The Farr Side: 20 years of Britney Spears
Britney Spears released her debut album, ”... Baby One More Time,” this week 20 years ago.
Twenty years ago? Mind blown.
The album made its debut at No. 1 in the U.S. and eventually sold 25 million copies.
I can remember this like it was yesterday. A few weeks before the album was released, I was Christmas shopping at a department store. As I usually did, I went straight to the music department. A woman there appeared distraught. She didn’t know the song title or who sang it. All she could do was mimic the way the song started.
Everybody she asked was clueless. I overheard her asking several people, including the clerk. “It goes likes this … Dur Dur Dur.”
I knew what she meant. I made my way up to her and said something like, “You’re looking for ′ … Baby One More Time.’” She responded, “Yes!“
I told her it’s a new song by Britney Spears. I crushed her hopes of getting the album for her daughter for Christmas, though, as it wasn’t going to be available for a few more weeks.
It’s funny the things we remember.
“Baby One More Time” was a new kind of sound and the then 17-year-old singer was about to become a pop superstar.
Spears came on strong just as the internet was about to become the wave of the future. It didn’t hurt that the “naughty school girl” image she chose for the song’s video ruled MTV. It helped to separate her from other teen pop performers like Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore, who also were coming up through the ranks.
“Baby One More Time” spawned several manufactured pop and dance singles including “Sometimes,” “You Drive Me Crazy,” “Born To Make You Happy” and “From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart.”
Spears’ vocals were less-than-stellar, but she was smart enough to have learned from predecessors Madonna, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey on how to captivate an audience. And that is something she’s done effectively.
That, combined with some of infectious pop songs like “Oops! I Did It Again,” “Toxic,” “Stronger,” “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman,” “Gimme More,” “Womanizer,” “Circus,” “Hold It Against Me,” “Till The Worlds Ends” and “I Wanna Go.”
Spears has released eight more studio albums, seven compilation albums and 42 singles and sold more than 100 million albums, one of the biggest female artists of all time. And she’s only 37. That allows plenty of time for her to hit us, baby, many more times.
David T. Farr can be reached at email@example.com.