20 years ago, the pop music world was changed and a young woman by the name of Britney Spears would forever reshape mainstream music. On Oct. 23, 1998, the hit “...Baby One More Time” was released in preparation for Spears’ debut album of the same name.
Spears’ was in talks with manager Lou Pearlman to be a part of the girl band Innosense during the time in the 1990s when bands were popular. Spears’ mother consulted a family friend and entertainment lawyer, Larry Rudolph, and submitted a demo of Spears’ singing over a Whitney Houston song. After recording a professional demo to pitch to labels and having been rejected by three, JIVE Records contacted Rudolph and Spears began recording material with a full album commissioned shortly after.
Britney Spears then flew to Sweden to work with soon-to-be hitmaker Max Martin where she was introduced to the song “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” The track had been pitched to the Backstreet Boys and R&B group TLC - both rejecting the track. Spears knew the song would be a hit and the title was revised. Back in the U.S., Spears also recorded the single’s b-side “Autumn Goodbye.”
After the release to radio, the song debuted on the Hot 100 at No. 17 before reaching No. 1 over two months later and stayed at No. 1 for four consecutive weeks on the former Hot 100 Singles Sales chart and was certified Platinum by the RIAA. The track also peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart and reached the top 10 on Top 40 while commanding Mainstream Top 40 for five weeks. Worldwide, “...Baby One More Time” would become one of the best-selling singles of all time surpassing 10 million copies sold.
The video for the song featured Spears in dance scenes dressed in a schoolgirl outfit that got the attention of teenagers everywhere and became one of Spears’ most iconic (and controversial) looks. Being her first video, it was low budget compared to her later hits and the clothing was purchased from Kmart with each piece coming in under $20. Spears also stepped into famous territory for the video as it was recorded at Venice High School, the same school used in the classic film “Grease.”
Along with selling over 10 million copies across the globe, the song earned Spears’ a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. She also received MTV Video Music Award nominations for Best Pop Video, Best Choreography and Best Female Video. In 2014, “...Baby One More Time” became Spears’ 5th video to reach 100 million views on VEVO.
Since its release, “...Baby One More Time” has been a staple to Spears’ setlists including tours and was included in her Vegas residency between 2013 and 2017.
Check out Britney Spears performing her No. 1 hit at London's Apple Music Festival in 2016 below.