In the Zone

In the Zone
In the Zone.png
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 12, 2003 (2003-11-12)
RecordedNovember 2002 – August 2003[1]
Britney Spears chronology
In the Zone
Greatest Hits: My Prerogative
Singles from In the Zone
  1. "Me Against the Music"
    Released: October 14, 2003
  2. "Toxic"
    Released: January 13, 2004
  3. "Everytime"
    Released: May 10, 2004
  4. "Outrageous"
    Released: July 20, 2004

In the Zone is the fourth studio album by American singer Britney Spears. It was released on November 12, 2003 through Jive Records. Its music incorporates dance, house, reggae, trip hop, and hip hop styles with instrumentation from guitars, drums, synthesizers, strings, and Middle Eastern musical instruments. Its themes range from love, dancing, empowerment, and in the case of songs such as "Touch of My Hand", sex and masturbation. Contributions to the album's production came from a wide range of producers, including Bloodshy & Avant, R. Kelly, Trixster, Moby, Guy Sigsworth and The Matrix.

With the conclusion of the Dream Within a Dream Tour in July 2002 and the end of her relationship with Justin Timberlake, Spears planned to take a six-month break from her career; however, work for In the Zone began later that November. She began writing songs for the album while touring internationally, despite not knowing the direction of the album. She experimented with different producers, trying to find those with whom she had chemistry. The first song recorded was "Touch of My Hand", which Spears claims set the mood for the album. She co-wrote all but four tracks, and often changed the lyrics to suit herself. Spears stated she was an autobiographical songwriter, although not to the point where 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. Spears collaborated with artists such as Madonna in "Me Against the Music" and the Ying Yang Twins in "(I Got That) Boom Boom".

In the Zone received positive reviews from music critics, who complimented its mix of different styles and Spears's songwriting though her vocals were criticized for being distant and processed. Commercially, In the Zone became an international success, debuting atop the charts in France and the United States, and peaking inside the top ten in fifteen countries. In the United States, she became the first female artist to have four consecutive number-one albums.

Four singles were released from the album: "Me Against the Music", "Toxic" and "Everytime" met international chart success, all peaking at number one in Australia and Ireland and reaching top five positions elsewhere. 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 2000s".

Background and development

A blonde female performer in a black-and-white ensemble, holding a microphone near her mouth.
Spears performing "Me Against the Music" at the 2003 NFL Kickoff Live.

In November 2001, Spears released her third album, Britney, which portrayed more adult and provocative themes and featured the lead single "I'm a Slave 4 U". The album has sold over four million copies in the United States; nevertheless, it was viewed as "poor-selling" in comparison to her previous efforts.[3][4] The following year, her relationship of three years with pop singer Justin Timberlake ended after months of speculation.[5] After the Dream Within a Dream Tour in support of Britney finalized in July 2002, Spears announced she would take a break from her career for six months. In November 2002, she revealed that she had started working on her next studio album. She explained, "Well, actually, I just said that I wanted two or three weeks off. [....] And the whole world was like, 'Ohmigod, [sic] she's gone..."[3][6]

While in Europe, Spears met with William Orbit and Daft Punk about possible collaborations, and originally confirmed Darkchild and The Neptunes as producers. When asked by The Hollywood Reporter about the direction of the record, Spears responded it was an organic evolution, adding, "It should just happen naturally from the way you feel. [...] Whatever happens, happens".[7] Additionally, Spears scheduled meet-and-greets with Timbaland and Missy Elliott in an effort to help evolve her sound.[8] Elliott would also enlist in further production work with Nisan Stewart for Spears' project, however none of the initial material saw the light of day.[9] Spears also held a writing session with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. Murphy stated, "We were both lying on the floor, head-to head, working on lyrics in a notepad. She seemed eager to please, but it went nowhere. She went to dinner and just never came back."[10] Fred Durst was asked by Spears' management to submit material, and he wrote and produced three trip hop tracks that were recorded by Spears in January 2003. However, after news of an affair between them broke, Durst told Jive Records he was not going to let them use the songs for the album.[11] In March 2003, Lauren Christy from The Matrix spoke about the development of the album with MTV News, and likened their work with Spears to Madonna's 1998 album Ray of Light. Scott Spock, also from The Matrix, continued comparing her to Madonna, saying,[12]

"She's taking it to the next level in her career. Madonna constantly takes what's in the club and puts what she does on top of it and makes it mainstream. I think Britney is starting to embrace that concept where she's looking to work on different stuff, instead of using the same familiar, and applying it to her. [...] I don't think [her fans] will be freaked out or upset. I think they'll be really into what's going to happen."[12]

Spears also previewed several songs to Quddus Philippe of MTV in May 2003, including "Touch of My Hand", "Brave New Girl" and "Everytime". Spears commented, "I've really been able to take my time and have creative control and make [the new album] special, special, special."[13] On August 27, 2003, Spears opened the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards performing a medley of "Like a Virgin/Hollywood" with Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott.[14] The performance started with Spears appearing on stage on top of a giant wedding cake while wearing a wedding gown and veil; she sang the first few lines of "Like a Virgin" before Aguilera appeared from behind the cake and joined her.[15] Madonna then emerged from the cake wearing a black coat and a hat and started singing "Hollywood" before proceeding to kiss Spears and Aguilera on the lips.[16] Missy Elliott came out from a wedding chapel to sing her song "Work It" halfway through the performance.[16] The kiss generated strong reaction from the media. The performance was listed by Blender magazine as one of the twenty-five sexiest music moments on television history.[17] MTV listed the performance as the number-one opening moment in the history of the MTV Video Music Awards.[18]

Other Languages
العربية: في المنطقة
български: In The Zone
català: In the Zone
čeština: In the Zone
Deutsch: In the Zone
español: In the Zone
français: In the Zone
한국어: In the Zone
hrvatski: In the Zone
italiano: In the Zone
עברית: In the Zone
ქართული: In the Zone
latviešu: In the Zone
lietuvių: In The Zone
magyar: In the Zone
Nederlands: In the Zone
polski: In the Zone
português: In the Zone
română: In the Zone
русский: In the Zone
Simple English: In the Zone
slovenščina: In the Zone
српски / srpski: In the Zone
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: In the Zone
svenska: In the Zone
Türkçe: In the Zone
українська: In the Zone
Tiếng Việt: In the Zone
中文: 流行禁區