Sunday, February 05, 2006

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #15 - ...Baby One More Time by Britney Spears

Claire: So, to everything, a beginning.

To be honest, I was going to do this song a lot, lot later – but the Britney Spears story, well, it only makes sense chronologically, how the worlds most beloved pop star became a laughing stock, and hopefully, rose again. And so, the beginning of the career of the pop star I still to this day actually physically worry about, with a piece of pop that is truly unsurpassed. It marked out that emerging for us to enjoy was someone very special. We just had to look after her…

…Baby One More Time (distrust anyone who calls it “Hit Me Baby One More Time”) is the greatest song ever written, in my humble opinion. No song in my life will ever have the impact this one did, to the point I can tell you where I was when I first heard it – on the floor of my old flat in fact, with a disgusting hangover. And without hyperbole, listening to the song and the other worldly brilliance of it somehow made me feel better. This alien schoolgirl, strutting around a schoolyard and basketball court, looking sad but hopeful, when I had no idea who she was, changed the way I think about pop, and music – it was no longer acceptable to just be “OK” or have a nice tune. For pop, it’s a touchstone, a before and after song for our scene. In fact, this is such an obvious induction I was tempted to just point “Look, it’s fucking brilliant – the end”. I don’t feel worthy of writing about this song – I knew I’d have to get to it eventually, it’s just to hard to articulate what I think about it – and it’s importance.

So why is it so amazing, so timeless? It sounds hard, tough, and uncomprising for one thing – it’s a very adult pop song, but I don’t mean that in a boring way. Billie , of the time, sounded like the voice of pop youth, but this was pop with attitude, something much harder and meaningful. It’s also a song that can’t be sung by anyone on the planet but Britney, it sounds like a dream meeting of her vocal style and song that was planned by committee. Almost every single word in this song is purely and simply Britneys. “Bay-beh”, “Meh” “Sigh-high-high-hein”. “You-huh”. It’s an astonishing vocal calling card, something rarely discussed in discussions of the song. I know a lot of people who think this song sounds robotic, which I disagree with. I think in the course of one song, this song mostly, she’s capable of sounding human and vulnerable one minute, and possessed and powerful the next. In fact, it’s still as powerful a song as I’ve ever heard, it’s packed with emotion, verve, and it still hits me in a different way every time I hear it. Lyrically, I don’t think any song has re-assured me or made me feel better in my life – I used to always think when my ship came in in life, this song would be playing, and “Don’t YOU KNOW I STILL believe”, sung in that powerful Britney way, would be ringing in my ears. And it was. Production wise, it’s perfect, nothing over the top, nothing gaudy that would date within weeks, but imbued with a much imitated, but never bettered strut to it that influences pop to this day.

In truth, of all the songs on this list, this is the one I can’t write about. It’s got the greatest intro in musical history, all strutting swagger and defiance, it’s got the greatest outro in musical history, from the song dropping out in a moment of uncertainty to swelling back up as Britney defiantly restates her position – what do you say?

You say, simply, it’s the best song of all time. No more, no less.


Post a Comment

<< Home