She's tried her hardest to keep it under wraps, but Britney Spears' comeback single has emerged online ahead of its official debut at midnight (EST) on January 11. Yep, Britney's back. Again.
'Hold It Against Me' is taken from Spears' as-yet-untitled seventh studio album, and sees her team up once again with long-time producers Max Martin and Dr. Luke. (The former has been responsible for some of Spears' biggest hits.) As a result, it's safe to assume that 'Hold It Against Me' is a slice of pop genius; a song that reaffirms Spears as a genuine pop star, and one of the artists who laid the foundations for the likes of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Or at least you would think so.
In reality, 'Hold It Against Me' is anything but, and instead it again finds Spears trending that now familiar path where she sounds like someone desperately trying to catch-up – and more alarmingly, simply remain relevant in an era where a host of artists simply do it better than her.
Sonically, over the course of nearly four minutes, we appear to be exposed to a short musical history of the last decade of dance music – from the sticky dancefloors of a euro trance club where the most imaginative thing on offer are the dodgy narcotics to a bastardised slice of dubstep. It's sounds like the result of mashing up Tiesto with Skream, and arguably the by-product is enough to encourage the latter reaction.
Britney Spears - 'Hold It Against Me':
Lyrically, Spears isn't exactly pushing the boundaries either. “If I said my heart was beating loud, if we could escape the crowd somehow. If I said I want your body now, would you hold it against me?” she asks amid a chorus of auto-tune that shreds the singer's voice of any of her former distinguishable characteristics. Indeed, in places it's almost unrecognisable.
From an artist who provided a genuine wake-up call in 1998 with '...Baby One More Time', and then went on to both alarm ('I'm A Slave 4 U', in 2001) and thrill ('Toxic', in 2004), 'Hold It Against Me' is a disappointing return - and a song that stirs little emotion or expectation for the rest of her new album.
“You feel like paradise and I need a vacation tonight,” Spears sings at one point on the song. On the strength of this, you could argue the singer has returned from her most recent musical holiday too early. Or at the very least, she's forgotten to unpack her creativity.