...Baby One More Time by Britney Spears // 25 Year Anniversary Album Review + vinyl picture disc & 1998 promo CD single

Oh baby, baby! It has officially been 25 years since one of the most iconic albums of all time was released and changed pop music forever. In 1999, Britney Spears released her groundbreaking debut album ...Baby One More Time*, which went on to become one of the highest selling and most influential albums of all time. And she did all of that at just 17 years old! ...Baby One More Time marked the birth of the princess of pop who went on to create one of the most flawless discographies in music history. This album is a representation of a young woman from a small town in Louisiana finding her voice in the ever-changing music landscape of the late 1990's. In the process of doing so, she went on to completely redefine the industry for the 21st Century. 

After getting her start as a child star on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club in 1993, Britney started to look into pursuing a music career in the late 90's. At the time, record labels were only looking to sign new groups, to compete with the success of The Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys, so she was turned away as a solo artist from several record labels. She was actually in talks to join a girl group called Innosense, until she landed a record deal with Jive Records. From there, she started working with producer Eric Foster White for the writing and recording of the bulk of this album. She also worked with famed hitmaker Max Martin for what went on to be the biggest hits of her career. At 16, she went to Sweden to work with him and his production team for ten days and ended up creating some of the most iconic tracks in pop music history. The most notable being the album's title track, which ended up also being her debut single. "...Baby One More Time" was released in late 1998 and quickly went on to become a huge hit. 

25 years later that song still sounds so fresh and is the definition of a timeless classic. It is such an unforgettable song, starting with the instantly recognizable opening piano notes, along with the memorable chorus and infectious melody. "My loneliness is killin' me and I, I must confess, I still believe, when I'm not with you, I lose my mind, give me a sign, hit me, baby, one more time", she sings in the chorus. Of course, who could forget the iconic music video too! The song was originally offered to Backstreet Boys and TLC, but both ultimately passed on the song. Looking at it now, I can't imagine anyone else ever singing this song but Britney, it was as if it was made for her. "I had been in studio for about six months listening and recording material, but I hadn't really heard a hit yet. When I started working with Max Martin in Sweden, he played the demo for 'Baby One More Time' for me, and I knew from the start it was one of those songs you want to hear again and again," Britney told Billboard in 1999. "It just felt really right. I went into the studio and did my own thing with it, trying to give it a little more attitude than the demo. In 10 days, I never even saw Sweden. We were so busy." The collaborations between Britney and Max Martin ended up becoming some of the most important of her entire career, they created several of her biggest hits of all time together over the years. 

"It was such a fun and crazy time, it was a bit of a blur. The whole song is about that stress that we all go through as teens. I knew it was a great song. It was different and I loved it, but I don’t think you can anticipate how a song is going to be received," Britney told Billboard for the song's 20 year anniversary in 2018. "I think Max is a genius. It all just came together and felt right. In my opinion Max is the greatest songwriter of all time"

This album quickly broke several records worldwide upon release and is now one of the most commercially successful albums of all time. In the first two months alone, it sold 1.8 million copies. Within the first year of it's release, ...Baby One More Time was RIAA Certified Diamond for selling over 10 million copies in the US, the youngest artist to ever do so at just 18 years old. This is an accolade that she would reach again with her sophomore album, Oops!...I Did It Again the following year. Worldwide, ...Baby One More Time sold over 25 million copies and holds the record for the most successful album by a teenage artist. 

This album spawned so many hits, "(You Drive Me) Crazy" will always be one of my personal favorites. Much like the album's title track, it is a timeless hit she collaborated on with Max Martin and is quite similar to it in comparison. It has a little bit of a rock edge to it though, with a guitar solo at the end that really ties it all together. Other deeper cuts that I often feel are forgotten about in her vast discography are songs like "I Will Be There" and "Thinkin' About You". They showcase her talents in such a perfect way. The album overall has quite a varied sound and clearly draws upon a lot of different musical influences, taking some unexpected turns throughout. Still all these years later, it is such a cohesive body of work that is still so fun to listen to. There is such an innocence and relatability within Britney's performance of these songs that make it so endearing.

Within all of the cute bubblegum teen pop tracks, there are also some really beautiful ballads that showcase her incredible, raw talents underneath the persona that was being crafted. Songs like "Born To Make You Happy" and "From The Bottom of My Broken Heart" are both beautiful that feature lush production and instrumentals. I have always loved "Sometimes" too, which was her second single and solidified her as more than just a one-hit-wonder at the time. Vocally, Britney showcases much of her deeper range, which she would later stray away from with future releases in place of her signature baby voice. A song like "Soda Pop" is another one of the prime examples of her natural voice unfiltered. I also love all of the music she would go on to make after this album, but at times I wish she were able to incorporate more of her natural singing voice in her music after her first couple of records.

I also love the way the tenth track, "E-Mail My Heart" is such a time capsule of the era it was written in, detailing the story of her dial-up romance. It's obviously dated listening to it now, but it's very innocent and has a charm to it. "Email me back and say our love will stay alive", she sings as she waits by her desktop computer refreshing her mailbox. While so much of this album really does sound so timeless and is just as relevant today as it was then, I love the way that song retrospectively is so of it's time in such a cute way. There is such a sincerity at the core of this entire record.

