Pop icons Britney Spears and Sir Elton John have finally released their new duet “Hold Me Closer.” The highly anticipated collaboration puts a new spin on John’s legendary 1971 track “Tiny Dancer” from his album Madman Across the Water while also incorporating verses from John’s 1992 song “The One.” The duo have been teasing the tune for weeks and fans have been eagerly awaiting its release.
The new song dropped on streaming services at midnight on Friday. If you’ve been listening to Beyoncé and Drake’s new dance albums on repeat this summer, add “Tiny Dancer” to the mix. With a thumping bass and a heavy feel-good dance beat, Spears’ recognizable idiosyncratic voice melds perfectly with John’s.
The cover art for the single features childhood photos of the two Grammy-winning musicians. Britney poses in pink dance costume, while Elton smiles in a black and white photo, cheerfully sitting at the piano.
Making a triumphant return to music, “Hold Me Closer” marks one of Spears’ first big-time releases since her 2016 record Glory and her first time back in the studio since her 13-year conservatorship ended. (Her team re-released Glory in 2020, but Spears refused to perform under the confines of her restrictive conservatorship.)
Ahead of the song’s release, the “Toxic” singer wrote on Twitter, “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…@eltonofficial,” she wrote. “I’m kinda overwhelmed…it’s a big deal to me!!! I’m meditating more and learning my space is valuable and precious!!!”
She also posted a sneak peek of the audio video, which features rocket animation, to her Instagram but deleted her account on Thursday night.
The song was produced by Andrew Watt (who has worked with Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Camila Cabello, Pearl Jam, Ozzy Osbourne, and more) and recorded in L.A. during Spears’ honeymoon with new husband Sam Asghari.
Gushing over his “Hold Me Closer” collaborator, John told The Guardian that Spears “sang fantastically” and shared that he hopes the release will help her recognize “that people actually love her, and care for her, and want her to be happy.”
“She’s been away so long,” the musician added. “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. We’ve been holding her hand though the whole process, reassuring her that everything’s gonna be alright.”
While Spears is working on releasing a new memoir, John has been adding to his catalog with surprising new pop collabs. Before working with Spears, John joined forces with Dua Lipa and Pnau for the 2021 track “Cold Heart,” which also featured various themes of his previous compositions.
In the same interview, John said, “I want to do one [a collaboration] every year for a fun, happy summer record.”