|N/A||Alien|| Work Bitch (song)|
| Britney Spears|
|Released||December 2, 2013|
|Format||CD single, digital download|
|Writer||Britney Spears, William Orbit, Dan Traynor, Ana Diaz, Anthony Preston|
|Producer||William Orbit, HyGrade, Anthony Preston|
It was written and produced by William Orbit and Anthony Preston, with additional songwriting provided by Spears, Dan Traynor, and Ana Diaz. "Alien" is a mid-tempo dance-pop song, which lyrically discusses Spears' feelings of loneliness. "Alien" received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who appreciated its production and recognized it as being among the more personal offerings from the record. The track is part of the setlist of Spears' ongoing residency show, "Britney: Piece of Me".
Charts and certificationsEdit
The track peaked at number 8 on the U.S Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles and debuted at 147 on the French Singles Chart.
After serving as a judge on the second season of the American version of The X Factor, Spears began work on her eighth studio album in December 2012. In May 2013, record producer William Orbit was announced to be working on the project. Upon the announcement of her record in September, titled Britney Jean, Spears described her collaboration with Orbit, titled "Alien", as "really cool" and "really great". Early reports speculated that the song would feature American recording artist Lady Gaga, as suggested by a tweet posted to Twitter by executive producer will.i.am, although such a collaboration never came to fruition.
On November 18, preceding the release date of Britney Jean on December 3, a demo version of the track was leaked online; Orbit commented that it was the "right song [with the] wrong chorus notes", which had been corrected on the final production. On December 22, Spears announced through her E! documentary special I Am Britney Jean that "Alien" would likely be released as a single from Britney Jean in 2014. In July 2014, audio leaked of Spears singing the song without pitch correction. James Lachno of The Daily Telegraph noted that Spears struggles to project her voice and reach the song's high notes.
Critics described Spears' vocal performance in the leaked track as "flat at best and, at worst, like a strangled cat", "noticeably off-key", "unpolished [and] unflattering", "diabolical", "a style that might kindly be described as tentative", and "toxic to the ears". CNN defended the track, saying that its quality is irrelevant as Spears is not known for her vocal ability. Orbit claimed that the audio was a vocal warm up, not expected to be a take, and not intended to be heard by the public, adding, "Whomever put this on the internet must have done so in a spirit of unkindness, but it can in no way detract from the fact that Britney is and always will be beyond stellar! She is magnificent! And that’s that."
"Alien" received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who appreciated its production and recognized it as being among the more personal offerings from the record. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic noted that Orbit was the only producer associated with the project that appropriately handled "[Spears'] sad, existential loneliness [by] placing it firmly in the center" of the track. Genevieve Koski from The A.V. Club complimented Spears for recording a midtempo track, which she felt showcased her vocal abilities better than the "robo-coo" that Spears is commonly associated with. Writing for Chicago Tribune, Greg Kot opined that "Alien" was the only song from Britney Jean that felt "vulnerable [and] personal".
Nick Catucci of Entertainment Weekly shared a similar sentiment, expressing enjoyment of the "weird and wonderful intimacy" of the track, while Michael Gragg of The Guardian appreciated the experimental nature of its production. Kevin Harley from The Independent made favorable comparisons to Ray of Light by Madonna, and felt that "Alien" was one of Spears' stronger "multi-producer alliances" from the record. Writing for Slant Magazine, Sal Cinquemani saw "Alien" as an opportunity in which Spears successfully "[pushed her] sound forward", though Barry Walters from Spin felt that her vocal performance failed to match the more solemn production of the song.
In light of the leaked audio, Lucas Villa of AXS listed "Alien" as the fifth best song of 2014, calling it a "gorgeous folktronica tune" that "hit home for the oft-guarded singer." He added that "hopefully all the fuss led people to the original version, one of Spears' best recent works."