On This Day in 2000... Britney Spears released Oops!...I Did It Again
What do you do after you’ve sold 25 million copies of your first album? You rack up another 20 million with your second, of course. 20 being the magic number, as two decades ago today Britney Spears cemented her position as the dominant pop star of the new millennium. Her second album, Oops…I Did It Again, served as the stepping stone between her arrival as an all-American 18-year-old in …Baby One More Time and entry into adulthood with Britney ('I’m a Slave 4 U' introducing a completely different side to her sound and image).
Backed by the powerhouse production of Cheiron Studios – the unit behind the likes of Backstreet Boys, NYSNC, Westlife and others – Britney’s sophomore effort works in much the same way as her first; opening with a title banger before filling in the rest around the follow-up singles. Her debut is spoken about far more than Oops!..., as it set the template for a new era with kids looking ahead into the '00s beyond the grunge sound that dominated the decade (not that Britney’s sound was exactly radical, as it riffed on the success of RnB of the time, as white pop stars have always ‘borrowed’ from Black music). But the role played by Oops!... in sculpting the modern-day world of pop shouldn't be forgotten.
This second album is more an affirmation that Spears is here to stay, its themes of self-identity and independence being pitch-perfect for a target audience of a similar age still growing into their own skin (although Britney only gets a single co-writing credit on the closing track 'Dear Diary'). It’s the singles that stand out more than anything here, which is hardly surprising when you consider the death of the long-player was being declared due to the growth of music video channels and CD sales, while Napster turned the entire industry on its head, dramatically changing the way people consumed their music.
The title track opens proceedings with a bang, not sounding a million miles away from '…Baby One More Time' and very much in the wheelhouse of producers Rami Yacoub and Max Martin (the latter having racked up 23 American number ones – tied with George Martin). As you can see in the video (the uncut version above being the more interesting version), the budget is bigger and the sound a little more polished than before, the album also marks more of a shift into pop-RnB as the 'urban' (shudder) sound really started to dominate the airwaves.
It’s something that can be heard more clearly on 'Don’t Go Knocking On My Door', a clear riff on Destiny Child’s 'Bills, Bills, Bills' released 18 months previous. Which makes the presence of a genuine RnB production legend (Rodney Jerkins) for a cover of The Rolling Stones' 'Satisfaction' feel all the more strange, as his talents could've been put to far better use. The country/rock ballad box is ticked with the Shania Twain-penned 'Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know' (the fourth single), while the likes of 'What U See (Is What U Get)' and 'Can't Make You Love Me' are generic Cheiron-factory standards.
'Lucky' was one of two other notable hit singles, telling the story of a movie star whose happy appearance is far from the truth. Critics of the time noted the lyrics to be about Spears herself, but that feels like a bit of a stretch considering her non-involvement on the writing side. It’s a catchy enough number, but like almost everything else on the album, it doesn’t instantly grab you in the same way as the title track. 'Stronger' comes closest, although its positioning next to 'Oops!...' at the top of the order doesn’t do many favours for the songs that follow.
On the UK version, the closing two tracks are the 'Eternal Flame'-influenced mid-tempo ballad 'Girl in the Mirror' - a call out to teenage fans everywhere - while 'Dear Diary' works in the much the same way, filled with chimes and strings to wrap things up on a reflective note. As a modern pop album, Oops...I Did It Again does what it's supposed to - maintain momentum from the previous release and remain in service to its singles, while pushing Britney out some way ahead of her contemporaries. It's easy to forget she'd only been around for 18 months and there were some very public examinations of her life to come as a consequence of a media hungry for tidbit news. While in terms of sales she'd never scale the same heights again (who could?), along with her debut, this should be remembered for how it helped challenge a male-dominated landscape, ushering in a new dawn of standout solo female pop stars.