Britney Reflects on ‘Baby One More Time’ Twenty Years Later

Britney Spears
Christopher Polk / Getty Images

The 90’s smash hit “…Baby One More Time” is nearly 20 years old! It was released October 1998 along with the infamous school-themed music video when Britney Spears was just 16 years old.

Spears spoke to The Guardian about the milestone song and, possibly, the one song that changed her from a Mouseketeer to a household name.

“The whole song is about that stress that we all go through as teens,” Spears tells The Guardian reporter. “I knew it was a great song. It was different and I loved it, [but] I don’t think you can anticipate how a song is going to be received.”

On January 1999 the song hit number 1, just days after Spears’s 17th birthday. It was her first number 1 hit and certainly not the last. According to Billboard, at the same time, her debut album of the same name soared in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for its first of six weeks on top.

According to E! Online, the song almost wasn’t even hers. The track was written by written by Max Martin and Rami Yacoub and was offered to TLC and Robyn first, both of them turning it down.

In an interview in 2013, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins explained why TLC said no. “I was like, I like the song but do I think it’s a hit? Do I think it’s TLC? I’m not saying, ‘Hit me baby.’ No disrespect to Britney,” Watkins continued, “It’s good for her. But was I going to say, ‘Hit me baby one more time’? Hell no!”

The song almost even didn’t get written Martin told The Guardian. Having hauled himself out of bed to his nearby dictaphone, he sketched out the song. Martin recalls,I remember listening back to [the tape] after [the song] blew up and you can hear me sort of go: ‘Hit me baby one more time’, then I hear myself say, ‘Yeah, it’s pretty good.”

Either way, it turned out great, at least for Spears. She recorded it in Sweden among the two writers and the song’s producers.

“It took probably around two to three weeks to finish,” says Yacoub, explaining the song creating process, and then it hit big.

According to The Guardian, “the song sold 500,000 copies on its first day of release in the US, eventually peaking at No 1. It reached No 1 in every single country it charted in, and was 1999’s biggest-selling song in the UK with 1.4m copies sold.”

To create the perfect video for the song, director Nigel Dick spoke to Spears on the phone to bounce around ideas. “Britney who told me she wanted to make a video where she was stuck in a classroom thinking about boys and we took it from there,” Dick explained.

From then on, a star was born.

Britney Spears is now touring worldwide throughout the rest of the year.