For her contribution to disco legend Giorgio Moroder's comeback album Deja Vu, due this summer, Britney Spears takes on the late 80s cult classic "Tom's Diner." The original, performed by the incredible Suzanne Vega, is an A Capella account of somebody sitting in a diner and observing what was going on around her. In 1990, British producers DNA remixed the song by adding a dance beat and focusing on Suzanne's "Doo doo doo doo, doo da-doo doo" refrain.
Moroder and Spears' 2015 remake is an evolution of the DNA version of "Tom's Diner." According to Moroder, the idea was Britney's and she approached him with it. But given Moroder's backlog of 70s classics, why did Britney choose a song born in the 80s? And why this song?
The answer may lie within the song's origins. Vega wrote the song after having a conversation with a photographer friend, who said he felt he was viewing his life through a pane of glass. She captured those feelings of isolation, and watching the world move around him, and narrated a scene many of us have seen play out; watching a server pour milk into coffee, a couple embracing, the weather changing. At the core of something so common is a loneliness that Vega captures perfectly with her melodic, yet deadpan delivery.
That's what makes Britney's song choice somewhat sad; one of the world's most famous individuals could never do something as common or normal as lounging in a coffee shop to people watch. With the song originating from a photographer's perspective, Britney is actually on the other side of the glass - the world is watching her.
Moroder processes Spears' vocal with heavy vocoder and autotune effects, but it's not hard to make out Britney's instantly recognizable voice. His sledgehammer synths make the song less "Tom's Diner" and more "Tom's Disco," creating a fresh take on a tune that's seen many transformations. Spears sounds engaged with the song, offering subtle variations on Suzanne's original melody that suggest she knows exactly what the song is about, and that it means a great deal to her. Maybe this is the most honest and transparent version of Britney Spears we've seen in a decade?
Listen to Giorgio Moroder and Britney Spears' version of "Tom's Diner" below.