The third single from hip-hop artist and producer will.i.am's second solo album, willpower, features an almost unrecognizable Britney Spears, whose voice is roboticized to a huge degree. The song was given its worldwide radio debut during On Air with Ryan Seacrust on November 19, 2012 and sent to Top 40/Mainstream and Rhyhmic radio on November 27th. When asked about working with will.I.am, Spears said: "I think he just really gets music in the broadest spectrum. He knows what people want to listen to. He gets kids and what they want to listen to. Every time I've worked with him I go in and I cannot sit down. I have to stand up! It's like I'm in a club!"
The song is an electronic pop dance track with lyrics about having a great time on a night out. It interpolates a sample of the iconic lyric "It's Britney bitch", which was used on Spears' 2007 single "Gimme More
This wasn't the first song the pair of pop superstars had worked on together. Will.i.am wrote and produced the track "Big Fat Bass
" for Spears' 2011 Femme Fatale
Structurally, this song has a lot going on and takes some unusual turns over its 4:44 running time. It starts of with they typical verse-chorus form, but then goes into an instrumental break, followed by the "bring the action" vocal break. From there, it's two completely different verses back-to-back, which is where having two singers comes in handy. This is followed by another chorus, and then another instrumental/vocal break combination, and a bridge (the part where Will sings "It goes on and on and on and on..." The song closes out with one last chorus. For those of you scoring at home, the structure is verse/chorus/break/verse/verse/chorus/break/bridge/chorus. The song is definitely not boring.
The Ben Mor-directed video was filmed on the weekend of October 13 and 14, 2012 at Delfino Studios in Hollywood, California. The director had worked with will.i.am and the Black Eyed Peas on several previous occasions, but this marked the first time he'd helmed a clip involving Spears. It was debuted on November 21, 2012 during The X Factor
, on which the "Hold It Against Me
" singer serves as a judge. Mor explained to MTV News the video, "was essentially trying to reduce what the song is about to symbols. And that's what it was ... just really keeping it clean and iconic."
The theme of the music video is multiplicity, hence the computer-generated clones of will.I.am and Britney. Mor explained to MTV News that the concept was picked to vibe with the futuristic theme. "I think when I decided on the style, I knew it was going to be sleek, minimalist," he said. "I knew it was going to have a white environment, a black environment, and I knew that I was going to a fashion kind of world, so it's almost like a moving fashion spread. Making them multiple matched the beat and visually popped. It's just a stylist choice. It didn't take too much brains to figure out it looked fresh," he said, adding, "What's better than 10 Britneys, you know?"
Regarding the shots of will.i.am and his gang, mounted on the wall like hunted animals, Mor said. "There's no deep meaning to any of it. It certainly wasn't trying to produce any narrative. So to me it was just about, you know, every scene is like a photo. I just liked it, I liked seeing the human heads, and I liked seeing the gold chains off of the plaques and then making it scroll. And then it was an awesome way to introduce characters, some friends of will ... so that it wasn't just about them."
The reason why the video features repeated scenes of flaming disco balls was simple. "I got the image in my head like I wanted to see a disco ball on fire," explained Mor.
The song was originally written by British singer X Factor judge and member of N Dubz, Tulisa Contostavlos, for her debut solo album The Female Boss. She penned the tune with will.i.am's protégé, Jean Baptiste under the title "I Don't Give A F--k". However, the Belgian who produced the track, Lazy Jay, didn't want Contostavlos to have the beat, so he gave it to will.i.am who re-wrote the cut with Spears in mind. Guess this explains Britney's affected British accent on the song.
The song was will.i.am's fourth UK #1 as a solo or guest act and the ninth of his career overall taking into account the five Black Eyed Peas chart-toppers. It was also his third single in a row to peak at the summit following "This Is Love
" and "Hall Of Fame
" by The Script on which he provided guest vocals.
The song was also Spears' sixth #1 single in the UK and her first chart-topper since "Everytime
" reached peak position in 2004.
This was the first single to be released where Britney Spears was the featured rather than lead artist.
Diddy, Lil Wayne, Hit-Boy and Waka Flocka Flame all jumped onto the song's Hip-Hop remix. All four rappers also featured in the new version's video, which sees Spears in an Adidas outfit by Jeremy Scott. "It's turnt up, amplified, maximized, screaming, shouting - I never thought that a remix would be this freaking crazy," will.i.am told MTV News. "Remixes have always been important, but this one...it's so freaking fresh that we had to do a video for it. Usually a remix just comes and it's a part of the initial, but this one needed. a freaking video cause it's out of here, mega, amplified, turnt up."
Billboard decided that as the remix is so different from the original song, it would chart as its own release. Most remixes contribute to the overall sales of the original track.
This served as the theme song for a TV commercial to promote the Beats by Dr. Dre Color headphones, which featured will.i.am as well several other artists including Azealia Banks, Ellie Goulding and Lil Wayne.
Once "Scream & Shout" was a hit, Tulisa Contostavlos's publishers Sony ATV argued that as she had contributed some of the lyrics she was entitled to some of the royalties, Following the subsequent legal wrangling, Tulisa was credited as a co-writer on the track and given 10% of the publishing royalties, as well as a share of recording income.
During the long running legal dispute Tulisa submitted a musicologist report alleging that some of her vocals were still present underneath Britney's on the final version of the record.