Femme Fatale is Britney Spears's seventh studio album. It was released on March 25, 2011 by Jive Records.
Britney wanted to make a "fresh-sounding" and "fierce dance album", incorporating pop and dance styles with elements of dubstep, techno and trance.
The contributions to its production came from a variety of producers and songwriters, including long-time collaborator Max Martin in addition to Dr. Luke, William Orbit, Fraser T Smith, Rodney Jerkins, Bloodshy & Avant. will.i.am and StarGate.
Upon its release, the album received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who complimented its production and dance-pop style, but noted her supposed lack of involvement and heavily processed vocals.
Some stated that Britney was no longer the center of the album and found a trade-off to be real personality.
Singer-songwriter Ryan Tedder defended her, saying that Frank Sinatra and Garth Brooks were huge artists who didn't write most of their songs.
The album debuted atop of the charts in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and the United States, and peaking inside the top ten in twenty-four countries.
In the United States, she earned her sixth number one album.
In June 2010, during an interview with Rap-Up, Danja commented that he was working with Britney in the pre-production of "Femme Fatale."
Darkchild (who was also reportedly working with her) said during a Ustream session in August of 2010:
"Britney fans are gonna be so happy in a few weeks", hinting about the release of new music."
However, this was denied by Spears's manager Adam Leber, who stated:
"No new music news right now....Wish people wouldn't mislead you guys with BS info. Not cool! PS- The guys that ARE working on Brit's next album ARE NOT talking about it..."
Leber later spoke with Entertainment Weekly, calling the sound of the record "progressive" and "a departure from what you've heard."
In November of 2010, Dr. Luke announced that he would be the executive producer of Femme Fatale, along with Max Martin.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Britney explained that she had worked with Luke during the production of "Blackout, "stating that "he was incredible back then and he has only gotten better over the years."
About Martin, she commented that "he has been there since the beginning so there is such a huge level of trust. [...] There is nobody I feel more comfortable collaborating with in the studio."
On December 2, 2010, the day of her 29th birthday, Britney thanked her fans for the birthday wishes and announced:
"I'm almost done with my new album and it will be coming out this March. I AM IN L-O-V-E WITH IT!"
Following the announcement of the album's title and cover on February 2, 2011, Britney said about "Femme Fatale":
"I've poured my heart and soul into this album over the last 2 years. I've put everything I have into it. This album is for you, my fans, who have always supported me and have stuck by me every step of the way! I love you all! Sexy and Strong. Dangerous yet mysterious. Cool yet confident! FEMME FATALE."
On February 2, 2011, Britney announced the album's title through her Twitter account, and also posted an image of the album cover.
Following the announcement, the title became a trending topic on Twitter and then went on to become the tenth longest-running trend on the site as well as the first music related trend to break the top ten.
"Can't believe Femme Fatale has been trending 6 days. You guys are my motivation every single day. I love Y'all!"
The album was released on March 25, 2011, primarily in a standard (soft pack/wallet packaging) version, and a deluxe version (expanded soft pack with additional booklet pages), which features four additional tracks.
A premium fan edition was also released, including a limited edition 32-page hardcover photo book, the deluxe edition CD with exclusive artwork, a 7" vinyl picture disc with "Hold It Against Me" and the full album digital download on the street date.
On June 15, 2011, it was announced by Billboard that the RCA/Jive Label Group would be splitting with Jive Records being fully moved under RCA Records staying intact.
In August, it was announced that Britney had officially joined the RCA's roster.
On August 28, 2011 (during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards), MTV played tribute to Britney with a group of young female dancers that memorialised Britney's music videos, performances and style.
Following which, she accepted the MTV Video Vanguard Award from Lady Gaga, who said that the "industry wouldn't be the same without [her]."
On September 9, 2011, Britney announced her second remix album B In The Mix: The Remixes Vol. 2 which was released on October 7, 2011 (along with the tracklist).
On October 7, 2011, RCA Music Group announced it was disbanding Jive Records along with Arista Records and J Records.
With the shutdown, Britney (and all other artists previously signed to these three labels) will release her future material on the RCA Records brand.
In July of 2009, Britney announced that she had begun recording new material with longtime collaborator Max Martin.The material formed what would become her seventh studio album, and was completed two years later.
She stated her desire to make the album "fresh-sounding [...] for the clubs or something that you play in your car when you're going out at night that gets you excited, but I wanted it to sound different from everything else out right now."
Britney also stated that she wanted to make sure Femme Fatale was completely different from Circus and that the album felt "really connected from start to finish."
