Nelly and Christina Aguilera’s pazz-and-jop collaboration “Tilt Ya Head Back” was one of 2004’s most underrated tracks. The silky-smooth genre hybrid only reached 58 on the Billboard Hot 100, a radio crime of the highest degree. Now, the 12-year-old tune is back on our timelines. Why? A 2004 demo with vanilla candles ambassador Britney Spears–the first choice for the song–hit the web. Yup.
According to a 2004 MTV article, “Tilt” producer Dorian Moore told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Nelly originally wanted BritBrit, but her label Jive Records passed because they deemed the song too “urban.” That’s ironic, given Spears’ fourth album In the Zone–released nearly a year prior–was chock-full of hip-hop fusion, from the R.Kelly-penned “Outrageous” to her Ying Yang Twins collaboration “(I Got That) Boom Boom.” What makes “Tilt Ya Head Back” different is more confusing than “Radar” appearing on two Spears albums. (???)
Janet Jackson and Aguilera were considered after Queen B passed; the track eventually found a home with the “Dirrty” legend.
DJs from Singapore’s Gold 905 released a snippet of Spears’ “Tilt” demo Monday, and it is pure fire. The Piece of Me chanteuse sounds in peak form–moans and breathless energy aplenty. Listen to what could’ve been below:
Not that we’re dissatisfied with the Aguilera version. X-Tina’s pipes are unparalleled, and they astronomically elevate “Tilt Ya Head Back.” BritBrit’s vocals are simply just different, and they take the song to a different place. While X-Tina’s punchy chops emphasize the track’s jazz inspiration–and foreshadow her own Back to Basics (2006) LP–Spears’ slithery delivery is pure R&B decadence. Not better. Not worse.
In a perfect world, the three of ’em would’ve done the song together. We can dream, right?