Britney Spears’ musical career as of 2009 could be divided into two distinct parts – the pre-Kevin Federline era and the post-Kevin Federline one. The first was where she achieved mass popularity with hits like …Baby One More Time, Oops!…I Did It Again and Toxic. Then, following a marriage with said Federline and a new-born son, Spears took a break from the music industry in order to concentrate on the family. This era was bookmarked in 2004 by the release of her first compilation, Greatest Hits: My Prerogative.
The break turned out to be a disaster, with a divorce soon on the way and public breakdowns putting Spears’ face on the cover of all scandal magazines. The comeback eventually happened in 2007, with singles such as Gimme More, Womanizer and Circus giving start to her second era. To capitalize on the regained success, 2009 saw the issuing of her second compilation, The Singles Collection.
3 was a song written specifically for this compilation and released as its only new single. Much like a lot of Spears’ previous successes, it is credited to Max Martin and it deals with sexual themes, threesomes to be more exact. This is what the title refers to, and the song also mentions the famous folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary (as in two boys and a girl).
3 spent 1 week at number one in Billboard Top 100 before being dethroned by Jay Sean’s Down (featuring Lil Wayne).