Review Revue: Critics React To Britney Spears’ “Hold It Against Me” Video

Fourteen teasers later, Britney Spears’ mega-hyped video for “Hold It Against Me”—the lead single off the pop songstress’ upcoming seventh LP Femme Fatale—finally exploded onto the pop culture scene last night with a strobing flash of lights and spattering of rainbow colors. The song itself already topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart last month. But judging by the way various critics around the Internet reacted to the Jonas Åkerlund-directed clip, it may take a few more views to grow on folks—if they’re willing to give Ms. Spears’ latest another chance at all. Read on!

* The vid kind of left Entertainment Weekly‘s Music Mix feeling ho-hum: “The best part is undoubtedly the battle of Britney vs. Britney, in which our lady Crouching Tiger Hidden Fight Clubs her own self to the death (or narcolepsies? It’s a toss-up). Otherwise, she seems to spend a large portion of the video with the half-distracted air of a person who thinks they may have left the stove on at home.”

Britney Spears Hold It Against Me Video 5* Likewise, Australia’s Star Observer pointed out that the video is “bright, colorful and features men in underwear but the bizarre plot – which finds Britney fighting herself and floating above dancers in a giant wedding dress – doesn’t fit the song’s lyrics or tone.”

* Rolling Stone plays it neutral and simply notes, “The video, which was directed by Jonas Åkerlund, is a mix of everything we’ve come to expect from Britney — sexy costumes, elaborate choreography, good-girl pouting and bad-girl strutting — pushed way over the top.”

Britney Spears Hold It Against Me Video 3* The Washington Post quipped, “In her latest video, Britney Spears arrives on earth — an alien, we presume — to spread the message of consumerism… Is she the first performer to push product? No. Think of the effect Run DMC had on Adidas back in the early ’80s. But she does seem to be breaking ground with undisguised, un-subtle in-video brand cameos. ”

* E! Online was on a similar wavelength: “Perhaps not so weirdly these days, all the eye candy came with random close-ups of her signature fragrance, as well as Sony and Makeup for Ever products and the website PlentyOf (Oh yeah, Brit does some online dating in the video, too.) We were waiting for her to start chugging a Pepsi or, in keeping with the song’s message, whip out a pack of Trojans.”

Britney Spears Hold It Against Me Video 2* Throw Zap2it on the list of those not blown away by “Hold It Against Me”: “It’s fun — especially when things slow down and Brit enters stiletto’d mortal combat with herself — but we can’t help but want a little more (i.e. some sharper dance moves).”

* A longtime Spears fan is sad to report the following on The Stir: “I know there will be hard-core Brit fans who disagree, but in terms of new dance hits, Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ just hits a better beat.”

Britney Spears Hold It Against Me Video 4* Another mega-fan, The Prophet, found Brit’s latest clip—as well as the pop star’s lack of hitting the promo trail in support of her single—to be the last straw: “I don’t know what the cause is of Britney’s lethargic dancing, prolonged conservatorship, and severe lack of public exposure (to the point where she hasn’t said one word — I just need to reiterate that), but I know she’s not a lazy person, so to point the finger at her and blame her personally is a derogatory and negative manner is unfair.”

* Finally, yours truly was just hoping for some good old-fashioned Britney charm—or even one smile from the pop icon—on Chart Rigger. But I just ended up scratching my head: “This Britney Spears clip is like a great allegory, a Twisted Music Video Enigma that may never truly reveal its intricate secrets. Something tells me even Jigsawney didn’t know what the hell was going on while the cameras were rolling.”

  • Brandon Hall

    Yeah Ive watched repeatedly and after long consideration Ive decided Im just not a fan, had this video been any other singer it would have been great I believe its pretty bad that I feel like The chronography was meant for Katy Perry.

    The video really puts those teasers into perspective, they were an indication of how faced paced the video was going to be.

    Clip proves a theory I had that the video wasn’t actually finished while they were tossing these teasers out none of that footage made it into the video, the outfit is MIA,

    They got us good really, they hyped this to be the big return, it wasn’t. She still has that expressionless face like shes simply mouthing words no facial expression at all. The way they cut up the dancing so much really puts those rumors of a dance double in perspective.

  • joaqfer

    She is just disengaged… That was the word I was looking for… Doesn’t make me interested in neither the dancing nor the video nor the wardrobe… Anything… No emotion… Does she even care about having her career? That is the question…

  • Mike

    The Video: A Guide for the Perplexed

    Hold It Against Me Video: What the hell was that actually about?

