In 1997, Britney Jean Spears to be a high school freshman aching to gain out that the quiet stretch the Louisiana that bumps up versus Mississippi. The many notable thing about her at the moment was one off-Broadway credit and also her condition as a previous Mouseketeer. A year later on she would come to be one that the greatest pop stars in the world, thanks to the stamin of she debut single, "…Baby One more Time." produced by Max young name — a failed sweden glam-metal rocker that was do coffee runs while his mentor, Denniz Pop, was producing "The Sign" and also "All the She Wants" for Ace of base — the tune would go on to define early '00s pop music.

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Twenty years after its release (on Oct. 23, 1998), us take a deep dive right into one the the most groundbreaking access time in history.

Jive Records had just began branching out from its secure of R&B acts (they'd recently signed those Backstreet Boys) when a picture of 15-year-old Britney landing at your office.

Barry Weiss, chairman of Jive Records: Jeff Fenster^ had actually come into an A&R meeting and also shown us a photo of this really pretty young mrs on a red and also white picnic blanket, nearly like a tablecloth from one of those small, local Italian restaurants. That was type of funny. Ns think she can have had actually a dog in the photo as well. Nearly like Dorothy from Kansas.

Larry Rudolph, an to chat lawyer and family girlfriend of the Spearses, brought her right into Jive because that an audition.

Barry Weiss: She was wearing a black color cocktail dress and also high heels. She sang live for us: Whitney Houston ballads, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton. She yes, really was a great singer. She looked amazing. She to be like, 15 year old. And also we kind of thought, Wow, this is yes, really left that center. There's no female pop artist out there appropriate now.

John Seabrook, author of The track Machine: inside the fight Factory: Clive Calder, that was the head the Jive, signed her to a provisional contract. This to be a very significant moment in pop history: The signing that Britney Spears together a sort of girl-next-door teenager, quite than together a Whitney Houston-esque diva. One of the calculations over there was, Clive Calder was notoriously cheap, and also Whitney Houston was notoriously expensive. For this reason Britney Spears seemed prefer she would be cheap too, because she was just a teenager indigenous Louisiana, and wasn't demanding in any type of way.

Star secured, the Jive team needed, well, music. They turned to sweden producer-songwriter Max Martin, of Cheiron Studios, who had functioned with Ace that Base and also co-produced some songs ~ above the Backstreet Boys' self-titled debut album.

Barry Weiss:  There weren't plenty of U.S. Mainstream popular music producers that could do young artists. The popular music at the time was very right down the middle. Yet we were in search of edgier, younger-sounding records. We had an A&R office at Jive in Hilversum, outside Amsterdam. Boy name Dodd was our A&R guy, and the Max Martin and Cheiron connection.

Max Martin*: I was in Florida and also Jeff asked me to prevent by the office in York to fulfill this girl if I was in America. She was all dressed up. She was 16. She assumed I was a 50-year-old producer native the old school. I had actually really lengthy hair at the time — i looked like Ozzy Osbourne. It to be pretty evident that she had something, even though she was very quiet and really shy.



Max Martin*: I create on the Dictaphone. I come up v the melody first. I composed the chorus; you just hum the in. Thanks to , that tune sounds the method it does. That is much much more urban and also R&B 보다 me. I'm more of a melody man. So he's a huge reason the the tune turned out the means that that did.

NaNa Hedin, backup vocalist: I remember the I assumed the tune was for teenagers but the manufacturing was filled through a grown-up attitude and also with sound that ns really liked. Ns was so impression by exactly how a male like Max and also the various other writers could write lyrics that obtained into the hearts and spoke come teenage thinking. That really stood for whole generation, not them.

Barry Weiss: Martin Dodd had this demo, which was then called "Hit Me infant One much more Time," and he sent out it right into us and said, "This is a song Max had written because that TLC, yet they didn't really want to reduced the record." i think Arista want Deborah Cox — she to be the heir evident to Whitney, and Clive Davis was really into her. But Max was no down v that… as soon as the song came right into us, we thought, let's reduced this v Britney. Let's send her to Stockholm. The magic that functioned with the Backstreet Boys, why wouldn't it job-related again for Britney Spears?

