Britney Spears, Elton John Debut 'Hold Me Closer'
Elton John and Britney Spears have released their highly anticipated collaboration, “Hold Me Closer.” (Tune in all day to your favourite iHeartRadio station to hear it!)
A reimagining of John’s 1971 classic “Tiny Dancer” that kicks off with the first verse of his 1992 song “The One” and interpolates a bit of 1976's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," the track was produced by Andrew Watt and Canada’s Cirkut (aka Toronto-born, Nova Scotia-raised Henry Walter).
The pair crafted “Hold Me Closer” by rearranging the original strings, guitar, piano and background vocals from “Tiny Dancer” and adding bass by Watt and drum programming by Cirkut.
John, 75, added new piano parts and Spears, 40, recorded her vocals at Watt’s home studio in California. (John's original vocals from the '70s were used.)
"She sang fantastically," John told The Guardian. “Everyone was saying they don’t think she can sing anymore. But I said, she was brilliant when she started so I think she can. And she did it, and I was so thrilled with what she did."
John said it was his Canadian husband David Furnish's idea to bring in Spears, who needed some reassurances. "We had to get her to approve what she did,” he said. “She’s been away so long – there’s a lot of fear there because she’s been betrayed so many times and she hasn’t really been in the public eye officially for so long.
"We’ve been holding her hand through the whole process, reassuring her that everything’s gonna be alright."
The single comes exactly six years to the day after Spears released her most recent album, Glory. (A 2020 deluxe edition included three previously unreleased tracks.)
“Okie dokie … my first song in 6 years,” Spears tweeted this week. “It’s pretty damn cool that I’m singing with one of the most classic men of our time … I’m kinda overwhelmed… it’s a big deal to me !!!”
It’s also a full circle moment for Spears, who tweeted on Oct. 21, 2015 (otherwise known as Back to the Future Day): “Tiny Dancer #EltonAlways @eltonofficial.”
John said: “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 realise that people actually love her and care for her and want her to be happy.”
"Hold Me Closer" was inspired last year's "Cold Heart" by John and Dua Lipa, which Australian trio PNAU created using John's 1972 hit "Rocket Man," 1976's "Where's the Shoorah?," 1983's "Kiss the Bride" and 1989's "Sacrifice."
Watt produced five songs on John's 2021 collection The Lockdown Sessions and worked with the singer on the title track of Ozzy Osbourne's 2020 album Ordinary Man.
Spears has history with Cirkut, who co-wrote and produced her songs “Mmm Papi” (on 2008’s Circus), “Seal it with a Kiss” (on 2013’s Femme Fatale) and “Brightest Morning Star” (on 2013’s Britney Jean) as well as “Ooh La La” (for 2013’s The Smurfs 2).
John resumes his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour with concerts on Sept. 7 and 8 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. (He plays Oct. 21 and 22 at BC Place in Vancouver.)