|Piece Of Me||Radar|
|Released||November 27, 2007|
|Genre||Electro • dance-pop|
|Writer||Christian Karlsson • Pontus Winnberg • Klas Åhlund|
|Producer||Bloodshy & Avant|
"Piece of Me" is a song by American recording artist Britney Spears from her fifth studio album, Blackout. It was released on November 27, 2007 by Jive Records as the second single from the album. The song was co-written and produced by Bloodshy & Avant as a response to the media scrutiny and sensationalism of Spears's private life, which they had seen by working with her over the years. "Piece of Me" was the last song to be recorded for Blackout. The self-manifesto song's lyrics are written like a biography retelling her mishaps. Musically, "Piece of Me" is an electro song that runs through a down-tempo dance beat. Spears's voice is heavily synthesized, and constantly shifts in pitch. Backing vocals are provided by Bloodshy & Avant and Robyn.
Critics gave "Piece of Me" positive reviews, praising its production and defiant lyrics, while citing it as one of the highlights from Blackout. Rolling Stone ranked the song at number fifteen on their list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007. It was also commercially successful, peaking at number one in Ireland and reaching top ten positions in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In the United States, it became the second single from the album to have peaked at the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.
The music video, directed by Wayne Isham, portrayed Spears's life at the time and showed her with her friends disguising themselves in order to confuse the paparazzi. Isham's concept was to have Spears confidently parodying her situation. It received mixed reviews from critics, most arguing her body was digitally altered. The video was nominated in three categories at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards and won all of them, including Video of the Year. "Piece of Me" was performed at The Circus Starring Britney Spears (2009) and the Femme Fatale Tour (2011).
Background[edit | edit source]
"Piece of Me" was co-written and produced by the Swedish duo Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, professionally known as Bloodshy & Avant, along with Klas Åhlund. While recording with Spears over the years, Karlsson and Winnberg often saw first-hand how her regular activities were interrupted by the paparazzi, including one experience in Hamburg which Winnberg deemed as "really scary". For Blackout, Spears worked with them on "Radar", "Freakshow" and "Toy Soldier". When the album was considered to be finished, Bloodshy & Avant were persuaded by her A&R Teresa LaBarbera Whites to work on a new track. Winnberg commented that it had always been an unwritten rule not to write songs about Spears's personal life since the label rejected "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex", a response track to Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River". However, the duo wrote "Piece of Me" with Åhlund and sent it to Spears, who loved it. Bloodshy & Avant worked on the track at Bloodshy & Avant Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and Spears recorded her vocals at Chalice Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California. Winnberg stated that Spears was extremely psyched when she came to the studio, where she recorded the song in about half an hour as she had learned the lyrics by heart in her car. "Piece of Me" was later mixed by Niklas Flyckt at Mandarine Studios in Stockholm. On November 30, 2007, during a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest, Spears talked about the song, saying,
"Wherever you go, there's a lot of people who ask questions, and sometimes you don't know their intentions and stuff like that. So, it is kind of a cute way of putting it out there. You know, like, 'You want a piece of me?', you know, in a cool, cute and clever way. It is a cute song [...] I like it".
Composition[edit | edit source]
"Piece of Me" is an electro song, performed in an insistent pop groove. The song is composed in the key of C♯ minor with a time signature in common time. The melody runs through a down-tempo dance beat. Spears's vocals span over two octaves from D♯3 to D♯5. They are heavily synthesized and are constantly pitch-shifted. The track consists of over-the-top vocal distortions, causing a split sound effect, making it difficult to discern which voice is Spears'. Background vocals were also provided by Swedish pop singer Robyn. Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg sing the line "Extra! Extra!" during the chorus. Dave De Sylvia of Sputnikmusic drew comparisons to the songs in Robyn's Robyn (2005), especifically to her single "Handle Me".
The lyrics of "Piece of Me" are written as a reaction to the scrutiny of Spears's private life in the media. They deal with fame and living under the spotlight. During the first verse, Spears sings the hookline "You want a piece of me?", that is repeated throughout the song. According to Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times, the line "could be an accusation or an invitation or a threat". "Piece of Me" is constructed in the common verse-chorus pattern. "Piece of Me" is written like a biography retelling Spears's mishaps, sung in a nearly spoken manner. Alex Fletcher of Digital Spy compared the lyrics to Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" (2006). Bill Lamb of About.com said that "Piece of Me" makes Michael Jackson's "Scream" (1995) "sound like a whimper."
