Is Britney Spears’ ‘If U Seek Amy’ Her Best Video Ever?

With nods to 'Slave 4 U,' 'Toxic' and more, clip sums up Britney's career to date.

Over the past few months, there’s been off-the-charts buzz surrounding [artist id="501686"]Britney Spears’s[/artist] new video for the song “If U Seek Amy,” from her new album, Circus. In January, radio stations got all hot and bothered about the tune’s chorus , which, in a brilliantly juvenile move, spells out a rather dirty word. Then, in early February, a handful of photos from the set of the video showing Brit as a sexy housewife sent the blogosphere into a tizzy.

Couple all that with the excitement generated by the launch of her “everything-under-the-big-top-including-an-actual-big-top” Circus tour , and word began to spread that not only was Britney back in top form, but that the “Amy” clip would be her greatest ever.

All that buzz came to a head on Thursday (March 12) morning, when the video premiered on Virgin Mobile’s Web site. We all got our first glimpse at the clip, which, while it might not be the greatest Britney video of all time, is certainly the most, well, Britney.

And by that, I mean that it manages to combine elements from all of Spears’s previous incarnations, and whirl them up into one rather head-swirling clip. Stylistically, it recalls her underrated “Everytime” video (shot-wise, not necessarily depressing-wise), and the entwined, nearly-nude bodies of “I’m A Slave 4 U.” There’s the come-hither stare she put on in the “Stronger” video, not to mention the body-writhing of clips like “Toxic” and “Womanizer.” She takes subtle jabs at the media — and not just at the beginning of the video, with a faux Fox News bit, but also some 40 seconds later, when she bends down to pick up a stray pair of panties, like she did in the “Piece of Me” video. Oh, and of course, at the end of “Amy,” there’s her (fictional) daughter, dressed in the infamous schoolgirl outfit from “… Baby, One More Time,” the video that put Britney on the map.

It’s a pretty amazing amalgamation of all things Brit, and a nice primer of her entire career up to this point. And when you consider that there’s (perhaps) even a message here — that even good girls have a nasty side, and that the holiest-of-thou can also be the naughtiest-of-all — well, then you’ve got to put “If U Seek Amy” on the top shelf of Britney clips.

But is it her greatest ever? I don’t think even the hardest of hard-core Brit nuts would make that claim (re-watch the “Toxic” and “Slave” videos again if you need a refresher), but it certainly ranks up there. By now, it’s passé to say — as fans did after the Circus tour premiere — that “Britney’s back” in regards to the “Amy” video, it’s perhaps more fitting to say “Britney’s (looking) back.”