On Thursday night, after weeks of teasing, Britney Spears finally revealed her video for “Hold It Against Me,” a whirling, swirling dance explosion that features plenty of sass, swagger and exactly one flowing white gown.
The Jonas Åkerlund-directed clip also features plenty of nods to pop music’s past — not to mention several blink-and-you’d-miss-it odes to film, TV and, of course, Greek mythology. As is the case with all massive videos, there’s a whole lot to keep track of, so, much like we did for equally big clips like Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” and My Chemical Romance’s “Na Na Na,” we’ve put “Hold It Against Me” through the wringer and compiled a pop-culture cheat sheet that’s alphabetized and cross-referenced for your convenience. Believe us, this took way longer than you could imagine, but it was worth it. (Oh, and despite our best efforts, we’re sure there’s something we missed, which is why we need your help: Let us know what you spot in the comments below.)
Photos of the references in Britney’s “Hold It Against Me.”
The Graeae: In Greek mythology, they were the three sisters who shared a single eye. In Britney’s video, they’re hoodie-wearing dudes with serious dance moves (and no eyes at all). Same thing, really.
Iamamiwhoami: Icky, sticky viral-video enigma whose early clips featured plenty of lying around in the fetal position (and amniotic fluids). In “HIAM,” Britney, covered in similarly sticky liquid, curls up on the floor, striking a pose that would make Iamami proud.
Kanye West, “Runaway”: Over-the-top 35-minute mini-movie/allegory starring West as a man who cares for a phoenix who has fallen to Earth. The meteor that crashes to Earth at the beginning of “HIAM” reminds us a lot of the phoenix’s fiery entrance in ‘Ye’s film . And, if you look hard enough, you can also see the song’s lyrics printed out in the top left corner of the shot.
Madonna, “Bedtime Stories”: Ultra-artistic 1995 video, directed by Mark Romanek, that cost a reported $5 million to make. From the futuristic set and the special effects to Brit’s long, flowing gown and whirling dancers, it appears to be a direct influence on pretty much everything in “HIAM.” Though we’re willing to bet Brit didn’t spend nearly as much to make her version.
Madonna, “Die Another Day”: Big-budget 2002 Madonna video from the equally big-budget James Bond film of the same name. It featured a memorable fight scene that pitted Madge against her alter ego (Mariah Carey did the same thing in her “Heartbreaker” video, BTW). In “HIAM,” Britney battles her alter ego in a (very fashionable) kung fu fight.
“The Matrix”: Wachowski brothers franchise that featured plenty of TV screens and a whole lot of marauding machinery, just like “HIAM.” Like Keanu said, “Whoa.”
“Mortal Kombat”: Totally awesome (and violent) fighting game that featured, among its cast of characters, a blue-garbed assassin named Sub-Zero. In “HIAM,” Britney’s dancers don outfits similar to him, only they don’t shoot ice out of their hands. Unless that part’s in the director’s cut.
Robyn, “Indestructible”: Sexy 2010 video from Sweden’s sexiest pop export, it featured Robyn writhing on a table while wearing a dress made entirely of clear plastic tubes (courtesy of Australian artist Lucy McRae), sort of like the ones Britney uses to spray colored liquid all over the “HIAM” set.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”: Cult 1975 film adapted from a British play, its iconic poster featured a pair of bright-red lips, which seem to have also made their way into “HIAM.”
Tool, Ænema: Totally excellent 1996 album that featured several covers, one of which was a creepy, double-irised eyeball, courtesy of artist Cam de Leon. If you blink (get it?!?), you might miss a similar eyeball that pops up in “HIAM.”
What did we miss? Share the pop-culture inspirations you spotted in the comments below!