Critical reception[edit | edit source]
Alex Fletcher of Digital Spy gave "Piece of Me" four stars, calling it "a two fingered-salute to the media hounds and an electro-thudding cry of defiance, warning us that this popstrel is not for turning. [The opening line] poops from a great height on anything Lily Allen has ever penned and reveals that it's been Spears who's been laughing hardest during her year of zany media antics". Peter Robinson of The Observer and Margeaux Watson of Entertainment Weekly named "Piece of Me" one of the standout tracks of the album. Dennis Lim of Blender called it one the best tracks of Blackout along with "Gimme More". Bill Lamb of About.com said "[Spears] may indeed have serious serious personal problems, but this is quite simply a woman fighting back against what she perceives as injustice with fierce anger bubbling beneath the service of an extraordinarily sexy electro instrumental track. Rarely has a pop star so effectively answered critics. [...] The string of phenomenal singles from '...Baby One More Time' to the most recent 'Gimme More' continue to argue for serious consideration of Ms. Spears as one of the top mainstream pop artists of the past decade. Even under distress she delivers in the studio, and that is the mark of a professional". Laura Herbert of BBC News said that the song is "without doubt the best track on the whole album. [...] It's a masterpiece." Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times said "[Bloodshy & Avant] evoke the horror, the exhilaration and (finally) the boredom of [Spears'] overexamined life. It’s brilliant".
Tom Ewing of Pitchfork Media suggested that "the hypertreatment of the voice, the way it edges into the music, suggests that the price of fame is identity erasure. We understand her through a filter, and that's how we have to hear her too. The multiple backing vox fragment identity further, turn the song more universal". Dave De Sylvia of Sputnikmusic also picked it as one of the album's highlights. Melissa Maerz of Rolling Stone named it the best track of the album along with "Freakshow", deeming it as a "tabloid-bashing banger". Jim Abbott of the Orlando Sentinel said that "Musically, songs such as 'Piece of Me,' 'Radar' and 'Break the Ice' are one-dimensional, robotic exercises." Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic commented that "Bloodshy & Avant try desperately to craft a defiant anthem for this tabloid fixture, as she couldn't be bothered to write one on her own". Chris Wasser from the Irish Independent said the song "drowns slowly under cloggy production and a lyrical theme that for all of its close connection with the trials and tribulations Spears has had to deal with, weren't even penned by the singer who could have very easily recorded her fairly unchallenging input on Blackout in less than a week." The song was later included in Rolling Stone's 100 Best Songs of 2007 at number fifteen.
Chart performance[edit | edit source]
On November 17, 2007, "Piece of Me" debuted at number sixty-five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. On February 9, 2008, the song peaked at number eighteen. It was the second consecutive single from Blackout to reach number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. The song shipped over 1,000,000 copies in the United States, earning a platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). "Piece of Me" has sold 1,668,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It is her fourth best-selling digital single in the country. In Canada, the song entered the Canadian Hot 100 at number thirty-seven on November 17, 2007. On April 26, 2008, it reached its peak position of number five. "Piece of Me" was certified platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for paid digital downloads of 40,000.
On February 4, 2008, "Piece of Me" debuted at the Australian Singles Chart at number two. The song has shipped over 70,000 copies in Australia, earning a platinum certification by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). In New Zealand, the song debuted at number thirty-four on December 31, 2007. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) for sales over 7,500 copies. "Piece of Me" debuted at number sixty-nine on the UK Singles Chart on December 24, 2007. After its physical release, the track peaked at number two on January 13, 2008. According to The Official Charts Company, the song has sold 250,000 copies there. In Ireland, the song debuted at number twenty-seven on December 20, 2007. On January 10, 2008, it peaked at number one and stayed in the position for two weeks. "Piece of Me" achieved similar success through Europe, peaking inside the top ten in Austria, Denmark, Finland and Sweden and reaching the top forty in Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands.
Music Video[edit | edit source]
Development[edit | edit source]
The music video for "Piece of Me" was filmed on November 27 and November 28, 2007, at the nightclub and restaurant Social Hollywood in Los Angeles, California. It was directed by Wayne Isham, who had previously worked with Spears in the music video of "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman". British national newspaper Daily Mail reported that the video cost $500,000, her most expensive music video since the music video for "Toxic". In some scenes of the music video, Spears wore a purple satin dress from American designer Marina Toybina. Spears reportedly arrived twelve hours late to the set, after spending the day with her sons Sean Preston and Jayden James. Isham talked about the situation, saying, "She was late. People made a big thing about it, [but] how could she not be late, when you have 50, 65, 75 people running down the street chasing her car? That was a long day for the crew. It was literally a 20-hour day for the crew. She was there for the last six hours of it. She got there late, showed up and just kicked ass". He also explained the concept of the music video:
"On [the music video], I really just wanted to put the mirror back onto the whole experience. You can see that she had that kind of confidence. And, literally, every take became a more and more confident take, so that she could have fun with what was going on. Not being over-the-top sarcastic, but ... having a laugh at everything that was going on around her, with confidence. [...] The very last dance of the piece, she had her hair up, and I go, 'Can you just do one for me with your hair down?' She dropped her hair down. You'll see we intercut with her hair up and her hair down. That was the last piece. She just rocked it from her heart. She choreographed that last dance at the very end. She did that on her own and said, 'Let's go for it'".
