|Song by Britney Spears|
|from the album Circus|
|Recorded||2008; Train Tracks Studios — Conway Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California|
|Producer(s)||Let's Go to War, Nicole Morier|
"Mmm Papi" is a song by American singer-songwriter Britney Spears. The song was written by Spears and Nicole Morier, while additional writing and song production were done by Canadian band Let's Go to War, whose members are Henry Walter, Adrien Gough and Peter-John Kerr, for Spears' sixth studio album, Circus (2008). "Mmm Papi" is noted for having a Latin pop influence, similar to Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" (1987). The lyrics of the song tell about a woman who has an attraction to a man, longing for him to come and take her away.
"Mmm Papi" received generally unfavorable reviews from contemporary critics. Many said the song represents Spears' trouble with men, and speculated that its lyrics deal to either her father James Spears or paparazzi Adnan Ghalib. The speculations were later denied by co-writer Morier. The song was also compared to Rosemary Clooney's "Come On-a My House" (1951). Despite not being released as a single, "Mmm Papi" managed to peak at number ninety-four on Billboard Pop 100, due to moderate airplay on mainstream top 40 radio stations, singles sales, and digital downloads.
—Morier talks about working with Spears.
It was confirmed in 2008 that Spears was in the process of recording her sixth studio album. Spears manager Larry Rudolph confirmed the singer would spend "her summer in the recording studio" to work on it. Despite no official album confirmation at the time, Rudolph revealed they were happy with her progress and that she had been working with a range of producers, such as Sean Garrett, Guy Sigsworth, Danja and Bloodshy & Avant. "Mmm Papi" was written by Spears and Nicole Morier during Summer and Spring of 2008. Among the songs they worked on were "Mmm Papi", "Rock Me In" and "Whiplash". Both wanted to do something that Spears had not done before. "Mmm Papi" and "Rock Me In" were included in Spears' sixth studio album, Circus (2008); however, "Whiplash" failed to make the cut. Morier explained, "There’s a couple songs we started that were great ideas but just incomplete. Maybe we’ll hear them with fresh ears someday and put them out, but I usually just like to start anew."
Additional writing and song production were done by Canadian band Let's Go to War, whose members are Henry Walter, Adrien Gough and Peter-John Kerr. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Walter revealed they first sent several demos to Jive Records for Circus. After selecting it, Spears' management required several changes to the song, making "Mmm Papi" "substantially different from what was submitted." Walter revealed they had no contact with the singer for the song production, and considered "Mmm Papi" as "something different for Britney" and "a fun track and is not trying to be anything it's not." Spears recorded her vocals for the song in 2008 at Train Tracks Studios and Conway Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California, with Walter and Eric Eylands. Guitar was provided by Chris Worthy, and audio mixing was done by Tony Maserati.
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"Mmm Papi" is a latin pop song that lasts for three minutes and twenty-two seconds. The song has dancehall elements and a 1960s go-go vibe, and incorporates into its melody handclaps and a rock guitar. Anna Dimond of TV Guide perceived influences of Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" (1987) in the song, and called it an "ode to the tropical life (and perhaps its masculine fruits)". It has been suggested that its lyrics deal with either her father Jamie Spears or paparazzi Adnan Ghalib. However, this was denied by Morier, who said "the song is definitely not about Adnan and in the whole time I worked with [Spears] last spring and summer I never once saw that guy." Morier described "Mmm Papi" as a fun upbeat song, while saying the title "came out of [the line] Mmm Papa Luv U." Entertainment Weekly's Dylan Kickham described the song as a "bizarre attempt at combining Latin pop with ’60s psychedelic soul".
"Mmm Papi" received generally unfavorable reviews from contemporary critics. Alexis Petridis of The Guardian said the track was fun, but panned for appearing on Circus to "revisit the Lolita persona of ...Baby One More Time". Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly said the song "giddily sets [Spears] littlest-girl voice against a guitar right out of 1960s go-go rock." John Murphy of musicOMH said that "any indication of her chat-up lines [in "Mmm Papi"] may explain her recent trouble with men," while Caryn Ganz of Rolling Stone said the singer "shows she has psychodrama to spare on [the song]," and considered it "a go-go romp with daddy issues." Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine commented, "the jaw-dropping "Mmm Papi" is the nexus of cock-hungriness." Chris Richards of The Washington Post said the song "tries to replicate the strutting come-ons of "Toxic", but quickly goes rancid as Spears indulges in some of the most cloying singing of her career," while Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times compared its style to Rosemary Clooney's "Come On-a My House" (1951). Powers also said Spears have "a fairly horrific pan-Latin accent" in the song.
Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times criticized "Mmm Papi" as the "most disturbing [song] of [Circus]." Cameron Adams of the Herald Sun called "Mmm Papi" "an attempt at Gwen Stefani's new wave sound that doesn't work." Ben Rayner of the Toronto Star called it "awful," along with "My Baby", and a "baby-talk horror." Poppy Cosyns of The Sun criticized the song's lyrics, deeming it as "bizarre lyrics which reference [Spears] love/hate father-daughter turmoil." Pete Paphides of The Times said "Mmm Papi" "couldn't be less sexy if Christine Hamilton were singing them," while a review by The Independent said the song portrays "the former Mouseketeer as some kind of robotic nymphomaniac doll – groaning and grunting "let's make out" with the chilly distance of a future-sex cyborg unit." Darryl Sterdan of Jam! gave "Mmm Papi" a positive review, saying, "between the hip-swivelling groove, the twangy guitar, the surfy organ lines and the silly vocals, this might be the most enjoyable cut on the disc. Pure fun." Despite not being released as a single, "Mmm Papi" did manage to peak at number ninety-four on Billboard Pop 100, on the week of December 10, 2008, due to moderate airplay on mainstream top 40 radio stations, singles sales, and digital downloads.
Credits and personnel
- Recorded at Train Tracks Studios in Los Angeles, California.
- Additional recording at Conway Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California.
- Mixed for Two Chord Music, Inc. at Canaan Road Studios and Looking Glass Studios in New York City, New York.
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