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"Clumsy" is a song recorded by American singer Britney Spears for her ninth studio album, Glory (2016). It serves as the record's second promotional single, being released on August 11, 2016 for digital download and streaming by RCA Records and Sony Music. It was provided as an instant gratification track for those who pre-ordered Glory. "Clumsy" was written by Talay Riley, Warren "Oak" Felder and Alex Niceforo, while production was handled by Felder and Alex Nice; Mischke served as a vocal producer.

"Clumsy"
Promotional single by Britney Spears
from the album Glory
ReleasedAugust 11, 2016
Format
Recorded158 Studios
(Westlake Village, California)
House of Blues Studio
(Encino, California)
GenreElectro
Length3:03
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)

Musically, "Clumsy" portrays a "synth-laden" electro song which incorporates doo-wop hand claps, stomping drums, finger snaps, soulful vocal riffs and an electronic drop in its instrumentation. Spears also alludes to her 2000 single "Oops!... I Did It Again" during the track's breakdowns. The lyrical themes of the recording delve on sex and how the singer and her suitor are clumsy during intimate moments. Writers from AllMusic, The Boston Globe, musicOMH and Rolling Stone considered the track a highlight of Glory while the latter listed it as one of the best songs of 2016.[1] Commercially, "Clumsy" charted at number 142 in France, where it remained for two weeks on the SNEP chart. Spears added the song to the setlist of her Britney Spears: Piece of Me Tour in July 2018.[2]

Background and releaseEdit

Even though Britney Spears' eighth studio album, Britney Jean (2013), had a lackluster commercial performance,[3] her Las Vegas residency show, Britney: Piece of Me, was successful.[4] In September 2014, she posted a picture of herself in a recording studio.[5] During an interview with Extra, a month later, she said that she was working "very slowly, but progressively" on new music.[6] In 2015, she released the single "Pretty Girls", which featured Iggy Azalea,[4] but clarified that she did not have plans to release another studio album that year.[7] She explained that her children were her priority rather than music.[7]

In late 2016, while promoting her ninth studio album Glory, Spears said that she wanted to explore new musical styles.[8] She described the project as her "most hip-hop album," explaining, "[...] there are like two or three songs that go in the direction of more urban that I've wanted to do for a long time now, and I just haven't really done that."[9] She collaborated with Talay Riley, who had previously co-written Iggy Azalea's "Bounce" (2013) and Nick Jonas' "Levels" (2015).[10] After the release of the first single "Make Me..." and the promotional single "Private Show" on August 8, 2016, Spears and PopCrush announced that "Clumsy" was going to be made available as the second promotional track from the Glory as an instant grant for those who pre-ordered the album.[10][11] It was subsequently released on August 11, 2016 for digital download and streaming.[12][13]

CompositionEdit

'Clumsy' is really cool, this was done in the middle of the process of the record and I wanted something really funky and this track came out of really nowhere and we brought it home. We got guys in the studio and we clapped and dosey-do and made it really bluesy and funky and did everything really old school and real.

—Spears commenting about "Clumsy" for Sirius XM.[14]

"Clumsy" was written by Talay Riley, Warren "Oak" Felder and Alex Niceforo, with production being handled by the latter two; Mischke served as a vocal producer. Spears, Riley, Felder, Zaire Koalo, Trevor Brown and Mischke provided crowd vocals on the track, which were recorded at 158 Studios, Westlake Village, California, and at House of Blues Studio, Encino, California.[15] Musically, "Clumsy" portrays a "synth-laden"[16] electro track,[17] with a "folksy verse stomp"[18] and a "futuristic club beat."[16] It additionally incorporates "stomping drums and finger snaps" in its instrumentation, as well as doo-wop "hand-claps and soulful vocal riffs as it builds to an explosive electronic drop."[12] In an interview with radio show The Cooper Lawrence Show, the singer confirmed that she and her team "literally went into the booth together and did all the claps [...] all the sound effects are real, they're from us, our feet and everything, it's all real, so we all did it together, it's like very old-school."[19] Joey Nolfi, writing for Entertainment Weekly, saw "Clumsy" as being " sonically in-line with songs heard on 2011's Femme Fatale and 2013's Britney Jean."[12] The Guardian's Alex Macpherson opined that "its rapacious giddiness shares something of the same spirit as Ariana Grande's 'Greedy'."[20]

