This Week In Billboard History: Meet Newcomer Britney Spears; Is 'Louie Louie' Pornography?
This Week In Billboard History: Meet Newcomer Britney Spears; Is 'Louie Louie' Pornography?

1999: Meet Newcomer Britney Spears

Newcomer Britney Spears scores a double on the Billboard charts, as her debut single, the elliptically-titled "…Baby One More Time," succeeds Brandy's "Have You Ever" at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and her first album, titled after her hit single, enters The Billboard 200 in pole position. Since both the single and album are Spears' first titles to appear on their respective charts, they are also Spears' first No. 1s. By topping both the singles and albums charts, Spears is the first artist to lead both lists simultaneously with debut releases since pubescent rappers Kris Kross did it in 1992 with their first single "Jump" and their initial album, "Totally Krossed Out."

The single "…Baby One More Time" was an immediate hit when it was released, debuting on the Hot 100 as the highest new entry of the week at No. 17 the week of Nov. 21, 1998. The single reaches the top in its 11th chart week and helped pave the way for a great opening week for Spears' debut album, which enters The Billboard 200 at No. 1 this week. "…Baby One More Time" is also a triumph for Swedish writer/producer Max Martin. The former heavy-metal singer has had a number of top ten hits on the Hot 100, including the Backstreet Boys' "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)," Robyn's "Show Me Love" and 'N Sync's "I Want You Back," but the Spears' song is his first visit to the penthouse.

"…Baby One More Time" is the seventh No. 1 for the Jive label, just two weeks after the imprint topped the Hot 100 with the R. Kelly/Celine Dion duet, "I'm Your Angel." The first three No. 1s on Jive were all by Billy Ocean ("Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)," "There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)" and "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car"), followed by a chart-topper by Hi-Five ("I Like the Way (The Kissing Game)") and an R. Kelly solo single ("Bump N' Grind").

One more chart achievement for "…Baby One More Time": it's the first No. 1 song with a title that begins with an ellipsis. There was a No. 1 hit with an ellipsis in the middle…"Flashdance…What a Feeling" by Irene Cara.

No one was certain in early-1999 if Spears was a one-hit wonder or a star with longevity. Her next three albums answered that question definitively as "Oops!...I Did It Again" in 2000, "Britney" in 2001 and "In the Zone" in 2003 each went to No. 1. She returned to the lead spot in 2008 for one week with "Circus" and for another week in 2011 with "Femme Fatale." On the Hot 100, Spears collected three more No. 1s after her debut effort: "Womanizer" in 2008, "3" in 2009 and "Hold It Against Me" in 2011. She was credited as featured artist on Rihanna's "S&M," which also topped the chart in 2011.
[Billboard, Jan. 30, 1999, page 104]


1964: Is 'Louie Louie' 'Pornographic'? (Hard to Say, Really…)

Portishead
The Old Pornographers? The Kingsmen (Photo: Getty Images)

Gov. Matthew Welsh of Indiana has a word for the song that ranks No. 6 this week on the Hot 100: "Pornographic." That's how the chief executive of the state, a known champion of civil rights, describes the Kingsmen's hit single "Louie Louie," written in 1955 by Richard Berry, saying that his "ears tingled" when he listened to the recording. Welsh sent a letter to Reid Chapman, President of the Indiana Broadcasters Association, asking that the song be banned from all of the state's radio stations.

Reports say that a high school student in Frankfort sent the Governor a copy of the single, calling his attention to the lyrics, and that college students from Miami University in Athens, Ohio, provided the Governor with a copy of the so-called "obscene lyrics."

A spokesperson for top-rated WIBC in Indianapolis told Billboard that the song, currently ranked No. 4 on the station's local survey, was no longer receiving airplay. Station WOWO in Fort Wayne attempted to decipher the lyrics by listening to the single on the Wand label, but found the task impossible because of the "unintelligible rendition" of the song by lead singer Jack Ely.

Sources at Scepter-Wand in New York told Billboard that "not in anyone's wildest imagination are the lyrics as presented on the Wand recording in any way suggestive, let alone obscene." Reporter Gil Faggen speculates, "some shrewd press agent may also be playing an important role in this teapot tempest."

Gov. Welsh's charges indeed did not hurt the success of "Louie Louie," which had already spent six weeks at No. 2 on the Hot 100, unable to dislodge "Dominique" by the Singing Nun and "There! I've Said It Again" by Bobby Vinton.

The Governor was not alone in making a case against the Kingsmen's recording. The FBI conducted its own investigation, prompted by a parent's letter to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. After a two-year inquiry, which included an agent interviewing one of the Kingsmen, the Bureau concluded that the recording was unintelligible at any speed and thus could not be considered obscene.
[Billboard, Feb. 1 1964, page 3]

1983: The Best Music Manufacturing & Merchandising Minds Have A Brilliant Idea: The CD Longbox

(Photo via The Longbox Society)

Manufacturers and merchandisers reached a consensus at a meeting hosted in New York by the RIAA to consider PolyGram Records' concept for packaging the new compact disc format, scheduled for a debut later in the year. PolyGram reps introduced the 6 x 12-inch paperboard "longbox," designed to house the plastic jewel box holding the compact disc.

The 6 x 12 format was favored over a 12 x 12 box, should those larger dimensions prove to be "impractible," Billboard's Irv Lichtman reported. During the meeting, participants identified a dozen goals for whatever packaging was going to be adopted, including deterring pilferage, the ability to browse without a locked display and end display of title and artist information when CDs are stacked.

The RIAA indicated possible scheduling of additional meetings to clarify "technical restrictions that could impact on packaging," promising industry suppliers would be "encouraged to present their favored approaches."
[Billboard, Feb. 5, 1983, page 3]