In the Zone

This article is about the Britney Spears album. For other uses, see In the Zone (disambiguation).
In the Zone
Studio album by Britney Spears
Released November 12, 2003 (2003-11-12)
Recorded November 2002–August 2003[1]
Length 50:00
Label Jive
Britney Spears chronology
In the Zone
Greatest Hits: My Prerogative
Singles from In the Zone
  1. "Me Against the Music"
    Released: October 14, 2003
  2. "Toxic"
    Released: January 13, 2004
  3. "Everytime"
    Released: May 10, 2004
  4. "Outrageous"
    Released: July 20, 2004

In the Zone is the fourth studio album by American singer Britney Spears. It was released on November 12, 2003, by Jive Records. Its music incorporates dance, house, trip hop, and hip hop styles with instrumentation from guitars, drums, synthesizers, strings, and Middle Eastern musical instruments. Its themes range from love, dancing, empowerment, and in the case of songs such as "Touch of My Hand", sex and masturbation. Contributions to the album's production came from a wide range of producers, including Bloodshy & Avant, R. Kelly, Trixster, Moby, Guy Sigsworth and The Matrix.

With the conclusion of the Dream Within a Dream Tour in July 2002 and the end of her relationship with Justin Timberlake, Spears planned to take a six-month break from her career; however, work for In the Zone began later that November. She began writing songs for the album while touring internationally, despite not knowing the direction of the album. She experimented with different producers, trying to find those with whom she had chemistry. The first song recorded was "Touch of My Hand", which Spears claims set the mood for the album. She co-wrote all but four tracks, and often changed the lyrics to suit herself. Spears stated she was an autobiographical songwriter, although not to the point where she felt self-exploited. She also explained that the sexual nature of In the Zone was subconscious and happened while she was in the process of developing the album. Spears collaborated with artists such as Madonna in "Me Against the Music" and the Ying Yang Twins in "(I Got That) Boom Boom".

In the Zone received positive reviews from music critics, who complimented its mix of different styles and Spears's songwriting, but criticized her vocals for being distant and processed. Commercially, In the Zone became an international success, debuting atop the charts in France and the United States, and peaking inside the top ten in fifteen countries. In the United States, she became the first female artist to have four consecutive number-one albums. In the Zone went on to become the eighth best selling album of 2003.

Four singles were released from the album: "Me Against the Music", "Toxic" and "Everytime" met international chart success, all peaking at number one in Australia and Ireland and reaching top five positions elsewhere. To promote In the Zone, Spears performed the songs in a number of television appearances and also embarked on The Onyx Hotel Tour. The album and its music videos are largely seen by critics as the end of her transition from teen pop star to a more adult female artist. In 2009, Amy Schriefer of NPR listed In the Zone as one of The 50 Most Important Recordings of the Decade, calling it "a primer on the sound of pop in the 2000s".

Background and development

A blonde female performer in a black-and-white ensemble, holding a microphone near her mouth.
Spears performing "Me Against the Music" at the 2003 NFL Kickoff Live.

In November 2001, Spears released her third album, Britney, which portrayed more adult and provocative themes and featured the lead single "I'm a Slave 4 U". The album sold 4 million copies in the United States; nevertheless, it was viewed as "poor-selling" in comparison to her previous efforts.[2][3] The following year, her relationship of three years with pop singer Justin Timberlake ended after months of speculation.[4] After the Dream Within a Dream Tour in support of Britney finalized in July 2002, Spears announced she would take a break from her career for six months. In November 2002, she revealed that she had started working on her next studio album. She explained, "Well, actually, I just said that I wanted two or three weeks off. [....] And the whole world was like, 'Ohmigod, [sic] she's gone..."[2][5]

While in Europe, Spears met with William Orbit and Daft Punk about possible collaborations, and originally confirmed Darkchild and The Neptunes as producers. When asked by The Hollywood Reporter about the direction of the record, Spears responded it was an organic evolution, adding, "It should just happen naturally from the way you feel. [...] Whatever happens, happens".[6] Additionally, Spears scheduled meet-and-greets with Timbaland and Missy Elliott in an effort to help evolve her sound.[7] Elliott would also enlist in further production work with Nisan Stewart for Spears' project, however none of the initial material saw the light of day.[8] Fred Durst was asked by Spears' management to submit material, and he wrote and produced three trip hop tracks that were recorded by Spears in January 2003. However, after news of an affair between them broke, Durst told JIVE Records he was not going to let them use the songs for the album.[9] In March 2003, Lauren Christy from The Matrix spoke about the development of the album with MTV News, and likened their work with Spears to Madonna's Ray of Light. Scott Spock, also from The Matrix, continued comparing her to Madonna, saying,[10]

