Twenty years ago this month, Britney Spears released her epochal debut single “...Baby One More Time.” This week, Billboard celebrates the pivotal pop classic two decades later, starting with a look back at the three-note Max Martin piano riff that introduced Britney to the world.
By late 1998, the previously grunge-dominated ‘90s had shifted in focus to an R&B and pop hybrid that was largely the brainchild of one man: Swedish top 40 maestro Max Martin. After achieving worldwide success through his work with Ace of Base, Backstreet Boys and Robyn, Martin was enlisted to submit demos for a new artist recently signed to Jive records: a 16-year-old Mickey Mouse Club alum named Britney Spears.
“He came to America, and we introduced him to Britney,” remembers Steve Lunt, then an A&R executive for Jive. “And he said, ‘I think I’ve got just the song…’