“Out from Under” is a song by American recording artist Britney Spears, taken from her sixth studio album, Circus (2008). The song was written by Shelly Peiken, Arnthor Birgisson, and Wayne Hector
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, initially for the soundtrack of Bratz: The Movie, featuring vocals of American recording artist Joanna Pacitti. After approaching Spears and Guy Sigsworth in 2008, the songwriters suggested the singer to re-record the song for her album. “Out from Under” is a soft rock song that alludes to the ending of Spears’ marriage with Kevin Federline, and blends the singer’s breathy vocals with acoustic guitars in the background.
Despite not being released as a single, “Out from Under” managed to peak at number nineteen on Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles, following the release of Circus, and at number thirty-two in Sweden in June 2009. The song was featured on the fifth season of MTV’s The Hills. It was included on The Essential Britney Spears compilation album.
In early 2007, songwriters Shelly Peiken, Arnthor Birgisson, and Wayne Hector wrote a song titled “Out from Under” for the soundtrack of Bratz: The Movie. The song was recorded by Joanna Pacitti in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2008, it was confirmed that Spears was in the process of recording her sixth studio album. Her manager Larry Rudolph confirmed the singer would spend “her summer in the recording studio” to work on it. Despite no official album confirmation at the time, Rudolph revealed they were happy with her progress and that she had been working with a range of producers, such as Sean Garrett, Guy Sigsworth, Danja and Bloodshy & Avant. Sigsworth and Spears were approached by the songwriters of “Out from Under”, who suggested the singer to re-record the song for the album. Spears recorded her vocals for the song at Conway Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California, while audio mixing and vocal recording was done by Andy Page. Background vocals were provided by Leah Haywood. The song appeared on a six-song mix of Circus that was released on November 13, 2008. In an interview included on the deluxe edition of Circus, Spears revealed that she “[has] always loved ballads. It’s like, there is always a time on the show, a transition where you can gather your thoughts, and […] just chill”. The singer also said she wrote “My Baby” during the recording sessions of “Out from Under”.
“Out from Under” is a soft rock song that alludes to the ending of Spears’ marriage with Kevin Federline which is perceived in lines such as “We tried everything we could try/So let’s just say goodbye forever”. Poppy Cosyns of The Sun noted that “a starker vocal and acoustic guitar backing herald” the song, while considering its lyrical content as “a sincere story of a suffocating relationship”. “Out from Under” lasts for three minutes and fifty-three seconds, and features Spears singing the song with breathy vocals, over a background with acoustic guitars. Anna Dimond of TV Guide noted the song’s lyrics also relates to Spears’ conservatorship
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, from which the singer was “becoming more independent every day”. Caryn Ganz of Rolling Stone noted that Spears vocals aren’t heavily processed, saying, “Britney’s vocals on Blackout sounded phoned in, but on Circus, she put in real studio time, actually singing some slow jams”, naming “Out from Under” as an example.
The song has received mixed reviews from music critics. Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times noted that “Out from Under” and the other ballads from Circus “have [Spears] hiccuping emotion from deep in the back of her throat”. Chris Richards of The Washington Post commented that the singer “emerges from her media bender hoping to forget the past” with the song, and Caryn Ganz of Rolling Stone considered it “Spears’ best ballad since ‘I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman'”. Jon Pareles of The New York Times said “Out from Under” “gleam with acoustic guitars”, and that the song, “My Baby” and “Unusual You”, “are the album’s only attempts at warmth.” Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic considered the song, along with “My Baby”, “a couple of not-good-at-all ballads”, while Dave Donnelly of Sputnikmusic said both “subtly evoke the Britney of old: airy pop ballads that benefit from the former Frou Frou producer’s sophisticated, layered arrangements.” While comparing Circus to Blackout, Alexis Petridis of The Guardian noted, “the ballads are back, bringing with them the inevitable sprinkling of tedium”. Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club felt that both songs “are about five years out of date, and [Spears] vocals seem anemic and distracted in spite of the confessional lyrics.” Steve Jones of USA Today commented that “Spears tosses in a couple of ballads along [Circus], but these really aren’t her forte. The slew of top-flight producers […] bolsters her vocal variety of echoes and gimmicky effects, but they don’t really help the breathy ‘Out From Under’ or saccharin ‘Unusual You'” Stainless Steel Mug 12 oz. Mike Newmark of PopMatters described the song as “nearly-emo” along with “Unusual You,” saying both “try for heartfelt and come off flabby.”
Following the release of Circus, “Out from Under” peaked at number nineteen on Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles, on the dated week of December 20, 2008. The song became a radio hit on commercial radio stations in Sweden, and also entered the Swedish Singles Chart on the dated week of August 14, 2009, at number forty, peaking at number thirty-two the following week. “Out from Under” stayed over a month on the chart, peaking at number forty-one in the last week of its appearance.
“Out from Under” was featured on the fifth season of MTV’s The Hills, during a scene where Lauren Conrad comforts Heidi Montag.
“Out from Under” was performed Live A Winter Circus Promo Tour
Credits for “Out from Under” are adapted from Circus liner notes.
The song was released as a single in Europe with rewritten lyrics as “Now Or Never” by Swedish pop singer Emilia de Poret in 2009. A video for “Now Or Never” can be found on de Poret’s official YouTube channel. That same year, reggae singer and former UB40 frontman Ali Campbell released his version as a single.