It’s hard to imagine that it’s been almost exactly seven years since Britney Spears released her sophomore album, Oops!…I Did It Again (the CD was released on May 16th, 2000). It’s even harder for me to imagine that I was only thirteen then- right at the height of my Spears fandom- and that I actually begged my mom to buy it for me the first day the CD was released. Oh, how times have changed…
However, as I realized upon reviewing her debut album, most of the music on Spears’ albums aren’t so bad. Sure, I’m no longer a fan of Spears’ breathy vocals, bouncy pop songs, and poorly written lyrics, but I have to admit that I find myself bobbing my head along and even dancing as I listened to some of these songs for the first time over four years. And though, again, nothing life-changing, thought provoking, or even brow rising can be found on Spears’ albums, they are all an example of teen pop at its finest. What more did you expect, anyway?
The album begins with the title track, which comes off as being a flashy sort of update to …Baby One More Time. This time around, Spears’ sings about being a heartbreaker without even the slightest hint of remorse (“Oops!…I did it again/I played with your heart, got lost in the game/Oh baby, baby/Oops!…You think I’m in love/That I’m sent from above/I’m not that innocent”), and I find it a bit odd that songwriters Max Martin and Rami thought it would be a good idea to write a song about breaking someone’s heart and not caring. Despite the strange subject matter, the song is extremely catchy and a perfect opener for the album.
Next up is another Martin/Rami production, Stronger. I can admit to still being a fan of this song; the edgier “rock” sound and anthemetic chorus (“But now I’m/Stronger than yesterday/Now it’s nothing but my way/My loneliness ain’t killing me no more/I’m stronger “) make for a perfect pop song. Even Spears’ vocals are stronger here (okay, pun intended this time…heh), though it seems they did get a lot of treatment during production. Either way, the song is a favorite, and one of Spears’ biggest hits. Don’t Go Knockin’ On My Door follows and quite honestly ends up sounding like a rejected B-side from Spears’ debut album. The corny backing vocalists and music brings the song down, and despite the more mature subject matter (this time about turning away from a cheating significant other) the lyrics are banal and poorly written (“Time is up/No more cheat n’ lie/No more tears to dry/You and I, we’re like so ‘bye-bye'”).
The cover song for this album is the Rolling Stones classic, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. The treatment for this remake is definitely weird. The track starts off quietly, with just Spears’ vocals and a light drum beat, which actually works pretty well. Spears sounds like a little girl as she sings the chorus of the song, but about a minute into the track, the melody changes up and more production is added in, giving the song another stereotypical “pop music” sound. Things just get progressively worse, especially after the second chorus, when the addition of backing vocalists crying “I can’t get no satisfaction!” sounds like auditions for Rolling Stones: The Musical!, or something. I can practically see the jazz hands and spirit fingers during the campy choruses, and I just know that Mick Jagger is hanging his head in shame somewhere.
Thankfully, the album slows down a bit with the first ballad, Don’t Let Me Be The Last To Know. The lyrics were co-written by Shania Twain and her husband/songwriter Mutt Lange and the song has a definite Twain feeling to it. This is a bit unfortunate for Spears, because all I can think about when listening to the song is that Twain would’ve done a much better job with it, as she’s by far the stronger singer. Still, the ballad is a nice addition to the album; the sweet lyrics (“But I need to hear it straight from you/If you want me to believe it’s true/I’ve been waiting for so long it hurts/I wanna hear you say the words, please”) and simple vocals make the song work.
Another huge hit for Spears’ was Lucky, a somewhat corny, albeit charming song. The upbeat number focuses on a young starlet who seems to have it all, but is still missing something to make her life worthwhile (“Lost in an image, in a dream/But there’s no one there to wake her up/And the world is spinning, and she keeps on winning/But tell me what happens when it stops?…/If there’s nothing missing in my life/Then why do these tears come at night”) . Despite the lyrics probably being semi-autobiographical for Spears’, she sings the song with little conviction, and the track does come off as somewhat of a mockery. However, the track is still a fun one, and seven years later, I can still sing along with every line.
The album hits a slump at this point, with a ton of useless filler tracks. What U See (Is What U Get) is pretty awful, and ends up sounds like a Backstreet Boys song reject (and hello, Britney- you aren’t Prince; therefore, it just looks stupid when you spell song titles incorrectly). One Kiss From You is a cutesy song about wanting just “one kiss” from a crush, but the dull lyrics and Euro-pop sound is too over the top (seriously, the backing music sounds just like one of the presets on my old Casio keyboard!). Where Are You Now is another ballad that seems to drag on despite its short length (though, coming in at 4:30, is the longest song on the album). The song isn’t necessarily bad, but just comes off sounding like a typical Diane Warren-penned pop ballad. Can’t Make Me Love You is almost completely identical to What U See, though the lyrics are this time about not being able to obtain a crush (“But I can’t make you love me/Is it my life or the things I do?/Can’t make you love me/I’m just a girl with a crush on you”).
Though I just joked about Diane Warren, she does make an appearance on the album with When Your Eyes Say It. The song is easily the most boring on the album; the ballad is flat and uninteresting and Spears’ sounds particularly annoying during the opening verse. She starts off the song singing in a light and breathy voice, that I’m guessing is supposed to sound sexy, but really just ends up sounding like she has a head cold.
The disc ends with Dear Diary, the only song on the album that Spears’ had a hand in co-writing . The song happens to be the shortest on the album (2:46), and is also the softest sounding track. The melody is composed of just vocals and piano, but I again find Spears’ voice to be pretty substandard. Written in diary format (“Dear diary/Today I saw a boy/And I wondered if he noticed me/He took my breath away “), the track is a cute one in which any young girl could relate to. I’m not sure why Spears’, then at the age of 18, would find such a naive subject matter appealing (as myself, being around the same age, definitely wouldn’t have recorded and let alone written a song like this), it’s easy to say that the closing track is better than some of the other songs on the album, in which Spears’ attempts to be trying too hard to shed her “innocent” image.
For the most part, Oops!…I Did It Again is a solid follow-up album. Britney Spears and her producers continued in the formula of bouncy tunes, catchy melodies and radio-friendly hits, which just helped to further catapult Spears to teen stardom.
1. Oops!…I Did It Again
3. Don’t Go Knockin’ On My Door
4. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
5. Don’t Let Me Be The Last To Know
6. What U See (Is What U Get)
8. One Kiss From You
9. Where Are You Now
10. Can’t Make You Love Me
11. When Your Eyes Say It
12. Dear Diary