Say what you want about Britney Spears in regards to vocal ability or brain power (we happen to think she's adorbs), but it's pretty well accepted that she's a Southern sweetheart.

Which is why when she was asked about the death of legendary Mouseketeer Annette Funicello -- who paved the way for Spears' own start on the 'Mickey Mouse Club' -- it came as a big shock when she giggled.

TMZ cameras caught up with the singer and former 'X Factor' judge and asked, "What do you think of the passing of Annette Funicello?"

Spears paused and looked confused, then smiled, "I think that's great!"

Obviously, that's not the answer most people were expecting. Fear not, as Spears clarified later that she simply misheard the question and just gave the PR-approved "smile and nod" reaction, which works in every other imaginable situation but this one.