Don't Hold Your Breath

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For the 1984 song, see Remains (The Only Ones album).
"Don't Hold Your Breath"
Single by Nicole Scherzinger
from the album Killer Love
Released March 10, 2011 (2011-03-10)
Format
Recorded
Length 3:17
Label Interscope
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
Nicole Scherzinger singles chronology
  • "Don't Hold Your Breath"
  • (2010)

"Don't Hold Your Breath" is a song recorded by American singer Nicole Scherzinger for her debut studio album, Killer Love (2011). It was written by Josh Alexander, Billy Steinberg and Toby Gad, while production was handled by Carl Falk, Steve Josefsson and Rami and vocal production was done by Alexander and Steinberg. The song was released on February 16, 2011, as the album's second single in the United Kingdom. "Don't Hold Your Breath" was critically acclaimed, with critics preferring it over singles by The Pussycat Dolls, as well as praising the empowering message and theme. The pop production was also praised.

The song's lyrics speak of the female protagonist realising that her relationship with her man is over and she is not going to return to what used to be. A demo version of "Don't Hold Your Breath" with lead vocals from Timbaland and Keri Hilson leaked in 2010. Then in early January 2011, a second demo version with an altered production, different lyrics and uncredited female vocals also leaked. This was followed by a third unfinished version, this time with Scherzinger's vocals, before the final version premiered on January 14, 2011.

An accompanying music video for "Don't Hold Your Breath" was directed by Rich Lee, and follows Scherzinger as she experiences the emotions of the song. Scenes include a hackney carriage journey, self-realisation, scornful glances in a mirror and wandering an old 1930s house. It was met with generally positive reviews from critics, who described it as one of Scherzinger's most personal music videos to date.

Scherzinger performed "Don't Hold Your Breath" in a series of live appearances such as a performance on Let's Dance for Comic Relief and Good Morning America. The song has also achieved commercial success by topping charts in Scotland, Poland and the United Kingdom, as well as reaching the top twenty in many other countries, particularly in Europe.

Background and composition[edit]

Scherzinger joined The Pussycat Dolls in May 2003 and the group scored four U.S. top ten hits: Don't Cha (2005), Stickwitu (2005), Buttons (2006) and When I Grow Up (2008).[1] After her breakthrough with the group, she began work on her debut studio album.[2] The project, titled Her Name is Nicole, saw Scherzinger record 75–100 songs, with some of the songs later ending up with the group.[3] After a number of pushbacks the entire project was scrapped at the request of Scherzinger.[4] She attempted to launch her debut album for a second time on May 2010, with a brand new "rock, funk, soul edge" sound, and a brand new single "Nobody Can Change Me".[5] The song was recorded in a nighttime studio session while she was competing on season 10 of the U.S. reality competition, Dancing with the Stars, and was mastered on May 23, 2010, ready for its premiere on Ryan Seacrest's KIIS FM radio show the following day.[6] Following its radio premiere, the song was planned to be released on iTunes on May 25, 2010.[7] However, for reasons unknown, the song was never released.[6] Scherzinger continued to work on her debut solo album in 2010, recruiting Moroccan producer RedOne,[8] finishing Killer Love before its release in 2011.[9]

"Don't Hold Your Breath" is an up-tempo "empowering pop" song, utilizing elements of club-pop.[10] Josh Alexander and Billy Steinberg co-wrote the song with Toby Gad, and co-produced it with Steve Angello (from Swedish House Mafia), Rami Yacoub, and Carl Falk.[11] A small snippet of the song leaked online in January 2011, and upon appearing online, UK entertainment website Digital Spy noted that an unfinished demo of the song leaked online back in June 2010.[12] The demo features vocals from US record producer-rapper Timbaland and American singer-songwriter Keri Hilson.[12] Pop Justice's Peter Robinson described it as a "I've had enough of all this, I am a strong woman and I'm off'-type pop tune"[13] The entertainment site note that a second demo also leaked in the first week of January 2011, where the lyrics were re-written but the original hook was kept intact.[13][14] Robinson said that the second demo that that leaked on January 13, 2011 was more similar to the final single version as opposed to the earlier 2010 demo.[13] A third unfinished version, this time with Scherzinger's vocals, leaked on January 14, 2011 with a more basic production.[14] Rap-Up posted the final single version also on January 14, 2011.[15] The cover artwork for "Don't Hold Your Breath" was revealed on January 24, 2012.[16] According to Pressparty it "has an ethereal appeal and is focused around a blue colour palette with a forward-facing shot of Scherzinger slightly off centre."[17] Pop Justice "approved" the cover artwork for the blue color and the "hint of personality."[16]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Melodically, "Don't Hold Your Breath" consists of an up-tempo common time time signature of 112 beats per minute.[18] It uses a simple three-note chord progression of FmED.[18] The style of the production and arrangement were compared to songs by Gloria Gaynor, according to Robert Copsey from Digital Spy.[10] Lyrically, the song's theme and content was described as "Scherzinger staving off an ex’s advances" and making it clear that the relationship is officially over. As well as incorporating elements of club music, her tone is scornful on lines such as "You can’t touch me now, there’s no feeling left/ If you think I’m comin’ back, don’t hold your breath/ What you did to me, boy I can’t forget".[15]

