Among other things, the late 1990s was the time of the teenager. The economy was booming, and teens were the biggest growing target market. With "…Baby One More Time," Britney Spears, a former Mouseketeer with an adorably nasal voice, became an overnight poster child for the teenyboppers who ruled the day. For anyone who thought the line "Hit me baby one more time" was a little risqué for a high school junior, we sure hope they missed Britney's Catholic schoolgirl shtick developed to go with it.
Whether you think she's an innocent talent or an insidious trend, Britney's rise to fame brings up a lot of questions: is it possible for a girl like 16-year-old Britney Spears to be cutesy and flirtatious without being sexualized? Should there be an age cut-off for dirty dancing? Can Britney sing? Wherever you fall on these very big questions, you can hang out here on Shmoop and read more about the Lyrics, Meaning and Technique behind this masterfully catchy piece of teen pop music.
About the Song
Britney Spears (vocals), Thomas Lindberg (guitar), Johan Carlberg (bass guitar), Max Martin and Nana Hedin (backup vocals)
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
To some, Britney's re-birth from a Mickey Mouse Club kid singer to a midriff-baring teen vixen was a disturbing development, but to many, it was just plain exciting pop music. Does the fact that Britney was only 16 when she started posing in short skirts and singing suggestive tunes make her a victim of sexism? Britney's teenybopper popularity may well have been a Lolita situation, but on the other hand, what else is new? Plenty of other girls who are barely 18 have done controversial performances in the limelight. Oh, and about half the country has been nursing a crush on a 16-year-old boy lately, too.
Here's the thing: pop culture hasn't actually always been this way. When teen pop was first a phenomenon in the U.S., it was the 1950s. There were teen stars, sure, but there was no such thing as a music video, and girls did not unbutton their shirts on mainstream magazine covers. Even in the 1980s, controversial popular music had a grown-up edge (Madonna was entering her thirties when "Like A Prayer" was released). The late 1990s were a boom-time for youth-oriented pop acts—and for a debate about whether some of these acts were appropriate, or exploitative.
On the Charts
"…Baby One More Time" is one of the best-selling singles in music history, having sold more than 10 million copies as of 2011.
The song debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts and, two months after its debut, returned to #1 for two and a half weeks.
Internationally, "…Baby One More Time" hit #1 in every country where it charted, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, France, Ireland, Sweden, and the UK. It also topped the European Hot 100 chart.
The album, …Baby One More Time, topped the Billboard 200, the Canadian Top 200, and charts in 13 other countries.