Britney Spears’ ‘Hold It Against Me’ – Thoughts, Feelings, etc.

Early this week Britney Spears released a new single, “Hold It Against Me,” and it was kind of a big deal.


“Hold It Against Me” is co-produced by the dream team of Max Martin and Dr. Luke, who are collectively responsible for that whole Katy Perry situation [“I Kissed A Girl”, “California Gurls”, “Teenage Dream”, etc.] and for a lot of Ke$ha‘s success, too. You only have to look at what they’ve done for Britney so far to see that they’re a winning combo, the proof is in the club-ready chart-topping pudding. And you know, Britney does a good job singing it, too.

Thanks to a timely demo ‘leak’, this track was a hit before it even dropped. When it did, it shot straight to #1 on the US iTunes chart and smashed the record for the highest number of US radio plays in one day. It’s already #1 in 14 countries. Impressive, although not entirely shocking given the way it was hyped and branded. The Comeback Single. The first pawn in the highly sensationalized ‘Gaga vs. Britney’ battle for the coveted title of 2011’s Queen of Pop.

Reactions so far:

“The star of Britney Spears’ brand new single, “Hold It Against Me,” isn’t the pop tart herself. It’s a burning, pulsing swath of synthesizer that oscillates throughout the track and pulls you into the chorus. It may be nothing but a gimmick, but it’s the kind that can’t help but make you move.” (@nydailynews)

“There’s really no predictable formula on “Hold It Against Me” — it grows and evolves like a living organism. In fact, it’s so real that Team Britney have virtually mapped out the structure of the song to make it the musical equivalent of sex.” (@prophetblog)

“Musically, “Hold It Against Me” sounds a lot like what Britney was doing on her 2007 gem Blackout, perhaps the most influential pop album of the past five years. It definitely promises great things for her album.” (@rollingstone)

“Hold It Against Me” sounds like it was created, piece by piece, beat by beat, in a laboratory and it has about as much soul as an ice cube.” (@hitfix)

“If you listen to the lyrics of Britney Spears’ new single, ‘Hold It Against Me,’ you’ll find some major similarities. … In all honesty, we feel completely ripped off.” (@thebellamybrothers)

Which brings me to my personal reaction. This song is Britney Spears, through and through. It’s drama and pulses and power, overall it’s very well crafted, produced and performed. But I can’t stomach this right now. I seem to have woken up in 2011 with a severe hangover from the abundance of relatively emotionless and over-polished pop that dominated the charts last year, all of those uniform hits with their uninspired lyrics and those predictable hooks that at first excited me but then multiplied and gradually resulted in concussion. And even though this track’s slow burn has somewhat set it apart from last year’s done-to-death formulae, it lacks the passion and intensity that I crave right now.

I have no idea what pop music will sound like in 2011 – whether our artists will follow the beaten path or try to break new ground. As far as this hyped up competition for pop supremacy goes, I think a lot of you would agree that Britney Spears and Lady Gaga are both capable of producing a record that will shake up the genre and make them worthy of this year’s Queen of Pop title. In saying that, I think my money will be on Florence & The Machine.

So what do you think?

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Founding member. Former writer. Still loves Autostraddle with her whole heart.

Crystal has written 320 articles for us.


  1. Hi I already put this on Autostraddle tumblr, but the Rolling Stone review, which was insanely favorable, had the most amazing comment of all time on it, which I agree with wholeheartedly:

    I just read these silly pop reviews every now and then as a test of my belief that the world has long since past the point of no return, and we are more rapidly spiraling into oblivion. I have heard the awful garbage that Britney, Inc. has spewed out once again, and this publication’s failure to find it anything other than laughably absurd – little more than infantile regurgitation of just swallowed pablum – a solid confirmation of my sense of the world’s fate. It won’t be long now, fellow travelers, till our quaint cosmic voyage comes sputtering to a sudden apocalyptic halt, and there will be a sound echoing across the desolate and ravaged landscapes of this withering planet, issuing forth from an abandoned solar powered mp3 boom box, the plaintiff wailings of a robotized digitized pasteurized homogenized Britney. Then, maybe then, her noise will belong here, but until that harrowing scenario arrives, I’d prefer not hear from her.

    In conclusion — I love Britney. I purchased her ACTUAL PHYSICAL CDs from the store every time, I got In the Zone the day it came out, she was one of my first big-time lesbo crushes.

    That being said, this song is so dumb and boring and I agree with everything you said Crystal.

  2. There are parts of this song that I want to love and then realize they sound exactly like the bridge from Kill the Lights and then I get disappointed. Britney, I want to love you so much, why do you make it hard for me?

    • Ha, it does remind me of a gay bar in Brisbane that plays this sort of thing ALL THE TIME. But yay dancey pop. I’d love to see the mashups people come up with this track, it has potential for interesting arrangements/covers.

    • Yeah I like the beats, but I’m not sold on the vocals/lyrics. Also, I just realized she’s making a pun in the chorus. I am torn by my love of puns and my cringing at the sort of self-conscious look-at-this-pun-I’m-making-it-has-two meanings-one-is-sexy feeling to it.

      All of that being said, I’m sure I’ll probably end up drunk at a bar singing this at the top of my lungs in approximately 2 months.

  3. “If I said I want your body now, would you hold it against me?”

    Well if I’m honest Britney, yes I would. But you would not be allowed to sing this awful tripe.

