Femme Fatale is Britney Spears' 7th studio album which was released on March 25, 2011 by Jive Records.
On July 12, 2009, Britney Spears confirmed through her Twitter account that she had begun recording new material, stating she was going into the studio with Swedish songwriter and producer Max Martin while she was in Stockholm during the European leg of "The Circus Starring Britney Spears."
The recording sessions resulted in several album cuts as well as the song "3", which would be released as a single from Spears' second greatest hits album, "The Singles Collection."
In June 2010, during an interview with Rap-Up, Danja commented that he was working with Spears in the pre-production of the album.
Darkchild (who was also reportedly working with her) said during a Ustream session in August 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 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 2010, Dr. Luke announced that he would be the executive producer of the album, along with Max Martin.
Spears explained in an interview with Rolling Stone that she had worked with Luke during the production of "Blackout", stating that he was "incredible" during that time and that his skills have improved. She also said that Martin was with her since the beginning of her career and that there is "nobody [she] feel[s] 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."
In July 2009, Spears announced that she had begun recording new material with longtime collaborator Max Martin. 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 her previous studio album, "Circus." After "Hold It Against Me" was written, originally, Luke and Martin wanted to give the track to Katy Perry, but they later decided that it wasn't the right fit for her.
They continued to work on the song with Billboard, and Luke commented that before giving the song to Spears he wanted to make sure it sounded different from his previous recordings.
Darkchild stated that while working with him, Spears was very "hands-on" and "had a lot of ideas for [him]." 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."
Dr. Luke revealed in February 2011 that a final track listing had not yet been chosen. Later that month, Spears worked with will.i.am. 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. She also said 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 "(Drop Dead) Beautiful."
British producer Fraser T Smith worked with Spears on three tracks and complimented her work ethic, saying that her voice was powerful and that she focused on the music.
William Orbit confirmed he had co-written a track for Spears 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."
Album Title & Artwork
On February 2, 2011, Spears announced the album's title through her Twitter account, and also posted an image of the album cover.
She stated: "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."
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.
The cover artwork was shot by Randee St. Nicholas and features a close-up shot of Spears, wearing a white dress with white fur on her shoulders.
- Till The World Ends 3:57
- Hold It Against Me 3:48
- Inside Out 3:38
- I Wanna Go 3:30
- How I Roll 3:36
- (Drop Dead) Beautiful (featuring Sabi) 3:36
- Seal It With A Kiss 3:26
- Big Fat Bass (featuring will.i.am) 4:44
- Trouble For Me 3:19
- Trip To Your Heart 3:33
- Gasoline 3:08
- Criminal 3:45
Deluxe edition bonus tracks
- Up n' Down 3:42
- He About to Lose Me 3:48
- Selfish 3:43
- Don't Keep Me Waiting 3:21
"Femme Fatale" debuted at #1 on the US Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 276,000 copies, giving Spears her sixth debut at the top of the chart and leaves her in a four-way tie for third most number-one albums for a female artist, along with Mariah Carey, Jackson and Beyoncé.
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. It spent five consecutive weeks within the Billboard 200 top ten.
In April 2011, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and has sold 805,000 copies in the country as of May 15, 2020.
In Mexico, the album debuted at number one upon its release, spending three weeks inside the top ten before falling to number thirteen.
Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas (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 2003.
In Germany, the album debuted at number ten, making it her seventh consecutive top-ten studio album, and her eighth top-ten album with the inclusion of the greatest hits album, "Greatest Hits: My Prerogative" which peaked at number four.
"Femme Fatale" debuted at number eight in Denmark, selling 1,009 copies in its first week. On April 4, 2011, the album debuted at number one in Australia, making it Spears' first number-one album in the country. It was also certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) during its debut week for shipments over 35,000 copies.
"Femme Fatale" received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, it 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 Spears' 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 Spears "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 Spears'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 Spears "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 Spears' "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".
Music critics, despite giving favorable reviews, 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."
Spears 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."