    It symbolizes her rise, fall, and comeback

    She hits the earth like a meteor symbolizing the immediate and record-breaking success of her first record

    She is immediately surrounded by managers, make-up artists, publicists, record-executives ect. They are putting on their clothes which symbolizes how perverse and sick-minded Hollywood people are, but they have to tone it down a little bit because they are working with a minor (Britney was 16 when she first started). They make her put on make up/perfume because they want her to change her image into a glammed up girl and leave behind who she really is. Meanwhile, there are camera flashes showing her fame.

    The girl in media room represents her career. The wedding dress represents her purity and a perfect image that she had in the beginning of her career.

    The blind people represent the general public who are blind because they don’t see her for who she really is. In the beginning of her career, the general public builds her up to the top while she creates her original music videos, represented by her rising up surrounded by them.

    She feels lonely and looks for love, because she isn’t getting any being famous… This is symbolized by her finding someone who looks like Kevin Federline on a dating site. Finding him through the internet represents that she has nobody in her life who loves her, so she goes out to find someone… the internet dating site also represents how she found someone just by the cover, and can only see whatever he puts in his online profile, or whatever he “wants” her to see.

    Then she starts fighting herself. This represents how she had to fight her own insecurities, hardships, and how she didn’t know who she was. The red Britney is constantly seen in front of microphones, and is the “famous Britney.” She is depicted as being evil. The green Britney is the Britney that she thinks she is. In more detail, you see them fighting but eventually the green Britney strangles the red Britney, or the one that was changed by fame and has a more-evil image.

    Paint starts to come out of her fingers right as she fights herself. This occurs simultaneously because it is showing how her personal struggles affected her career. The paint gets all over her old videos — ruining her reputation, ruining her career, making people affiliate her with the messiness of her personal life rather than her great pop art.

    If you look close, she has a creepily-large smile, almost like the joker. This represents that she tries to fake her happiness in her career but it starts to become obviously over-faked. It doesn’t look natural. When she pretends like shes happy, people know she really isn’t because they see the problems in her personal life.

    The blind people (general public) come out from underneath her…. representing that the general public stopped supporting her. She falls to the bottom of the media room representing her fall in her career.

    Instead of dying, she gets up and starts to dance again, representing that she didn’t give up and continued to work hard to get herself back on track. The two Britney’s that got in a fight with each other stop fighting and she starts rising to the top again in the media room. It takes a lot out of her, but she continues to arise to be the queen of pop once more! The paint is still on her dress and on the videos, representing that the mistakes she made will not go away, and she will never be able to have that “perfect/pure” image again but she still rises.

    The question mark at the end represents’ “Who knows what will happen next? The next chapter in Britney’s epic career is just unfolding.”

  • Dennis Ho

    You are just amazing about this symbolism. i sorta got it but you just made the video a hella lot better by making us understand it better. not tht it wasn’t bad in the first place but it’s better knowing wht it was about THANKS!

  • +.Sherwin.+

    I don’t care about which song had the “better beat”, ‘Born This Way’ was stupidly written and massively unoriginal. You don’t make a song a gay anthem by TELLING people that it is. Gaga is simply a nutjob on a huge ego trip.

    The video is awesome despite the product placement. The dancing was ultimately ‘meh’ on Britney’s part. It’s hard for me to say it, but she’s not in the same dancing shape she used to be… I guess we should all just accept that. But it does tell a story that only those with a keen eye could understand, and that, along with the impressive visuals, are what this video has going for it.

  • alex
  • camila

    que raiva não consigo vota na BRITNEY SPEARS como faz !!!! QUERO ELA EM 1° LUGAR


  • Benny la micela

    well why are u concernd about her personal intrests? why can you and all the other americans look at it from an artistic prospective? whyis evevryone concern about her personal life? i really dont care what britney thinks, does or says, but from italian man coming from the land of ” art” , i think the video is pretty inspiring , its more inspiring to me than the criticism from all of you people. if you cant appreciate art, or at least admire it, thank ur just an american. :-) go britney . Italy and the rest of europe ‘ appreciates her art” unlike america that does nothing but ” talk” . There is a reason why her musik is always number one in the world, becasue its GOOD. you just odnt want to give it in, ur more worrried about downgrading an artist exp. M jackson, than appreciating his art.

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  • Jonathan Lest

    Seems odd that she is coming to SF and there hasn’t been much publicity here yet. Seems like it is pretty much going to shut the city down if she does a free show…

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