When producer Andrew Watt first met Britney Spears to report her components for “Hold Me Closer” — a club-ready duet with Elton John and her first new music in six years — he requested her who her favourite artists are. “She’s like, ‘Honestly, Elton John,’” he recollects. “She stated, ‘”Tiny Dancer’s” actually one in every of my favourite songs, which is why I wished to do it.”
Her ardour for the music shines by way of on the three-minute remodeling of the hit, which provides a springy disco beat, a contact of cavernous echo, and heat synths to the unique. On the music, John and Spears sing the verses to John’s 1992 single, “The One,” octaves aside, as an elastic guitar line stretches across the vocals and enfolds them. It’s a feel-good second due to Spears’ trademark adlibs (a “child” right here and there) and melismatic melodies. She sounds free, which is strictly how her followers hoped she’d sound after information broke final 12 months that she would be freed from the constrictive conservatorship that bound her for years. The music grew to become an instantaneous hit when it got here out final week, taking pictures to Number One within the U.Ok. and turning into ubiquitous within the U.S.
“It’s fairly rattling cool that I’m singing with one of the basic males of our time … Elton John!!!” she wrote on Twitter. “I’m kinda overwhelmed. … It’s an enormous deal to me!!!”
“I’m completely thrilled to have had the prospect to work with Britney Spears,” John stated in a press release. “She really is an icon, one of many all-time nice pop stars and she sounds superb on this report. I like her dearly and am delighted with what we’ve created collectively.”
It was John and husband David Furnish’s concept to ask Spears to sing on the observe, because the couple was contemplating artists for John to collaborate with following the success of “Cold Heart,” his blockbuster Lockdown Sessions duet with Dua Lipa. John had met Spears on the 2014 Oscars viewing celebration for his AIDS basis, and she had tweeted the following year about her love of “Tiny Dancer.”
“It was an extended shot as a result of [Britney] had performed a whole lot of press about how she’s performed with music for some time,” Watt says. “Elton reached out, and she cherished the thought and wished to do it.” The producer — who first met John in 2019 when engaged on the Ozzy Osbourne music “Ordinary Man,” which featured the 2 singers collectively — had initially picked “Tiny Dancer” “not solely [because it’s] one in every of my favourite songs of all time however one of many best recordings/songs/ballads actually ever.” But he largely wished to take heed to the unique multi-tracks. Getting Spears on the music was simply icing for him, since she had the identical ardor and consideration to element as he did.
Initially, Watt thought remodeling the 50-year-old observe can be a studying expertise. “I used to be similar to, ‘If this sucks, nobody will ever have to listen to it,’” he says, chuckling. He requested his pal, producer Cirkut, to work on it with him, and they ultimately found a Hendrix-like guitar line, performed on the unique by Caleb Quaye, that even Elton John didn’t keep in mind. “He was like, ‘I like that. Like, did you simply report that?’” Watt says. “I used to be like, ‘Dude, no.’” They turned it right into a 16-bar loop, performed round with the tempo, and gave it a four-on-the-floor membership beat.
“What Elton brilliantly stated to me was, ‘Don’t put a lot stress on your self,’” Watt says. “‘This isn’t the “New Tiny Dancer”; it is a enjoyable, new model for folks to take heed to after they’re having a drink in Ibiza and dance to. It’s not critical.’ I used to be like, ‘All proper, let me fucking put that hat on: I’m in Ibiza. I bought a fucking tequila in my hand. What do I need to take heed to, however what nonetheless feels Elton?’”
They performed round with the strings, even interpolating samples from John’s first platinum duet, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” and highlighted John’s “Hold me nearer, maintain me nearer” chorus within the outro. John favored that a lot he requested Watt and Cirkut to make it the main focus of the observe, and they reworked it right into a extra danceable music construction. John added new piano traces, together with a little bit of Rhodes — duetting with himself, half a century aside — and performed round with the verses to “The One” with a brand new melody. They felt good about it however knew it might turn out to be one thing else when Spears added her components.
“She got here up together with her personal concepts,” Watt says. “She wished to hurry up the report a bit bit, and we did that. She’s such a professional with dance music and understanding that type of stuff and what works for her.”
She was so ready, all she wanted was a day in Watt’s studio to get it proper. “She knew precisely what she wished to do,” he says. “She had spent tons of time with the report; she knew all of the lyrics; it was, like, her factor. And it was actually superior to witness and see her be so highly effective and crush it. She sounds unimaginable on the report, and she was concerned all the best way up till the ultimate combine.”
Even although it was Spears’ first recording in six years, Watt says she confirmed no apprehension; she arrived on the studio together with her supervisor and husband and was able to go. The solely factor that threw her was the best way Watt’s studio is one spacious room since she was accustomed to singing in dimly lit remoted vocal cubicles. “She was like, ‘OK, the place do I am going to report?’” he says. “I used to be like, ‘The mic’s proper there in entrance of you.’ She’s like, ‘I’m singing proper right here?’ I used to be like, ‘Yeah, however I’m proper right here and that means we are able to talk.’ She did it and she really actually loved it being proper there. We have been all type of there and it made it extra enjoyable. We have been simply speaking again and forth, and I used to be getting so excited when she was placing her voice on the report. It simply made it come to life and it was actually constructive.”
Spears spent a very long time refining her vocals, asking for additional takes to satisfy her personal requirements. “She’s performed it so many occasions, she didn’t have to be informed,” he says. “She is aware of when she’s bought the proper vocal take.” For the outro, they performed the music a couple of occasions so she may vibe alongside to it, which is when she closed her eyes and performed round with the melodies. “She was so free and improv-ing over it,” he says. “That’s the place all of the adlibs got here from; she was taking part in off of the drop and that melody. Those moments are so ‘her’ and a lot of her character.”
Watt and Cirkut then labored on a mixture from her totally different vocal takes, which Watt calls a “treasure trove,” and blended them with John’s vocals. She collaborated with them all through the method giving notes so they may make it precisely proper for her.
Ultimately, Watt was excited to listen to her falsetto on the music, which he likens to her singing on “Toxic,” and the best way her voice harmonized with John’s. “That falsetto is so Britney,” he says. “That couldn’t have been on the music with out her. I like that they’re singing collectively that their voices labored so good collectively. Once she sang that refrain, I threw my headphones within the air. I used to be like, ‘Oh, my God. It’s like Britney Spears’ voice singing ‘Tiny Dancer.’ It’s simply iconic and superb.”