"She's taking it to the next level in her career. Madonna constantly takes what's in the club and puts what she does on top of it and makes it mainstream. I think Britney is starting to embrace that concept where she's looking to work on different stuff, instead of using the same familiar, and applying it to her. [...] I don't think [her fans] will be freaked out or upset. I think they'll be really into what's going to happen."[10]

Spears also previewed several songs to Quddus Philippe of MTV in May 2003, including "Touch of My Hand", "Brave New Girl" and "Everytime". Spears commented, "I've really been able to take my time and have creative control and make [the new album] special, special, special."[11] On August 27, 2003, Spears opened the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards performing a medley of "Like a Virgin/Hollywood" with Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott.[12] The performance started with Spears appearing on stage on top of a giant wedding cake while wearing a wedding gown and veil; she sang the first few lines of "Like a Virgin" before Aguilera appeared from behind the cake and joined her.[13] Madonna then emerged from the cake wearing a black coat and a hat and started singing "Hollywood" before proceededing to kiss Spears and Aguilera on the lips.[14] Missy Elliott came out from a wedding chapel to sing her song "Work It" halfway through the performance.[14] The kiss generated strong reaction from the media. The performance was listed by Blender magazine as one of the twenty-five sexiest music moments on television history.[15] MTV listed the performance as the number-one opening moment in the history of the MTV Video Music Awards.[16]


Distant image of a blond woman. She is sitting on a swing hanging from two pieces of fabric. Smoke surrounds her. She is wearing a dress and has her legs crossed. She is holding a microphone and grabbing the swing.
Spears performing "Shadow" during The Onyx Hotel Tour, 2004.

For In the Zone, Spears worked with hit producers such as Bloodshy & Avant, R. Kelly, Diddy, Christopher Stewart, Moby, Guy Sigsworth and The Matrix.[17] She first started writing songs for In the Zone during the Dream Within a Dream Tour. Spears commented about writing while touring, "The only thing that was scary to me is that I didn’t know if they were good. [But] You can’t trust anybody. You have to go with your feelings." Spears commented that she was an autobiographical songwriter, although not to the point she felt self-exploited.[2] Following the end of the tour, Spears invited her friend and backing vocalist Annet Artani to her home in Los Angeles. They started writing songs at the piano, and shortly after, they traveled to Lake Como in Lombardy, Italy. Among the tracks they worked on was "Everytime", which Artani confirmed to be written as a response to Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River", as well as "Shine", written by Spears about her sister Jamie Lynn, which was left unfinished.[18] Earnest recording of the album began in May 2003.[2] Spears commented that although she did not know initially what direction she wanted to go with the album, she took time to work with different producers and to find those who she had chemistry with. The first song recorded for In the Zone was "Touch of My Hand", and Spears said it "really did provide a balance for the rest of the record. We just went from there."[19] Following the recording sessions for "Everytime", Spears complimented Sigsworth, saying, "I just basically told him exactly how I wanted the song to sound. And he was so amazing because there's a lot of producers you tell them things and they don't get it. And you're like oh, that's not the right way. He got it just right. He was amazing."[18]

Christopher Stewart and Penelope Magnet, known collectively as RedZone, presented Spears with the third song they had written and produced, "Pop Culture Whore". While her management liked the track, she rejected it, telling them the song "sucked". After bonding with Spears during a night in New York City to "get in her world", as Magnet explained, it was easier to "actually write and know what she would and wouldn't say, to know where her real vibe is". Stewart and Magnet began working on the first version of "Me Against the Music"; Stewart came up with the track, while Magnet developed the melody on a piano and some of the lyrics.[20] During the recording sessions, Stewart recalls that the studio's air-conditioning died for three days, but Spears "didn't complain or anything, and for me that shows she's where she is for a reason."[21] While rehearsing for their performance at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, Spears played a finished version of "Me Against the Music" to Madonna. After Madonna commented that she liked the track, Spears asked her to do the song with her.[22] RedZone then handed "Me Against the Music" to Madonna, who arranged and recorded her vocal additions on her own, therefore making the song a duet.[21] Spears, who has been a fan of Madonna for years, was "beyond surprised" when she heard Madonna's verse. She said "I just asked her to do a little thing, but she really went there. She did a lot of stuff to it."[2] RedZone were then enlisted to work on several more songs for the album, including co-writing "Early Mornin'", recording background vocals for "Outrageous" and producing "The Hook Up".[20]

