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  • Monday 17 November 2003
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  • Tuesday 18 November 2003
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  • Tuesday 18 November 2003
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In the Zone (2003)

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  Summary  

In the Zone is the fourth studio album by American recording artist Britney Spears, released on November 16, 2003, by Jive Records. Following the end of the Dream Within a Dream Tour in July 2002 and her break-up with Justin Timberlake, Spears announced she would take a six-month break from her career. She started working on the album in November 2002, with producers such as Bloodshy & Avant, R. Kelly, Christopher Stewart, Moby, Guy Sigsworth and The Matrix. Musically, In the Zone is a dance-oriented album that incorporates elements of various genres, such as house, trip hop and hip hop. It features instrumentation from guitars, drums, synthesizers, strings and Middle Eastern musical instruments.

Spears began writing songs for In the Zone while touring around the world, despite not knowing the direction of the album. She started to experiment with different producers, trying to find those who she had chemistry with. The first song recorded was "Touch of My Hand", which Spears claims set the mood for the album. She co-wrote several tracks, and often changed the lyrics to suit herself. Spears stated she was an autobiographical songwriter, although not the point were she felt self-exploited. She also explained that the sexual nature of In the Zone was subconscious and happened while she was in the process of developing the album. The topic for the songs range from love, dancing, empowerment, and in the case of songs such as "Touch of My Hand", sex and masturbation. Spears collaborated with artists such as Madonna in "Me Against the Music" and the Ying Yang Twins in "I Got That ".

After its release, In the Zone received generally positive reception from music critics. Reviewers appreciated the album, calling it a strong and confident pop record, while complimenting the mix of different styles and Spears's skills as a songwriter. Others however, criticized it for what they perceived as distant and processed vocals. Commercially, In the Zone became an international success, debuting atop of the charts in France and the United States, and peaking inside the top ten in eleven countries. In the United States, she became the first female artist to have four consecutive number-one albums. In the Zone went on to become the eighth best selling album of 2003. As of November 2007, the album had sold 6 million copies worldwide.

Four singles were released from the album: "Me Against the Music", "Toxic" and "Everytime" became worldwide hits, peaking at number one in Australia and reaching top five positions worldwide. To promote In the Zone, Spears performed the songs in a number of television appearances and also embarked on The Onyx Hotel Tour. The album and its music videos are largely seen by critics as the end of her transition from teen pop star to a more adult female artist. In 2009, Amy Schriefer of NPR listed In the Zone as one of The 50 Most Important Recordings of the Decade, calling it "a primer on the sound of pop in the '00s".

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 composition
According to Billboard, In the Zone marks a musical departure for Spears. Instead of traditional pop, the album is darker and more dance-oriented. Spears talked about the overall sound of the album with Rolling Stone, saying, "I'd describe it as trance-y, kind of vibe record—something you could listen to that's no so song-structured Of course I'm not doing '...Baby One More Time' and those massive hits anymore. I think this record is where I am at right now in my life. It's sensual, it's sexual. I'm probably writing about that subconsciously because I don't have that right now." Amy Schriefer of NPR stated the album is a mix of dance, house, crunk, Diwali beats and hip hop. According to William Shaw of Blender, the main theme of In the Zone is "Spears’s awakening to her sexuality as a single woman." The first single from the album, "Me Against the Music", features Madonna, but was constructed as a duet after she was added to the track. Spears and Madonna trade lines during the verses, and Madonna sings solo in the bridge. The instrumentation in the song includes influences of hip hop and funk guitars. The song's lyrics feature Spears and Madonna singing of the pleasures of letting go on the dancefloor, in "I'm up against the speaker / Trying to take on the music / It's like a competition". The second song, " Boom Boom", is an Atlanta-style hip hop track featuring the Ying Yang Twins.


"Showdown" has "bubbly" beats and its lyrics, about "fighting and making up with carnal relations", include the lines "I don’t really want to be a tease / But would you undo my zipper, please?" The fourth track, "Breathe on Me", was described as the most sensual song of the record. Containing trip hop influences, Spears sings, "Oh, it's so hot, and I need some air/ And boy, don't stop 'cause I'm halfway there" and "Just put your lips together and blow." "Early Mornin'" depicts Spears looking for men at a club in New York City. The song has a percolating beat and featured subdued vocals from Spears, who purrs and yawns through the track. The nightclub Show is referenced. "Toxic", which Spears later named as her favorite song from her career, was originally offered to Kylie Minogue. Released as the album's second single, it contains elements of electropop and bhangra music, and features varied instrumentation, such as drums, synthesizers, high-pitched strings and surf guitars. Lyrically, "Toxic" talks about being addicted to a lover. "Outrageous", the fourth and final single from the album, is a hip hop-inspired track that according to MTV features Spears "whisper with a snake charmer melody giving the song an exotic feel." The lyrics talk about materialism and amusement, with the singer referencing in the chorus a number of things that give her pleasure. In "Touch of My Hand", which Spears felt it was comparable to Janet Jackson's "That's the Way Love Goes" , she sings in a lower register. The instrumentation contains elements of Middle Eastern music and its lyrics refer to masturbation, "I will be bold/ Going to the places where I can be out of control/ Don't want to explain tonight/ All the things I try to hide."

The ninth track "The Hook Up" has a reggae feel and features Spears singing in a Jamaican Patois accent. The ballad "Shadow" talks about how reminders of a lover can still linger after he’s gone. "Brave New Girl" lyrics talk about a young woman finding her passion and losing inhibitions. Backed by choppy, electro-funk beats, she sings in a bouncy near-rap, "She's going to find her passion, she's going to find her way, she's going to get right out of this/ She don't want New York, she don't want L.A., she's going to find that special kiss." The song incorporates elements of the music of No Doubt, Blondie and Madonna. "Everytime" begins with a piano introduction accompanying Spears's breathy vocals, which build from soft to strong throughout the song. "Everytime" lyrics are a plea for forgiveness for inadvertently hurting a former lover. In the song, the singer explains she feels unable to continue in lines such as "Everytime I try to fly I fall / Without my wings I feel so small". During an interview with MTV, Spears said about the song, "It's about heartbreak, it's about your first love, your first true love. That's something all people can relate to, because you all have that first love that you think you're going to be with the rest of your life." When asked if "Everytime" was about Timberlake, she responded "I'll let the song speak for itself." The Rishi Rich's Desi Kulcha Remix of "Me Against the Music" removes the original melody of the song and adds a clattering backbeat and Punjabi shouts. In "The Answer", Spears sings that her lover is the answer to all her needs: "Who can hold me tight, keep me warm through the night? / Who can wipe my tears when it's wrong, make it right? / Who can give me love till I'm satisfied? / Who's the one I need in my life?". In "Don't Hang Up," she pleads on the phone for her lover to keep her satisfied long-distance.

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  Tracklist   

Standard edition
# Name Artist Live Acoustic Hidden Duration
1-1 Me Against the Music Britney Spears       03:44
1-2 Boom Boom Britney Spears       04:51
1-3 Showdown Britney Spears       03:17
1-4 Breathe on Me' Britney Spears       03:43
1-5 Early Mornin' Britney Spears       03:45
1-6 Toxic Britney Spears       03:21
1-7 Outrageous Britney Spears       03:21
1-8 Touch of My Hand Britney Spears       04:19
1-9 The Hook Up Britney Spears       03:54
1-10 Shadow Britney Spears       03:45
1-11 Brave New Girl Britney Spears       03:30
1-12 Everytime Britney Spears       03:53
1-13 Me Against the Music Britney Spears       03:44
1-14 The Answer Britney Spears       03:54

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "In the Zone", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.