In the pop-music-news world, Britney Spears singles are Presidential elections and Loch Ness Monster sightings and Kanye West Twitter meltdowns all in one. But does "Hold It Against Me" live up to the hype?

"Hold," a co-production by Max Martin and Dr. Luke, was supposed to come out tomorrow and face off with the Jay-Z/Kanye collab "H•A•M," but it leaked this morning. The finished version is bulkier and brassier than the demo that leaked last week—and there's even a patented bit of Britney vocalizing when she turns the innocent word "hazy" into the drawn-out "hayy-zaaayyyyy."

Britney's starpower doesn't entirely rescue the track from the doldrums; the single-entendre wordplay remains groanworthy and the music is still a bit sleepy on the verses and the chorus—which, by the way, still sounds like Cutting Crew. But how about those breathy dubstep breakdowns right before the song ends, which make the track sound like it's on an album that's the successor to Brit's underrated lost-period effort Blackout? Here's hoping the album's full of grimy bits like those, which allow Brit Brit to sound sexy in a grown-up way. (She does turn 30 this year, y'all.)


2 1/2 BOLTS