Critical reception[edit]

The song has received universal acclaim from music critics. Pop Justice praised Scherzinger's choice to release "Don't Hold Your Breath" as her second single. They said "For the follow-up [to 'Poison'] Nicole has taken the controversial move of recording a song that is also basically brilliant... It is nice to have a decent song about love because love is the official topic of pop and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is a fool to themselves and needs to have a long sit down."[13] A review from Rap-Up agreed saying that on "Don't Hold Your Breath", Scherzinger takes it the club with the "empowering pop jam" and declares her independence.[15] Robbie Daw from Idolator praised the song, based just on its demo. He said "Well, okay—we will allow that this song already sounds better than every Pussycat Dolls single combined."[19] Robert Copsey from Digital Spy praised the song awarding it five out of five stars. In his review, Copsey said "That said, we found ourselves mildly red-faced on a recent excursion while listening to Nicole Scherzinger's latest chart assault... Who could blame us though?" He went on the praise the Gloria Gaynor-like conviction displayed by Scherzinger as well as the song's overall production.[10] Ben Norman from About.com, in a review for Killer Love said that, "'Don't Hold Your Breath' is an absolute standout and one of the best tracks she has offered in any association she's had.[20] Bradley Stern of MTV Buzzworthy described the song's production as "gorgeous".[21] In July 2013, The Huffington Post ranked "Don't Hold Your Breath" at number 23 on its list of the top 50 number ones of the last ten years.[22] Cosmopolitan listed the song at number 9 on the magazine's "Best Breakup Songs".[23] The article also included "I Don't Need a Man" at number two which Scherzinger wrote for her former girl group, The Pussycat Dolls.[24] BecomeGorgeous.com acknowledged the song as one of the best break up songs for girls saying, "Nicole Scherzinger truly understands what you're going through and suggests a pretty good line to address your ex when he thinks you're coming home to make up: Don't Hold Your Breath."[25]

Chart performance[edit]

On February 16, 2011, "Don't Hold Your Breath" was added the C-playlist on the UK's biggest mainstream radio station, BBC Radio 1.[26] It has since ascended to the A-playlist.[27] On March 18, 2011, "Don't Hold Your Breath" debuted on the Irish Singles Chart at number four, outperforming Scherzinger's previous best of number seven with "Poison" (2010).[28] Although the song fell to number 5 the following week,[29] it re-peaked at number four for another week.[30] It is Scherzinger's highest charting single, in Ireland, as a solo performer.[31] In the United Kingdom, the song debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart with first-week sales of 98,000 copies, becoming Scherzinger's first solo number-one single there.[32] Scherzinger had previously topped the British charts with the Pussycat Dolls in 2005 ("Don't Cha" and "Stickwitu" respectively).[33] As of December 2011, the song has sold 430,700 copies in the United Kingdom and was Britain's thirty-second best-selling song of 2011.[34] It also remained on the charts for 32 consecutive weeks.[34] The song has been certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipments of 400,000 copies of the single.[35] Elsewhere in Europe, the song achieved moderate chart success, peaking at number two and forty-two on both the Flanders and Wallonia regions of Belgium. "Don't Hold Your Breath" also reached the top twenty in Slovakia,[36] Croatia,[37] the Netherlands[38] and New Zealand,[39] charting at numbers eleven, fourteen, fifteen and twenty-one, respectively.

"Don't Hold Your Breath" debuted on the New Zealand Singles Chart at number thirty-seven, on October 3, 2011.[40] On its fifth week on the chart, it peaked at number 21.[41] On April 18, 2011, the song debuted on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart at number twenty-seven due to strong digital sales.[42] It became that week's highest debut on the chart.[43] On its second week it entered the top twenty at number 20.[44] "Don't Hold Your Breath" kept fluctuating on the chart for the next few weeks[45] until it re-entered the top twenty on July 25, 2011, at number 19.[46] On August 1, 2011, the song peaked at number 17 on the singles chart[47] and at number three on ARIA's dance singles chart. It was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), denoting shipment 70,000 copies. In the United States, the song debuted and peaked at number eighty-six.[48] The song has also spent three weeks at number two on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart, making it Scherzinger's biggest hit on that chart.[49]

Music video[edit]

On January 18, 2011, Scherzinger booked Rich Lee to direct the music video for "Don't Hold Your Breath".[50] The finished clip premiered through Scherzinger's official VEVO account, on February 8, 2011.[51] According to Robbie Daw of Idolator, the theme of the video was to show drama and anger.[52] Andrea Magrath of Daily Mail commented that in the video has several different emotions from "seduction" to "distress," with an overall aim to that "ensure [that] the unnamed gentleman, she sings about, knows exactly what he's missing."[53]

Synopsis[edit]

A single frame from the music video, filmed by Rich Lee. In the frame, Scherzinger sings in front of the camera in the old 1800s house.