After "Hold It Against Me" was written, Luke and Martin originally wanted to give the track to Katy Perry, but they later decided that "it definitely wasn't a Katy Perry record."
They continued to work on the song with Billboard, and Luke commented that before giving the song to Britney, "I wanted to make sure it didn't sound like everything else I've done."
Darkchild stated that while working with him, Britney was very "hands-on" and "had a lot of ideas for me."
He later commented he had produced two songs for the album (with one of them featuring Travis Barker).
Darkchild added that the song "[has] this rock feel which is out of the box, out of my norm, and I think it's out of her norm as well."
In February of 2011, Dr. Luke revealed that a final "cohesive" track listing had not yet been chosen.
Later that month, Britney worked with will.i.am, who described their collaboration as "something that today needs."
She later commented that she is a fan of The Black Eyed Peas and would love to work with will.i.am again the future.
Britney also explained that she discovered Sabi through a friend recommendation, and had always wanted to feature a new artist in one of her albums, hence they recorded the song "(Drop Dead) Beautiful."
British producer Fraser T Smith worked with Britney on three tracks and complimented her work ethic, saying:
"She made coffee for us all in the studio, her voice was strong and she was totally focused on her music. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. I just hope the tracks make the final cut for the album."
Heather Bright (one of the album's songwriters) revealed that "Trouble for Me" was one of the first songs recorded by Britney for the album.
William Orbit confirmed he had co-written a track for Britney with Klas Åhlund, but it was left off the final track listing.
Orbit stated that he was displeased with the decision and commented:
"[T]he Britney thing. Look, I went to a writing camp at Teresa's. Had lovely time. Word got out. Assumptions were made. Dr Luke is exec[utive] prod[ucer] and he locks in locks out whoever he likes. And (do [I] hear [you] ask) where B's at in all this? I surely don't know. [D]id a song [with] Klas Ahlund, who wrote ‘Piece of Me’. And is killa. But not on [Femme Fatale] apparently. But a good song is a good song regardless."
Music writers noted electropop and dance-pop styles on the album.
Music journalist Jody Rosen wrote of the album:
"Conceptually it's straightforward: a party record packed with sex and sadness."
She described Femme Fatale on a Twitter chat as "moody, edgy pop with A LOT of energy" with "a few mid-tempos that could be considered ballads."
Although Britney was criticized for her lack of involvement from the album's production and writing, she wrote the song "Scary" (produced by Fraser T Smith) which is included in the Japanese deluxe edition of the album.
The album opens with "Till the World Ends" (co-written by Kesha) was described as an uptempo dance-pop and electropop song with an electro beat and elements of trance and Eurodance.
The song opens with sirens and a "sizzling" bassline. Critics complimented the songs "anthemic nature" and "chant-like chorus."
The second track and lead single "Hold It Against Me" is a dance-pop song which features industrial beats, a dubstep-influenced breakdown and employing elements of grime and a final chorus with elements of rave.
The lyrics portray the singer seducing someone on the dancefloor, while the chorus revolves around pick-up lines, with Britney singing, "If I said I want your body now, would you hold it against me?"
She was complimented by critics for "stepping into new territory and pushing the boundaries of dance pop once more."
The third track "Inside Out" is an electropop song. It features themes of dubstep and R&B, complimented with "earth-shattering synths."
The song was praised for its intricate production and has been compared to her earlier work on albums In The Zone and Circus & also to Janet Jackson, and Madonna's album "Ray of Light" and song "Music."
Britney crescendos "Baby shut your mouth and turn me inside" during the chorus section and then goes on to "Hit me one more time it’s so amazing” and "You're the only one who's ever drove me crazy" referencing her first singles ...Baby One More Time and (You Drive Me) Crazy.
The fourth track "I Wanna Go" is a dance-pop and Hi-NRG song, that includes elements of techno and a heavy bassline.
The song contains a whistled melody. In the chorus, she stutters "I I I wanna go O O / All the way / Taking out my freak tonight." The "builds and breaks" were compared to her album Blackout.
"How I Roll" is the fifth track (produced by Bloodshy, Henrik Jonback & Magnus) where Britney "pirouettes from a gulping in-and-out breath effect" and described as a "bubbly, playful pop song."
Britney's voice is heavily altered, with her voice being put through many distorters, filters and blenders. It also uses constant rushed handclaps, with elements comparable to Janet Jackson's song "Strawberry Bounce."
