Britney Spears – ‘(You Drive Me) Crazy’

Song: ‘(You Drive Me) Crazy (The Stop! Remix)’
Artist: Britney Spears
US chart peak: 10
Release date: May 12, 1999
Writers: Jörgen Elofsson, Per Magnusson, David Kreuger, Max Martin
Producers: Max Martin, Rami
Quintessential Max moment: Those opening clanging beats
Video synopsis: The school disco hinted at in ‘…Baby One More Time’ but transplanted to an industrial wasteland

The original version of ‘(You Drive Me) Crazy’ which appears on ‘…Baby One More Time’ is a brilliantly skeletal affair. There’s a bassline, some light funk guitar and what sounds a bit like a synthesised cowbell and that’s about it. At first you wonder why they’ve popped a demo version on the album, but actually after a few listens its innocent charms start to make sense. Plus there’s a really lovely post-chorus bit that’s missing from the eventual single version that makes the whole thing worth having in its own right (there is a guitar solo too, which is a bit :(, but it doesn’t last long). What I’m saying is get the album version too, but not the one from the various Greatest Hits albums because that’s the remix. Okay? Cool.

Originally recorded in Stockholm, Max and Britney flew to New York in May 1999 to re-record the vocals for a new version of the song after it was popped on the soundtrack to disastrous teen comedy, Drive Me Crazy. The beefed up, remixed version of the song was produced by Max and newfound foil Rami, while the song’s lyrics were mainly written by Jörgen Elofsson, Per Magnusson and David Kreuger, the trio behind the album’s lovely second single, ‘Sometimes’.

So what did they do? Wise to how pop works, they basically stuck to a very similar formula that made ‘…Baby One More Time’ such a gargantuan success. So the bass slaps about with a hint of funk, the drum beats crash and splash and Britney coos some PG-13 lyrics (“I’m so excited, I’m in too deep”) semi-seductively over the top. The chorus is a Max classic in terms of melody, all stop-start dynamics, odd time signature shifts and a delicious key change as Britney sings “baby thinking of you keeps me up all night”. There are also bits where she fully sings where Britney sounds a bit like Janet Jackson, which is certainly preferable to the Sheryl Crow sound she initially wanted to go with before she met Max.

It’s also worth noting that the sudden “stop!” bit midway through set the tone for the equally sudden break in ‘Oops…I Did It Again’, which would follow less than twelve months later.

EXCLUSIVE EXTRA CONTENT ALERT: Here’s an interview with an extra from the ‘(You Drive Me) Crazy’ video. It’s quite something.

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