Pop legends Britney Spears and Elton John have released their new duet “Hold Me Closer.”
It was made available Friday at midnight on the East Coast via streaming services, while an official audio video debuted on John’s YouTube page along with the simple message, “Elton John & Britney Spears’ new single ‘Hold Me Closer’ is out now!”
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The duo has been teasing their collaboration for weeks, with its official title revealed Aug. 19 after its pre-save availability was announced and cover art previewed Aug. 8. The song’s title is based on the first three lines of the chorus in John’s 1971 hit “Tiny Dancer,” which he wrote with longtime creative partner Bernie Taupin for the Madman Across the Water album.
“Hold Me Close” marks one of the first major releases for Spears following her 2016 album Glory and first new music since the end of her 13-year conservatorship.
In a series of tweets Aug. 24, just two days ahead of the song’s release, Spears expressed her excitement over the song’s release. “Okie dokie…my first song in 6 years,” she tweeted. “It’s pretty damn cool that I’m singing with one of the most classic men of our time…@eltonofficial !!!! I’m kinda overwhelmed…it’s a big deal for me.”
John shared multiple sneak peeks of the song in the lead-up to its release. That includes video of him previewing the track to a cheering crowd at La Guérite in Cannes before sharing a clearer snippet of the single accompanied by a rose- and rocket-infused animation. Spears also posted a teaser of the song to her from her Instagram, but has deleted her account from her as of Thursday night.
The duet is the latest collaboration celebrating John’s catalog. Before his duet with Spears, he teamed with Dua Lipa and Pnau on the 2021 release “Cold Heart,” which featured elements of John’s 1972 hit “Rocket Man” but also “Sacrifice,” “Kiss the Bride” and “Where’s the Shoorah? ”
While “Tiny Dancer” is likely the most recognizable track influence on “Hold Me Closer” for a number of reasons, it also features references to John’s 1992 song “The One” and 1976’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”
In an interview published Thursday, John confirmed plans to continue doing similar collaborations, telling The Guardian“I want to do one every year for a fun, happy summer record.”
The Grammy-winning musician also spoke about working with Spears, who recorded in Los Angeles during her honeymoon with producer Andrew Watt. He revealed that the specific idea to work with Spears came from her husband, David Furnish, with John calling it “a pretty amazing idea.”
“Everyone was saying they don’t think she can sing anymore,” he said at one point in the interview. “But I said, she was brilliant when she started so I think she she can. And she did it, and I was so thrilled with what she did.”
Producer Watt described Spears as both “really collaborative” and exacting in her vision for her half of the collaboration, coming up with the idea for her vocal runs while also being “incredibly specific” about how her vocals and levels were mixed.
John shared that “she sang fantastically” and hopes that the song will not only give her “much more confidence than she’s got already,” but also help her realize “that people actually love her and care for her and want her to be happy. ”
“She’s been away so long — there’s a lot of fear there because she’s been betrayed so many times and she’s not really been in the public eye officially for so long,” he said, alluding to her now-ended conservatorship. “We’ve been holding her hand through the whole process, reassuring her that everything’s gonna be alright.”
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