Britney Spears*: I didn't understand what come expect. It was my first time overseas. They had actually six songs, I had a week.

Max Martin*: She was very well prepared. Due to the fact that "…Baby One much more Time" was the very first song, we really didn't understand where to take it it. We simply kept top top recording. We tried a couple of different styles. After a while, I could hear her stomach growl in the microphone. I asked if she to be hungry. We'd to be going for eight hours. She said, "No, I'm fine." ns said, "Let's take a break," and she had actually three burgers.

John Seabrook: In those days, and also maybe this is quiet true, Max made every the demos himself. He would certainly sing the various harmony components himself, too. Max has an impressive voice, and also very people have ever before actually heard the demo. Ns did hear it, and also Max sounds exactly like Britney, including all the small sounds the sound improvised; the mow-woww sounds. Therefore Britney finished up sounding precisely like Max.

Chris Molanphy, graph analyst and also pop critic: The factor why the remains one of the most iconic song of the 1990s teenager pop boomlet is it's kind of a perfect marital relationship of song and also artist and also songwriter. If Max martin is john Hughes, he found his Molly Ringwald. His muse-vehicle because that his specific brand that writing. Girlfriend can't picture it gift sung by anybody else.

Barry Weiss: I remember once we got it earlier with Britney ~ above it, she had actually that "oh BAY-BAY BAY-BAY," these ad libs. We believed it was yes, really weird in ~ first. It to be strange. That was not the way Max composed it. However it worked! We assumed it could be a really great opening salvo for her.

NaNa Hedin: The magic is the attitude. Deep underneath the popular music sound it has a sexy absent rebel attitude, from a young schoolgirl and her voice.



John Seabrook: Before the song came out, nobody in America chosen the hook, "hit me baby one an ext time." Everybody thought it was some kind of weird allusion to domestic violence or something. Yet what it really was was the Swedes making use of English not specifically correctly. What castle really want to say was, "hit me increase on the phone one more time" or something. But at the point, Max's English wasn't that great. Therefore it come out sounding a tiny bit weird in English. However when lock tried to get him to readjust it, he said, "No, it can't be changed. That's it."

Barry Weiss: I actually adjusted the lyric. I was concerned around going come U.S. Radio v a song dubbed "Hit Me baby One more Time." ns don't understand if I'm proud of this or not: I came up with the "…Baby One more Time."

Barry Weiss: I went automatically to Nigel Dick, the video director. He had actually done the Backstreet guys videos "Backstreet's Back," "I desire it that Way."

Nigel Dick, director, "…Baby One much more Time" video: Interestingly, a lot of people I operated with at the time told me I should walk far from the project. "She's an unknown girl. She's 16 year old. It's candy-floss pop." I'd done quite a lot of stuff which to be a bit more meaty: Oasis, Guns and also Roses, blah, blah, blah. I simply thought the song was really, yes, really good.

Barry Weiss: Nigel came up through an idea, like, Britney is in outer space. She comes and also lands ~ above Mars on a spaceship, and also then she breaks right into this run routine. i beg your pardon Dick likznjke.comise directed.> i was like, "Wow, this is great!" and Britney looked in ~ this and also said, "This is horrible. No means am i doing this. This is really cheesy. Let me gain on the phone v Nigel Dick."

Barry Weiss: Her idea was the entirety Grease thing, to dance in the hallway. She provided the kernel that the idea to Nigel, and he came up through the rest.

Nigel Dick: Your early stage reaction come this is, I'm gift told by a 16-year-old-girl what I have to do this girl is 16 and also I'm a get an impressive man; possibly she has a much better perspective on she audience 보다 I do. So ns swallowed my pride.

John Seabrook: Britney better than the adult what people wanted and I think that's likznjke.comise significant, since I think the adults began to realize the they didn't necessarily recognize what the kids wanted anymore.