The Matrix commented that after they presented songs to Spears, she tailored them to suit herself, especially the lyrics. Christy said, "... she really knows what she wants. She knows if she's trying something on that doesn't fit right for her. She's like, 'No, that's not me.' She's not one to strap on some sort of fake image." Christy also claimed to be impressed with Spears's vocal ability during the recording of "Shadow".[10] Steve Anderson, Lisa Greene and Stephen Lee wrote "Breathe on Me" at Metrophonic Studios in London, England. Before meeting with the other writers, Anderson thought of two concepts for songs specifically for Spears: one he had worked on "for ages", and "Breathe on Me", which he drafted on the morning of the sessions. Greene and Lee did not like the first concept, and they wrote "Breathe on Me" with Anderson. The song was produced by Mark Taylor, who kept most of the programming done by Anderson. With Taylor, Spears recorded "Breathe on Me" and "And Then We Kiss", which did not make the album.[23][24] Before the album was released, Spears's manager Larry Rudolph commented that it was important for Spears to continue moving away from a traditional pop sound, citing "I'm a Slave 4 U" and "Boys" from Britney as departures from her previous music. Barry Weiss, then-president of JIVE Label Group, added, "She has achieved what she set out to achieve, which was to make a mature album that didn't sound like something she would have done three years while still making a commercial album that has hit singles. [...] It's the kind of record she should be doing right now, and it came down to her to make it."[19] In the Zone was recorded at Battery Studios and The Dojo in New York City, 3:20 Studios, Decoy Studios, Pacifique Studios, Record Plant and Westlake Audio in Los Angeles, California, The Chocolate Factory, in Chicago, Illinois, Triangle Sond {sic} Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, Metrophonic Studios and Olympic Studios in London, England, and Murlyn Studios in Stockholm, Sweden.[25] Throughout the beginning of 2003, Spears started testing tracks by playing them in nightclubs such as Show in New York City.[2]


"I just think once you start being so self-serving with your music... I did a little bit of that with the last record, and I really didn't want to put myself out there that much. I understand [when musicians write about personal things]. But when everything is about you, I just think.... Like, on this record, some of the songs, like 'Brave New Girl', I can relate to that song, but It's how personal you go. This record is definitely personal, but it's not shockingly personal – put it that way."[26]

— Spears talks writing about personal experiences

According to Billboard, In the Zone marks a musical departure for Spears. Instead of traditional pop, the album is darker and more dance-oriented.[19] Spears talked about the overall sound of the album with Rolling Stone, saying, "I'd describe it as trance-y, kind of vibe record—something you could listen to that's no so song-structured [...] Of course I'm not doing '...Baby One More Time' and those massive hits anymore. I think this record is where I am at right now in my life. It's sensual, it's sexual. I'm probably writing about that subconsciously because I don't have that right now."[26] Amy Schriefer of NPR stated the album is a mix of dance, house, crunk, Diwali beats, reggae and hip hop.[17] According to William Shaw of Blender, the main theme of In the Zone is "Spears’s awakening to her sexuality as a single woman."[2] The first single from the album, "Me Against the Music", features Madonna, but was constructed as a duet after she was added to the track.[20] Spears and Madonna trade lines during the verses, and Madonna sings solo in the bridge. The instrumentation in the song includes influences of hip hop and funk guitars. The song's lyrics feature Spears and Madonna singing of the pleasures of letting go on the dancefloor, in "I'm up against the speaker / Trying to take on the music / It's like a competition".[21] The second song, "I Got That (Boom Boom)", is an Atlanta-style hip hop track featuring the Ying Yang Twins.[2][27][28]

"Breathe on Me"
A 22 second sample of the song's chorus, with trip hop influences. The song was described as the most sensual of the album.[27]

"Touch of My Hand"
A 24 second sample of the chorus of "Touch of My Hand". The instrumentation contains elements of Middle Eastern music and its lyrics refer to masturbation.[27]

Problems playing these files? See media help.

"Showdown" has "bubbly" beats and its lyrics, about "fighting and making up with carnal relations", include the lines "I don’t really want to be a tease / But would you undo my zipper, please?" Rolling Stone classified the song a pop-dancehall.[29][2][27] The fourth track, "Breathe on Me", was described as the most sensual song of the record. Containing trip hop influences, Spears sings, "Oh, it's so hot, and I need some air/ And boy, don't stop 'cause I'm halfway there" and "Just put your lips together and blow."[27] "Early Mornin'" depicts Spears looking for men at a club in New York City. The song has a percolating beat and featured subdued vocals from Spears, who purrs and yawns through the track.[27] The nightclub Show is referenced.[2] "Toxic", which Spears later named as her favorite song from her career, was originally offered to Kylie Minogue.[30][31] Released as the album's second single, it contains elements of electropop and bhangra music, and features varied instrumentation, such as drums, synthesizers, high-pitched strings and surf guitars.[32][33][34] Lyrically, "Toxic" talks about being addicted to a lover.[27] "Outrageous", the fourth and final single from the album, is a hip hop-inspired track that according to MTV features Spears "whisper[ing] and moan[ing] [...] with a snake charmer melody giving the song an exotic feel." The lyrics talk about materialism and amusement, with the singer referencing in the chorus a number of things that give her pleasure.[27] In "Touch of My Hand", which Spears felt it was comparable to Janet Jackson's "That's the Way Love Goes" (1993), she sings in a lower register.[11] The instrumentation contains elements of Middle Eastern music and its lyrics refer to masturbation, "I will be bold/ Going to the places where I can be out of control/ Don't want to explain tonight/ All the things I try to hide."[27]

