Note to Britney re: 1999 Grammies: Bay-bee, you wuz robbed! Christina Aguilera Best New Artist? Puh-leeze! ...Baby One More Time -- 12X platinum (largest debut since Alanis), four mega singles/videos, Rolling Stone cover, host of SNL -- no respect up in here. But that's cool, 'cause Best New Artist is a proven jinx (remember Arrested Development?) and Christina ain't shakin' no giant sequoias, knowhatamean? While Chrissie's 24-second clock be steady tickin', you hooked up with Swedish teen pop svengali Max Martin, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Mutt Lange, Steve Lunt, Barry J. Eastmond, wrote a great song ("Dear Diary") all by yourself, and threw down a buzzer-beating slam dunk, Oops!...I Did It Again.
...Baby was a singing-like-Whitney-Mariah-Taylor-Dayne-in-your-bedroom sorta affair; wide-eyed and innocent. After the plastic surgery rumors, lascivious "fan" Web sites, endless gig-to-hotel-to-promo-event-to-plane forced marches, velvet rope dramas, job-related injuries, Britney knows what time it is. At 18 summers, Baby Girl is still beaming innocence, but now it's in a really-feeling-Janet-TLC-Michael-Madonna-self-empowering-attitude way. She tightened up to lighten up.
Taking no shorts, Oops!… I Did It Again opens up with the block-rockin' title tune. Y'all have heard it everywhere for the last month -- the "I'm not that innocent" refrain, "…Baby One More Time" melody hook, the so-'99 cute mid- song vignette, those cellphoned "yeah-yeah-yeahs" -- an extremely addictive pop song. It's also a tongue in cheek homage to ABBA (Europop girl chorus, chugga-bop organ-drums-bass, icy synth strings) and Madonna (True Blue era). The girl's got ears. The remaining 11 tracks are just as transcultural space-time warped dance-pop crazycool.
On Shania Twain's "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know", Mutt Lange works a Taste of Honey "Sukiyaki" riff, fingersnaps, Eagles-esque chorus into an '80s hair band power ballad groove that Britney soul-maxes with a vocal that channels both Stevie Wonder (via "Knocks Me Off My Feet") and Shania herself. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" is a clever Jerkins slow-down beaten-fuzz-guitar Stones spirit catcher illed-up by Brit's punk diva steez; "Lucky" is classic star-crossed girl pop ("If there's nothing missing in my life/Then why do these tears come out at night?"); "Stronger" is a deliriously wicky-wacky abstraction of "Rhythm Nation."
Oops!… I Did It Again proves beyond a doubt that Britney Spears is The One. Who got next?