Oops!…I Did It Again – Britney Spears – 2000
Claimed Sales: 20m
First listen?: No
Format Listened?: CD
Oops!… Britney did it again and managed to produce a second album that nearly became as popular as her debut. Opening with sales over 1 million copies in her home territory, the anticipation for the follow up to …Baby One More Time was palpable. As opening statements go Oops!… I Did It Again is one hell of an intro. The red catsuit and the Titanic sampling middle 8 made the video as impactful as the song itself and in everything but name it’s a fully fledged sequel to her debut hit. It’s a song big enough to carry an entire album campaign and if it had done, I don’t think the public would have been too surprised either. What follows though are not only songs that improve on the potential she had by this point, but hits that would define the kind of artist Britney was to become. After an opening horn noise announces it into existence, the self referential lyric of ‘My loneliness ain’t killing me no more’ on Stronger pushes the song into the upper echelon of pop songs that work so much better in their context. It’s still the same Britney, but she’s so much stronger on every track here. Can’t Make You Love Me, Don’t Go Knocking On My Door and What U See (Is What You Get) continue the solid link to the Backstreet Boys, the continued development of the sort of songs that are arena show ready with their thundering synth lines and pre-made dance breaks. It’s like the Jive label were making attempt after attempt to create the perfect Pop album, right from Backstreet’s Back through to Oops!. Neither act would exist without the other. There’s the now standard Rock classic cover, this time a turn of the millennium version of the Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction which is more famous for featuring in the greatest performance of Britney’s career than the track itself. The development doesn’t just come in the up-tempos though and it’s here that we are reminded that the Britney here is definitely still a teenager. Where Are You Now is a plodding mid tempo that’s a gospel choir away from becoming insufferable, which One Kiss From You is a sickly sweet teen pop jam. There’s even spoken sections between some of the tracks, that make the album sound like the soundtrack to a bad teen rom-com. Things come to a head as Britney asks ‘What would I say?’ before closer Dear Diary has her asking her diary exactly that. It’s so out of place next to the attitude filled anthems that precede it that it only holds a place here as the first song Spears ever had a hand in writing. All of that said, it’s also the mid tempos that see the true artistic development here, on the Shania written ballad Don’t Let Me Be The Last To Know and definitive Britney classic Lucky. The former is far and away the strongest vocals of her career, a song that manages to work in her favour vocally with its country lean, rather than against it like the twee songs from earlier. The latter, along with Stronger are the first of the songs that would never make sense performed by another act. Here’s the biggest teen star in the world, singing an excellently written track with the lyric ‘If there’s nothing missing in my life, then why do these tears come at night’. In the years to follow it would become that bit more poignant and it stands here as a true turning point for her career. Oops!…I Did It Again sees Britney and her team of Max Martin and the rest of the Jive records group doing exactly that. This was the sound of pop at the turn of the millennium.
Will I listen again?: Yes
Best Track: Stronger still sounds HUGE 17 years later, but for me Lucky is truly a song that only works for this artist, at this time.