Oh, baby, baby
"Baby baby" is Britney's signature line.
"Baby" sung twice might not be the most clever lyric, but if you've ever had the opening line of this song stuck in your head, you know it has a ring to it. In the years since, Britney has used this word (and the word "crazy") a ridiculous number of times in her songs. Plus, even though it's just one word, sung on one note, this forceful little song opening is still unmistakable.
My loneliness is killing me
Although the refrain is sexually suggestive (see below), this song is fundamentally a crush song.
"Hit me, baby" could mean a few different things (some of them less parental-advisory-friendly than others), but "my loneliness is killing me" is pretty unambiguous. These are the words of an infatuated teen girl who wants nothing more than to get back together with her crush.
When I'm not with you I lose my mind
Speaking of infatuation…
Obsessive teenage love is a pretty common topic in English literature and music. (Romeo and Juliet, anyone? Or perhaps you'd prefer Twilight?) Britney's story is not a unique tale of teen love, but her personal love life has been a central interest for gossip sites and celebrity blogs around the world ever since her pop star beginnings. When her first single came out in late 1998, she had only ever had one boyfriend, a kid from her rural Louisiana high school whom she proclaims she was "head over heels in love with."
"We broke up before any of my success had happened. He became insecure with himself, I felt," she told Rolling Stone in 1999. "I don't think I'll ever love somebody like that again [...] I just woke up one day and click, it was gone." (Source)
As for feeding the gossip columnists, it didn't help that her next relationship was a 3-year-long stint with fellow pop star (and fellow former Mouseketeer) Justin Timberlake—even we are a little obsessed with that.
Give me a sign
Hit me, baby, one more time
Hit me? Are you sure that's a good idea?
When they released Britney's first single, Jive Records wasn't sure it would be smart to title the song "Hit Me, Baby, One More Time." They thought it might sound like a suggestion of domestic violence, so they changed the song and album names to "...Baby One More Time." That publicity move doesn't change the problem in the lyrics themselves, though. In 1998-1999, glorifying domestic violence—or even talking about it all—was just not going to fly in a pop song. How different from the 21st-century, right?
If Spears is not suggesting a literal hitting scenario (and we definitely believe her assertion that she's not), what on earth does this line mean? She answered that question in a rather infamous Rolling Stone cover story in 1999 (actually, it was the cover, and not the story, that became infamous. More on that in the Meaning section): "It doesn't mean physically hit me," Spears insisted. It was just about, like, passing notes in the hall or something: "It means just give me a sign, basically. I think it's kind of funny that people would actually think that's what it meant." (Source)