Don't Hold Your Breath

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"Don't Hold Your Breath"
Nicole Scherzinger - Don't Hold Your Breath.png
Single by Nicole Scherzinger
from the album Killer Love
Released March 10, 2011 (2011-03-10)
Length 3:17
Label Interscope
Nicole Scherzinger singles chronology
"Don't Hold Your Breath"
"Coconut Tree"

"Don't Hold Your Breath"
"Coconut Tree"

"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 and produced by the former two along with Carl Falk, Steve Angello and Rami. The song was released on February 16, 2011, as the album's second single in the United Kingdom. "Don't Hold Your Breath" received positive reviews, with critics preferring it over singles by The Pussycat Dolls, as well as praising the empowering message and theme. The pop and R&B 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 Poland and the United Kingdom, as well as reaching the top twenty in many other countries.

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).[2] After her breakthrough with the group, she began work on her debut studio album.[3] The project, titled Her Name is Nicole, saw Scherzinger record 75–100 songs, with some of the songs later ending up with the group.[4] After a number of pushbacks the entire project was scrapped at the request of Scherzinger.[5] 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".[6] 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.[7] Following its radio premiere, the song was planned to be released on iTunes on May 25, 2010.[8] However, for reasons unknown, the song was never released.[7] Scherzinger continued to work on her debut solo album in 2010, recruiting Moroccan producer RedOne,[9] finishing Killer Love before its release in 2011.[10]

"Don't Hold Your Breath" is an up-tempo "empowering pop" song, utilizing elements of club-pop.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] The demo features vocals from US record producer-rapper Timbaland and American singer-songwriter Keri Hilson.[13] 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"[14] 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.[14][15] Robinson said that the second demo that leaked on January 13, 2011 was more similar to the final single version as opposed to the earlier 2010 demo.[14] A third unfinished version, this time with Scherzinger's vocals, leaked on January 14, 2011 with a more basic production.[15] Rap-Up posted the final single version also on January 14, 2011.[16] The cover artwork for "Don't Hold Your Breath" was revealed on January 24, 2011.[17] 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."[18] Pop Justice "approved" the cover artwork for the blue color and the "hint of personality."[17]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Melodically, "Don't Hold Your Breath" consists of an up-tempo common time signature of 112 beats per minute.[19] It uses a simple three-note chord progression of DFmE.[19] The style of the production and arrangement were compared to songs by Gloria Gaynor, according to Robert Copsey from Digital Spy.[11] 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".[16]

Critical reception[edit]

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."[14] 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.[16] 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."[20] 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.[11] Ben Norman from, 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.[21] Bradley Stern of MTV Buzzworthy described the song's production as "gorgeous".[22] 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.[23] Cosmopolitan listed the song at number 9 on the magazine's "Best Breakup Songs".[24] The article also included "I Don't Need a Man" at number two which Scherzinger wrote for her former girl group, The Pussycat Dolls.[25] 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."[26]

Chart performance[edit]

"Don't Hold Your Breath" made its first chart appearance on the Irish Singles Chart on March 18, 2011, where it debuted and peaked at number 4.[27] In the United Kingdom, "Don't Hold Your Breath" debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart on March 20, 2011 with first-week sales of 98,000 copies, becoming Scherzinger's first number-one as a solo artist. Scherzinger previously topped the charts as a member of the Pussycat Dolls with "Don't Cha" and "Stickwitu" in 2005.[28] By the end of 2011 the track has sold 430,000 copies and has been certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), denoting shipments of 400,000 copies.[29] Elsewhere in Europe the track performed moderately peaking at number 44 in the Netherlands, number 45 in France and number 62 Switzerland.[30]

