It’s hard to imagine …Baby One More Time without hearing Britney Spears’ voice, but she nearly missed the chance to make the single her big break.
Swedish singer-songwriter Max Martin wrote the chart-topping hit in 1998 with the intention of giving it to the Backstreet Boys. The five bandmates were already massive stars at the time. Martin thought his creation would perfectly fit their style, but the heartthrobs disagreed. So they turned him down.
After the painful rejection, Martin offered the song to R&B group TLC. However, the three female singers didn’t think the song made sense for them. They also said, “no.”
Even after Baby One More Time became a sensation, the ladies defended their decision.
“I like the song, but do I think it’s a hit?” singer T-Boz told NME in 2013. “Do I think it’s TLC? I’m not saying ‘Hit me baby’. No disrespect to Britney. It’s good for her. But was I going to say ‘Hit me baby one more time’? Hell no!”
Britney Spears Instantly Wanted to Record ‘…Baby One More Time’
There are unconfirmed rumors that several other singers and bands looked at the song before Britney Spears got her hands on it. But eventually, the then-unknown 16-year-old was able to record it and make pop culture history.
Spears dropped …Baby One More Time on October 23, 1998. It jumped through the charts and made the singer an overnight star. The single sold more than 10 million copies, and it became the namesake track for her debut album. Twenty-five years later, it’s still her best-selling song.
While talking to Billboard the same month as the release, Spears recalled hearing the song while she was in Sweden working with Martin.
“He played the demo of …Baby One More Time for me, and I knew from the start it [was one] of those songs you want to demo,” she shared. “It just felt really right. I went into the studio and did my own thing with it, trying to give it a little more attitude than the demo. In 10 days, I never even saw Sweden. We were so busy.”
Despite feeling an instant connection to the single, Britney Spears never imagined it would catapult her to the level of fame it did.
“It was different, and I loved it,” she told the Guardian 20 years later. “[but] I don’t think you can anticipate how a song is going to be received.”
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