Britney Spears Reflects on "...Baby One More Time" 20 Years Later

Single was almost given to TLC to record instead

By Corinne Heller Oct 23, 2018 2:55 PMTags

Oh baby, baby, Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time" is officially 20 years old!

That means it's been two decades (!) since the singer rose to fame, and wow, what a ride it's been. The pop star, who remains one of the most popular music artists in the world, reflected on the success of the song in an interview with The Guardian, published in August.

"...Baby One More Time," her debut single, was released on Oct. 23, 1998 and was accompanied by what has become one of the most iconic music videos of all time: A clip depicting Spears as a sexy schoolgirl.

"The whole song is about that stress that we all go through as teens," Spears told The Guardian. "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."

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The single, which is also about a girl begging for her ex-boyfriend to call her, reached No. 1 in music charts in the United States and at least 10 other countries and sold more than 1 million copies domestically.

Spears almost didn't get to record the track, which was written by Max Martin and Rami Yacoub. R&B group TLC was offered it before her, as was Swedish singer Robyn.

"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," member Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins told MTV News in 2013. "It's good for her. But was I going to say, 'Hit me baby one more time'? Hell no!"

"That's not even my subject of conversation, so you know, it worked for her, I'm happy for her, I like Britney," T-Boz continued. "Every song isn't good for each artist, and when you're a real artist you know what you believe in and what you really want to sing. So, I'm clear that it was a hit, but I'm also clear that it wasn't for TLC."

Spears recorded "...Baby One More Time" and others songs for her debut album by the same name in Sweden. Co-writer Yacoub told The Guardian he remembers the singer as "very shy and super sweet," adding, "I mean, she was a kid and we had no idea there was a beast of an artist lurking under that innocent look."

After Spears finished recording, she set off on a shopping mall solo tour in her native United States. Months later, "...Baby One More Time" was released and was certified gold after a month. And the rest is history.

"Wow, that went quick. It was such a fun and crazy time," Spears told The Guardian. "It was a bit of a blur."

(Originally published on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, at 1:26 p.m. PDT.)