The sixth and seventh tracks "Drop Dead (Beautiful) (feat Sabi)" and "Seal It With A Kiss" were commented as "fillers," however "Seal It With A Kiss" was complimented as "genuinely exciting" with Williams Hernes of Rolling Stone adding "[Dr. Luke + Max Martin] dropping a dubstep break on "Seal It With A Kiss." I love it when the avant-garde seeps into the mainstream."
The song "Big Fat Bass" is the album's eighth track and while it "sticks to dancefloor essentials," the song was described as an "unfortunate collaboration" with will.i.am. It was noted as being catchy, but repetitive.
The song "Trouble for Me" features a pre-chorus filled with "melting, wheezing synths" likened to a "Wiley grime wobble" segueing into a "Janet Jackson vocal."
Britney's voice has been autotuned, but her voice was described as "raw" and the tones and wines as "sexy" and "one of a kind".
The last track on the album's standard edition "Criminal" is a guitar-driven midtempo song, which incorporates a folk-style flute melody.
Erin Thompson of the Seattle Weekly said the song "takes a breather from aggressive, wall-to-wall synths, driven instead by a steady guitar rhythm and an oddly Asian folky-sounding flute melody."
In the verses, Britney sings about being in love with a bad boy and outlaw, in lyrics such as "He is a hustler / He's no good at all / He is a loser, he's a bum, bum, bum, bum" and "He is a bad boy with a tainted heart / And even I know this ain't smart."
During the chorus, she pleads to her mother not to worry in lines such as "But mama im in love with a criminal" and "Mama please don't cry / I will be alright."
Album Controversy & ImpactsEdit
Despite giving favorable reviews, music critics noted Britney's apparent lack of input on "Femme Fatale."
Singer-songwriter Ryan Tedder defended her, stating that "[Frank] Sinatra didn't write a song, Garth Brooks barely wrote anything, George Strait has had I think 51 No. 1's and he has yet to write a song. Rascal Flatts are one of the biggest country acts in the world, and all of their hits are written by other people."
Britney responded to further criticism of her performing abilities, saying:
"I don’t really have anything to prove at this point. I just do it for fun and see what happens."
Executive producer Dr. Luke stated that "[I feel like] Britney kind of has her own genre: If you look at songs like "Toxic" and "Piece of Me" and "Oops!... I Did It Again", they all were sort of influential and led the way [...] She wanted to keep on with that and do stuff that was 'forward-thinking', So we put some dubstep stuff in there, in bridges; snuck it in different places."
Jocelyn Vena of MTV noted that "for the first time in a while, she seemed comfortable being the pop megastar that she is."
Spin named "Femme Fatale" the 50th best album of 2011 and also placed it at number 3 in their "20 Best Pop Albums of 2011" list.
Digital Spy ranked the album at number 11 at their year ends list.
"Till the World Ends" was named the third best song of 2011 by Rolling Stone and the third best single of 2011 by Billboard, who described it as "Britney's most immediate single since 'Toxic'."
Sam Lansky of PopCrush considered "Till the World Ends" the best pop song of 2011.
Digital Spy also considered the track as the best song of 2011, naming it "Britney's best track since 'Toxic'" and "her most underrated hit."
|1.||"Till the World Ends"||Lukasz Gottwald, Alexander Kronlund, Max Martin, Kesha Sebert||Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Billboard||3:57|
|2.||"Hold It Against Me"||Martin, Gottwald, Mathieu Jomphe, Bonnie McKee||Dr. Luke, Martin, Billboard||3:48|
|3.||"Inside Out"||Gottwald, Jacob Kasher Hindler, Jomphre, Martin, McKee||Dr. Luke, Martin, Billboard||3:38|
|4.||"I Wanna Go"||Shellback, Martin, Savan Kotecha||Martin, Shellback||3:30|
|5.||"How I Roll"||Christian Karlsson, Henrik Jonback, Magnus Lidehall, Pontus Winnberg, McKee, Nicole Morier||Bloodshy, Jonback, Lidehall||3:36|
|6.||"(Drop Dead) Beautiful"
|Jeremy Coleman, Joshua Coleman, Ester Dean, Jomphe, Benjamin Levin||Benny Blanco, Ammo, JMike, Billboard, Wright||3:36|
|7.||"Seal It With a Kiss"||Gottwald, Martin, McKee, Henry Walter||Dr. Luke, Martin, Cirkut, Wright||3:26|
|8.||"Big Fat Bass"
|9.||"Trouble For Me"||Fraser T. Smith, Heather Bright, Livvi Franc||Smith||3:19|
|10.||"Trip to Your Heart"||Karlsson, Jonback, Lidehall, Morier, Sophie Stern||Bloodshy, Jonback, Lidehall, Wright||3:33|
|11.||"Gasoline"||Gottwald, Claude Kelly, Levin, McKee, Wright||Dr. Luke, Blanco, Wright||3:08|
|12.||"Criminal"||Shellback, Martin, Tiffany Amber||Shellback, Martin||3:45|
Deluxe Edition Album Tracks
|13.||"Up n' Down"||Shellback, Martin, Kotecha||Martin, Shellback, Oligee||3:42|
|14.||"He About to Lose Me"||Rodney Jerkins, Ina Wroldsen||Jerkins||3:48|
|15.||"Selfish"||Dean, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Sandy Wilhelm, Traci Hale||Stargate, Sandy Vee, Kuk Harrell||3:43|
|16.||"Don't Keep Me Waiting"||Jerkins, Michaela Shiloh, Thomas Lumpkins||Jerkins||3:21|
Japanese & Premium Fan Edition Album Bonus Track
|1.||"Scary"||Britney Spears, Smith, Kasia Livingston||Smith||3:39|
The first set of promotion included an interview from Ryan Seacrest & then promotion for the album began on March 25, 2011 in a performance that included "Hold It Against Me," "Till the World Ends" and "Big Fat Bass."