Nigel Dick: was very easy. There to be no genuine drama. What i did not understand at the moment was that, of course, you have this experience with the Mickey computer mouse Club. As far as ns, she was just a schoolgirl native the South. she was an extremely relaxed in prior of the camera. She to be very, very drilled through her run routine. I've operated with her 4 times, and I've yet to job-related with somebody who puts in as lot preparation, and was as passionate to rehearse, as she was.


Every short article of garments in the video clip was purchased at K-Mart and cost less than $17. One inauspicious start for what would end up being a well known (or infamous, depending on your point of outfit because that the underage performer.

Nigel Dick: i don't have actually kids, so my expertise of what teens wore was restricted to driving residence from the office and seeing children standing through a bus stop. So I argued they would certainly be attract jeans and t-shirts and sneakers and would have actually backpacks, and also Britney said, "Well, shouldn't i be attract a schoolgirl outfit?" and I was an extremely dubious about this idea. But I was overruled.

Chris Molanphy: I can't prove this, but, the fact that every female teenager pop stars for the next roughly three years had to shooting a video clip with their belly button bared — Britney made the look iconic.

Vanessa Grigoriadis, reporter, "The Tragedy that Britney Spears": She claimed to Rolling Stone, "All ns did was tie up mine shirt. Ns didn't do anything." and also this has constantly been the question with Britney: walk she know what she's doing? it was really much on the sheet of what was acceptable then.

Nigel Dick: Certainly, my initial reaction was, "Are you sure we should be going down this course with this young lady?" and also the civilization who were in control, the record label and also whatnot, claimed yes, this is the route we want to take.

Britney Spears**: There are so numerous other teenagers out there that dress an ext provocatively 보다 I do and also no one states anything around them. How can I describe this? i don't watch myself — hand on the scriptures — I recognize I'm no ugly, however I don't see myself as a sex symbol or this goddess-attractive-beautiful human at all. As soon as I'm on stage, that's my time to do my thing and also go there and be the — and it's fun. It's exhilarating just to be something the you're not. And also people tend to think it.

Nigel Dick: I was type of aware that some people might feel that that to be exploitative. And also as it turned out, I acquired a huge amount the grief about it when the video came out.

John Ivey, chairman of CHR Programming because that iHeartMedia: I to be programming Kiss 108 in Boston, so Jack Fader brought her right into the station. Here she comes in, small kid, no makeup. You deserve to tell how young she is. But really wise, already. They had actually just acquired the final edit of the video VHS. We entered this office and also I'm sitting over there watching it with her, and also I'm looking at her, and also looking in ~ the video, like, hey, what's walk on here? It confirmed what was going to take place very quickly. Once you see it you're like, omigosh, this totality schoolgirl thing, it's a little sexy. However then I'm sit here and also she's yes, really little, she's obtained no assembly on, she's simply a tiny kid.

Vanessa Grigoriadis: When ns was reporting this article, a many of world said Britney wanted to be sexy. And also the civilization who are regulating her, every the men who were so involved in her image, they to be trying to make her look at less slutty, basically, was the word somebody offered to me. And she want to press the boundaries. I think the it's impossible to recognize if it's in reality true.

Britney Spears**: i guess it's since I do have a younger audience that, you know, parents worry about the function model thing…. But when i was younger, i looked as much as people, but I never ever wanted to be them. I constantly had my own identity. I'm one entertainer when I'm ~ above stage…and they require to explain that to their kids. That's no my project to do that.

"…Baby One more Time" was released top top October 23, 1998. The debuted top top the Billboard hot 100 less than a month later and also spent 32 mainly on the charts.

Barry Weiss: We had her a ~ above a shopping mall tour, handing out cassette singles, in the summer and the fall. The video clip came out pretty simultaneous through the song. The was just an pure explosion… by November that was just a global phenomenon.

John Ivey: We felt prefer it to be a hit. There's sometimes you get records, , I want to play the as shortly as i can. I know I wasn't the only person that felt choose that. Most of the time, for a record like that, ns said, I'll begin it the end at night, watch what the kids think, and also see what happens prior to we spread out it the end to the day. And obviously it became a big monster hit.

The video clip came out just as MTV combined two existing program ("MTV Live" and "Total Request") into the, Carson Daly-hosted, soon-to-be-pop-phenomenon "Total request Live." 

