There are lots of complex things I’ll never understand. Calculus, string theory and some single men among them. A few things, in contrast, are simple. It’s no mystery at all, for example, why Britney Spears’ latest single, “Hold It Against Me,” is a hit. Or what its double entendre-laden title is referring to, for that matter.
The song’s hypnosis-inducing dubstep synths, grinding industrial beats and sensuously shallow lyrics turn the track into, as Globe and Mail writer J.D. Considine says, “lust made audible.” He also describes the track as “perfect ear candy,’ which goes some way toward explaining why it debuted at No. 1 (only the 18th song ever to accomplish that feat, and the second time for Spears).
“Hold It Against Me” captures Britney’s attempt to seduce a handsome stranger on the dance floor. “If I said my heart was beating loud,” she sings, “If we could escape the crowd somehow/If I said I want your body now/Would you hold it against me?” While the Bellamy Brothers may have beaten her to that winking wordplay with their 1979 country hit, “If I Said You Have a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me,” Britney makes it her own and takes the suggestive appeal several steps further, cooing, “You feel like paradise/And I need a vacation tonight.” For good measure, she also pouts, “Gimme somethin’ good/Don’t wanna wait, I want it now/Pop it like a hood/And show me how you work it out.”
Ambiguity, of course, has never been Britney’s strong suit. Here, her sole purpose is to dance, party (she mentions how “hazy” she is) and have what looks to be a one-night stand.
New York Daily News critic Jim Farber says of the intensely beat-driven song (which comes courtesy of frequent Spears songwriters Max Martin and Dr. Luke), “The star … isn’t the pop tart herself. It’s a burning, pulsing swath of synthesizer that oscillates throughout the track and pulls you into the chorus. It may be nothing but a gimmick, but it’s the kind that can’t help but make you move.”
Yes, people will move to this single. But smart ones will move away.