Madonna sings on this with Britney. People were first able to listen to this song at a football event in the US, were Britney premiered it alone, without Madonna's vocals. The song was going to be like that (without Madonna), but after the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, where Britney and Madonna kissed, Madonna was at the studio with Britney and agreed to add vocals on it.
This song was Britney's first single for her third album In The Zone
, which debuted at #1 in the US. The video takes place at a club and was released in October 2003.
Kevin - San Jose, California, for above 2
Several writers collaborated on this song, including the Atlanta songwriting team of C. Tricky Stewart and Penelope Magnet, who came up with the song after spending a night out with Spears in New York City. In an interview with MTV, Magnet said of the song: "It's extremely aggressive. It immediately makes you feel like something's happening. So the whole concept is kind of like she was battling the track. Like she was hearing the music and trying to out-dance the track or out-beat the drum or out-pluck the guitar. It's as if she's in the club, losing herself in the music."
Spears and Madonna also got songwriting credits for this as well as Thabiso Nikhereanye, Terius Nash, and Gary O'Brien.
Madonna believes that duets are gimmicky, so she generally refuses to do them, however this collaboration with Britney Spears was an exception to the rule. Prior to recording this the Material Girl had turned down twosomes with Bono and Frank Sinatra. Regarding the latter she said: "He was going to do his vocals and then send me the tape and I was going to do mine-it's too detached."
In an interview with Real Talk NY, Terius 'The-Dream' Nash described what it was like working with Britney: "Unfortunately, I wasn't there when it happened, that was very early in my career. What happened was a friend of mine, Tricky Stewart, who actually did 'Umbrella' with me (and produced this album alongside me) was up there because he knew the system. Everybody had him up there to work with Britney because of his track record and they stumbled across one of the records I did. I was the new writer at the time, so I wasn't in New York at that time. But he called me and told me that she loves the record and that's how it went down."
Director Paul Hunter told MTV News in a 2009 interview about the video: "Madonna is an icon of an earlier generation, and then Britney of the newer generation. She was at her peak at that point. So it was a challenge to kind of bring both of the worlds together. I wanted it to be a bit of a cat-and-mouse sort of game and a little bit of a foreplay between Britney and Madonna and just sort of tease the audience." He added that the video was all about setting Spears and Madonna apart. "I try to play opposites, when you have Britney in dark and Madonna in white," he said. "And then we see them kind of dance around the bed... and you think they're gonna get on top of each other and do something crazy."
Spears told MTV News that the video was all about teasing people. "I never actually see Madonna or touch her; I just feel her presence there," she said. "[The song is] basically about just going to a club and letting yourself go and battling with whoever is around you and battling against the music as well. This is my first time doing a collaboration, and it's with Miss Madonna herself."
The In The Zone album title is taken from the song's lyric:
It's like a competition, me against the beat
I wanna get in the zone