Lyrically, the recording finds Spears "[fumbling] through the early throes of love."[16] Adam R. Holz of Plugged In claimed that the song is "about Spears and a partner 'bangin' all over [the] bedroom,'[21] which can be seen in the lines, "Clumsy, bangin' all over this bedroom again and again."[12] Sasha Geffen of MTV added that during the track, Spears shows off her "flirty side" with lines like, "I love how you go down."[22] Spin's Andrew Unterberger explained that the lyrics of "Clumsy" "offer varying degrees of double-entendred literalness within the clumsiness conceit, as Britney’s lack of physical dexterity leads to her 'slippin’ off this dress."[18] Writing for Bustle, Alexis Rhiannon noticed that the text of the recording is "frankly pretty filthy" and "also essentially a description of pure sex."[23] For the pre-chorus, Spears sings, "Call me a fool/ Call me insane/ But don't call it a thing/ Closer to you/ Closer to pain/ It's better than far away", following which she repeats "clumsy" as a hook.[24] During every breakdown of the track, the singer "playfully squeals", "Oops!",[12] making reference to her 2000 song "Oops!... I Did It Again".[22] Throughout the track, Spears delivers vocals in her "nasal come-on tone" as noted by Rolling Stone's Jon Blistein.[16] The critic furthermore opined that the song "marks a rhythmic, almost swing-inspired turn for Spears."[16]

Critical receptionEdit

Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone considered it "one moment that sums up the fantastic new Britney Spears album" and "a perfect Britney song, done and dusted in three minutes. Ooops, she did it again."[17] Stephen Thomas Erlewine, writing for AllMusic, declared that "some of the highlights [on the album] are the silliest songs", citing "Clumsy" as an example and defining it as a "swinging" track.[25] Josh Duboff of Vanity Fair felt "Clumsy" portrays "the most straight-forward 'club' track" and further explained that "the song is innocuous and propulsive."[26] Digital Spy's Lewis Corner named the recording a "four-to-the-floor banger" [...] with an infectious clap-beat."[27] Andrew Unterberger of Spin stated that "the rubbery track is among Britney’s most fun songs of recent years."[18] Alexis Rhiannon of Bustle, declared, "It's both a relief and a joy to hear Spears return to her former glory with the empowering, x-rated 'Clumsy' lyrics."[23] Maura Johnston of Boston Globe labelled "Clumsy" as a highlight from Glory.[28]

Neil McCormick of The Telegraph classified the track as "equating clumsiness with bumping and grinding sex," where "[Spears] switches back and forth between the two approaches so frequently that it almost sound like a duet between sweet and tough alter egos."[29] The National's Si Hawkins confessed that "Clumsy" is "a return to quirky form,"[30] while John Murphy of musicOMH emphasized that the song was an "undoubted highlight".[31] Jonathan Riggs, penning for Idolator, opined that "although none of the more manic moments match the frenzied brilliance of 'Toxic' (but what could, really?), Britney keeps control of the pulsating 'Clumsy'."[32] While noting that "Britney holds her own on the sexually charged 'Clumsy'," Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine suggested that Christina Aguilera would match better with the recording.[33] Entertainment Weekly's Nolan Feeney observed that "the generic bass drop" of the track is a "missed opportunity."[34] Alex Macpherson of The Guardian was largely positive towards "Clumsy", mentioning that it "brings out grinding, Justice-style metallic synths, verses that jitter and hop uncontrollably, beery chants and an absurd moment when Spears' voice gets pitch-shifted thither and yon. But if much of her post-Blackout work seems to have had an absence of character as its end goal, [...] Spears sounds like she’s having the time of her life sparring with and riding the kitchen-sink beat.[20]

"Clumsy" was ranked at number 34 on Rolling Stone’s "50 Best Songs of 2016" list by Rob Sheffield, who said that "[the song was a] should-been-a-hit highlight from [Spears's] comeback album". He went on to say that "no singer [had] ever brought that much resonance to the word "oops"" referring to the song's lyrics and considered Britney a "TRL princess turned Vegas queen [who was revisiting] the high-energy disco-ball hysteria of her youth".[35]

Credits and personnelEdit

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Glory.[15]

Recording
Personnel
  • Britney Spears – songwriter, lead vocals, crowd vocals
  • Talay Riley – songwriter, crowd vocals
  • Warren "Oak" Felder – songwriter, producer, crowd vocals
  • Alex Niceforo – songwriter, producer
  • Mischke – vocal producer, crowd vocals
  • Benjamin Rice – additional vocal recording
  • Trevor Brown – crowd vocals
  • Zaire Koalo – crowd vocals
  • Benjamin Rice – vocal recording
  • Benny Faccone – recording assistant
  • Erik Belz – recording assistant
  • Jaycen Joshua – mixing
  • Maddox Chhim – mixing assistant
  • Dave Nakaji – mixing assistant

