Brintey Spears and Elton John have released “Hold Me Closer,” a reimagined duet of the piano man’s immortal tune, “Tiny Dancer.” The song is Spears’ first release since the termination of her conservatorship in November of 2021 and her first new music release in six years.
While the chorus is, of course, unmistakable, the song has been completely overhauled into a breezy dance-pop song, with Spears and John duetting gently on the verses and chorus and John adding trademark piano flourishes throughout. It’s an ideal follow-up to his similar reinvention on “Cold Cold Heart” with Dua Lipa, released last summer and featured on his “Lockdown Sessions” duets album, which essentially mashed up his songs “Sacrifice” and “Rocket Man.”
The duet was produced by Andrew Watt and Cirkut, who told Variety the story of how it was conceived and ultimately put together, including the idea to interpolate another John song, “The One.” “It hits Elton: What about ‘The One’ for the verses?” recalled Watt. “He starts singing it, but he’s singing it a little different. We went through melodies together, and it’s the words and the vibe, but the melody is repurposed to work over the chords. We took the vocal from that and tweaked it. ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘The One’ are 20-something years apart, but they worked together unbelievably.”
Watt added, “He wanted to collaborate again with an artist and came up with the idea to have Britney on the record. … The fact that it came together and she wanted to do it and how she sounded on the record — you couldn’t have made it up. … She elevated the record so much and put so much of her own personality into it — all of her ad-libs, runs and soulfulness.” (Read the two producers’ account of the full story behind the record here.)
“Tiny Dancer” was originally released in 1971 and was a minor hit in the U.S. and Europe at the time, but gained a second life when featured in a key scene in Cameron Crowe’s 2000 film “Almost Famous,” a semi-autobiographical retelling of his experiences as a young rock writer in the early 1970s.
On Aug. 8, just two weeks after Variety reported that Spears and John were working on a brand-new recording of John’s 1971 song, “Tiny Dancer,” the remake was confirmed by reps for both artists. The announcement contained very little information about the song — only including the single’s name and artwork which sees a rose (Spears) and a rocket (John).
Since the end of her 13-year conservatorship, Spears fans have been speculating whether or not she’d want to get back in the studio and return to the stage. While she was under her conservatorship from 2008 through 2021, Spears recorded new music, went on tour and held a Las Vegas residency. However, when she testified in court, the singer alleged that she was forced to work against her own will.