Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lyric Deconstruction: ".... Baby One More Time"

Britney Spears, 1998

Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby

Oh baby, baby indeed. Britney Spears was 16 years old when this song was released, which makes the coquette-in-high-school video both alluring and creepy. Although, I guess it should be pointed out, the age of consent in a whole lot of states is 16.

The song was written by Max Martin, who also wrote a bunch of songs for the Backstreet Boys and wrote “Since U Been Gone,” which is, regardless of how you feel about Kelly Clarkson, a pure pop gem. Max Martin is kind of a pop genius.

How was I supposed to know
That something wasn't right here
Oh baby baby
I shouldn't have let you go
And now you're out of sight, yeah

Wait a minute. If Britney didn’t know that something wasn’t right, why did she let him (at least, I’m assuming it’s a “him;” if it’s a “her,” the mind reels) go? You typically don’t let anyone go unless you know full well that something’s wrong.

Show me, how you want it to be
Tell me baby
'Cause I need to know now what we've got

It’s impossible to sing “show me how you want it to be” without it sounding sort of like “show me how you want to do me.” I know because we used to cover this song in my old band and people fucking loved it. I bet the “want it to be”/”want to do me” thing isn’t accidental.

[CHORUS:]
My loneliness is killing me
I must confess, I still believe
When I'm not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

Here we come to the most troubling part of the song. WTF, exactly, does “Hit me baby one more time” mean? I see three possible meanings:

1. Literal: Actually, physically hit me. If this is the correct meaning, this song is very fucking disturbing.

2. Semi-slang: Like, “hit me up,” get in touch with me. A colloquialism I kinda hate but at least makes some kind of sense in the song. But was “hit me up” in common use in 1998, and especially in Sweden, where Max Martin was writing these charmingly ESL lyrics?

3. The Full Vegas: She’s got a hard 15, and the dealer’s showing an 8. “Hit me.” Unlikely. But now that I look at it, you could analyze the whole song as a paean to blackjack. “I shouldn’t have let you go” – shouldn’t have stuck on that pair of 8’s. I should have split. STUPID STUPID STUPID. Again, though, this interpretation seems unlikely.

CONCLUSION: Who the fuck knows? All of the possibilities are weird, in one way or another.

[I do note that, according to Wiki, "The song was originally titled 'Hit Me Baby One More Time,' but it was revised to '...Baby One More Time' since Jive Records executives were concerned that the song would condone domestic violence."]

Oh baby, baby
The reason I breathe is you
Boy you got me blinded
Oh baby, baby
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
That's not the way I planned it

Well, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, if it’s not the way you planned it, you shouldn’t have let him go. Just saying.

Show me, how you want it to be
Tell me baby
'Cause I need to know now what we've got

[Repeat CHORUS]

Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
Ah, yeah, yeah
Oh baby, baby
How was I supposed to know
Oh pretty baby
I shouldn't have let you go
I must confess, that my loneliness
Is killing me now
Don't you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

I guess now these lyrics seem especially poignant in the wake of Britney’s very public crackup, what with the head shaving and the Jason Alexander - no not that Jason Alexander - marrying and all that. I don’t know if it’s her loneliness that’s killing her, but something is. I don’t think being followed around 24/7 by a pack of photographers can be any good for anyone.

[Repeat CHORUS]

I must confess that my loneliness
Is killing me now
Don't you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

1 comment:

Skelly said...

Let's Occams razor this.
"Hit Me" as in "I'd hit that!" because Brit knew she was preternaturally hot and was all, "Come on! You know you want to! One more for the road. Yeah, I dumped you. I was bored. But no breakup sex? Breakup sex is the best. Come on! I'll show you, in my little furry hairties and Catholic schoolgirl outfit that will ruin Halloween for the next 4 years"
Maybe Max was the first one to use it in that way, and now Britney is forever related to the etymology of "hit that", and let's face it. We all would have. Some of us even moreso when she went all crazy-freaky and we were all "Jesus, girl, stop smacking your gum at Matt Lauer. But I bet you'd like to smack more than your gum at him, wouldn't you? You dirty little girl", and then a scant few weeks later we were all blowing up blogs "WHA? Huh? Who knew K-Fed would be the better parenting option in that duo?". ANYWAY, all this to say, I'll always have a soft spot for Britney and I'm glad she's getting things back on track. Hit it Brit!!