A Beginner’s Guide To Dubstep, The Sound Behind Britney Spears’ ‘Hold It Against Me’

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Max Martin and Dr. Luke are some savvy dudes. The two super-producers–the men behind hits such as Katy Perry‘s “Teenage Dream” and Ke$ha‘s “TiK ToK”–are experts when it comes to incorporating “of-the-now” sounds into their pop music wizardry.

For example, keen-eared listeners might have heard the influence of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and their minor-key indie rock in the chords of Kelly Clarkson‘s “Since U Been Gone.” And now, with their production on Britney Spears‘ new single, “Hold It Against Me,” the duo have again sampled (not literally) some very in-vogue sounds, that of the Brit dance genre of Dubstep.

So, what is Dubstep? Glad you asked! Its origins go back to the electronic music scene in South East London, almost 12 years ago. In its most basic form, Dubstep combines the skittering rhythms of breakbeat dance music and drum ‘n’ bass, some dark digital atmospherics and a splash of modern R&B for melody.

As Mixmag rightly points out–experts that they are–you can hear the Dubstep influence on Britney Spears’ new single at the 2:22 mark of “Hold It Against Me,” when the droning bass collides with some collapsing drums and the treated vocals dance all over the digital debris.

The role of Dubstep in Britney Spears’ music will likely become more pronounced when her album drops, as she was reported to have worked with famed Dubstep producers Rusko on some tracks.

Dubstep artists worth checking out include Burial, Flying Lotus, Skream and, yes, Rusko. Happy listening!