I must confess… when I hear “Music Video Set in School,” one of the first to come to mind is Britney Spears‘ iconic first video for “…Baby One More Time.” The outfits! The dance moves! The ticking clock!
But while the video won’t have its 16th anniversary until November, the song — the very first that Pop Culture Juggernaut Britney Spears officially released — made its debut 16 years ago today, Sept. 30, 1998 (opposite the B-side “Autumn Goodbye,” which is also a gem). The song debuted on the Nov. 21, 1998, Billboard charts and hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 on Jan. 30, 1999. (It spent a grand total of 32 weeks on the charts, with two in the No. 1 slot.)
“I had been in studio for about six months listening and recording material, but I hadn’t really heard a hit yet,” Spears recalled to Billboard at the time about the process of recording the track. “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 one was of those songs you want to hear again and again. 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.”
Below, check out just a few of Spears’ performances of the song over the years — and all the different interpretations of sexy she’s tried out.
January 1999 Episode of The Howie Mandel Show
1.) Yes, Mandel had a talk show. 2.) Spears appears to be singing live here, which we all know was not exactly a regular occurrence.
The 2000 Grammys (the track was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance)
Why are we not talking about this performance all the time?! It’s a dream-like fantasy. This is probably where she got the idea for all of her perfume ads.
2001’s Live From Las Vegas Special
Peak Britney, y’all.
2003’s ABC Television Special
Mandatory viewing. For everyone. End of story. Did you ever want to hear Britney Spears pretend to be a lounge singer? The wait is over!
2014’s Britney Spears: Piece of Me
And 16 years later, the tune is (of course) a part of her Las Vegas show.