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Pretty Girls is a song recorded by American singer Britney Spears and Australian rapper Iggy Azalea. It serves as the lead single from the former's ninth studio album and was released on May 5, 2015. The song was produced by the Anglo-American trio The Invisible Men (Jason Pebworth, George Astasio and Jon Shave), who also contributed with songwriting credits along with Azalea, Maegan Cottone and the members of British girl group Little Mix (Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall).
Background and release
On September 9, 2014, during an interview with Extra at The Intimate Britney Spears Collection launch in New York City, Spears revealed she had "very slowly but progressively" started working on a new album, "It's in the works, definitely. I want to do something very artsy fartsy – something that I've never done before." When asked who she would like to collaborate with, Spears said, "I love Katy Perry – I'd love to do something with her. Or Iggy [Azalea] – that would be cool." Later that month, while in Poland to promote the lingerie collection, she mentioned Azalea again as one of the artists she respected and would like to work with.Rumors quickly began to spread that a collaboration between the two artists was already in the works, with the rapper sharing on Instagram that she had "recorded a duo after the show for another blondie" in London, and also teasing she had just done a "secret collaboration" with "somebody I've had my eye", adding, "Another pop queen that I'm excited about." On November 21, 2014, Azalea confirmed she had worked with Spears saying "it was amazing" while tweeting a fan. On the following month, Azalea announced news on her second album and also cleared up some of the rumors regarding the name of the track and other details by telling fans, "our song isn't about booty or sonically similar," referring to her previous collaboration with Jennifer Lopez, "Booty."
On December 14, 2014, Azalea told Kiss 108 backstage at their Jingle Ball show her plans to see Spears's Britney: Piece of Me show at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve so she could finally MEET the singer, adding that she had "always wanted to see a Britney Spears show" and that their collaborative song would premiere in 2015, "We have a song, which is going to be her first single, coming out next year. I still haven't really got to have a conversation with her, so I'm hoping New Year's will be the time I can get her in a corner." Asked how the collaboration came about, Azalea added, "She said she would like to work with me in an interview and they reached out. We recorded a few different things and then one of those just ended up being, I think, undeniably great. Hopefully I think everybody will get to hear it at the beginning of next year. I'm super excited for it. I think people are really going to love it and enjoy it. It's a really fun track." In February, Azalea tweeted there were "epic plans underway" for the song, after fans speculation that she might had been dropped from it, responding with "This couldn't be further from the truth. Get ready."
On February 26, 2015, about three months after Azalea had confirmed the collaboration, Spears was asked by DJ Pauly D about its release date for Extra in Las Vegas, replying, "You'll have to wait and see, it's really exciting and very cool," confirming it is "definitely" something that can be played in the club. She also explained her decision to work with Azalea, "I saw her song on TV and I was like a kid in a candy store, I was like, I love Iggy, I love that video, I want to work with her, and it was really weird, because a week after that her manager was like, ‘She’s a huge fan of yours.' I was like, 'Let’s do something together,' so it worked out." On March 15, 2015, The Sun's Dan Wootton reported the members of British girl group Little Mix (Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall) had written Spears and Azalea's upcoming collaboration, entitled "Pretty Girls," which was intended for their upcoming third album but became the duo's track after Spears took an immediate liking to the song. A few months prior to that article, the same song title had been registered on ASCAP's online database immediately sparking rumors of a possible collaboration between Azalea and Little Mix, produced by Azalea's frequent producer-trio The Invisible Men (Jason Pebworth, George Astasio and Jon Shave), due to all their names being credited as songwriters, with the rapper revealing on Twitter that the track "isn't affiliated with Little Mix, I haven't collaborated with them."
For her Billboard magazine cover story, published online on March 12, 2015, it was reported that despite Spears being back in the recording studio as far back as September 2014, working on a forthcoming duet with Azalea, among other tracks, a proper full-length album would not be coming soon. "I'm gonna do [a new album] slowly but surely, there's a lot going on with my kids and schools and, you know, adding new sports and stuff like that. I'm gonna try to do my best to do an amazing album, but it's not my full priority right now," Spears told Billboard, with her manager Larry Rudolph chiming in saying, "Right now we're just concentrating on putting out a few great singles as they come, we're not really talking seriously about a new album yet. Albums just aren't as important in the digital age as they used to be. Britney will get to one eventually, but not right now."
