Britney’s colorful new song “Mood Ring” helped set the stage for what was to come.
The haunting electro track finds Britney reflecting an array of moods while singing over a sinister beat crafted by DJ Mustard and Twice As Nice (Rihanna’s “Needed Me”). The song wasn’t featured on Britney’s U.S. release of Glory, but does land on the Japanese edition out this week.
A 45-second preview is currently available on music retailer site HMV (track No. 18).
BreatheHeavy caught up with one of the song’s producers / co-writers, Jon Asher, who says it’s one of the best works he’s ever taken part in.
How did the concept of mood ring come about?
In February 2015, one of my close friends Melanie Fontana and I were writing in my Los Angeles studio. Our sessions usually consist of cooking, making coffee, dreamin’ (out loud) and recording. You have to understand, when Mel and I write songs, it’s always a hang-out, never anything I’d consider “work”. So, here we are chatting about our lives, just throwing around any melody and word ideas, literally just like “oooooooooo eeeeeee” etc. Melanie began to sing “moooooood swingssss.. you give me moooood swings”. I’d say maybe a half of a second passed before I replied, “or like mood ring”. Continuing, I sang “up and down emotions”. The rest of the words came effortlessly to us from there. It hit both of us immediately that we had something special.
How does it relate to Britney?
I won’t speak for Britney or anyone else, but when we were writing the song I was going through my own up-and-down’s in life. Ironically, “Mood Ring” (for me) is a representation of the different eras in my own transformation and ascension to Glory. We all experience a spectrum of emotions daily, with some days where I don’t even know what I’m feeling anymore. I think anyone can relate to that.
Why did she decide to record it?
I don’t know why an artist chooses to record a song unless they share that bit of info with me, but typically there’s a personal connection to the lyrics. I’ve only ever heard that she loves the record. The day of the session, when I got to the studio, the energy was electric between all parties. To me it was obvious that she gave her all, vocally, on Mood Ring.
As far as how it happened, I can tell you there were several amazing people who took “Mood Ring” seriously enough to really make it reality. At that time, it was just a demo in a pile of new songs I had written, but we always felt that it was different. Late one evening in a Hollywood living room I played the Mel Fontana vocal demo we had cut for Nick Jarjour at Maverick. By now, Nick had been a friend and managerial partner of mine for years, he gets my vision. To him, Mood Ring was a no-brainer. Almost parallel in timing, he had been facilitating records like (Rihanna’s “Needed Me”) with Roc Nation and DJ Mustard’s camp. I sent out the demo vocal stems that night and he sent it off into what I call the ‘music industry machine.’ Fast forward to early April, we found ourselves meeting with Omar Grant and the Roc Nation team. To our astonishment, Britney had put our “Mood” demo on a “hold.”
What was the inspiration?
Britney’s vibrant life was our sole inspiration for writing the song. Mix that in with our own real life experiences that both Melanie and I pull from and Voila, we had the song written pretty fast. I think having a goal in mind made it somewhat effortless for two close friends, who’ve bonded over Britney albums through the years, to be inspired for the writing session.
“True colors will show, baby just put me on display” or the payoff line before the drop “My love is a Mood Ring, you change me”.
What are your thoughts on the song landing on the Japanese edition of Glory only?
Writing Mood Ring for Britney was never about where or how it would come out. Oddly, I never put too much thought into that. For me, it was always about when the song was coming out. From my understanding, Glory had started taking a more solidified shape after Britney had recorded Mood Ring in June 2015. It’s about to be 2017, we are living in a renaissance era for music where all artists and audiences are subject to the Internet. In an industry where Mike Posner’s “Pill in Ibiza” remix can become more popular than the original, or Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” can be included in a complete confection repackage, then hit Top 40 at #1, why should anyone worry? If audiences attach to it, the song will find its way to the top of the pile, yet again. A hit is a hit be it released on a standard edition, Japan deluxe, or a repackage. I am blessed and thankful to have experienced a lifelong dream, come true.
Tell us something we may not know about it, something personalney
The opening line “Look in the mirror” actually took place in the session. It is funny to me because I have this extra large full body mirror in my studio that literally every artist or co-writer I have over (including myself) stands, sings and performs in. Melanie was dancing in the mirror and sang “I look in the mirror”, which ultimately opened the verse. I came in behind her and sang “who do I see, who will I be today?”, later turning into “Who do I wanna be today?” fueling our “Mood Ring” title and concept. I feel like everyday we are lucky to wake up, look in the mirror and individually decide what kind of trajectory we’d like to take that day regardless of where our emotions may try to pull us.
As far as vocal production, Mustard and Britney gave me complete freedom to do my thing! I was at the studio late one night editing one-on-one with Mustard himself, he is very involved and was loving my vocal production techniques. When you hear the record, it’s clear that Britney feels very comfortable singing it which made every aspect of vocal producing enjoyable. Britney recorded Mood Ring during my Birthday week of June 2015, so I got to spend my entire actual birthday finalizing the vocal production at my own studio. That felt like a god-wink and I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.
What are some other songs you wrote for Britney?
We wrote so many good songs for her! Mood Ring was the only song of ours that she recorded, maybe even personally heard. We wrote a song for the fans that Jordan, I feel like you’d especially appreciate. All of our songs will find a great home.
How do you feel about the song now versus when it was first created?
The final version of Mood Ring is gorgeous. Her voice the entire time gives me those 2001ney goosebumps I grew up remembering. The music had to change several times and thankfully so, because we wanted to give Britney and her fans an iconic sound that will stand the test of time. I’m very, very thankful with how it came out.