I’ve been listening to Britney Spear’s “Baby One More Time” repeatedly in an attempt to learn how to play it on guitar. I used to think it was just an empty meaningless pop song, but this morning while eating pancakes with my partner I realized that there is more to this song than meets the eye. I think the song could be interpreted in a variety of ways and I’m interested in hearing your take on it. Thank you.
Shit from Shinola
Shit from Shinola,
I’m glad you asked, SFS. Back in 1999, Travis, a four-piece from Glasgow, Scotland, peformed a live cover of the exact same song on the BBC—I can’t recall the name of the program, unfortunately. In any event, it’s become a staple of their performances in addition to a whole slew of other covers. The great thing about it? It’s pretty damn incredible.
One of the things about popular music is that it tends to be looked over. Labels, managers and marketing teams get a hold of a performer—not necessarily an artist—and put together a package that’s monetarily viable. In the process of doing this, they hire songwriters to pen music and lyrics. Throughout all of this, when all is said and done, the original vision can sometimes be lost. I feel that way about “Baby One More Time”.
I agree with you, SFS. It is, indeed, a complex song filled with emotion and it’s rather remarkable how big of a difference production can make. Here we have an unassuming pop song that, when stripped down to acoustic guitars and vocals, becomes something much more.
The April 2000 issue of Interview probably says it best:
RAY ROGERS: Speaking of songs, why do you cover Britney Spears’s “… Baby One More Time”?
FRAN HEALY: We did it for a laugh the first time. And as we played it the irony slipped from my smile. It’s a very well-crafted song. I found that it had that magic thing.
DOUGIE PAYNE: It’s great when we do it live. At the beginning people are laughing and then by the end they’re like, “Wow, that’s a great song. I never really listened to it.”
FRAN HEALY: It’s like, Well, of course you didn’t. Because of the way it’s been dressed up. Our version is more naked.
And for the non-believers, you can find said cover below. There’s another version out there that includes an introduction by Fran explaining the origins of the cover, but this one has that bit cut off. Still, the song is pretty awesome either way.
Just my $0.02