The ninth track "The Hook Up" has a reggae feel and features Spears singing in a Jamaican Patois accent.[20][35] The ballad "Shadow" talks about how reminders of a lover can still linger after he’s gone.[27] "Brave New Girl" lyrics talk about a young woman finding her passion and losing inhibitions. Backed by choppy, electro-funk beats, she sings in a bouncy near-rap, "She's gonna pack her bags, she's going to find her way, she's going to get right out of this/ She don't want New York, she don't want L.A., she's going to find that special kiss."[27] The song incorporates elements of the music of No Doubt, Blondie and Madonna.[2][36] "Everytime" begins with a piano introduction accompanying Spears's breathy vocals, which build from soft to strong throughout the song. "Everytime" lyrics are a plea for forgiveness for inadvertently hurting a former lover. In the song, the singer explains she feels unable to continue in lines such as "Everytime I try to fly I fall / Without my wings I feel so small".[11] During an interview with MTV, Spears said about the song, "It's about heartbreak, it's about your first love, your first true love. That's something all people can relate to, because you all have that first love that you think you're going to be with the rest of your life."[37] When asked if "Everytime" was about Timberlake, she responded "I'll let the song speak for itself."[38] The Rishi Rich's Desi Kulcha Remix of "Me Against the Music" removes the original melody of the song and adds a clattering backbeat and Punjabi shouts.[28] In "The Answer", Spears sings that her lover is the answer to all her needs: "Who can hold me tight, keep me warm through the night? / Who can wipe my tears when it's wrong, make it right? / Who can give me love till I'm satisfied? / Who's the one I need in my life?". In "Don't Hang Up", she pleads on the phone for her lover to keep her satisfied long-distance.[39]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
BBC Onlinemixed[42]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[44]
Rolling Stone[29]
Slant Magazine[45]
The Guardian[36]
The New York Timesmixed[28]

In the Zone holds a score of 66 out of 100 (indicating "generally positive reviews") based on 13 critical reviews, according to the music review aggregator Metacritic.[46] Jason Shawhan of gave a positive review, saying that while the album's vibe is sexy, the result is a personal statement from Spears. He also added, "T[here]'s another thing about Spears' new record, as none of her previous albums ever managed to produce any kind of sustained emotional response than the pleasure that comes from a good pop record. I miss Max Martin, for sure, but it feels like Ms. S. has been paying attention to La Ciccone. To put it another way, this is Britney's True Blue."[33] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic said that the album "[is] all club-ready, but despite some hints of neo-electro and the Neptunes, it doesn't quite sound modern—it sounds like cuts from 1993 or Madonna's Bedtime Stories and Ray of Light. Production-wise, these tracks are not only accomplished but much more varied than any of her previous albums."[41] Ruth Mitchell of BBC Online called "Early Mornin'" the best track of the album, but added, "Sadly, her attempts to prove her new-found maturity are what overwhelm and cloud all that is good about In The Zone."[42] Mim Udovitch of Blender commented, "This I’m-coming-out record is an unhesitant move from songs of the heart to songs of the groin [...] No longer a girl, freed from slavery, now fully a woman, she makes a pretty convincing mistress."[43] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly called "Brave New Girl" and "Touch of My Hand" the best and most straightforward moments of the album, but added that "On a CD intended to celebrate her lurch into adulthood, Spears remains distant and submerged. For all her freedom, she's still finding her way."[44]

Jon Pareles of Rolling Stone said, "[Spears's] voice is so processed, its physicality almost disappears. [...] In the Zone offers strip-club, 1-900 sex, accommodating and hollow. Beyond the glittering beats, Spears sounds about as intimate as a blowup doll."[47] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine stated, "Britney's fourth album, In The Zone, finds the pop tart coming of age with a bold mix of hip-hop and dance music, wiping clean the last traces of her bubblegum-pop past. [...] For the most part, In The Zone is a big, fat, thumping love letter to the dancefloor, which makes Madonna's involvement [...] even more appropriate."[45] Dorian Lynskey of The Guardian commented, "Unlike previous Britney albums, In the Zone has no filler and no shoddy cover versions, just 57 varieties of blue-chip hit-factory pop. There is southern hip-hop, deep house, Neptunes-style R&B, the ubiquitous Diwali beat and, most importantly, oodles of Madonna."[36] Jason King of Vibe deemed it as "A supremely confident dance record that also illustrates Spears's development as a songwriter."[35] "Toxic" won Spears her only Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2005.[48]

