A little after 9:55 p.m. EST Thursday, my Twitter news-feed flash-flooded into a sea of foreign (to those living in Medieval Times... ) hash-tags like #HIAM, #HIAMVideoPremiere, #FemmeFatale. Which could only mean, the one and only Britney Spears (oops!) did it again. After 14 tepid, smoke-and-fog teasers, the highly-hyped Jonas Åkerlund-directed music video for her hard-thumping club banger of a single "Hold It Against Me" finally premiered.
I've so far refused to read full-length reviews, because the general consensus via Twitter caused me perpetual eye-rolling. Example: Mr. Perez Hilton/gaga-for-Gaga fan tweeted to "Britney" his disappointment regarding her lack of dancing. As per usual, fans remain trapped in a pre-Britney buzz-cut, "Best of... " music video collection replete with red catsuits, school-girl garb collection and frenetic pelvic thrusting dance routines -- a time wherein the pop princess was seemingly on top of the world. Um, let's not forget that she was also 18 and giggling while claiming she'd be a virgin until marriage in Pepsi-sponsored press conferences. Times have changed.
What I'm trying to say is, at 29, "Hold It Against Me" very well may be Britney's most personal, mature and greatest work of art yet. Yes, you read it right. A-R-T (sans the ludicrous product placement). The video kicks off with a meteor racing towards earth. The explosion is Britney, showing off her midriff to a slew of flashing cameras and dancing on a lit sound-stage surrounded by half-naked, writhing male dancers. Typical Britney. But then the chorus starts and Britney, in a flowing wedding dress, is hauntingly elevated into the air with surrounding futuristic screens basically playing, yep, a "Best of... " Britney video collection. With her golden locks and caked-on makeup, this is a return to the old, squeaky-clean Britney. This is how fans wish to remember her pre-babies/divorce/rehab: our beautiful and perfect pop princess, celestial, flying free and on top of the world and looking down on little ol' us. But I can't help but notice Britney's sad, soulful eyes, her subtext screaming to the cameras, "I'm not a Slave 4 U, I won't gimme you more, I'm no longer a girl, but I'm a woman with real life issues who sometimes tours the world and breaks records. You want a piece of me? Take your best shot. Here I am."
Other up-to-interpretation scenes reveal a Britney surrounded by a wreath of microphones (she's always gotta be "on!", the microphones are her shadow), and Britney battling (in fancy stilettos) a look-a-like. But there's no winner (she's her only competition, the only one standing in her way is herself a la Black Swan). She eventually comes "back to life" on stage for the confetti-exploding, choreographed closing scene celebration, which presents a return to old-school Britney (Look, she's dancing in a cute Britney outfit! She fell and got back up! Another "comeback"!)
But the most moving part of the entire five minutes comes during the dub-step breakdown, in which neon paint shoots from Brit Brit's finger tips, covering the screens projecting her immaculate, former self and drenching her pristine white wedding dress. Uh oh! Britney is going "crazy" again and her kingdom of followers (in this case, the probably Terence Koh-inspired identical figures without eyes who struggle aimlessly under her billowing dress) have lost, and are lost, without their Queen.
So, this is why I have no problem with the lack of hard-hitting choreography in this music video. The video, to me, quite complexly represents something quite simple. Although uber-fans (okay, or just me) playfully refer to her as Godney, she's oh-so-human. The once picture-perfect pop star has returned and is offering fans the new, worn-and-torn, and yes, stronger than yesterday Britney.
A recap. She lands on earth, it explodes. She flies in the air like an angel with her mega-fans dancing blindingly underneath her. She can't always handle the pressure of living up to her greatest hits constantly following her and the world wanting a piece of her. She battles herself, falls down, gets back up, and we all watch in anticipation and obsession while switching on the record button. But everything's gonna be okay. Because she's Britney, bitch, a Southern gal with big dreams who stole and broke the world's heart. She needn't give an elaborate explanation for this video. It is what it is: Britney at her most authentic, the sometimes frappuccino guzzling (and a bit hay-zay) pop icon. Take it or leave it. But don't hold it against her.