British R&B singer Taio Cruz performed Britney Spears’ “Hold It Against Me” in Radio One’s Live Lounge last week, swapping in acoustic guitars and backup singers for the army of Britneys and beats in the original.
Points for beatboxing during the dubsteppy breakdown, and the backup singers are a nice touch as far as accentuating the “bad pickup line” aspect of the lyrics. (Which are still pretty terrible even in the context of the Britney canon—a body of work that, we remind you, contains “E-Mail My Heart.”) The acoustic guitar riff that replaces the original’s pop-svengali-provided thump also gives the song a neat twist. But the fault in this cover lies with Cruz; sure, he had to work with what the material he was given, but had given a little bit more melodic oomph to the monotonous verses—while keeping the harmonizing intact—this might have been a spin on the song that transcended, at least musically, its successful-by-brute-force source material.
2 1/2 BOLTS