Commercial performance

Image of a blond woman. Her right hip is resting on a black divan, with her right leg extended to the end of the divan. Her left hand is extended in the air, while her right hand is grabbing the top of the divan. She is wearing a flesh-colored body suit with tattoos and nipple tassles. She is sporting a black blindfold and singing into a wireless microphone. The divan is surrounded by smoke.
Spears performing "Touch of My Hand" in Sacramento during The Circus Starring Britney Spears, 2009.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, In the Zone sold 609,000 during its first week of availability in the United States, debuting at the top of the Billboard 200.[49] The album had the second highest debut sales of 2003 by a female artist (only behind Alicia Keys's The Diary of Alicia Keys), as well as the fifth highest debut sales of the year.[50][51] Spears also became the second female artist in Billboard's history to have four consecutive number-one albums behind Janet Jackson who held the most at the time with five. The album was certified two-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on December 16, 2003, for shipments of 2 million copies in the United States.[52] It has sold over 3,000,000 copies there according to Nielsen SoundScan.[53] In Canada, the album debuted at number two in the Canadian Albums Chart with sales of 31,000 units.[54] It was certified three-times platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for shipments of 300,000 copies.[55][56]

In Australia and New Zealand, In the Zone debuted at number ten and twenty-five in the official charts, respectively.[57] It was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) indicating shipments of 70,000 units.[58] The album debuted at number three on the Oricon weekly album chart in Japan, selling around 59,128 copies.[59] In Mexico, In the Zone was certified platinum on December 17, 2003, by the Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas (AMPROFON) for shipments of 150,000 copies.[60] The album was also certified platinum in Argentina by the Argentine Chamber of Phonograms and Videograms Producers (CAPIF) for shipments of 40,000 copies in total.[61] In the Zone debuted at number fourteen on the UK Albums Chart, staying on the chart for forty-three weeks and jumping to its peak of number thirteen on its thirty-fourth week in the chart.[62] It was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipments of 300,000 copies.[63] The album also debuted at the top of the charts in France.[64] In April 2004, it was certified platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) for shipments of a million copies in Europe.[65] In the Zone was the eighth best selling album of 2003.[66]


"Me Against the Music"
A 22-second sample of "Me Against the Music", featuring the first verse where Spears and Madonna trade lines.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Me Against the Music" was released as the lead single from In the Zone on October 20, 2003, by JIVE Records. The label's choice for the first single was originally "Outrageous", but Spears convinced them to release "Me Against the Music".[67] The song received mixed reviews from critics. Some felt it was a strong dance track of the album, while others referred to it as lackluster and disappointing.[41][43] "Me Against the Music" achieved international success, peaking atop of the charts in countries such as Australia, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland and Spain, as well as the European Hot 100 Singles. It also peaked at number two in Canada, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom, and inside the top five in many other nations.[55][68] The song won the "Hot Dance Single of the Year" accolade at the 2004 Billboard Music Awards.[69] In the song's accompanying music video, Spears chases Madonna inside a nightclub.[22] "Toxic" was released as the album's second single on January 12, 2004. After trying to choose between "(I Got That) Boom Boom" and "Outrageous", Spears selected "Toxic" instead.[70] The song received positive reviews from critics.[41] "Toxic" attained worldwide success, reaching the top-five in fifteen countries, while topping the charts in Australia, Canada, Hungary, Norway and the United Kingdom.[55][71][72] In the United States, it became her first single to peak inside the top ten in almost four years.[73] The accompanying music video for the song portrays Spears as a secret agent in the search of a vial of green liquid. After she steals it, she enters an apartment and poisons her unfaithful boyfriend. The video also includes interspersed scenes of Spears naked with diamonds over her body.[74] "Toxic" won Spears her first Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording, and its often referred to as one of her defining songs.[48]

"Everytime" was the third single released from the album, on May 17, 2004. It received positive appreciation from contemporary critics.[75] "Everytime" was a commercial success, peaking inside the top five in most countries, while reaching the top of the charts in Australia, Hungary, Ireland and the United Kingdom.[55][76] The music video for "Everytime" portrays Spears as a star hounded by paparazzi, who drowns in her bathtub when she starts bleeding from a wound in her head. In the hospital, doctors fail to resuscitate her while a child is born in the next room, implying she reeincarnated.[77] The original treatment would have had Spears killing herself from a drug overdose, but the plot was removed after it received criticism by several organizations, who perceived it as a glamorization of suicide.[78] "Outrageous" was the fourth and last single from the album, released on July 13, 2004. The song was finally chosen as a single after it was selected as the theme song for the 2004 film Catwoman.[79] "Outrageous" received mixed reviews from critics. Some praised its funky sound, noting its influence from Michael and Janet Jackson, while others deemed it as "forgettable".[28][43] The song only charted in the United States, entering many of Billboard's component charts and peaking at number seventy-nine on the Hot 100.[55] The music video was being shot in New York City in June 2004, when Spears hurt her knee and had to undergo arthroscopic surgery. The video was canceled, as well as The Onyx Hotel Tour and the feature in the Catwoman soundtrack.[80][81]


Spears performing "Toxic" during the Femme Fatale Tour, 2011.

