...Baby One More Time
Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” doesn’t begin as much as it announces itself: Its opening few seconds combine forceful piano, wah-wah guitar, and the teen-pop star’s swagger-filled “baby, baby” into a moment that’s part rallying cry, part longing plea. The audacious intro of her first single—the title track of her full-length debut—was an appropriate introduction to the woman who would eventually become the face of Y2K teen-pop, mixing age-appropriate angst with brain-adhering choruses, big beats, and Spears’ undeniable charisma. The teen-pop world was reaching a boil when “...Baby One More Time” was initially released in late 1998. Max Martin’s brooding, lightly funky confection sent it into overdrive. …Baby One More Time, the album, followed in early ’99, and its full-spectrum approach to pop resulted in other era-defining hits: “Sometimes” and “From the Bottom of My Broken Heart” showcase Spears in bummed-out bloom, while “(You Drive Me) Crazy” is an upbeat pop song in the vein of “…Baby.” (Its “Stop! Remix,” a tie-in with the Melissa Joan Hart rom-com Drive Me Crazy, has a bit more of its predecessor’s stride.) While the album did usher in the changing of pop’s guard to a younger set, it does sound decidedly of its era at times: The strummy “I Will Be There” recalls the alt-pop that ruled adult-contemporary radio in the late ’90s, and the blippy Don Phillip duet “I Will Still Love You” echoes that decade’s showy R&B balladry. In its original form, …Baby One More Time closes with a cover of Sonny & Cher’s 1967 fantasia “The Beat Goes On”—part nod to the idea that parents might be listening with their children, part opportunity for Spears to camp it up over fluttering analog synths and a lounge-ready groove. In 1999, the notion that Spears would grow into a one-name megastar à la Cher was a far-off dream. …Baby One More Time lays the groundwork for her eventual pop-cultural takeover, showcasing an unmistakable talent for imbuing vocals with emotion and forcing audiences to snap to attention.