Britney Spears returns with Elton John on ‘Hold Me Closer’

Oops – he did it again.

Elton John released his new single “Hold Me Closer” on Thursday night, a sparkling duet with Britney Spears that mixes John’s early 1970s classic “Tiny Dancer” with the title track of his 1992 album The One.

As unashamed as it is delicious, the new song is a clear effort to repeat the success of “Cold Heart,” John’s 2021 collaboration with Dua Lipa that revived several of his old tunes — most notably “Rocket Man” and “Sacrifice” — mixed. into a sleek radio lure that propelled John into the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in more than two decades.

And the gambit should work: Produced by Andrew Watt, who brought together Ozzy Osbourne with Post Malone for the a few years ago many-times-streamed “Take What You Want”, “Hold Me Closer” is a bop, a banger, a vibe: three and a half minutes of shimmering LA lady electro-pop sung by the world’s most fabulous 75-year-old and the standout blue -Jean baby of the 90s. The fact that you can’t really tell their voices apart thanks to the buckets of auto-tune only makes their pairing even sweeter.

For Spears, 40, “Hold Me Closer” — also credited to the song’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” John’s chart-topping duet with Kiki Dee in 1976 — serves as a kind of coming out party following the recent legal victory that freed her from the onerous conservatorship that dominated her life and work for nearly 14 years. The song is her first new music since her 2016 album Glory, a fact that obviously left her vulnerable while recording her vocals in Los Angeles.

“She’s been gone for so long – there’s a lot of anxiety because she’s been betrayed so many times and hasn’t really been officially in the public eye for so long,” John told The Guardian in an interview published on Thursday. “We held her hand throughout the process and reassured her that everything will be fine.”

For John, a proudly professed trend watcher, Hold Me Closer is the latest display of his pop savvy: not only did he understand how much pent-up goodwill there was for Spears after #FreeBritney; He knew the way to shape their return in a summer marked by a house music revival, with funky basses and airy piano over a pounding four-on-the-floor groove.

And of course a melody that everyone already knows by heart. Remixing himself has long been a specialty of Elton John: next month – not long before he’ll play Dodger Stadium in a repeat of his legendary 1975 gigs there – the singer’s 1997 remake of “Candle in the Wind” is out, his Lyrics about Marilyn Monroe he had Bernie Taupin rewrote to honor the late Princess Diana who turns 25. Britney Spears returns with Elton John on ‘Hold Me Closer’

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