ChartsEdit

Chart (2016) Peak
position
France (SNEP)[36] 142
Russia Airplay (Tophit)[37] 265

Release historyEdit

Region Date Format Label Ref
Worldwide August 11, 2016 RCA [16]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "50 Best Songs of 2016". Rolling Stone. November 30, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  2. ^ Rincón, Alessandra (July 13, 2018). "Britney Spears Kicks Off Piece of Me Tour: See the Best Moments". Billboard. United States. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  3. ^ Pareles, Jon (August 24, 2016). "In 'Glory,' Britney Spears Promises Pleasure, but Offers Nothing Personal". The New York Times. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  4. ^ a b McIntyre, Hugh (November 27, 2015). "Britney Spears' Vegas Residency Was A Game Changer". Forbes. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  5. ^ Daw, Robbie (September 5, 2014). "Britney Spears Was In The Studio…With A Pack Of Marlboros: Photo". Idolator. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  6. ^ "Britney Spears Is Working on New Music... 'Very Slowly, But Progressively'". Extra. September 9, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Hampp, Andrew (March 12, 2015). "Britney Spears: I'm 'Slowly But Surely' Working On a New Album (Exclusive)". Billboard. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  8. ^ Robinson, Will (July 25, 2016). "Britney Spears 'explored some new things' on upcoming album". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  9. ^ Inocencio, Marc (August 5, 2016). "Interview: Britney Spears Says 'Glory' Album Is 'Different,' Will Have Some Hip-Hop". On Air with Ryan Seacrest. Archived from the original on August 8, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Wass, Mike (August 9, 2016). "Britney Spears Confirms New Buzz Single "Clumsy"". Idolator. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  11. ^ "Britney Spears Teases New Single 'Clumsy'". Radio.com. August 8, 2016. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d e Nolfi, Joey (August 10, 2016). "Britney Spears drops intense electro banger 'Clumsy'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  13. ^ Overdeep, Meghan (August 11, 2016). "Britney Spears Drops New Song "Clumsy"". InStyle. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  14. ^ "Britney Spears - New Album 'Glory' Track By Track (Radio Sirius XM)". Sirius XM. YouTube. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  15. ^ a b Glory (Media notes). Britney Spears. RCA Records. 2016.CS1 maint: others (link)
  16. ^ a b c d e f Blistein, Jon (August 11, 2016). "Hear Britney Spears' Bubbly, Synth-Saturated Song 'Clumsy'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  17. ^ a b Sheffield, Rob (August 26, 2016). "Review: Britney Spears' 'Glory' Is Another Fantastic Comeback". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  18. ^ a b c Unterberger, Andrew (August 11, 2016). "Britney Spears Finds the Sexy Side of Physical Ineptitude on 'Clumsy' Single". Spin. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  19. ^ "Britney Spears Exclusive! | WBLI". The Cooper Lawrence Show. September 1, 2016. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  20. ^ a b Macpherson, Alex (August 26, 2016). "Britney Spears: Glory – track-by-track review of a triumphant return". The Guardian. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  21. ^ Holz, Adam R. "Glory Album Review (2016) | Plugged In". Plugged In. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  22. ^ a b Geffen, Sasha (August 11, 2016). "Britney Spears's 'Clumsy' Reminds Us Of One Of Her Classic Singles". MTV. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  23. ^ a b Rhiannon, Alexis (August 11, 2016). "Britney Spears' "Clumsy" Lyrics Own Her Sexuality Even More Explicitly Than Ever Before & It's So Empowering — Listen". Bustle. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  24. ^ Billboard Staff (August 10, 2016). "Britney Spears' 'Clumsy' Has Dropped: Listen". Billboard. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  25. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Glory - Britney Spears - AllMusic". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  26. ^ Duboff, Josh (August 11, 2016). "Britney Spears Delivers a Song for Your Next Night Out with "Clumsy"". Vanity Fair. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  27. ^ Corner, Lewis (August 11, 2016). "Britney Spears releases new banger 'Clumsy' and it'll have you on the dance floor instantly". Digital Spy. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  28. ^ Johnston, Maura (August 25, 2016). "Britney Spears sounds like she's having fun again". Boston Globe. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  29. ^ McCormick, Neil (August 26, 2016). "Glory might just be Britney Spears's masterpiece – review". The Telegraph. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  30. ^ Hawkins, Si (September 5, 2016). "Album review: Britney Spears reminds us of former glories in new album". The National. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  31. ^ Murphy, John (August 31, 2016). "Britney Spears – Glory - Album Reviews". musicOMH. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  32. ^ Riggs, Jonathan (August 26, 2016). "Britney Spears' 'Glory': Album Review". Idolator. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  33. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (August 22, 2016). "Britney Spears: Glory | Album Review | Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  34. ^ Feeney, Nolan (August 26, 2016). "Britney Spears' Glory: EW Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  35. ^ "50 Best Songs of 2016". Rolling Stone. November 30, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  36. ^ "Lescharts.com – Britney Spears – Clumsy" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  37. ^ "Chart Search". Tophit for Britney Spears. Retrieved February 7, 2017.

External linksEdit