…Baby One More Time – Britney Spears – 1999
Claimed Sales: 28m
First listen?: No
Format Listened?: CD
Open a list of classic songs from the 90s, pop leaning or otherwise and it’s more than a certainty that opener and title track …Baby One More Time will make appearance. The opening three notes echo across pretty much the rest of the album, so perfect in the way the song crashes into existence and introduces Britney Spears as the world conquering popstar she would become almost instantly. So much has been said about this song and its impact on the careers of Britney and producer/sole writer Max Martin, but its influence stretches to just about any act that has had a Max Martin written #1 hit ever since. (Here’s an article that explains the magic of this song much better than I do) Of course there’s a whole album to contend with here and while it’s a massively diverse set of records, as a debut album it sets up Britney nicely. It’s actually surprising to remember that there’s only 2 other Max written tracks, the wonderfully uplifting soaring guitar of I Will Be There and the album’s second biggest hit (You Drive Me) Crazy which appears in its strange original form; the key change, additional bridge lyrics and overall sparse production would be changed for the Stop Remix. There’s the likes of Sometimes and Born To Make You Happy, the sorts of ‘mid tempos with a dance routine’ that the 90s were full of and both are genuinely great and polished pop songs. It’s an album that knows its target market, teenage girls who will recreate the …Baby One More Time video at school, which is why we have the awkward Disney style duet I Will Still Love You and the equally terrible Email My Heart that is to thank for the infinitely giffable ‘everyone has been doing emails’ interview. Listening back nearly 20 years on from release the biggest difference for a listener is the focus on Britney Spears ‘the vocalist’. On the amazingly cheesy Deep In My Heart she’s throwing in ad libs everywhere, while on From The Bottom of My Broken Heart she attempts to replicate the likes of Mariah. At the time these were seen as heavily processed vocals, but her debut is far the most under produced Britney has ever sounded. Thinkin’ About You is a 90s RnB jam that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Robyn’s debut album (Which was the inspiration for …Baby One More Time in the first place) and along with the obviously peppy Soda Pop these are probably some of the strongest vocal performances of her career. The variety of the album culminates in a cover of a UK produced dance version of Sonny & Cher’s The Beat Goes On, which surprisingly ends up being one of the highlights here. It may not be an all time classic as an album, it’s not even one of Britney’s strongest records, but …Baby One More Time set the tone for a decade of hits that would soon follow and introduced the world to a star who would define the second MTV era.
Will I listen again?: Of course
Best Track: Of course the title track is amazing, there’s no denying that, but for me Born To Make You Happy fills me with such joy and exhilaration whenever I hear it that there’s nothing else I could pick here.