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

Oops — he did it once more.

Elton John on Thursday evening launched his new single, “Hold Me Closer,” a splashy duet with Britney Spears that mashes up John’s early-Seventies basic “Tiny Dancer” with the title monitor from his 1992 album “The One.”

As shameless as it’s delectable, the brand new music is a transparent bid to copy the success of “Cold Heart,” John’s 2021 collaboration with Dua Lipa, which blended a number of of his previous tunes — most prominently “Rocket Man” and “Sacrifice” — right into a smooth little bit of radio bait that carried John into the highest 10 of Billboard’s Scorching 100 for the primary time in additional than 20 years.

And the gambit is prone to work: Produced by Andrew Watt, who paired Ozzy Osbourne with Submit Malone just a few years in the past for the many-times-streamed “Take What You Want,” “Hold Me Closer” is a bop, a banger, a vibe: three and a half minutes of shimmering L.A.-lady electro-pop sung by the world’s most lovely 75-year-old and the ’90s’ preeminent blue-jean child. Which you could’t actually inform their voices aside due to the buckets of Auto-Tune solely makes their pairing that a lot sweeter.

For Spears, 40, “Hold Me Closer” — which based on the music’s credit additionally interpolates “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” John’s chart-topping 1976 duet with Kiki Dee — serves as a form of coming-out social gathering following the latest authorized victory that freed her from the onerous conservatorship that dominated her life and work for practically 14 years. The music is her first new music since her 2016 album “Glory,” a proven fact that evidently left her feeling susceptible as she recorded her vocals in Los Angeles.

“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,” John advised The Guardian in an interview revealed Thursday. “We’ve been holding her hand through the whole process, reassuring her that everything’s gonna be alright.”

For John, a proudly admitted trend-watcher, “Hold Me Closer” registers as the most recent signal of his pop savvy: Not solely did he perceive how a lot pent-up goodwill existed for Spears within the wake of #FreeBritney; he knew, in a summer time outlined by a house-music revival, that the best way to border her return was with funky bass and ethereal piano laid over a thumping four-on-the-floor groove.

And a melody, in fact, that everybody already is aware of by coronary heart. Remixing himself has lengthy been an Elton John specialty: Subsequent month — not lengthy earlier than he’s on account of play Dodger Stadium in a reprise of his iconic 1975 gigs there — the singer’s 1997 remake of “Candle in the Wind,” whose lyrics about Marilyn Monroe he had Bernie Taupin rewrite to honor the late Princess Diana, will flip 25.