Song: ‘Oops!…I Did It Again’
Artist: Britney Spears
US chart peak: 9
Release date: March 27, 2000
Writers: Max Martin, Rami Yacoub
Producers: Max Martin, Yacoub
Quintessential Max moment: That exquisite chorus
Video synopsis: Britney kidnaps an astronaut who ventures onto Mars while wearing latex
Right, I’m not being funny, but how on God’s great earth did this majestic slice of late 90s pop brilliance only reach Number 9? Yes yes, I understand that US chart placings are always a bit skewed because of radio and that Britney was never really a singles artist over there until a bit later on, but STILL! COME! ON! Sort it out ‘America’. Don’t even get me started on the fact that ‘Stronger’ only peaked at 11…
To be clear, I love ‘Oops!…I Did It Again’. I love it because it takes the template of ‘…Baby One More Time’ and just runs with it, flipping that song’s hint of masochism and positioning Britney in a much more powerful position within this game oh baby (“I’m not that innocent!”). I love it because it randomly drops in a reference to Titanic, a film that came out THREE years prior. It makes no attempts at being cool or credible or sensible or PC or whatever (one critic said it “amounts to nothing so much as a jailbait manifesto”).
It’s basically a glorious rush of synthetic funk, with those elastic basslines that Max favoured at the time at their most ping-y. The chorus is a grade-A, gold-plated slice of perfection, all sweet rise and fall mixed with just enough sexual tension to make it really stand out. The video, which features Britney sporting an incredible red latex one-piece, also follows ‘Baby One More Time’’s template of mixing faux-innocence for the younger fans with barely repressed sexuality for the adults.
There’s also a really amazing bit where the song emerges from the Titanic middle eight thing and the chorus shuffles around slightly, rises up a key and approaches something close to pop nirvana for the final third. Plus PLUS the song introduced the world to “yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah”, i.e. an early Britney motif pre-“It’s Britney bitch”. Also if you listen very carefully around the 2:01 mark you’ll hear a certain Max Martin singing towards the end of the line, “I’m not that innocent”…I could go on.
In 2013, it was reported that ‘Oops!…’ and ‘Baby One More Time’ were used by the British Navy to scare off pirates near Somalia. I imagine it didn’t actually scare them off – they just popped home to listen to ‘Greatest Hits: My Prerogative’.