The pair's single is finally out - marking Britney's first in six years - but it has divided critics, as Yasmin Bodalbhai reports
Britney Spears has teamed up with Sir Elton John with her first foray back into music since her 13-year conservatorship ended.
The pair have released their much-anticipated duet, Hold Me Closer, which mixes his 1971 hit Tiny Dancer with his 1992 song The One, while parts of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart from 1976 also featured in the track.
“She truly is an icon, one of the all-time great pop stars and she sounds amazing on this record. I love her dearly and am delighted with what we’ve created together,” Sir Elton said in a statement.
Spears, in her statement, told Sir Elton it was an honour to be asked: ”I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to work with you and your legendary mind.”
The pair first met in 2014 at an Oscar viewing party and she later tweeted her love of “Tiny Dancer,” sowing the seeds for the latest collaboration.
Sir Elton, 75, said he hopes his collaboration with Britney Spears – her first new music in six years – is a hit so it helps to restore her confidence to make more hits.
He told The Guardian: “It’s hard when you’re young. Britney was broken. I was broken when I got sober. I was in a terrible place."
He added: “I’ve been through that broken feeling and it’s horrible, and, luckily enough, I’ve been sober for 32 years and it’s the happiest I’ve ever been.
“Now, I’ve got the experience to be able to advise people and help them because I don’t want to see any artists in a dark place.
“A lot of artists, you’d think they’d have a lot of self-esteem, but they don’t, and that’s why we go on stage and we get the applause, and then we come off stage and we’re back to square one.”
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The song follows the success of the Rocketman singer’s collaboration with Dua Lipa on their track Cold Heart (Pnau Remix), released last year as the lead single from Sir Elton’s 32nd studio album, titled The Lockdown Sessions.
Sir Elton told The Guardian Spears had to approve the music, adding: “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.
“We’ve been holding her hand through the whole process, reassuring her that everything’s gonna be all right.”
The singer, who has been travelling the globe as part of his marathon Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, added he hoped the song will “restore her confidence in herself to get back into the studio, make more records, and realise that she is bloody good.”
In her statement, Spears added: “I was so honoured when the incredible Sir Elton John asked me to join him on one his most iconic songs."
Sir Elton said the idea to work with Spears came from his husband, David Furnish.