"Criminal" (CD Single)

Music review by
Stephanie Bruzzese, Common Sense Media
"Criminal" (CD Single) Music Poster Image
Track lacks sex but celebrates an unhealthy relationship.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

This song about giving in to romantic feelings for the wrong person doesn't send the best message to tweens and teens, who are just figuring out how to have relationships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The song is about embracing an unhealthy relationship instead of walking away.


One reference to a gun.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although "Criminal" doesn't include any profanity or references to sex or substances, it has a troubling message about a girl who revels in her relationship with a guy she calls a "bum, hustler, villain, and criminal," among other unsavory adjectives. It's a less-than-positive message for impressionable young tweens and teens who are trying to build self-confidence and learn how to navigate romantic relationships.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byloldoge333 January 20, 2015


This song is really catchy and makes you want to Mastrabate, but don't let 13 or younger watch the music video, because it's about Britney wanting the... Continue reading
Adult Written byaiew2009 February 2, 2012

14! for music video

The single obviously Isn't bad as her video to this. Just when I think Britney Spears video's couldn't be more inapropriate , I was wrong. She h... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bymr. preston January 10, 2016

Most Raunchy Song From Femme Fatale

The message is overall negative; celebrating an unhealthy relationship. The sex in the song is limited to lines such as "This type of love isn't ratio... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 13, 2012

Mama, I LOVE THIS SONG!!!!!!!!!!

While the song isn't graphic, it talks about guns and being a killer just for fun. Also name calling isn't a good message nor is giving in to bad roma... Continue reading

What's the story?

"CRIMINAL" is the final song on Femme Fatale, Britney Spears' seventh full-length album. Although "Criminal" isn't as graphic or sexual as past releases, its overall message is still a troubling one about a girl who refuses to get over a guy who "lies, bluffs," and is "unreliable."

Is it any good?

This downtempo single has a somewhat different sound than the typical Spears track, with a flute-based hook and less of the synth-noise that permeates most of her songs. While it's nice to hear Brit take a varied approach, the new angle calls attention to her lackluster vocal talent.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why some people are drawn to others who treat them badly. How can you help a friend who's in an unhealthy relationship?

  • In light of Spears' own troubled romantic past, why would she release a song that glorifies a troubled relationship?

Music details

  • Artist: Britney Spears
  • Release date: September 29, 2011
  • Type: Single
  • Label: Jive Records
  • Genre: Pop
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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