The Ceremony: “… Baby One More Time”

In a much different world, the Swedes captured Britney Spears and programmed her to sing for the Swedish in their language. The fact is The Swedes made the album. For this reason, the writing and production credits should read “Written and Produced by the Swedish.”

Wunderkind Max Martin got his big breakthrough writing material for Spears and the Backstreet Boys. With this kind of rhetoric, people might have outsourced every conceivable job in America. Most of the songs were written by men aiming to capture a teenage girl’s ramblings on record– which is somewhat paradoxical no matter the time period.  Spears took no active role in the creation of the album; she was simply the vocal vessel that happened to book time in the recording studio. These songs are inevitable drivel with little depth– all about boys, boys, boys and how they alternately make her crazy/fall in love– and simple subject matter.  However, the album’s impact and appeal were enough to warrant this review. There was a time, the writer of this review actually owned the CD. In fact, at age nine, he can recall making a fuss over a skipped “Oops…I Did it Again” CD and forcing his father to drive to Kmart to exchange it on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

The first three notes of the title cut represent the imprint that bubblegum nation would leave on music in the years to come. “You Drive Me Crazy’s” Stop! remix is a bit tastier than what’s offered here. “Sometimes” has schmaltz written all over it from start to finish.  “Soda Pop” doesn’t have enough fizz. Its raga inflected flavor is less than satisfying. It is questionable tha “Born to Make You Happy” was not released as a single in the U.S. “From the Bottom of My Broken Heart” is unusually sincere and could have been a bigger hit than its originally. “I Will Be There” seems to channel “As Long As You Love Me”– a Max Martin-written track– by the Backstreet Boys. “I Will Still Love You” doesn’t really stand out on the album– not a bad track, just inconsequential. It raises the question of who is Don Phillip. “Thinkin’ About You” is quirky and an undeniable feel-good song– there is potential with this track to give Britney artistic viability akin to Mariah Carey’s efforts. “E-mail My Heart” is a nice song with a bad title– a fourth-grader could have made it up. “The Beat Goes On” is a reworking of the Sonny & Cher original, but falls just short of interesting.

If anyone chooses to do his or her own ‘research’ and listen to the album, they should not expect introspective writing and technologically advanced production work. Having few expectations, will help people enjoy it and have a great nostalgia trip back to third/fourth grade.

The Hits: …Baby One More Time, From the Bottom of My Broken Heart. The title track is just too good to pass up. Broken Heart may not have been written by Spears, but it is a good breakup record and could use a place in her greatest hits releases.

The Pits: Soda Pop. Why is it on the Pokemon first movie soundtrack? Cut and paste is not a proper substitute for assembling a soundtrack, let alone a playlist meant for kiddies.

Now You Know: Hit Me Baby One More Time was the original title, but was shortened to what you see today to avoid sending the wrong message about domestic abuse.