On March 18, 2015, during an interview with The Associated Press at SXSW Music Festival, Azalea confirmed the title of the track, reporting that it would most likely be the first single off her upcoming second album that she was currently recording. "I love Britney. She's super sweet and I just want to hang out with her all the time," she said, "I saw her at Toys "R" Us randomly; she lives right down the street from me. ...Since I've met her, now we keep bumping into each other in the street." "I don't know if I needed re-inspiring, but it's just made me extra excited to want to put out new music," the rapper added about the song. On the following week, in Spears's cover story with People magazine, it was announced that her collaboration with Azalea would be released on May 5. During a video for the publication, on vacation with her sons in Hawaii, Spears also revealed, "I'm trying to get my tan on because we're shooting the video really soon!" Moreover, The Invisible Men confirmed they had produced the track through their Facebook account.
On March 29, 2015, on the red carpet of the iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles, Azalea confirmed "Pretty Girls" would be featured on Spears's upcoming album and detailed the process of their collaboration during an interview with MTV News, "It was such a journey, that song. I got asked and it was her song, and then she didn’t think she would have her album done in time, and then I rewrote parts of it and it became my song, and I tried to make it all mine and keep it. Then she said, ‘No, no, I am going to take it, my album is ready,' and so I swung it back her way because she’s Britney Spears, you have to do that. She gets whatever she wants." Azalea explained the song's evolution mentioning its final version being a true duet with her also joining Spears on the chorus instead of a typical rap guest appearance, "It’s kind of really evolved into something that I was just featured on originally, into really a true duet, where I'm on the chorus with her. We go back and forth, she has her verses I have my verse, but it’s not just me kind of popping in it. It really is a duet,” Iggy explained. “And I love that. I love a good pop duet where it’s equally powerhouse. Cool.” She also claimed both have developed a friendship, "She’s super nice. She came to my house and had lunch and I didn’t know what to expect, and we actually really got along, I’ve been texting her, annoying her with all my ideas for the video and she’s been a really good sport about it, so I’m really excited." "It's awesome. We collaborated so many months ago now, it's been a longtime in the making, figuring out whose album it's going to be on. It's going to be on hers and I'm super excited for it," Azalea told Access Hollywood.
While talking with Elvis Duran for Extra on the same event, Azalea also mentioned plans for the music video, "I saw her [Las Vegas] show after we were on the song together and the producers that did it worked with me on my whole album and everything, they're really close friends of mine and they told me that she would like to do a song with me and we came up with this song, "Pretty Girls", that kind of already existed but we changed it a little bit more to fit in with Britney. I just did a verse on it, then I didn't hear anything back. So I was calling 'are we not doing the song?' And they said she does want the song, but we don't know when her album will come out. Then I said "I'll take the song and put it on my album and she can feature on it. Then I got another call that said no wait, she is ready to put the song out. She is ready with an album! So it's gonna be her first single, I had re-written it a little by then and made it more of a duet so it kind of worked out that it went through all this. It worked out because now it's a true duet. It's not just me rapping one verse. It's really us together on the song. We both sing the hook together it's super cool and fun. I love that it's worked out this way because I think it's going to make for a cooler video."
While being interviewed by Access Hollywood on March 29, 2015, at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, Azalea revealed she would also be co-directing the track's music video, "I'm super excited about it. I'm gonna be co-directing the video next week, so that's been awesome, not only just getting to work with [Britney] and write the song, but being able to have something to do with the visual... It's just been great. It's just been an honor that she would let me do that for her, so I'm super excited." "It will be my first time directing somebody else's video," she continued, "I'm really nervous about it. I want to do her justice!" Spears has also contributed in the creative process, "She's had her own input in. And it's been a cool process because I've got her number, so I've been harassing her. 'What do you think about this?' And she's added some of her ideas as well," Azalea explained. Spears had previously mentioned preparing for a video shoot in the previous week, during a video for People magazine while in vacation. This will be Azalea's third time co-directing a video officially, after "Black Widow" (2014) and "Trouble" (2015).
The music video was released on May 13.
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)||42|
|US Billboard Hot 100||29|
|US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)||23|