Outside of Europe, "Don't Hold Your Breath" reached number 21 in New Zealand,[30] while in Australia the song became her second single to enter the charts since "Baby Love" (2007).[31] It has peaked at number 17 and was certified double platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for selling over 140,000 copies.[30] Following its release in the United States, the song entered and peaked at number 86 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[32] On the Hot Digital Songs chart the song entered at number 61, selling 26,000 copies in its opening week.[33] On the US Hot Dance Club Play chart "Don't Hold Your Breath" fared better, peaking at number two, being held off of the top spot by Scherzinger's former bandmate Jessica Sutta's "Show Me".[34]

Music video[edit]

On January 18, 2011, Scherzinger booked Rich Lee to direct the music video for "Don't Hold Your Breath".[35] The finished clip premiered through Scherzinger's official VEVO account, on February 8, 2011.[36] According to Robbie Daw of Idolator, the theme of the video was to show drama and anger.[37] 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."[38]


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.


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."[37] Meanwhile, called Scherzinger's character, in the video, a "sexy siren".[39] The only thing Ryan Brockington from New York Post said was the set in the music video resembled U.S. television drama, Dexter.[40] 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.[41] 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.[38] 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."[42] According to a press release from Interscope Records, the video has received critical acclaim with over 40 million VEVO views as of 2013.[43] MTV reported that "Don't Hold Your Breath" was one of the most watched music video on its website in 2011.[44]

Live performances[edit]

Scherzinger performed "Don't Hold Your Breath" live for the first time on Dancing on Ice on March 7, 2011 and two days later on Loose Women.[45][46] On March 20, she performed a medley of "When I Grow Up" and "Don't Hold Your Breath" on the French version of Dancing with the Stars.[47] On May 14, she appeared on BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend performing "Poison" and "Don't Hold Your Breath" wearing a leather trenchcoat later revealing a neon bodysuit.[48] On June 11 she appeared at Capital FM's Summertime Ball performed "Don't Hold Your Breath" along with "Right There", "Poison".[49] She furthered performed the song in the United States performing on July 13 for AMP Radio’s Topless Summer Switch Party at Universal CityWalk.[50] On August 18, she performed "Don't Hold Your Breath" on Live! with Regis and Kelly.[51] On September she appeared at the iHeartRadio Music Festival performed "Don’t Hold Your Breath" and "Club Banger Nation".[52] On October 12, she performed on Good Morning America as part of its Summer Concert Series.[53] On November 11, she performed "Don't Hold Your Breath" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno which was backed by a full band.[54] "Don't Hold Your Breath" was performed as encore throughout Scherzinger's first solo tour in support of her debut studio album, Killer Love (2011).[55]

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.[12]



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[88] 2× Platinum 140,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[89] Gold 400,000^

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

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Ref.
United Kingdom February 16, 2011 Mainstream radio Polydor [90]
Ireland March 10, 2011 Digital download Universal [91]
March 11, 2011 Digital download (Remixes) [92]
Portugal March 13, 2011 Digital download [93]
Digital download (Remixes) [94]
Singapore Digital download [95]
Digital download (Remixes) [96]
United Kingdom Digital download Polydor [97]
Digital download (Remixes) [98]
France March 14, 2011 Digital download Universal [99]
Sweden [100]
Luxembourg March 21, 2011 Digital download [101]
Digital download (Remixes) [102]
Spain March 23, 2011 Digital download [103]
Digital download (Remixes) [104]
Norway March 24, 2011 Digital download [105]
Italy March 25, 2011 Digital download (Remixes) [106]
Netherlands Digital download [107]
New Zealand April 11, 2011 [108]
France April 25, 2011 Digital download (Remixes) [109]
Austria June 3, 2011 Digital download [110]
Germany [111]
Austria June 17, 2011 Digital download (Remixes) [112]
Canada August 16, 2011 Digital download [113]
United States Interscope [114]
United States September 20, 2011 Contemporary hit radio [115]
Canada October 11, 2011 Digital download (The Remixes) Universal [116]
United States Interscope [117]

See also[edit]


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  115. ^ "Top 40 Mainstream Future Releases". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on 2011-08-25. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  116. ^ [25][dead link]
  117. ^ [26][dead link]

External links[edit]