I can’t remember my first CD. But I do remember the first CD I wore out from late night replays. I must have been six or seven when my older cousin gave me her copy of Britney Spears’ 1999 album ...Baby One More Time (she was entering her Blink-182 phase). I would play it over and over on my Hello Kitty CD player, tie a knot in my shirt to show my belly button, and do my best Britney dance. It seemed like every little girl in the early 2000s wanted to be Britney Spears. I know I did. The day it stopped playing was the day my heart died. Seeing as March is Women’s History Month, what better way to celebrate than with Britney (bitch).
While the album was released when Spears was 18-years-old, she was only 16 when the single “...Baby One More Time” originally debuted. When I was 16, I broke my knee dancing to a Backstreet Boys song (a story for another time). Spears’ arrival in the pop game was immediately celebrated, and the single went straight to the top of the charts all over the world. The song remains quintessential Britney: strong dance beat, catchy chorus, clean runs. It was iconic as soon as it was created. And the music video? The world simply wasn’t ready.
Now, “(You Drive Me) Crazy” just might be the best Britney Spears song in my opinion. Its guitar riffs are more rock than pop, and the recurring cowbell is the stuff of legends. It was made for dancing in your room while screaming into a hairbrush microphone. “Sometimes” offers a sweet moment of vulnerability, where you’re reminded just how young Spears is. This song makes her relatable in a way most pop stars aren’t.
“Soda Pop” is an enigma. Is it pop? Is it reggae? Is it even real? There’s grit in Spears’ voice that hasn’t yet been introduced to us just yet. Then “Born to Make You Happy” starts. This ballad doesn’t quite stand up against “Sometimes,” but it does once again highlight Spears’ sweetness that we see displayed on the album cover. “From the Bottom of My Broken Heart” isn’t as memorable as previous tracks, and as a kid I would usually skip it. Sorry, Brit.
Things pick up again with “I Will Be There.” And by things, I mean the hairbrush microphone. Spears’ strength lies in her upbeat, dance tunes, and she’ll go on to build her impressive career off of them. “I Will Still Love You” is in the same boat as “From the Bottom of My Broken Heart,” but this one’s a duet with Don Phillip. Whoever that is. “Thinkin’ About You” has a bit more punch to it, but it doesn’t match the energy of the beginning of the album.
But things turn around with “E-Mail My Heart.” What a track. Before Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Through the Phone,” there was “E-Mail My Heart.” While the subject of the song might not be timeless, the song remains a great time capsule of what love at the end of the 20th century was like. The album concludes with a cover of Sonny & Cher’s “The Beat Goes On.” The cover itself is decent, but the real magic lies in the original recording’s promotion of the upcoming Backstreet Boys’ Millenium (otherwise known as the first album I owned on cassette).
Overall, the album has its hits and it has its misses. But it brought Britney into our lives, and for that we are eternally grateful.
- Aly on The Rewind
One more song for the road.