It was the song that launched the career of one of the most beloved, albeit troubled, pop stars of the past decade. Its iconic video spawned a modern-day “Lolita” and earned the title of #1 first favorite video on “TRL.” So, of course, Britney Spears’ 1998 smash “… Baby One More Time” was an obvious choice for Tuesday night’s episode of “Glee.”
While general-anesthesia-induced hallucinations had another Brittany (Heather Morris) tackling “Me Against the Music” and “I’m a Slave 4 U,” star Lea Michele took on the timelessly catchy “…Baby One More Time.” As Michele mimicked Spears’ naughty schoolgirl look, the instantly recognizable opening notes pounded on the piano (though the “Glee” version had a slight change of key). With her throaty “Oh bay-buh, bay-buh,” Michele effortlessly channeled the song (surprisingly enough, she sounded downright restrained) that made the former “Mickey Mouse Club” member a superstar.
It’s fitting that “Glee” paid homage to the song that is but a few weeks away from celebrating its 12th anniversary. (Go on and take a moment to absorb that information.) “… Baby One More Time,” the first single of Spears’ debut album of the same name, was released in the United States in late October 1998.
Of course, it could have all sounded very different if writer Max Martin had followed through with his original plan to have R&B heavyweights TLC sing the track. The song was also originally titled “Hit Me Baby One More Time” but was changed due to concerns about it being misinterpreted.
In Spears’ capable 16-year-old pigtails, the single went on to sell over 9 million copies, garnered Spears her first Grammy nomination (Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, which she lost to Sarah McLachlan for “I Will Remember You”) and reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The rest of the album featured other Spears hits, including “(You Drive Me) Crazy” and “Sometimes,” but neither of those songs left quite the same impact.
Spears told Blender — which placed the track at the #9 spot on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born” — that the song wasn’t an easy undertaking for her at first (of course, neither was the immense fame that followed). Spears revealed, “I didn’t do well at all the first day in the studio. I was just too nervous. So I went out that night and had some fun. The next day I was completely relaxed and nailed it. You gotta be relaxed singing ’… Baby One More Time.’ ”
Spears looked more than at ease during awards show appearances that followed, namely the 1999 VMAs, in which the leather-clad pop princess took the stage alongside her tourmates ’NSYNC for a “… Baby One More Time”/ “Tearin’ Up My Heart” showstopper.
Of course, long before the folks at “Glee” took “… Baby One More Time” out for a spin, countless other musicians had already had at it. From punk rock (Simple Plan) to acoustic (Travis), Spears’ song has been refashioned (albeit, sometimes ironically) in many genres. Take, for instance, Bowling for Soup’s cover of the ditty, which wound up on Bowling for Soup Goes to the Movies. And even Jamie Lee Curtis and Chad Michael Murray took a crack at it in the 2003 film “Freaky Friday.”
What did you think of the “Glee” covers of Britney’s songs? Share your reviews in the comments.