We went over to Britney's label earlier this morning. Our mission: listen to the very final no-messing-around version of Britney Spears' new single 'Hold It Against Me'.

Here is the massive RCA logo you see when you go into the label. It is a new logo. It is better than the new Britney Spears logo, but wouldn't really work as a Britney Spears logo as it says 'RCA' not 'Britney Spears'.

Sometimes labels talk about keeping music 'under lock and key'. What that usually means is that there are CDs sitting around on desks all over the building for cleaners to nick if they feel like it, and unwa­ter­marked audio streams have only been sent to about fifty people in radio. With Britney it seems like there is Proper Security around the whole thing. There is, allegedly, only one CD in the UK and this is it.

As a 'cunning bluff' it doesn't actually say THIS IS THE NEW BRITNEY SPEARS SINGLE 'HOLD IT AGAINST' ME on it, and has been kept in a Willow Smith CD sleeve. Note the subtle 'BS' at the leftmost extremity of Willow's whipped hair.

This is what the CD looks like when it is inserted into a CD player.

As you can see, the song is three minutes and fifty two seconds long.
That makes it twenty two seconds longer than the optimum pop length
(estab­lished by '…Baby One More Time') of three minutes and thirty
seconds, but com­plain­ing about a new Britney song going on a bit is a
bit like moaning your lunch is a bit too nice.

So what's it like? Well, if you've heard the demo (which frankly isn't very good and made us worry a bit about this whole Britney comeback business) you will probably be expecting something that sounds like a halfarsed Ke$ha tribute. Fortunately, while the song's lyrics and melody aren't that different, the finished Britney version of 'Hold It Against Me' is approx­im­ately 1000 times better than the demo. It's a harder, more urgent, extremely epic statement track that sounds like the work of a superstar.

Allow us to illus­trate our point pis­cat­ori­ally.

The big dif­fer­ence from the early demo that leaked last week is the presence — heralded by a classic Britney spoken word "if I said 'I want your body', would you hold it against me?" — of a fant­ast­ic­ally ridicu­lous dubstep breakdown after the second chorus. After the whole song drops out it's dubstep gloom­wobble-a-go-go for a full thirty seconds, with Britney throwing around some "yeah", "ow", "uh-huh" ad-libs and a new "gimme something good, don't wanna wait I want it now, drop it like a hood and show me how you work it out" line. After that there's a second middle eight (don't be surprised if certain radio pro­gram­mers whip out the first one entirely) which is a hands-in-the-air smoke machine moment more in keeping with the rest of the track, and that's followed by the full chorus slamming in and taking you to the end of the track. Sudden end, no fade. Amazing.

This is neither the time or the place to fully explore the concept of delayed grat­i­fic­a­tion but the effect of teasing the listener by dropping the beat out of the song's first two choruses, then plunging us into half a minute of abstract dubstep, and then only finally revealing the full-on raveo­chorus in the song's final moments is something very special indeed. Warning: YOU MAY SHED A TEAR OR OTHER FLUIDS.

Other bits:

1. There is lots of whooshing.

2. There's no "babaay", but there is a "hazaay".

3. The vocals are a bit treated — it's a Britney single — but it's not Auto-Tuned to fuck like we (and lots of you) feared. It's obviously Britney and it's obviously brilliant.

4. We love it and it makes us very excited — more excited than we thought we would be — for the album.

Yesterday on Twitter we asked if any of you had questions about the song — well, we're going to do our best to respond to as many of them as we can. Check back later and we'll have some answers for you. EDIT: It's leaked so we won't bother — but we're right about that breakdown innit.