Synopsis[edit | edit source]
The video begins with four blonde women changing their clothes, putting make up on and dancing in a bedroom. Outside, several paparazzi are taking pictures of the situation through the window. Spears appears in front of a multi-colored, illuminated background wearing a short brown fur vest, a sequined black bra and ripped low-rise jeans. There are also intercut scenes of Spears wearing a white fur vest tearing down tabloid covers and creating positive ones, such as "It's Britney, Bitch" and "Exceptional Earner". During the first chorus, Spears joins the four women, all wearing matching blond bob wigs, dark sunglasses and black trench coats being hounded by paparazzi.
Then they enter a nightclub, with Spears wearing a purple satin dress. Spears starts flirting with a man and guides him into the women's bathroom, where she discovers he has a hidden camera in his chest. She writes "Sucker" in his forehead. There is a dance sequence until the song ends, in which Spears and the four women dance in the bathroom. At the end, the women are seen back at the bedroom watching an entertainment news program, in which the "Britney invasion" from earlier is reported. The final scene shows a close-up of Spears smirking.
Reception[edit | edit source]
The music video received mixed reviews from critics, with some arguing that Spears's body was digitally altered. The Daily Telegraph commented "Britney – presumably with the help of some serious digital remastering – has turned back the clock, looking every part the young starlet that gave us 'Oops'". Dose said "shockingly, it's not that bad. Well, not that bad for everyone's favourite panty protesting, deposition skipping, weave wearing pop-tard". On August 17, 2008, it was announced that the video was nominated for Best Female Video, Best Pop Video and Video of the Year at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. The ceremony was held on September 7, 2008, and Spears won all three categories. On October 18, 2008, during a live interview with New York's Z100, she explained that she was shocked when she won, saying, "It's a cool video, but I think by far I've done videos that are way better, so I was really shocked that it got [Video of the Year]. It was just inspiring, though, because now, going forward with the videos that I'm doing now, I can really go there and do something crazy and see what happens".
MTV alternate video[edit | edit source]
On November 27, 2007, MTV launched the contest "Britney Spears Wants a Piece of You", in which fans could direct a separate video for the song, using footage of interviews and performances from Spears. Using the MTV Video Remixer, fans could mix and create a mash up of the footage. The winning video premiered on TRL on December 20, 2007, and MTV, Jive Records and Spears herself picked the winner. The winner also received a Haier Ibiza Rhapsody device along with a one year subscription to Rhapsody, as well as Spears's entire discography released in the United States.
Live performances[edit | edit source]
"Piece of Me" was performed at 2009's The Circus Starring Britney Spears as the second song of the show. At the end of the performance of "Circus", Spears took off her red jacket that represented a ringmaster, to reveal a black corset encrusted with Swarovski crystals, fishnet stockings and high-heeled laced up boots, designed by Dean and Dan Caten. While smoke surrounded her, she entered a cage in the middle of the stage while "Piece of Me" began. During the performance, Spears represented a slave, that attempted to escape from her dancers. "Piece of Me" was also performed at 2011's Femme Fatale Tour. Following "3", Spears climbed into a small platform and started performing the song while floating over the stage. The male dancers below her were dressed as policemen, and took off their shirts to reveal S&M bondage harnesses. Shirley Halperin of The Hollywood Reporter named it one of the best performances of the show along with "3" and "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know", stating that "ironically enough, [they] were the ones with fewest frills."
Track listings and versions[edit | edit source]
- UK/German CD Single/The Singles Collection Boxset Single
- "Piece of Me" – 3:32
- "Piece of Me" (Böz O Lö Remix) – 4:51
- European/Australian Maxi Single
- "Piece of Me" – 3:32
- "Piece of Me" (Böz O Lö Remix) – 4:53
- "Piece of Me" (Bimbo Jones Club Mix) – 6:26
- "Piece of Me" (Vito Benito Club Mix) – 6:50
- "Gimme More" (The Kimme More Remix) (feat. Lil' Kim) – 4:14
- German Limited Edition CD 1
- "Piece of Me" – 3:32
- "Piece of Me" (Tiesto Radio Edit) – 3:23
- German Limited Edition CD 2
- Digital EP — The Remixes
- "Piece of Me" – 3:32
- "Piece of Me" (Böz O Lö Remix) – 4:53
- "Piece of Me" (Tiësto Radio Edit) – 3:23
- "Piece of Me" (Junior Vasquez & Johnny Vicious Radio Edit) – 3:38
- "Piece of Me" (Friscia & Lamboy Radio Edit) – 3:27
- "Piece of Me" (Sly & Robbie Reggae Remix) (feat. Cherine) – 4:16