The standard track list ends with a cover of "The Beat Goes On" by Sonny and Cher. She would later go on to record other covers of classic hits like "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" by Joan Jett and "I Can't Get No (Satisfaction)" by The Rolling Stones, but this was the very first and also widely forgotten about. This song is so different than the rest of the album, but looking at it now feels so symbolic of the mission she was as a young woman trying to make a name for herself in the music industry, whether she and her collaborators knew it or not at the time.

Whether it was intentional or not, the lyric "History has turned the page...But we still wanna hear a brand-new thing" feels so representative of the life and legacy she went on to build for herself throughout the rest of her career and the mark she made in music history. Britney truly did redefine what it meant to be a pop star and set the bar so high. Her ability to create countless hit songs, iconic visuals and high-level performances is like no other. Britney has always and will always be the standard. She ushered in a new look and new sound that would go on to be the standard for not only her peers in the industry at the time, but for all artists that would come after her. The impact that ...Baby One More Time holds is undeniable. 

In honor of the album's anniversary, I also wanted to highlight some of the cool copies of the album I have in my music collection. I have Britney's entire discography on vinyl, many of the pressings are among my all-time favorites that I own. I definitely plan on highlighting more of Briney's music soon, the stories behind many of these albums are such important moments in music history. 

My vinyl copy of ...Baby One More Time* I believe was one of the first I bought from her in 2018 when her catalog started getting pressed on vinyl for the first time. The pressing I have is a limited-edition picture disc* that was released for the album's 20th anniversary. I bought it at Target, which if I remember correctly briefly sold it exclusively in the US, but in the following years it has become widely available in most record stores. 

I absolutely love the design of this vinyl release. On Side A of the picture disc* is the iconic album cover and Side B is a portrait of Britney in front of a pastel lilac background. The PVC sleeve is also so cute with the album title and hand drawn flowers printed onto the plastic. The attention to detail with this release is evident. In terms of picture disc packaging, this is very high quality compared to many that I own as they are often sold in just a cheap, junky clear sleeve that rips before you can even get it home! The overall design of this pressing is so cute, colorful and captures the bubbly 90's aesthetic of this album so perfectly.  

Another piece of ...Baby One More Time history that I own is also one of my favorites in my collection. It is a 1998 CD single of "...Baby One More Time" and "Autum Goodbye" that I found at a thrift store near me around 2017 or 2018 for less than a dollar! It was such a hidden gem, I never expected to find something like this there. 

While it is not necessarily a super rare release and is relatively inexpensive online at resellers, I just love the piece of history that this CD* represents. It captures such a unique time right before Britney became a global superstar just a couple of months later. This is the first glimpse at a song that would soon make history! 

I also love that it features the deep cut, "Autum Goodbye", which didn't end up on her debut album in 1999, but in 2003 was released on a deluxe edition re-issue in Japan and Australia. It is now available on streaming, but for a long time was quite rare to find! 

I have grown up loving Britney's music, some of my earliest music memories are listening to Britney's Circus CD in the car with my mom. Although I wasn't born until a few months after ...Baby One More Time was released in 1999, for as long as I can remember I have always loved Britney's music. My mom and I got the chance to see Britney when she went on tour in 2018, which was such a fun experience to get to see her perform in person. She only sang two songs from this particular album, "...Baby One More Time" and "(You Drive Me) Crazy", but the entire show was hit after hit and was so much fun. It sadly went on to become what will likely be her last tour ever, as she has recently confirmed that she is taking a step back from the music industry indefinitely. 

I recently read Britney's memoir The Woman In Me*, which was so eye-opening on her experience behind the scenes in the entertainment industry. She has lived so many lives in the public eye since this album was released in 1999. For the past 25 years, her story has been told for her time and time again and that book was very much a reclamation of her narrative. For much of that time, her freedom was taken from her too, which finally came to light with the Free Britney movement and her widely publicized battle to end her conservatorship. It was really an eye-opening experience getting to hear her side of the story for the first time in depth, I highly recommend reading it if you haven't already. The level of insight and reflection she provided on her journey thus far, as well as her resilience and strength gained from all that she has been through is so inspiring. I was also so moved and empowered by the feminist approach she took with her reflections on the misogyny she faced and double standards she was subjected to throughout her career. It is an essential read for any fan of her music, or for anyone that may have a preconceived notion of Britney. I guarantee she will turn everything you thought you knew about her upside down by the end of it.

There's a reason that she is one of the most successful artists of all time, one that has not only stood the test of time, but who also continuously stood up against all who have tried to bring her down for over two decades. Her incredibly impactful legacy speaks for itself and will live on forever in her music. Although many have tried, no one can ever replicate the one and only Britney Spears

If you are interested in purchasing the ...Baby One More Time picture disc vinyl* featured in this post, I would really appreciate if you would do so through my affiliate link, which I may earn a commission from. Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! 

All photos are my own!

*affiliate links are featured throughout this post. I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. -- Melissa Kacar is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

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