Femme Fatale is Britney Spears's seventh studio album. It was released on March 25, 2011 by Jive Records.
Spears 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.
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, Spears 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 Spears had officially joined the RCA's roster. On August 28, 2011 (during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards), MTV played tribute to Spears with a group of young female dancers that memorialised her 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. On October 7, 2011, RCA Music Group announced it was disbanding Jive Records along with Arista Records and J Records. With the shutdown, Spears (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." Spears 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." 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." Spears 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." The album was compared to that of Spears' previous albums In The Zone, Blackout and Circus. 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."
Album Controversy & Impacts
Despite giving favorable reviews, music critics noted Spears' 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
|17.||"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. Spears' 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 Spears' 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. She also served as a guest host at the 2011 Wango Tango concert series alongside Ryan Seacrest on May 14, 2011. Spears 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 tour mate Nicki Minaj.
"Femme Fatale" debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 276,000 copies. This gave Spears 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. 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, before being supprased by Britney Jean in 2013. 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. 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"). 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 Spears'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."
"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 Spears 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. Spears 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 Spears 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 Spears has "never been considered a Grammy artist and has won just once during her entire career."
- Most fans believe that the music video for "Till the World Ends" is a sequel to the music video to "I'm A Slave 4 U", since both videos feature Spears and her backup dancers in boiling hot rooms (see picture on the left).
- The songs "I Wanna Go" and "Up n' Down" were intended for The Singles Collection, but was included on Femme Fatale instead. They were also recorded at the same time as "3".
- Spears co-wrote "Till the World Ends", but was left uncredited.
- In fact, Spears received no songwriting credits on the album (aside for the Japanese bonus track "Scary"). Some stated that Spears was no longer the center of the album and found a trade-off to be real personality.
- Spears also wrote 7 songs that didn't make the final cut.
- The artwork for the single "Criminal" is fan-made.
- Spears wanted the album to be more mid-tempo and hip-hop influenced, but Jive wanted something more radio friendly.
- "I Wanna Go" was supposed to be the album's second single (but "Till the World Ends" was chosen over it) and "Big Fat Bass" was supposed to be the album's third single (but was replaced by "I Wanna Go").
- Spears confirmed that at least 50 songs were recorded for the album.
- The bridge in "Don't Keep Me Waiting" was written by Spears, but they didn't have time to write her name in the credits.
- Spears wrote a song about her then fiance Jason Trawick titled "Light At Night", but was cut due to Spears' wish to keep her relationship private.
- “Trouble For Me” was rumored to be the fourth single off of the album but was replaced by “Criminal”
- Tiffany Amber – composer
- Ammo – instrumentation, producer, programming, background vocals
- Beatriz Artola – engineer
- Stacey Barnett – background vocals
- Billboard – instrumentation, producer, programming, composer
- Benny Blanco – instrumentation, producer, programming, background vocals
- Sophia Black – background vocals
- Christian Karlsson – instrumentation, producer, programming, vocal producer
- Heather Bright – composer, background vocals
- Jeremy Coleman – composer
- Joshua Coleman – composer
- Tom Coyne – mastering
- Ester Dean – composer, background vocals
- Megan Dennis – production coordination
- DJ Ammo – drum programming, synthesizer
- Dr. Luke – executive producer, instrumentation, producer, programming, background vocals
- Dream Machine – instrumentation, producer, programming, composer
- Dylan Dresdow – mixing
- Eric Eylands – assistant engineer
- Ashton Foster – background vocals
- Livvi Franc – composer, background vocals
- Fraser T Smith – composer, drum programming, keyboards, producer
- Clint Gibbs – production coordination
- Aniela Gottwald – assistant
- Tatiana Gottwald – assistant
- Venza Gottwald – assistant
- John Hanes – engineer, mixing
- Jeri Heiden – art direction
- Jacob Kasher Hindlin – composer
- Sam Holland – engineer, background vocals
- J-MIKE – instrumentation, producer, programming, background vocals
- Cri$tyle Johnson – background vocals
- Henrik Jonback – composer, instrumentation, producer, programming, vocal producer
- Claude Kelly – composer, background vocals
- Padraic Kerin – engineer
- Savan Kotecha – composer
- Alexander Kronlund – composer, instrumentation, programming
- Adam Leber – A&R
- Benny Blanco – composer
- Jeremy "J Boogs" Levin – assistant
- Magnus Lidehäll – composer
- Magnus – instrumentation, producer, programming, vocal producer
- Myah Marie – background vocals
- Max Martin – composer, engineer, executive producer, instrumentation, keyboards, producer, programming, background vocals
- Bonnie McKee – composer, background vocals
- Nicole Morier – composer, background vocals
- Jackie Murphy – creative director
- Rob Murray – assistant
- Chris "Tek" O'Ryan – engineer
- Chau Phan – background vocals
- Irene Richter – production coordination
- Tim Roberts – assistant engineer, mixing assistant
- Patrizia Rogosch – background vocals
- Larry Rudolph – A&R
- Ke$ha – composer
- Britney Spears - lead vocals, composer, background vocals
- Shellback – bass, composer, engineer, guitar, keyboards, producer
- Nick Steinhardt – art direction, design
- Sophie Stern – composer
- Ryan Supple – photo production
- Peter Thea – A&R
- Dave Thomas – stylist
- will.i.am – composer, drum programming, engineer, piano, producer, synthesizer
- Pontus Winnberg – composer
- Emily Wright – composer, engineer, vocal producer
- Randee St. Nicholas - photography
- Serban Ghenea – mixing