Britney Spears’ new single, “Work Bitch,” dropped 24 hours earlier than expected, leaving reviewers scrambling on Sunday night. Now that the dust has settled a little, we’ve collected a sampling of the reviews and they are definitely mixed. We’ve sorted them into Good, So-So and Bad (if not downright ugly). After a few listens, I fall in the so-so camp. Good for Spears for saluting her dance following, but it feels like she’s a guest on her own single to me (although HitFix editor Gregory Ellwood is much fonder of it than I am). Plus, Spears has tweeted about how this album is so personal, so maybe my expectations were for something totally different. However, by now, we all know not to judge an album by its first single since that’s often thrown out just to get the conversation started, and Brit Brit certainly did that.


THE GOOD

IDOLATOR: Spears sets high, rap-informed standards for those who dare to reckon with her glittering, Vegas-informed reality: “You want a Bugatti? You want a Maserati? You better work, bitch.” (She should call Ace Hood sometime.) And as the propulsive club banger gains steam to skittering, lawn-sprinkler synths, the pop diva dares to sing, “Go call the police! Go call the governor!” with traces of a British accent. Early critics were right — that part of “Work Bitch” really is the best, albeit just one of several great quotable lines here.


DIRECTLYRICS.COM: Is "Work Bitch" the new motivational anthem of our generation?. Hell yeah! Whether you're depressed at home, on your way to work, at the gym, or letting yourself go in a club, Britney Spears' new single is the perfect the song for you. It will get you pumped up right away...The track is trance, pop, spacey, fist-pumping, massive, loud, infectious, catchy, and I could keep going with the adjectives. Britney's trademark singing, and the return of her British accent, complete the amazingness of "Work Bitch".


HOLLYWOOD LIFE: Brit is back sounding amazing with her new hit song, ‘Work B**ch,’ and we are so obsessed already. Honestly, we haven’t loved a song of hers this much since ‘Circus!’ Nice come back, girl!It is safe to say that this isn’t the Britney we’re used to hearing. Coming in fierce with a dance club beat that almost feels like an alarm, Britney does more commanding than singing, as she repeatedly tells someone that they “better work, bi**h.” It’s sort of like a more adult way of saying, “Come and get it.”


THE SO-SO


ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:The will.i.am-produced song — which clocks in at a robust (for Britney) four-plus minutes — is tailor-made for the dance floor. Spears lets listeners know that, whatever they want in life, whether it be a Bugatti, a Maserati, or a hot body: “You better work, bitch.”

ROLLING STONE: The pounding dance track, which features mostly spoken lyrics, serves as a testament to the fine things a strong work ethic can bring about. "You want a hot body, you want a Bugatti, you want a Maserati?" Spears asks. "You better work, bitch."

POP JUSTICE: It recalls the attitude of ‘Blackout’, but in a song crafted for a post-EDM pop landscape. This record wouldn’t sound like it does if EDM hadn’t happened, but at the same time it’s a Britney track first and foremost. The most exciting bit is the middle eight which goes all epic and spacey with some proper hands-in-the-lasers lyrics.

THE GUARDIAN: As with last year's collaboration with will.i.am, "Scream & Shout," "Work Bitch" feels slightly like a cluster of phrases and bits of melody hunting for a song to attach themselves to, although the overall result is much more appealing. Over a thundering electronic riff and a relentless jackhammer beat, Britney lists various things you'll need to work quite hard in order to achieve: "You wanna live fancy, live in a big mansion, party in France? You better work bitch". It's a sweary motivational anthem from an over-zealous life coach basically, with Britney challenging the listener to get the law involved ("go call the po-lice, go call the guv-a-nah"), but aware that they probably won't be able to help ("I am the guv-a-nah"). It's a pretty relentless onslaught that reflects pop's current love for chucking in everything up to and including the kitchen sink, but there's enough of Britney's personality – the myriad vocal tics, the ridiculous middle-eight breakdown bit – to make sure she hasn't been fully obliterated by will.i.am's production sledgehammer.


THE UGLY

UNDER THE GUN: The pop icon who kickstarted the a new wave of solo female acts at the end of the 1990s is doing whatever she can to keep her career alive with a trendy, albeit completely forgettable single that leaves a lot to be desired.Hitting the net Sunday (9/15), the long-awaited return of the girl who did it again is nothing more than a derivative, EDM-eccentric track that carries almost no unique qualities whatsoever when stacked against everything at radio right now. It’s slick, dance floor ready music meant for clubs that will sell to diehard fans and people trying to keep their workout playlists current while preparing to battle winter weight gain.


SLANT: Co-written and produced by will.i.am, the song finds the singer vamping in the same faux-continental accent she dubiously employed on the pair's recent Top 5 hit "Scream & Shout"—or is it just a ghastly attempt at British? "Work Bitch" follows the current EDM model of painfully aggressive, treble-heavy beats, harsh synths, and tuneless hooks, but makes even "Scream & Shout" sound like a melodic feast. At its best, that song plays like an homage to dance music's recent past, with nods to Underworld's "Born Slippy" and even Spears's own "Gimme More"; "Work Bitch," on the other hand, seems to aspire to classic bitch-queen anthems, but Spears's repeated instructions to "work, work, work" (to reach, if the cover art is any indication, the desired Nomi Malone levels of success) feel mechanical and forced.