “Best Choreography”, “Best Cinematography”, “Best Direction” and “Best Editing”, however, Spears won none for this song.