Britney Spears’ fervent fan base is being credited online with helping the singer’s 2011 song “Selfish” climb above Justin Timberlake’s new release of the same name on the iTunes charts.
Timberlake, who is releasing a new album in March, debuted the single on Thursday. By Friday, Spears’ hit from 13 years ago was ranked at No. 2, with Timberlake’s song at No. 3 on iTunes. At one point, it was ranked at No. 1, but Canadian rapper Tom MacDonald’s “FACTS (feat. Ben Shapiro)” now tops the list.
A spokesperson for Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives for Spears and Timberlake also did not immediately respond.
Timberlake, who rose to fame in the group ‘N Sync, has been the subject of scrutiny by many Spears fans in the last year after the release of her memoir, “The Woman in Me.” The pair, who first met as kids on the set of “The Mickey Mouse Club,” dated from 1999 to 2002.
In her book, Spears said she had an abortion after getting pregnant by Timberlake. She wrote that he cheated on her “a couple of times,” and that she also cheated on him once with a dancer.
Spears’ fan base has a strong parasocial connection to the singer, whom they have advocated for for years.
The singer has credited the #FreeBritney movement, a collective of fans who largely gathered online to question if the singer needed to be under the conservatorship of her father, with helping to bring attention to that situation. The 13-year conservatorship ended in 2021.
“Then we all joined in, saying that Britney Spears was coming back with a ‘brand’ new song,” the fan told EW. “I still can’t believe that it became so big, and we see the results we see now.”
Many fans online said they were celebrating after Spears’ “Selfish” edged out Timberlake’s song.
Another wrote: “Britney stans finally realizing how much power they have when they unite, and they could literally make Selfish trend on TikTok if they wanted to.”
Timberlake is set to perform on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend as the show’s musical guest.
Spears on Sunday addressed Timberlake's song, as well as her book, in an Instagram post.
"I wanna apologize for some of the things I wrote about in my book," she wrote in the caption, sharing a clip of Timberlake performing with Jimmy Fallon. "If I offended any of the people I genuinely care about I am deeply sorry… I also wanted to say I am in love with Justin Timberlake’s new song “Selfish” 🌹 It is soo good and how come every time I see Justin and Jimmy together I laugh so hard ???Ps “Sanctified” is wow 🤩 too."