Lady Gaga, take note. With "Hold It Against Me" debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this issue-and every conceivable rumor regarding her next album being subjected to WikiLeaks levels of scrutiny-Britney Spears has made it clear that she won't be relieved of her pop princess title that easily.
After a week of release, "Hold It Against Me" debuted on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 Songs chart at No. 16 with 4,071 plays, the highest detections total by a debuting title in the chart's 18-year history. Perhaps even more impressive was the hype that preceded its release, which included a leaked demo and the song's co-producer, pop hitmaker Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, stoking the speculative flames on Twitter ("The first word of the Britney song is 'hey'... the 24th word is 'song,' " he wrote.)
For Spears' (officially) still-untitled seventh studio album, Gottwald and Max Martin have signed on as co-executive producers (as they did for Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream") and signaled a continued embrace of the dance-pop that was ahead of the curve on Spears' most recent albums (2007's "Blackout" and 2008's "Circus") but is now inescapable. Will this be to their detriment?
Gottwald doesn't think so. "Everything is in cycles, and it will change, but I don't think  is necessarily that year," he says. He adds, however, that the intent with Spears' album is to push the sound forward. "Hopefully you'll hear a progression," he says, "while keeping great songs."
There's proof beyond the early success of "Hold It Against Me'" that Spears can still mobilize millions of fans, commanding as much attention with a photographed Starbucks run as with a cryptic tweet. And until more music is available, teasing will have to suffice. "Britney's 2nd single is gonna be fire!!!!!!" Gottwald tweeted Jan. 16. "Watch out!!!!!!"
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