Ahead of the release of his “Hold Me Closer” duet with Britney Spears, Elton John did an interview with The Guardian about how the team-up came together and why it’s important to him to support Spears after she broke free of her conservatorship.
First off, John revealed that it was his husband, David Furnish, who had the initial idea to collaborate with Spears. The pair had been talking about the idea of making another patchwork song in the vein of his top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit “Cold Heart” with Dua Lipa, which includes lyrics from four his classic songs stitched together. Furnish said “it would be wonderful for Britney Spears to do it,” John recalls to The Guardian. “I said, ‘That’s a pretty amazing idea.’ She hadn’t done anything for so long. I’d been following what’s been happening to her for a long time.”
Spears stepped away from music and performing back in 2019, which prompted her concerned supporters to start the #FreeBritney movement, demanding that the conservatorship that had controlled her personal and professional lives for a decade-plus be ended.
“You forget she was the biggest star in the whole world at that time,” John says. “And to see what happened to her makes me so angry. What happened to her shouldn’t have happened to anybody.”
Spears hit the studio with Grammy-winning producer Watt to record new vocals for the duet, which includes lyrics from John’s “Tiny Dancer” and “The One.” John tells The Guardian that his team got Spears’ stamp of approval on the final product. “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,” he says. “We’ve been holding her hand through the whole process, reassuring her that everything’s gonna be all right.” For his part, Watt says of Spears, “She really pushed herself, vocally. Sometimes when you produce, the greatest thing in the world you can do is say nothing, so I just let her do her thing. She’s so good at knowing when she got the right take. She took complete control.”
John hopes “Hold Me Closer” is another chart success story, just like “Cold Heart” before it, so Spears can feel the love from pop fans. “I’m so excited to be able to do it with her because if it is a big hit, and I think it may be, it will give her so much more confidence than she’s got already and she will realize that people actually love her and care for her and want her to be happy,” John says. “That’s all anybody in their right mind would want after she went through such a traumatic time.”
Read the full interview with John — in which he also says, “Britney was broken. I was broken when I got sober. I was in a terrible place. I’ve been through that broken feeling and it’s horrible” — on The Guardian now. “Hold Me Closer” is out at midnight ET.