First Hit #1: January 29, 2011
Britney Spears’ comeback has been arguably about her producers rather than her own abilities. Hold It Against Me, at least, gives her a big chorus where she has the space to sing, between the moments where it’s clear that Dr. Luke and Max Martin want to try their hand at this dubstep thing they’ve heard so much about. To her credit, she manages to mine some pathos out of the world’s worst pickup line – whatever her abilities as a vocalist, that’s not something for the faint of heart – and this is the first time we have heard Spears actually putting in some effort for a while. But I actually think that Luke and Martin are using Spears as a place to experiment. The pop songwriters may work with every star under the sun, but few are willing to get out of the way like Spears is, and fewer still are able to move units on the first day like Spears does, as though fans really don’t care what she’s doing, just that she’s doing it. Here’s where they test sounds they can’t get anyone else to try, or production tricks that kind of push the artist out of the way, and it’s kind of clear in the way Hold It Against Me is all over the place in style, often with production techniques that plain don’t make sense. It’s not a song that works really, but it’s almost admirable in how it just throws things at the wall for the sake of it.