"Toxic" is a song by American recording artist Britney Spears from her fourth album, In the Zone. It was released on January 12, 2004, by Jive Records as the second single from the album. Co-written and produced by Bloodshy & Avant, the song was initially offered to Kylie Minogue, but she rejected it. Spears has named "Toxic" as her favorite song from her career, and originally had to convince her record label to release it as a single. "Toxic" is a dance-pop song with influences of electropop and bhangra music, that features varied instrumentation, such as drums, synthesizers and surf guitar. It is accompanied by high-pitched strings and breathy vocals. Its lyrics refer to being addicted to a lover. The song was well received by critics, who deemed it as the strongest track of In the Zone, while praising its hook and chorus.
"Toxic" attained worldwide success, reaching the top-five in fifteen countries, while topping the charts in Australia, Canada, Hungary, Norway and the United Kingdom. In the United States, it became her first single to peak inside the top ten in almost four years. The accompanying music video for the song was directed by Joseph Kahn and features references to Blade Runner, The Seven Year Itch and the films of John Woo. It portrays Spears as a secret agent in the search of a vial of green liquid. After she steals it, she enters an apartment and poisons her unfaithful boyfriend. The video also includes interspersed scenes of Spears naked with diamonds over her body. After Janet Jackson's Superbowl incident, the video was considered too racy for MTV and was moved to late-night programming.
Spears has performed "Toxic" in a number of live appearances, including the 2004 NRJ Music Awards and in three of her concert tours. It was the opening number of The Onyx Hotel Tour (2004), where she sang atop of a bus wearing a black catsuit; Spears also performed remixed versions of the song at The Circus Starring Britney Spears (2009) and the Femme Fatale Tour (2011). "Toxic" has been covered by artists such as Mark Ronson, Yael Naïm and A Static Lullaby, and in television series Glee. The song has also appeared in feature films such as Knocked Up, You Again and television series Doctor Who.
"Toxic" won Spears her first Grammy at the 2005 ceremony in the category of Best Dance Recording, while gaining her credibility amongst critics. The song has been included in lists by Pitchfork, NME and Rolling Stone as one of the best songs of the decade. It has been noted for redefining the sound of dance-pop music. "Toxic" is also considered one of the defining songs for Spears. The music video is also known for showing Spears for the first time as a confident adult woman, comfortable with her own sexuality.
"Toxic" was written by Cathy Dennis, Henrik Jonback and by Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg from Bloodshy & Avant, while produced by the latter two. The song was originally offered to Kylie Minogue for her 2003 studio album Body Language, but she rejected it. Minogue later commented, "I wasn't at all angry when it worked for her. It's like the fish that got away. You just have to accept it." "Toxic" was recorded at Murlyn Studios in Stockholm, Sweden and Record Plant in Hollywood, California. The song was later mixed by Niklas Flyckt at Khabang Studios in Stockholm. In December 2003, it was announced that after trying to choose between "(I Got That) Boom Boom" and "Outrageous" to be second single from In the Zone, Spears had selected "Toxic" instead. She described it as "an upbeat song. It's really different, that's why I like it so much." In May 2010, Spears revealed through her Twitter account that "Toxic" was her favorite song from her catalogue.
"Toxic" is a dance-pop song with elements of electropop and bhangra music. It features varied instrumentation, such as drums, synthesizers, strings and surf guitar, that according to Caryn Ganz of Spin, "warps and struts like it’s been fed into the Matrix." The music was also compared to the soundtrack of the James Bond film series. "Toxic"'s hook samples a portion of "Tere Mere Beech Mein", from the soundtrack of the 1981 Hindi film Ek Duje Ke Liye. Spence D. of IGN described the song as a mix of "swirling, high-pitched faux strings, and Brit's breathy vocal pulse". According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by EMI Music Publishing, "Toxic" is composed in the key of E♭ major, with a tempo of 144 beats per minute. Spears's vocal range spans from the high-tone of G3 to the low-tone of F5. Lyrically, "Toxic" talks about being addicted to a lover. Spears refers to her addiction in the lyrics "Too high / Can't come down / It's in my head spinning round and round." "Toxic" ends with an outro in which Spears sings the lines, "Intoxicate me now / With your lovin' now / I think I'm ready now." Nick Southall of Stylus Magazine said the lyrics made Spears sound afraid of sex.
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