Song: ‘Till The World Ends’
Artist: Britney Spears
US chart peak: 3
Release date: March 4, 2011
Writers: Lukasz Gottwald, Alexander Kronlund, Max Martin, Kesha Sebert
Producers: Dr Luke, Max Martin, Billboard,
Quintessential Max moment: That delirious final chorus bit
Video synopsis: Britney invites some friends round for a bit of a dance in a sewer
The trend in 2011 was to chuck a rapper/guest artist/local weatherman on a pop song if said pop song wasn’t perhaps making the impact the record label had imagined. This particular trend intersected with another trend – adding Nicki Minaj to every single song on the radio – on the very good Femme Fatale Remix of Britney’s also very-good-in-its-own-right, ‘Till The World Ends’. The song also features talk of dancing in a club, DJs playing songs, a sort of non-chorus post-chorus bit and, on the remix, an unnecessary dubstep breakdown so all in all it’s basically 2011 in musical form.
Before we get to the remix, let’s start with the original version, which features a co-writing credit for Kesha ‘Ke$ha’ Sebert. I always assumed she’d written the song for herself and then had it swiped from her when Britney needed another single, but according to a couple of interviews around the time, the song – about dancing your arse off while the world burns – was written specifically with Britney in mind. “I’ve never been more proud of anything in my career,” Kesha told Vulture. “It really solidifies me as a songwriter in the pop music world, which is what I consider myself first and foremost. So it actually is really, really exciting for me when I hear [Britney] sing it. Like, when I hear my own songs on the radio I have to kind of turn it down or change the radio or whatever. When I hear that, I fucking blow the speakers out and I order everybody to dance.” Same Kesha, same.
In a separate interview with Spin, Kesha elaborated on the song’s theme of living it up while the world falls apart, although in this scenario the apocalypse is more just ‘a long tour’. “That song is me imagining her [she means Britney, obvs] and any female musician touring the world. You know, when you got out, and you’re having an amazing, magical night and you don’t want to go to sleep and you want it to last until the world ends.” You’ve lost me slightly there, but I get the sentiment.
As with ‘Femme Fatale’’s lead single, ’Hold It Against Me’, ‘Till The World Ends’ is all about that sense of coiled up release, with the final thirty seconds of the song a delirious head-on collision between the hands-in-the-air-like-you-just-don’t-care “woah, oh, oh, oh” post-chorus and the “see the sunrise…” proper chorus. The difference here is that the steady build-up suits the lyrical motif so much better, ie you can imagine yourself actually deliriously chucking yourself about to this song in a club environment while Donald Trump OR WHOEVER destroys the planet.
So, yeah, that remix. It’s just great, isn’t it. Nicki Minaj makes chicken noises in it for fuck’s sake! There’s a bit where she spits “Sniff, sniff, criiiies/ I done slayed your entire fucking liiiiife,” and for about four minutes she actually has. My life has been slayed in that moment. Kesha also sounds more alive on it then she does on most of her songs and it’s one of those rare retwizzles where someone’s done something to change the actual production of the original, with the beats hitting harder and that ludicrous dubstep wobble bit actually making the whole song even more bonkers.