9. Baby One More Time
Her first and greatest single can still make a grown man blush.
by Brian Raftery
Just like We Will Rock You,Start Me UpÂ and the theme from Jaws, Spears’ career-baptizing Baby One More Timemakes its presence known in exactly one second, opening with an unmistakable three-note door-knock of a piano line. From there, its one big whirlpool of wah-wah guitar lines and EKG-machine bass-slaps a perfectly fine, slickly conceived pop tune.
Then Britney opens her mouth, and all hell breaks loose: Oh baby, baby Half-cooing, half-begging, she stuffs the song with so much sexual force, even a seemingly innocuous line like The reason I breathe is youÂ becomes a plea.
And she was just 16, a fact not lost upon the outraged moms (and slightly embarrassed dads) whose ears reddened when they heard the songs suggestive chorus (nor was it lost upon her video director Nigel Dick, who shot her sashaying down high school halls). At the time, teen-pop was still a boys club, but while the guys were crooning about crushes, Spears was already planning the sleep-over party. Perhaps not surprisingly, even Spears herself had problems dealing with tracks intensity.
I didn’t do well at all the first day in the studio, she says of her 1998 recording sessions with Swedish producer Max Martin. I was just too nervous. So I went out that night and had some fun. The next day I was completely relaxed and nailed it. You gotta be relaxed singing Baby One More Time.Â
A healthy attitude to keep in mind, seeing how shed have to sing it a lot throughout the fall of 1998, when Spears went on a nationwide mall tour to help the tune gather steam; by the time Baby the album was released, Spears was already a star on MTV, and TRL was playing her navel-wagging, schoolgirl-skirted clip non-stop.
But for all of Spears’ scorching innuendo, a song as dramatic and dynamic as BabyÂ could have been a hit no matter who sang it and in fact, its been covered by power-poppers Fountains of Wayne and Scottish mope-rockers Travis, both of whom played up the tunes underlying desperation. We did it for a laugh the first time, Traviss Fran Healy has said. And as we played it, the irony slipped from my smile. Its a very well-crafted song. It [has] that magic thing.
Available on: Baby One More Time (Jive)
Taken from Blender’s 500 greatest songs since you were born (Starting 80’s to 2005)
Britney is the only pop-star other than the King and Queen (M.J and Madge) to make into the top ten. (unless you count eminem).
Source: Blender magazine