The performance was filmed at Rain Nightclub inside the Palms Casino Resort and was included in a MTV special titled "I Am the Femme Fatale" which aired on April 3, 2011.
Britney's manager Larry Rudolph explained the choice of the location for the performances in an interview with MTV, saying:
"We chose the Palms because the Palms is where Britney has so much history. We performed here with the Britney album, we did a similar thing. We're doing this eight years later now and we're doing it for the fans."
Rudolph also explained that Britney's main goal was to entertain her fans in the "Femme Fatale" era and added:
"I want them to know — when the fans watch this — I want them to know that Britney is back and better than ever, not that she's ever gone anywhere. But she's back and she's better than ever."
The original airing of the special in the United States was viewed by 0.665 million viewers and received a Nielsen rating of 0.3/1 in the key adults 18–49 demographic.
On March 27, 2011, Britney performed the same set of songs in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium to a crowd of 5,000 people for a special episode of "Good Morning America" that aired on March 29, 2011.
She also performed the same three-song set and participated in two skits on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on March 29, 2011 and made a special appearance at the 2011 Kids' Choice Awards.
She was also scheduled to make several appearances on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" on the week of the album's release.
In April of 2011, Britney appeared in a remix to the song "S&M" by Rihanna, after Rihanna asked her fans via Twitter who they wanted her to collaborate with.
The song reached number one in the US in mid-April 2011, giving Britney her fifth number one on the chart. She also served as a guest host at the 2011 Wango Tango concert series alongside Ryan Seacrest on May 14, 2011.
Britney made a brief appearance at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards, performing the "S&M" remix with Rihanna and a short version of "Till The World Ends" alongside Femme Fatale tourmate Nicki Minaj.
On August 3, 2011, ABC Family announced that "(Drop Dead) Beautiful" would be available for free download on their website, until the premiere of the Teen Spirit series on August 5, 2011 more promotion for the album stated in the uk on her European leg of the Femme Fatale Tour Britney promoted the album with dozens of interviews and radio pressings as well as a twister commercial which was finished after the femme fatale tour.
"Trouble for Me" was also featured on the main page of BMG's website. "Gasoline" was used in a November 2012 commercial for Britney's perfume Fantasy Twist.
"Femme Fatale" debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 276,000 copies.
This gave Britney her sixth debut at the top of the charts and leaves her in a three way tie for third most number one albums for a female artist (tied with Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson).
However, the first-week sales are her second-lowest sales start with a studio set. Only her 1999 debut effort ...Baby One More Time began with a smaller figure (121,000 copies).
In its second week, the album fell to number two, with sales plummeting 73 percent to 75,000, giving it a two-week total of 351,000 sold in the United States. The album spent five consecutive weeks in the Billboard 200 top ten.
As of January of 2013, the album has been certified platinum and sold over 769,000 copies.
In Mexico, the album debuted at number one upon its release, spending three weeks inside the top ten before falling to number thirteen.
AMPROFON has certified the album Gold and according to Sony Music México the album has gone on to sell over 40,000 copies in the country.
The album debuted at number eight on the UK Albums Chart, selling 31,650 copies in its first week, becoming her lowest-charting studio album in the United Kingdom since In the Zone which peaked at number thirteen in December of 2003.