In November 2003, Barry Weiss spoke to Billboard and said that In the Zone was being promoted in a worldwide level, exhausting areas such as print and electronic media, TV, radio and video to raise awareness of the album's release. In addition, JIVE worked with lifestyle marketer the Karpel Group to market the album to the gay community. Other broader-based marketing efforts included a tie-in with marketing company LidRock, where after ordering a soda at Sbarro, customers received a cup featuring the artwork and a three-inch disc in the lid featuring "Brave New Girl" and songs by two other artists. In December 2003, an updated LidRock disc included a remix of "Me Against the Music" without Madonna, as well as songs by fellow JIVE acts Nick Cannon and Bowling for Soup. Regal Theaters also showed a short film that included footage of the making of Spears's music videos. Two national TV advertising campaigns began on November 1, 2003, one with a teaser ad in American comedy show Saturday Night Live and another exclusively on MTV. No sponsored cross-marketing campaigns were planned, as Larry Rudolph explained, "[This time] it's going to be more about the music than about corporate tie-ins." In terms of international exposure, during a fourth-month period Spears was featured in seven mini TV-specials and more than one-hundred and fifty interviews outside the US.[19]

Spears first performed "Me Against the Music" at the 2003 NFL Kickoff Live on September 4, 2003 at the National Mall.[82] The performance segued into a medley of "...Baby One More Time" and "I'm a Slave 4 U", which included pyrotechnics.[83][84] On September 14, 2003, Spears played a surprise concert at Rain Nightclub in the Palms Casino Resort, and performed "Me Against the Music", "Breathe on Me" and a medley of "...Baby One More Time" and "I'm a Slave 4 U".[85] On October 18, 2003, Spears performed "Me Against the Music" and "Everytime" during the twenty-ninth season of Saturday Night Live.[86] Spears opened the 2003 American Music Awards telecast with a performance of "Me Against the Music".[87] On November 17, 2003, a concert special titled Britney Spears: In the Zone aired in ABC.[88] The following day, she performed "Me Against the Music" and "(I Got That) Boom Boom" on the American music show TRL at Times Square.[89][90] "Me Against the Music" was also performed on American late-night show The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and American morning show Live with Regis and Kelly on November 17 and 24, 2003.[90] She performed "Toxic", "Breathe on Me" and "Me Against the Music" as the headliner of the Jingle Ball on December 8, 2003, at the Staples Center.[91] On January 24, 2004, Spears opened the 2004 NRJ Music Awards with a performance of "Toxic".[92] On August 5, 2004, Spears performed "Everytime" at the British music chart show Top of the Pops.[93]

The Onyx Hotel Tour

Main article: The Onyx Hotel Tour

The Onyx Hotel Tour to promote In the Zone was the fourth concert tour by Britney Spears. A tour to promote the album was announced in December 2003.[94] Its original name was the In the Zone Tour, but Spears was sued for trademark infringement and banned from using the phrase 'in the zone'.[95] Spears felt inspired to create a show with a hotel theme which she later mixed with the concept of an onyx stone. The stage, inspired by Broadway musicals, was less elaborate than her previous tours.[96] The setlist was composed mostly by songs from In the Zone as well as some of her past songs reworked with different elements of jazz, blues and Latin percussion. Tour promoter Clear Channel Entertainment marketed the tour to a more adult audience than her previous shows while sponsor MTV highly promoted the tour on TV shows and the network's website.[97] The tour was divided into seven segments: Check-In, Mystic Lounge, Mystic Garden, The Onyx Zone, Security Cameras, Club and the encore. Check-In displayed performances with dance and advanced in the hotel theme. Mystic Lounge featured an homage to Cabaret and other musicals, while remixing some of Spears's early hits. Mystic Garden displayed a jungle-inspired stage. The Onyx Zone displayed a ballad performance with acrobats. Security Cameras was the raciest part of the show, with Spears and her dancers emulating different sexual practices. Club displayed a performance with urban influences. The encore consisted of a system malfunction interlude and Spears performed wearing a red ensemble. The tour received mixed reviews from contemporary critics, who praised it for being an entertaining show while criticizing it for looking "more [like] a spectacle than an actual concert".[98] The Onyx Hotel Tour was commercially successful, grossing $34 million.[99] In March, Spears suffered a knee injury onstage which forced her to reschedule two shows.[100] In June, Spears fell and hurt her knee again during a music video shoot. She underwent surgery and the remainder of the tour was cancelled.[81]


"I’m not the type of person to put blame on other people, but I do feel that some things which were done for me were not always in my best interests. Looking back, I feel now that on my 4th album 'less is more' should have been the way to go."