Chris Molanphy: I'm certain if you to be 40 and also wanted to call TRL, friend could. However no one over 20 to be calling TRL. Therefore it was this mainline, hooked to her veins, the what teens were most obsessed with. And also it to be either the stuff the made lock feel favor a tough badass or the stuff the made castle swoon. And Britney arrived just together this is beginning. The means she to be presented together this schoolgirl gone bad, it had actually a combination of sweden pure pop crossed v a little frisson that edge. It might not have actually been more perfect for the era that TRL.

John Seabrook: MTV had, as much as that point, do the efforts to stand up to mainstream pop, due to the fact that they want to be perceived as cool… yet I think with Britney, and also the video clip in particular, and the fact that TRL had actually launched at roughly the very same time, it really readjusted MTV.

John Ivey: Britney had actually the 2nd level. Civilization saw this video clip and thought, what is this girl? Because everybody latched top top this immediately. That wasn't very long after that, she was on roll Stone.

"…Baby One an ext Time" didn't just launch Britney's career: that kicked turn off the teenager pop boom of the so late '90s, clearing the method for a fleet of Britney also-rans and boy bands to dominate TRL and also the airwaves pretty lot until adolescents stopped city hall TRL and listening to the radio. It likznjke.comise was the breakout minute for Max Martin, who went top top to end up being one that the many successful, significant pop producers in modern history, and also all the swedish producers who followed.

Barry Weiss: What it was choose was worldwide domination. And also the differential through "…Baby One more Time" and why it was such a cataclysmic event, it to be the reemergence of pop music.

John Ivey: It would be in the optimal percentile of singles in the previous 25 years. Since it damaged her as an artist and what she became. It's prefer Madonna's "Like a Virgin," or Prince's "Let's walk Crazy." It's the tune that made she Britney Spears.

John Seabrook: It was critical in putting Cheiron and Max and Sweden top top the map. Other Swedish songmakers gained the idea the they didn't just have to write for Swedes or possibly Brits; they might write for Americans and also really tap right into that huge market.

Barry Weiss: I mean look, was she affiliated with creating those songs? Max young name is a genius, okay? He's brilliant. He tailor-made those documents for her. But she would never have had actually the job without her vision. She has this innate capability to relocate the media.

Joe Levy, Rolling Stone editor:  The public perception is the this is every created, the the record agency created this — the artist, the music, the image. I have to tell you, if the record company could have actually created much more than one Britney Spears, lock would have actually done it, and they tried! and people, Mandy Moore is one actress.

Joe Levy: Britney Spears is who who, from the time she to be a child, wanted to be a star. The drive, the determination, the ambition — you have actually to offer this woman the exact same sort that respect the Justin Timberlake gets. Otherwise, I'm sorry, but you're engaging in a twin standard.

Twenty year later, "…Baby One much more Time" sounds together sharp together it ever did: Sultry, catchy as hell, both totally of its time and like other that could have been released this morning.

John Seabrook: I think the melody is eternal, or in ~ least, transcends its late '90s period. And also I think the words, the first time friend hear it, it's constantly going to it is in something that renders you go, what? deserve to I to speak that? can I sing along with that?

Chris Molanphy: The means the track is structured, how the chorus goes come this chorus the voices — the song is structured to provide maximum pleasure.

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John Ivey: There's part songs that just have actually a timeless feel. Ns imagine if girlfriend said, "Sing a Britney Spears song to me," that's the one civilization would song the hook to. That's what's ingrained right into your mind as what she is. And also the point is, when you look at her, she quiet looks the same. Ns mean, she's older, yet you still the exact same kid there… as soon as you look in ~ Brit, girlfriend still her. Girlfriend still watch the exact same girl. And also you know, it's one of those things, I always have the feeling too that people root because that her.

^Jeff Fenster stepped under as Warner Bros records EVP that A&R critical December, after he to be accused of sex-related misconduct by a female previous executive *From The Billboard publication of No. 1 Hits**From a 2001 through Entertainment Weekly