'Hold Me Closer' review: Britney Spears returns in vintage form with Elton John duet

The funky track is a remix of a trio of golden oldies by the British singer

Britney Spears and Elton John are old friends and reworked a number of his hits. Getty Images
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Britney Spears has made a career comeback with the help of a maestro.

Hold Me Closer, which was released on Friday, has her collaborating with Elton John while blending some of his previous hits including Tiny Dancer (1971), Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (1976) and The One (1992).

It is the first song Spears has released since her 2016 album Glory.

The proceeding years found Spears's musical career taking a backseat as she battled her conservatorship, which left her father in control of all aspects of her business and private life.

In June, she married Sam Asghari, a fitness professional and model. He met Spears on the set of her Slumber Party video in 2016.

Spears in back in vintage form

Spears couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to make her return.

Hold Me Closer follows the same format of Cold Heart, John’s previous collaboration with Dua Lipa, another modern melange of earlier tracks Rocket Man (1972), Where’s the Shoorah (1976) Kiss the Bride (1983) and Sacrifice (1989).

Where Cold Heart soared on the back of its smooth synth lines and club rhythms, Hold Me Closer shimmies along to the throbbing disco bass line throughout.

Similar to Lipa’s efforts, Spears’s contribution is heard in the chorus in which she performs an impressive falsetto.

The fact that she sounds so at ease is acknowledgment enough that she hasn’t lost any of her vocal ability.

According to Hold Me Closer producer Andrew Wyatt, Spears was adamant in nailing those sky-high notes.

“She kept going: ‘Nope, again, again, again',” he told The Guardian. "She was really collaborative and had really good ideas about the production. She’s an expert in music to make you dance.”

Despite the personal upheaval of recent years, Elton praised Spears for her professionalism in the studio.

“She sang fantastically,” he told The Guardian. “Everyone was saying they don’t think she can sing any more. 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.”

A new and clean slate

Despite all the goodwill and fan reaction online, we are yet to hear what Spears makes of the positive reception to her comeback.

Her Instagram account, with more than 42 million followers, has been deactivated.

The song is on her Twitter account, where Spears expressed how momentous the release is for her career and fans.

"Okie dokie … My first song in 6 years. It’s pretty damn cool that I’m singing with one of the most classic men of our time," she said on Wednesday. "I'm kinda overwhelmed...it's a big deal to me.”

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Updated: August 26, 2022, 10:09 AM