  4. Thoughts:

    1. I paused Johnny Flynn to listen to this song, causing severe whiplash.

    2. Seems like pop music lately has been going in a very techno-y direction, resulting in a really angry metallic sort of sound. I am totally down with pop songs having lots of electronic elements, but I like it better when the sounds are brighter and softer, as in “California Gurls” or “Baby” by Justin Bieber.

    3. “I seem to have woken up in 2011 with a severe hangover from the abundance of relatively emotionless and over-polished pop that dominated the charts last year, all of those uniform hits with their uninspired lyrics and those predictable hooks that at first excited me but then multiplied and gradually resulted in concussion.” <– Awesome description, and pretty much how I felt about "Do It Like a Dude." I liked it in theory, because, duh, but in practice it felt like it was assaulting my earholes with its robotic Autotuned technoness.

    4. Who will be the Queen of Pop in 2011? Can I nominate Kanye West?

    • I paused Chrissie Hynde doing a cover of ‘Creep’ and may have suffered fingerlash quickly turning off this crapfest and going back to Creep but my fingers will recover and so will I thank God

  5. It’s very synthesized and autotuned… Not really to my taste, but definitely the standard recipe pop hit.
    Will Gaga have a better album than Britney? Absolutely. Gaga has my heart. In fact, she ate my heart.
    I’m just going to label Florence and the Machine alternative/indie so that I don’t have to choose between her album and Gaga’s for my favorite of the pop genre for the year.

  6. The song, honestly, sucks. The lyrics are SO empty. Not even tolerable empty. Like Katy Perry empty. Yes, the beat is great to dance to. But I don’t get why so many people think the beat is different and new. It isn’t. If you go to any club in Europe, you’ll hear it. So don’t think Britney came up with this. It has no soul. No depth. Nothing. The lyrics aren’t clever at all. If I could find the song with the lyrics taken out of it and just the music behind it, then I would tolerate the song. But the lyrics are such a turn-off, I can’t stand it.

  7. I would love for florence and the machine or gaga to take it this year.. however “its brittney bitch” its all im saying..

  8. Yes…you nailed it. Over-polished pop poisoning. This is what drove me to listen to country, and before you judge, hear me out. Country is a genre that most people love or hate. I was a hater, but i gave it a chance, and it cleared my music loving palate in the way eating ginger between different types of sushi does…now i can over listen to pop, hip hop and metal as long as I listen to some dude or lady with a twangy guitar sing about beer, romantical troubles, childhood, georgia pines, muddy rivers….you get the point.

  9. It’s catchy like the flu. Like the flu, it grabs hold of you and makes you feel bleary and awful but you realize that it’s not all that special because you’ve gotten the flu a million times before and this is exactly like the 999 999 other times you’ve gotten the flu.

    Also what is it with pop music and really horrible thinly disguised sexual innuendos? The whole song seems to be entirely structured around the pun and it’s not particularly funny/clever so I don’t know why this somehow works.

    • I just want you to know that I like what you did here, with the flu thing. Also obvious sexual innuendo in lyrics would probably make it on to my top 5 list of musical dislikes, should I ever write one.

      • Yes what with this and “If You Seek Amy,” it seems like Britney’s new lyricist these days is the wall of a middle school boys’ bathroom.

        • ahhh yes, “if you seek amy.” you don’t know HOW hard it was to explain that to some of my friends… haha

  10. literally had tears in my eyes first time i heard it
    amazing, blessed by the holy spearit, etc.
    currently at 62 itune plays + about 420383712193 on my blackberry.
    cannot wait for this album. if it’s half as good as blackout i will collapse.

    <333333333333333333333333333333333 never leave me again b.

    • Cher- omg, yes!

      I can usually at least rely on Britney for some catchy pop music, but this is a bit of a snooze fest.

  11. theres nothing really memorable about this song. the production seems ok, but the song as a whole doesn’t really grab my attention. i do think its silly that theres a whole competition for the female pop spot. gaga, britney, and florence all have completely different sounds even if it is all pop.

  12. I kinda, sorta, most definitely love Britney Spears but this song is the musication of what a trash can looks like.

  13. I’m mystified as to why everyone thinks this is the most amazing thing ever. To me, it kind of sounds like a Robyn song, and not one of her better or more catchy ones. It’s FINE but, if you already like and listen to dance/electronic music, I don’t think you’d find anything particularly striking about this.

  14. I’m sorry. What the fuck was that??? I stopped 30 seconds in to come back and ask that. I mean it wasn’t music- so- yeah. WTF WAS THAT OMG MY EARS ARE BLEEDING! Just saying. Remember the days when young baby Britney could sing, long before she was discovered and fetishized (<– not sure how to spell that in this moment of angst)? I distinctly remember hearing songs she had song among family and friends that were agazillion times better than this. Forgive me. Ever since you guys posted that article on Jessie J. I have been stalking her acoustic music and falling back in love with the long lost vocalists of today's music.

  15. I was actually at a gay bar tonight, and what sort of shocked they never played it.
    That’s all I have to offer, sorry.

  16. Florence and the Machine are fantastic, but she only really has two songs on Lungs – Dog Days and Kiss With A Fist. They’re both three years old and have been massively overplayed in the UK, although that didn’t stop The Gorillaz.

    … mind you, they’re _awesome_ songs.

  17. I don’t know what to say but it’s Britney…apparently whatever she does she sales…hopefully it’ll be better this time though.

  18. Is it bad that I want the Brittana schism to be solved via this song? Can’t decide if Santana singing it would be better than Brittany though.

    True Life: I care way too much about tv show lesbianism.

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