Up until the release of “Stronger,” Britney Spears had not yet truly made the leap from teen pop star to femme fatale. Most — if not all — of her videos were glossy, pastel-colored romps about falling in and out of love. It wasn’t until she worked with Joseph Kahn on “Stronger,” from her 2000 Oops! … I Did It Again LP, that Spears began to emerge as a darker, more dangerous version of sexy.
“For ’Stronger,’ she said, ’I would like to dance in a chair and drive in a car and break up with [my] boyfriend,’ ” Kahn told MTV News. ” ’Those are your three elements.’ And then, as a director, you go, ’OK, well, how do I make that cool?’
“I think this video is interesting because it’s got a very sophisticated, adult look to it,” Kahn (who has helmed dozens of music videos, including Brit’s “Womanizer” and Chris Brown’s “Crawl” ) continued. “It’s definitely a departure from the sort of candy-colored videos she was doing before, so I always thought this was the transition between Britney the teenage pop star and Britney the sort of diva she became.”
Kahn ended up taking those elements and creating a semi-futuristic world in which Spears walks into a club, breaks up with her cheating boyfriend and triumphantly walks in the rain, knowing her life is better off without him. But it was the pivotal dance sequences with the metal chair that defined the aesthetic for the video.
“She pitched it to me as an original concept by herself, but the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of the chair sequence, in terms of how it applies to music videos, was Janet Jackson’s ’Pleasure Principle’ — the iconic chair sequence in that.” Kahn recalled.
Like Jackson, Spears wasn’t afraid to get sexy in the clip, even if her handlers were a bit nervous that she was going too far. “There’s a shot here where I’m tracking with her, and her legs are spread, and Larry [Rudolph], the manager, was like, ’Don’t do that.’ ” Kahn said. “And she was like, ’Yes, definitely do that.’ ”
Oddly enough, one aspect of the video that Kahn was insistent upon was Spears’ eye shadow. “One of the big things I wanted to do here, that I was just obsessed with … I know it sounds really strange, but I wanted her to have gray eye shadow,” he said. “And I think it looks really good. I remember when I was looking at the close-ups, Britney goes, ’You’re really obsessed with this gray eye shadow!’ and I go, ’Yes, absolutely.’ But if you look at it, it just makes her eyes pop like crazy.”
With the release of Britney Spears: The Singles Collection, MTV News is looking back on the pop star’s career through interviews with video directors, music-industry insiders and Spears herself, as she reflects on some of her greatest hits. Keep coming back for all things Britney, and let us know your favorite Brit songs, videos, memories and more in the comments below — and if you think you’re Britney’s biggest fan, enter our contest to win a free copy of the album!