—Spears reflects on In the Zone in November 2004.[101]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic commented, "If 2001's Britney was a transitional album, capturing Spears at the point when she wasn't a girl and not yet a woman, its 2003 follow-up, In the Zone, is where she has finally completed that journey and turned into Britney, the Adult Woman." Erlewine compared Spears to her peer Christina Aguilera, explaining that both equated maturity with transparent sexuality and the pounding sounds of nightclubs, but while Aguilera "comes across like a natural-born skank, Britney is the girl next door cutting loose at college, drinking and smoking and dancing and sexing just a little too recklessly, since this is the first time she can indulge herself."[41] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine stated, "For a girl who's always seemed too sexed-up for her age, In The Zone finds Britney finally filling her britches, so-to-speak. Her little girl coquettishness actually works now—maybe because, at 21, she's finally a woman."[45] Jason King of Vibe said the album showcased a transformed Spears, "no longer a girl, and all the woman any man can handle."[35] In 2009, Amy Schriefer of NPR listed the album on The 50 Most Important Recording of the Decade list. Calling it "a primer on the sound of pop in the '00s", she deemed Spears as the ideal vehicle for a futuristic sound, since she was still trying to break away from her teen pop past. Schriefer praised "Toxic" and "Everytime", and also stated, "While the decade's history of celebrity obsession, paparazzi voyeurism and conflicted constructions of female sexuality and motherhood are written on Spears' body, the decade's history of impeccably crafted pop is written on her body of work."[17]

Julie Andsager in Sex in consumer culture (2006) said that the music videos from In the Zone presented a different Spears, and that although the album was intended to target the gay market, the videos were clearly designed for heterosexual men. Andsager suggested that Spears took cues more directly from sexual fantasies, and that the use of sanitized images of attractive young women posed in sexual ways (lesbian chic) serves two audiences: primarily, it sought to fulfill heterosexual fantasies, but as a secondary function, it may also serve young women as a source of instruction in attracting males. From a marketing perspective, the fantasy-fulfillment purpose of the album was apparent not only on the videos, but also in the kiss between Spears at Madonna at the Video Music Awards. Finally, Andsager explained that "[Spears] has, perhaps, taken her sexuality to its extreme—for network television, at least—at the age of 22".[102]

Track listing

In the Zone
No. TitleWriter(s)Producer(s) Length
1. "Me Against the Music" (featuring Madonna)
2. "(I Got That) Boom Boom" (featuring Ying Yang Twins)Hamilton 4:51
3. "Showdown"  Bloodshy & Avant 3:18
4. "Breathe on Me"  
Mark Taylor 3:43
5. "Early Mornin'"  
  • Spears
  • Moby
  • Stewart
  • Magnet
6. "Toxic"  
  • Dennis
  • Karlsson
  • Winnberg
  • Jonback
Bloodshy & Avant 3:21
7. "Outrageous"  R. Kelly
8. "Touch of My Hand"  
  • Harry
  • Solomon
9. "The Hook Up"  
  • Spears
  • Stewart
  • Nkhereanye
  • Magnet
  • Trixster
  • Magnet[a]
10. "Shadow"  The Matrix 3:45
11. "Brave New Girl"  
Brian and Josh 3:30
12. "Everytime"  
Guy Sigsworth 3:53
13. "Me Against the Music" (featuring Madonna) (Rishi Rich's Desi Kulcha Remix)
  • Spears
  • Madonna
  • Stewart
  • Nkhereanye
  • Magnet
  • Nash
  • O'Brien
Total length:
Sample Credits


Adapted from AllMusic.[104]

  • Algozee – performing ensemble
  • Ed Alton – string arrangements
  • Steve Anderson – instrumentation, programming
  • BlackCell – background vocals
  • Bloodshy & Avant – arranger, programming, producer, engineer, digital editing, instrumentation
  • DaCorna Boyz – keyboards
  • B.U.D. – background vocals
  • Courtney Copeland – background vocals
  • Tom Coyne – mastering
  • Kara DioGuardi – background vocals
  • Roxanne Estrada – background vocals
  • Chris Fudurich – engineer
  • Andy Gallas – engineer
  • Abel Garibaldi – programming, engineer
  • Roy Gartrell – banjo, guitar
  • Serban Ghenea – mixing
  • Brad Gilderman – engineer
  • Roy "Royalty" Hamilton – arranger, producer, background vocals, instrumentation
  • John Hanes – digital editing, Pro-Tools
  • Dug Hanes – Pro-Tools
  • Jimmy Harry – arranger, programming, producer, guitar, keyboards

