“Toxic” is a Grammy Award-winning dance-pop song written by Bloodshy & Avant, Cathy Dennis, and Henrik Jonback for Britney Spears’ fourth studio album In the Zone (2003). It was released as the album’s second single in early 2004. “Toxic” enjoyed critical acclaim and international success, topping many singles charts around the world. In 2005, it won the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording, Spears’ first and only Grammy to date. “Toxic” is considered to be one of Spears’ signature songs.
The music video was directed by Joseph Kahn, Shot on a Los Angeles soundstage in December, 2003 during three days, it features models Matthew Felker, Tyson Beckford and actor Martin Henderson. According to MTV News, the project got a very high budget, approximately 1 million USD. As Spears did before with the music video for “…BOMT”, she came up with a fully formed idea for the “Toxic” video as well.The video made its world premiere on MTV’s “Making the Video” on January 13, at 6:30 p.m. EST and debuted on Total Request Live two days later.
Notably, the video clip is intercut with sequences of Spears with hundreds of diamonds glued to her body and wearing only a G-string. She made Kahn clear the entire set for the shoot. The scene was widely considered controversial, MTV Network thought the music video was too racy for daytime rotation and moved it, along with another five videos, to late-night rotation, from 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. An MTV spokeswoman told Reuters the network was not engaging in self-censorship or responding to pressure from its corporate parent, Viacom Inc. She stated that:
We [MTV Network] always take into account what the cultural environment is on an ongoing basis. Given the particular sensitivity in the culture right now [Janet Jackson's infamous Super Bowl incident], we’re erring on the side of caution for the immediate future.
The futuristic video depicts Spears as a kind of villainous agent or assassin. At the beginning, Britney appears as a stewardess on an airplane. She seduces a passenger (who actually turns out to be an attractive agent disguised as an ordinary, somewhat unattractive man) in the bathroom of the airplane and steals a black pass from his pocket. In the next scene, Spears is dressed in a tight black leather suit and bright red hair. She takes a ride on a motorcycle through the streets of Paris to “Toxic Industries” before gaining entry to a vault (using the item which she stole from the man) from which she steals a vial of toxic green poison. She accidentally triggers a laser trap that she evades with elaborate dance moves (in which Spears does a back handspring over a laser). In the conclusion of the video, her costume evokes that of a superhero as she scales a building and gains entry to the residence of her cheating boyfriend(Martin Henderson). She kisses him just before pouring the poison into his mouth, presumably killing him. She kisses him again, closes his eyes and jumps out the window appearing to land back in the plane, once again sporting her flight attendant outfit.
The music video was nominated in four categories at the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Female Video, Best Dance Video, Best Pop Video, and Video of the Year. Visual effects supervisors Chris Watts and Bert Yukich were awarded for their work on “Toxic” at the 3rd Annual Visual Effects Society Awards on February 16, 2005 in the category of “Outstanding Visual Effects in a Music Video”.