In Germany, the album debuted at number ten making it her seventh top-ten studio album in a row, and her eighth top-ten album with the inclusion of the compilation album Greatest Hits: My Prerogative which peaked at number four.
The album debuted at number eight in Denmark, selling 1,009 copies in its first week.
On April 4, 2011, "Femme Fatale" debuted at number one in Australia, making it Britney's first number one album in the country.
It was also certified gold in during its debut week for shipments over 35,000 copies.
At Metacritic, Femme Fatale holds an average score of 67 out of 100 (indicating "generally favorable reviews") based on 25 reviews from mainstream music critics.
Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone commented that it "may be Britney's best album; certainly it's her strangest."
Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine viewed that Britney's presence on the album is overshadowed by its "high-class" production, calling the album "essentially a cleaner, classier remake of the gaudily dark Blackout [...] a producer’s paradise."
Robert Everett-Green of The Globe and Mail gave the album three-and-a-half out of four stars and complimented its "grainy, glistening electronic sound," calling it "one of the major guilty pleasures in pop this year."
Kitty Empire of The Observer commented that Britney "has turned out the “fierce dance record” she promised.
Ailbhe Malone of NME viewed it as her "best work" and wrote that it "brims with the laidback confidence of someone who knows she's back on top."
MSN Music's Robert Christgau gave the album a B+ rating, indicating "remarkable one way or another, yet also flirts with the humdrum or the half-assed."
Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani commented that Britney's lack of involvement makes "the success of a Britney song rest almost entirely on the quality of other people's songwriting and production and almost every track on Femme Fatale succeeds or fails on that basis."
Los Angeles Times writer Carl Wilson felt that the album "finds unity of subject, style and sound by imagining scenarios in which vanishing into anonymity can be comfort and liberation."
Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski of The Daily Telegraph felt that, "despite her weak voice and empty lyrics, [Spears] has placed herself at the avant-garde of pop with this masterful mixture of über-cool dubstep and sugary pop."
The A.V. Club's Genevieve Koski wrote that Britney "settles into [the production], game for whatever and confident in the hands of trusted professionals who know how to best utilize her."
In a mixed review, Andy Gill of The Independent criticized its "single-minded dedication to dancefloor utility" and observed "only the tiniest of rhythmic variants or differences in electronic tones distinguishing one producer's work from another's."
Jon Caramanica of The New York Times commented that "much of the music on this album feels flat and redundant, no more invigorating than the average European dance-pop album of five years ago."
The Guardian's Alexis Petridis wrote that Britney's "voice is as anonymous as ever, a state of affairs amplified by the lavishing of Auto-Tune."
Evan Sawdey of PopMatters wrote that "Spears' worldview is completely self-contained" and described "Femme Fatale" as "just a big dumb club album."
Rich Juzwiak of The Village Voice wrote that her "voice doesn't add much to the conversation," writing that her lack of presence is "problematic for an album whose subject matter is hedonism and how being hot facilitates it."
"Femme Fatale" won its first awards on Billboard's 2011 Mid-Year Music Awards, where she was nominated in five categories: "First-Half MVP," "Favorite Hot 100 No. 1 Song" ( for "Hold It Against Me"), "Favorite Billboard 200 No. 1 Album" (for "Femme Fatale"), "Best Music Video: (for "I Wanna Go"), and Best Tour (for "Femme Fatale Tour") which she all won.
There was also a list of Billboard's Mid-Year sales of 2011 on which Britney was named twice.
The album reached number 12 with 590,000 sold units, and her second single "Till the World Ends" number 18 with 1,989,000 million sold units.
She was also awarded Best Pop Video for "Till The World Ends" as well the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award and a special tribute for her contributions to music videos and pop culture during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards.
Britney considered the tribute "an honor" and continued:
"It was really crazy. I had no idea what to expect. The kids were amazing and so entertaining, and it was a really fun night. It was really cool. I was like, 'Wow, that's really sweet!'"
Despite receiving mostly positive comments from critics, "Femme Fatale" didn't receive any nomination on the 2012 Grammy Awards.
John Mitchell of MTV criticized the award show and stated that "Till the World Ends" should have won a nomination on the "Best Dance Recording" category.
Robbie Daw of Idolator also stated that Britney should have been nominated, commenting:
"She had a #1 album that yielded a trio of hits. So what gives?"
Ed Christman of Billboard noted that Femme Fatale was "overlooked" by the Grammy voters.
James Montgomery also of MTV, however, noted that Britney has "never been considered a Grammy artist and has won just once during her entire career."