The music video begins with Scherzinger sitting in the back of a London hackney carriage. As the rain pours outside and raindrops cover the windows, she sings the first verse while changing her smart clothes for more casual ones. She stares longingly out of the carriage's window, watching the rain outside. During the chorus, there are two main scenes. In the first she is seen wrapped in blanket while in the second she walks across the room of an old house, in need of renovation. The lighting is cold and dim, and most of the furniture is covered in plastic wrap. Scherzinger stares resentfully at her surroundings while crossing the room. In the second verse, Scherzinger stands in front of a mirror in the bathroom of the house where she has a moment of realisation. After turning the taps on for a while, the sink overflows as she scornfully looks in the mirror, relating to the lyrics of the song. She is then scene walking towards the camera, through a hallway of the house. It is a confident independent walk towards the audience with lights flashing rhythmically behind her. The bridge sees Scherzinger sitting in one the house's empty rooms, in an old armchair and intersects some of the earlier carriage and bathroom scenes. As she sings the lyric "The screen fades to black", the blanket seen earlier on falls in front of the camera, revealing a close up shot of Scherzinger's face. Her hair flows in the wind and she finally gets up from the armchair to stand in front of the room's open windows. In the final scene, she stands confidently in front of the window as wind and light flood the room. She sings the final verse of the song, looking directly at the camera and smiling for the first time in the video.

Reception[edit]

Despite Idolator's Robbie Daw loving the song, he had little to say about the music video, "overall, cheap-ass video, but great pop song. Two kitty paws up, Nicole."[52] Meanwhile Rap-Up.com called Scherzinger's character, in the video, a "sexy siren".[54] The only thing Ryan Brockington from New York Post said was the set in the music video resembled U.S. television drama, Dexter.[55] A reviewer from Sugar Magazine said the video for "Don't Hold Your Breath" was similar to that for Cheryl Cole's "The Flood", as both were "dark and moody". Moreover the reviewer praised "the warm fuzzy" blanket scene, the "vexed bathroom" scene and the "sexy tantrum" at the end of the video.[56] Andrea Magrath, from The Daily Mail agreed, particularly commenting on the glimpses of Scherzinger's toned body seen in the early stages of the video.[53] Christopher R. Weingarten of Popdust dismissed the video calling it "the most emo thing we’ve ever seen," however he did agree that the video showed "themes of heartbreak and resentment."[57] According to a press release from Interscope Records, the video has received critical acclaim with over 40 million VEVO views as of 2013.[58] MTV reported that "Don't Hold Your Breath" was one of the most watched music video on its website in 2011.[59]

Release and promotion[edit]

BBC Radio 1 officially played the single for the first time on January 30, 2011, during the Tom Deacon Show.[60] Scherzinger performed the song live for the first time on series six of Dancing On Ice on March 6, 2011, a week prior to the single's release.[61] Scherzinger promoted the single singing on Loose Women on March 7, 2011, wearing a funky, urban and jungle-inspired outfit, teamed with towering heels.[62] During the week the song was also performed on Lorraine on March 8, 2011 and on March 13, 2011 on Let's Dance for Comic Relief.[63] On March 17, 2011, she performed on T4.[64] On August 18, 2011, Scherzinger performed the song for the first time in the US on Regis & Kelly.[65] On October 12, 2011, Scherzinger performed the song on Good Morning America.[66] Scherzinger performed the song on November 11, 2011 on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[67]

Track listing[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

"Don't Hold Your Breath" was recorded at Kinglet Studio and The Record Plant in Los Angeles, California.[11]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Ref.
United Kingdom February 16, 2011 Mainstream radio Polydor [26]
Ireland March 10, 2011 Digital download Universal [99]
March 11, 2011 Digital download (Remixes) [100]
Portugal March 13, 2011 Digital download [101]
Digital download (Remixes) [102]
Singapore Digital download [103]
Digital download (Remixes) [104]
United Kingdom Digital download Polydor [105]
Digital download (Remixes) [106]
France March 14, 2011 Digital download Universal [107]
Sweden [108]
Luxembourg March 21, 2011 Digital download [109]
Digital download (Remixes) [110]
Spain March 23, 2011 Digital download [111]
Digital download (Remixes) [112]
Norway March 24, 2011 Digital download [113]
Italy March 25, 2011 Digital download (Remixes) [114]
Netherlands Digital download [115]
New Zealand April 11, 2011 [116]
France April 25, 2011 Digital download (Remixes) [117]
Austria June 3, 2011 Digital download [118]
Germany [119]
Austria June 17, 2011 Digital download (Remixes) [120]
Canada August 16, 2011 Digital download [121]
United States Interscope [122]
United States September 20, 2011 Contemporary hit radio [123]
Canada October 11, 2011 Digital download (The Remixes) Universal [124]
United States Interscope [125]

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]