Everytime‘ is a 2004 song by pop star Britney Spears from her fourth album, ‘In the Zone.’ After Spears ended her relationship with singer Justin Timberlake in 2002, she made friends with her backing vocalist Annet Artani.

They started writing songs together at Spears’s house in Los Angeles, and then traveled to Lombardy, Italy, where ‘Everytime’ was written. Spears composed the music on her piano, and she developed the lyrics with Artani. According to Artani, the song was written as a response to Timberlake’s 2002 single ‘Cry Me a River’ and various of his radio interviews. Spears has neither confirmed nor denied these allegations.

‘Everytime’ is considered a pop ballad with breathy vocals. Its lyrics are a plea for forgiveness for hurting a former lover. The song received generally positive reviews, with critics complimenting its haunting lyrics and the organic feel of the song, which was unlike the other tracks on the heavily produced album. Spears’ maturity in the production and her songwriting abilities were also remarked upon favorably. The song was as a commercial success, peaking inside the top five in most countries, and has been covered by artists such as Glen Hansard and Kelly Clarkson, and was used in the film ‘Spring Breakers’ (2013).

Inspired by the cinematography of ‘Leaving Las Vegas,’ 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 reincarnated. The original treatment would have had Spears killing herself from a drug overdose, but the plot was removed after it received criticism by organizations such as Kidscape, who perceived it as a glamorization of suicide. Critics noted the video for its religious references to The Passion of the Christ, Kaballah and stigmata, and for anticipating Spears’s future struggles with fame.

Spears’s relationship of three years with pop singer Justin Timberlake ended in 2002 after months of speculation. In November 2002, Timberlake released the song ‘Cry Me a River’ as the second single from his solo debut album. The music video featured a Spears look-alike and fueled the rumors that she had been unfaithful to him. ‘Everytime’ was written in large part as a response to ‘Cry Me a River.’ Artani explained, ‘He was getting personal. Here, she had a different type of image, and he was really exposing some stuff that she probably didn’t want out there, and in front of her little sister … I remember her sister being mortified and her being mortified. I’m sure that that really hurt her.’ The song was also speculated to be a reply to Timberlake’s ‘Never Again,’ a ballad which appeared on his debut solo album ‘Justified.

‘Everytime’ is used prominently in the 2013 film ‘Spring Breakers,’ directed by Harmony Korine. The scene featuring it begins with the characters of Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brittany (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) standing in the backyard of the character of Alien (James Franco), who sits on a white grand piano. The girls are wearing My Little Pony ski masks, sparkly pink tiger bathing suits, sweatpants with ‘DTF’ on the rear and shotguns in their hands. They ask Alien to ‘Play us something sweet. Something uplifting, Something fucking inspiring,’ to which he responds: ‘One of the greatest singers of all time, and an angel if there ever was one on this earth,’ before starting to sing ‘Everytime.’ As the song transitions from Alien’s vocals to Spears’s original version we are shown a montage of the girls and Alien robbing other spring breakers at gunpoint.

Harmony Korine said about the song: ‘I like her music! I think it’s like perfect pop music. That song ‘Everytime’ — I was always taken by that song. It has this real kind of beauty and airlessness and this haunting kind of morose lullaby effect and underneath it there’s some type of hardcore aggression and menace that was really connected to the film in the way that the film deals with the culture of surfaces, this candy-coated neon haze reality. Underneath it, there’s this subtext and feeling of this kind of darkness. It was a connection I felt.’


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