On its 20th anniversary, Britney and the team behind “…Baby One More Time” have spoken to the Guardian.
“The whole song is about that stress that we all go through as teens. I knew it was a great song. It was different and I loved it – I don’t think you can anticipate how a song is going to be received. I was pretty young at the time, so I was nervous, but Max was so nice and put me right at ease. I remember being so in awe of Stockholm. I was out there for, like, 10 days, but we were so busy in the studio I didn’t have time to go out and explore on that first trip. I really respect his perfectionism when I’m working with him. I think Max is a genius. It all just came together and felt right. In my opinion Max is the greatest songwriter of all time.”
Max Martin, who wrote the song and sent it to TLC, said, “I remember listening back to the tape after it 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’.”
TLC declined the single and Simon Cowell tried to secure it for 5ive, who had worked with Max Martin on their debut single; Cowell even offered Max a £95,000 Merc 500SL for it, but he declined.
Steve Lunt began to A&R Britney’s debut album after she originally wanted to make a Sheryl Crow-esque album, and the rest is history. Nana Hedin, backing vocalist, said: “I remember I thought the song was for teenagers but the production was filled with a grown-up attitude and sounds that I really liked. I was so impressed by how a guy like Max could write lyrics that got into the hearts and spoke to the teenage thinking. I tried to sound exactly like her. It was hard, but a lot of fun. I’m like a parrot in many ways. I try to get the same vibe and use the exact same pronunciation as the artist. In one harmony, each take is different; I sing very high, in another I use powerful belting, the next I’m whispering and sometimes I even pinch my nose for a sharper sound.”
How does Britney feel about the song almost 20 years later? “Wow, that went quick. It was such a fun and crazy time, it was a bit of a blur.”
Britney kicked off her European Piece of Me tour last night at Brighton Pride, performing then full set list in front of close to 60,000 people; merchandise included a Work Bitch cap, two T shirts, pin badges, iron-on patches and a hoodie.
Britney has spoken about her ‘rollercoaster’ two decades in showbusiness as she prepares to perform in London for the first time in seven years.
Reflecting on her extraordinary career with ES Magazine, she said she would not have achieved her success without the support of her team. “I was lucky enough to have an amazingly supportive team around me. But I don’t think anyone can really prepare you for the rollercoaster.”
The star said she would get behind her sons Sean Preston, 12, and Jayden James, 11, if they chose to follow in her footsteps. “I’d support whatever they want to do as long as they stay true to themselves. It’s going so fast. They’re going to school, playing sports – growing up and finding out who they are. They’re both really gifted. That’s me being a proud mom. They’re great at sports, art, playing piano.”
Despite being one of the most recognisable faces in the world, she said she “tries to keep a low profile” and lead a quiet family life.
“I have a pretty normal day-to-day life with my kids, their school and sports, and my own routine. Family is super important to me. Me and my sister and brother are very close, and now our kids are growing up together and it’s amazing. Sometimes it’s a little embarrassing for me being recognised out in public. But people try to be as respectful as possible. Birthdays are a big deal for us. We always get together as a family to celebrate, no matter where we are.”
She has ‘no regrets’ about the past, adding: “I believe things happen for a reason.”
On Vegas, she said, “It was amazing! It was such a great four years, all the crew, dancers and band became such a family. I would be open to doing it again. It was super hard work, especially when we were putting the show together, but was worth it. The crowds that came to see my shows were so much fun and Vegas became my home away from home.”
Britney said she was excited to make her return to the UK, and specifically London. “I can’t wait – I have always had a special relationship with London and I love my time there. I like to explore and see the city each time I’m there. It’s actually been over a year since I was last there. I am so happy to bring this show to London and to my fans there, it’s going to be a lot of fun! It’s impossible for me to visit London without stopping at Topshop!”
“I just want to keep making music for my fans. I’m open to other opportunities that may come along in the future, you never know what could happen. I really admire the way Jennifer Lopez so gracefully handles being a successful entertainer, a businesswoman and, most importantly, a mom.
“I’m excited about the future, hopefully releasing new music when I’m ready! Seeing other artists do cool things and hearing their music is exciting to me — I’m inspired by everything from pop to rock to urban.”
She has also found love dating model, actor and trainer Sam Asghari, 24, for over a year now after meeting on set. “We worked together on the video for my song ‘Slumber Party’. I kept his number and a few months later gave him a call. The simple things that are most meaningful – I’m a romantic. I believe in love, so I’m open to my marriage.”
“These days everything is under such a microscope with social media being 24 /7. But it also means as artists we can connect with the fans like we couldn’t before.”
She’s also passionate about her charity work. “Whether it’s for the LGBTQ community or children, or deadly illnesses. There is so much work to be done. Being a mom, I’m passionate about the wellbeing of children.”
Britney kicks off her UK and European tour of Piece of Me this Saturday, 4th August, at Brighton Pride.