Hold Me Closer is the first track from Britney since her conservatorship was lifted and the her first track at all since 2016. She teamed up with Elton John to make a kind of disco / house mash up of Tiny Dancer, The One and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. It is interesting that she teamed up with Elton John to record this track, but Elton himself stated that he wanted to do the track with Britney because he connected with the challenges she has had to overcome over the past few years.
Many young female pop artists, Amy Winehouse most notably, are used as personal ATMs for their managers / family with little to no regard for their mental health or wellbeing. Britney not only had to endure this exploitation, but endured endless misogynistic comments from a patriarchal music media that felt the need to tear one woman down in order to feel better about themselves. Men are trash.
Through the Free Britney movement and documentaries, it seems like Britney has come out the other side and is ready to put out some music. The dancehall beat and slight disco flourishes are nothing you probably haven’t heard before. However, they serve their purpose, which is to make a catchy dance track that can withstand multiple plays without becoming repetitive. Elton’s keyboard work is there, but largely takes a back seat to bass, hand claps and disco glitter.
Vocally is where Hold Me Closer is most interesting. Elton and Britney harmonise well on verses, but that is not what’s important. Elton singing on a song is no big deal…Britney coming back after six / seven years is. It’s difficult to really get a handle on her vocals, because they use so much post production echo on it to make it sound “house” I guess. I really don’t think it’s needed and the post work didn’t add a whole lot. However, you do get glimpses of what Britney’s vocal has become and it is captivating. She is as crystal clear as ever albeit from a deeper vocal range, which lifts her out of her teen pop past. The glimpses I had of her straight up vocal has me wanting to hear more.
Now, this is not one of her best songs and probably not one of her best six songs. However, sometimes the song is not about the song. Seeing Britney make it through the music industry incinerator, which destroyed the lives of Amy Winehouse, Judy Garland and others, gives me hope in the world. Seeing Britney get back into music on her own terms warms my soul. The importance of Hold Me Closer is not about how it sounds, but that it exists at all. I hope that this single paves the way for a new Britney record of original material. Most importantly, I hope it paves the way for her continued happiness.
Listen to Hold Me Closer