The Princess of Pop is back! After a six-year hiatus, Britney Spears made her musical comeback on Friday with the release of “Hold Me Closer,” her collaboration with Elton John.
The song, which is an EDM reimagining of John’s 1971 hit “Tiny Dancer,” marks Spears’ first new release since the legal victory last November that freed her from the 13-year conservatorship that controlled her career and personal life.
Last year, Spears revealed she stepped away from music and performing after the conservatorship “killed my dreams.” Her last album, “Glory,” arrived in 2016.
Before the release of “Hold Me Closer,” Spears tweeted that she’s learning “everyday is a clean slate to try and be a better person and do what makes me happy.”
She added that she wanted to be “fearless like when I was younger.”
John said he was inspired to join forces with Spears by his husband, David Furnish, adding that he believes their duet will give her a much-needed confidence boost after such a “traumatic time.”
“I’m so excited to be able to do it with her because if it is a big hit, and I think it may be, it will give her so much more confidence than she’s got already and she will realize that people actually love her and care for her and want her to be happy,” he said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.
A quick scan of social media and it looks like fans are delighted by the joint release.
“Such a cool, beautiful song, you guys make a wonderful team! We have missed you so much Brit, you can’t imagine how happy it makes me to hear you singing again,” one fan wrote on Twitter.
Another said: “welcome back!!!! Hold me closer is freaking fantastic! You sound so good!”
Among music critics, however, opinion was more divided.
Awarding the song a four-star rating, the Guardian’s Michael Cragg notes that Spears “throws in a few playful ‘yeahs’, ad libs that feel like actual yelps of joy rather than the robotic manoeuvres of someone being shuttled from studio to waiting car.”
He adds that “Spears seems to hint at finding that for herself again in music. Even if this is a one-off — and who can blame her if she doesn’t want to return to pop full-time — that feels like enough.”
According to Vogue’s Christian Allaire, “There’s something about Britney’s voice and a dance track that just go extremely well together — like red wine and a basket of bread. She does things with her vocal tone that all the other pop girlies simply can’t. That’s why she’s the true princess of pop.”
Writing in the UK’s Times, however, reviewer Will Hodgkinson was not as enthusiastic. While saying “the return of Britney Spears should be welcomed with open arms,” he described “Hold Me Closer” as a “bloodless remix” that “gives no space for Spears to shine while also killing the magic of the original.”
13 Thoughts I Had Listening to Britney Spears and Elton John’s “Hold Me Closer”
After her 13-year-long conservatorship was formally ended in November last year, the princess of pop Britney Spears is back with new music today—and she’s enlisted none other than fellow pop icon Elton John to do it with her. Together, the two stars have released “Hold Me Closer”—a contemporary take on John’s 1971 song, “Tiny Dancer.”
It’s Spears’s first musical project since regaining her freedom, and given her most recent new material was found on her 2016 album Glory, it’s safe to say her fans (the Britney Army, which this writer is a longtime and devoted member of) are pumped. First, a glorious wedding to husband Sam Asghari—now new music, too? America’s southern sweetheart is thriving, y’all!
So enough talking about it: I’m here to react to the new song in real-time. Join me and have a listen, won’t you? Below, find 13 thoughts I had while listening to Britney Spears and Elton John’s “Hold Me Closer.”
1. “Saw you dancing, out the ocean.” This is how Britney and Elton open the song—and it’s precisely how I wish to be listening to this brand new tune. By the water, with a cocktail in hand.
2. The song has a steady, smooth disco beat; the type you could dance slowly to all night long without ever getting tired of it. I just need a dance floor and some bellbottoms!
3. Britney and Elton are singing together at the same time—a true duet. Their voices, surprisingly, jive very well together, despite their stylistic differences.
4. I love that Britney’s using her lower register in the bridge. Her true voice! There have been rumors that the pop star has been forced by her label to sing in a high-pitched baby voice for years; It’s refreshing to see her return to her lower range, which was more prominent in her earlier work.
5. The hook is definitely a modern take on Elton’s original 1971 chorus, “Hold me closer, tiny dancer.” It’s probably no coincidence that it reminds me of the groovier take on “Cold Heart” that John and Dua Lipa recently did.
6. Elton’s sounding real good here, too. The man’s been in show business for six decades and, somehow, the passage of time doesn’t seem to affect those signature pipes.
7. There’s something about Britney’s voice and a dance track that just go extremely well together—like red wine and a basket of bread. She does things with her vocal tone that all the other pop girlies simply can’t. That’s why she’s the true princess of pop.
8. I will say: This song is pretty sweet and innocent for the pure-sexpot Britney, who once raunchily sang, “Yeah, your body looks so sick, I think I caught the flu.”
9. Her voice is also giving me serious Glory vibes here—her 2016 album, which had a more sophisticated sound. Digging this new leveled-up vibe for her.
10. Given this is Britney’s first post-conservatorship release, all I can think about while listening to this duo is how pissed Madonna must be that Elton got Britney on a track first. (Elton and Madonna have an infamous feud.) But c’mon now—there are enough music idols to go around.
11. How genius would it be if the music video was shot in Britney’s signature Instagram video style? I demand to see her do a fashion show, or twirl, to this beat.
12. Now that Britney’s partnering with icons like Elton John, I’m taking a moment to think about who else she could release a song with. Cher? Mariah? Her close friend, Selena Gomez? The opportunities are endless. True Britney fans also know that the pop star creates magic whenever she works with producer Danja (who did Blackout, her best album by far). Get Danja on the line!
13. As the soft piano outro plays, I find myself hoping this is one of many new tracks to come from Miss Spears. I think we can also all agree that we only want her to do things on her own terms, her own timing, and her own pure will, but I have a feeling she has more things up her sleeve. It’s Britney, bitch!