  • Emma Holmgren – background vocals
  • Janson & Janson – conductor
  • Henrik Jonback – guitar
  • Jennifer Karr – background vocals
  • Brian Kierulf – programming, producer, engineer, vocal engineer, vocal editing, guitar, keyboards
  • Kyron Leslie – background vocals
  • Thomas Lindberg – bass
  • Steve Lunt – arranger, producer
  • Donnie Lyle – guitar
  • Sean Magee – engineer
  • Penelope Magnet – arranger, producer, vocal arrangements, vocal producer, background vocals
  • Madonna – featured vocals on "Me Against the Music"
  • Sean McGhee – engineer
  • Ian Mereness – programming, engineer
  • C. Midnight –
  • Moby – programming, producer, engineer, instrumentation
  • Pablo Munguia – engineer
  • Kendall D. Nesbitt – keyboards
  • R. Kelly – producer, background vocals
  • Rishi Rich – remixing

  • Emma Roads – background vocals
  • Chyna Royal – background vocals
  • Joshua M. Schwartz – producer, engineer, guitar
  • Guy Sigsworth – producer, instrumentationn
  • Sheppard Solomon – producer
  • Britney Spears – vocals, producer, background vocals
  • Mark "Spike" Stent – engineer, vocal engineer
  • Christopher Stewart – producer, vocal arrangements, vocal producer, arranger, programming, background vocals, instrumentation
  • Stockholm Session Strings – strings
  • Rich Tapper – engineer
  • David Treahearn – engineer
  • Mark Taylor – producer, engineer
  • The Matrix – producer, engineer, background vocals
  • Brian "B Luv" Thomas – engineer, digital editing, vocal engineer
  • Mike Tucker – vocal engineer, vocal editing
  • Tumbi – performing ensemble
  • P-Dub Walton – digital editing
  • Wizardz of Oz – background vocals
  • Dan Yashiz – digital editing
  • Ying Yang Twins – background vocals


Weekly charts

Charts (2003) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[57] 10
Austrian Albums Chart[57] 10
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[57] 7
Belgian Albums Chart (Wallonia)[57] 5
Canadian Albums Chart[55] 2
Czech Albums Chart[57] 6
Danish Albums Chart[57] 8
Dutch Albums Chart[57] 9
Finnish Albums Chart[57] 15
French Albums Chart[64] 1
German Albums Chart[105] 2
Greek Albums Chart[106] 1
Hungarian Albums Chart[107] 7
Irish Albums Chart[57] 4
Italian Albums Chart[57] 16
Japanese Albums Chart[59] 3
New Zealand Albums Chart[57] 25
Norwegian Albums Chart[57] 11
Polish Albums Chart[108] 23
Portuguese Albums Chart[57] 11
Swedish Albums Chart[57] 8
UK Albums Chart[62] 13
US Billboard 200[49] 1
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[49] 10

Year-end charts

Charts (2003) Position
Swiss Albums Chart[109] 84
UK Albums Chart[110] 145
Charts (2004) Position
Australian Albums Chart[111] 49
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[112] 93
Hungarian Albums Chart[113] 51
Swiss Albums Chart[114] 49
UK Albums Chart[115] 51
US Billboard 200[116] 8

End of decade charts

Chart (2000–2009) Position
US Billboard 200[117] 143


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[61] Platinum 40,000*
Australia (ARIA)[118] Platinum 70,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[119] Platinum 30,000*
Belgium (BEA)[120] Gold 25,000*
Brazil (ABPD)[121] Gold 50,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[122] 3× Platinum 300,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[123] Platinum 40,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[124] Gold 15,052[124]
France (SNEP)[125] 2× Gold 225,000[126]
Germany (BVMI)[127] Gold 100,000^
Greece (IFPI Greece)[106] Gold 10,000^
Hungary (MAHASZ)[128] Gold 10,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[129] Platinum 407,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[130] Platinum 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[131] Gold 7,500^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[132] Gold 20,000*
Portugal (AFP)[133] Platinum 40,000^
Russia (NFPF)[134] 2× Platinum 40,000*
Sweden (GLF)[135] Gold 30,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[136] Gold 20,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[137] Platinum 533,000[138]
United States (RIAA)[139] 3× Platinum 3,000,000[53]
Europe (IFPI)[140] Platinum 1,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history

Country Date Format Label Ref.
Italy November 12, 2003 CD Sony [141]
United Kingdom RCA [142]
Japan November 15, 2003 Sony Japan [143]
Australia November 17, 2003 Sony [144]
Austria [145]
France [146]
Germany [145]
Spain [147]
Switzerland [145]
Canada November 18, 2003 [148]
United States JIVE [149]
Canada April 26, 2005 DualDisc Sony BMG [150]
United States JIVE [151]
Austria August 29, 2005 Sony BMG [152]
Germany [152]
Switzerland [152]
United Kingdom September 26, 2005 RCA [153]
Italy October 14, 2005 Sony BMG [154]


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  • Reichert, Tom; Lambiase, Jacqueline (2006). Sex in consumer culture: the erotic content of media and marketing. Routledge. ISBN 0-8058-5090-2 

External links

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